Getting a credit card is a financial milestone for young professionals who are eager to start building their credit profile, improve their cash flow, and manage their finances more efficiently. The process of applying for one, however, can be tricky and tedious for newcomers to navigate, as banks and credit card companies tend to be cautious when it comes to issuing credit cards to new customers. Applicants must pass extensive background checks and fulfill a long list of stringent eligibility requirements.
It can be intimidating to apply for a credit card, but knowing what to expect and doing your homework can help you navigate the process with ease. Read on for five essential things you should do to secure a quick and painless approval on your credit card applications.
Check Your Qualifications
A credit card application, similar to a job application, will require you to meet certain criteria before you’re allowed to apply. Most credit card providers impose minimum requirements on age, employment status, income, and others.
Though specific eligibility requirements will vary between providers, it may help you to be familiar with the most common requirements for credit card applications. These are the following:
- Applicant must be between 21 and 65-70 years of age.
- Applicant must be a Philippine citizen, or a foreigner residing in the Philippines for the past two years.
- For basic credit cards, the applicant’s gross annual income must range from PHP 120,000-PHP 252,000.
- Applicant must have proof of regular employment for at least one year or 1-2 years of profitable professional practice or business operations.
- Applicant must have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).
- Applicant must have an active business or landline number and an active mobile number.
If you’re too young to apply as a primary cardholder, you may still qualify for a supplementary credit card. Individuals 13 years or older can be enrolled for a supplementary card by older family members holding primary credit cards.
Research Available Cards
Rather than just applying for the first credit card that comes to mind, spend some time doing your research and shopping around. Before anything else, your first credit card should be something you can afford to own and maintain given your current financial situation. The following qualities are especially important factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right credit card:
- Eligibility qualifications – As outlined above, these are the minimum age, income, employment, and other requirements you must meet before you can apply for a credit card.
- Annual fee – In exchange for the convenience of using a credit card, you’ll have to pay an annual membership fee. Many starter cards now waive this fee for the first year of use, allowing new cardholders to save money.
- Penalty fees – Your bank will levy a late payment fee when you fail to pay at least the minimum balance on your credit card bill by the due date. You’ll also be charged a penalty fee when you spend over your monthly credit limit.
- Finance charge or interest rate – This refers to the amount of interest that your provider will be entitled to charge when you carry a balance over from the previous month.
- Rewards programs – Some cards will grant you redeemable points with every purchase you make, which you can then use on privileges like discounts, cash rebates, and freebies. Do note, however, that credit cards with especially low-interest rates or annual fees probably won’t offer rewards.
It’s generally recommended for new credit card applicants to look for a card with a low-income requirement, interest rate, annual fee, and penalty fee. It may also be worthwhile to look into starter cards with favorable rewards programs.
Choosing between the different types of cards will come down to your particular monetary needs, lifestyle, and budget range. Some of the most common types you can choose from are the following:
- Basic Credit Card – Also known as standard or classic credit cards, basic credit cards are among the easiest cards to qualify for because their minimum income requirement tends to be low. They’re also among the most inexpensive cards to own, as the annual fees they come with tend to be lower than those of premium cards. As a tradeoff for this affordability, basic cards don’t tend to offer rewards or any other perks.
- No Annual Fee Credit Card – As its name suggests, this credit card waives its customary annual fee for life. Credit cards without annual fees allow cardholders to make greater savings and make good first cards for beginners.
- Rewards Credit Card – Rewards credit cards are at the center of banks’ credit rewards programs. As stated above, purchases made using the card earn you a certain number of redeemable points. You can then exchange these points for any of the perks included in your credit card provider’s rewards catalog, which may include annual fee waivers, cash rebates, airline miles, gift vouchers, and more.
- Cashback Credit Card – A cashback credit card earns a certain amount of rebates on eligible purchases per month, which can then be credited toward your bill for the next month. These rebates will lower your total amount due and allow you to save as much as PHP 1000 monthly.
- Co-Branded Credit Card – Co-branded credit cards are linked to particular brands or stores and offer regular clients of these brands opportunities to maximize their savings. Cardholders also enjoy freebies, rewards, discounts, and other privileges when using this card to pay for goods and services from the partner brand.
- Secured Credit Card – A secured credit card is a viable option for applicants whose gross annual income falls below the required minimum for regular cards. This type of card requires you to open a savings or time deposit account at your desired bank and provide a pledged deposit as collateral. This deposit will be held by the bank for one year and will define your credit limit (which you can expect to be around 80-100% of the deposit amount depending on the bank).
If you find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed by the range of options out there, it’s always worthwhile to ask friends and family members about their credit card experiences and possible recommendations.
Secure a Stable Source of Income
Credit card providers want to be sure that their clients will be able to pay their bills on time, which is why the vast majority of applications they approve, if not all of them, will be from people with full-time jobs. Thus, if you’d like to improve your chances of being approved for a credit card, it’s best to avoid short-term employment or job-hopping. Look for an employer you feel good about staying with for at least one year, though some providers may also require a longer stay depending on your position.
For self-employed or freelance applicants, getting approval will come down to how well you can demonstrate the activity and profitability of your business or professional practice. Documents you may need to provide for this purpose include business permits, income tax returns (ITR), bank endorsements, and others.
Build Your Credit Record with a Savings Account
The quality of your credit history is one of the most important factors your credit card provider will consider when determining whether to approve your application. One of the simplest ways to build a favorable credit record is to open a savings account for all your income and deposits. Once you have an active account, you’ll want to keep your running balance as high as possible—say above PHP 20,000 for the next six months or longer.
For the smoothest possible application experience, consider applying for a credit card at the bank where you already have an active savings account. They’ll be in the best position to validate your credit history and will therefore probably be more likely to approve your application.
Provide Complete and Accurate Documents
Be prepared to file a large amount of paperwork in support of your application when the time finally comes to submit it. Some of the most common documents credit card providers will require you to supply include the following:
- Fully accomplished and signed credit card application form
- A valid government-issued ID with applicant’s recent photo and signature
- Certificate of Employment
- Latest income tax return (ITR)
- Official payslips for the last 2-3 months
- Latest financial statements (for self-employed applicants)
- Certificates of registration and work permits (for foreign residents)
Your credit card application may be delayed or even denied because of inconsistencies in the documents you provide, so make sure you go over all your files carefully before submitting them. Double-check the details you write on your application form, as well as the information printed on your payslips and employment-related certificates.
Lastly, though this may seem like common sense, be honest every step of the way during the application process. Some credit card applicants falsify parts of their application or forge particular important documents like payslips or employment certificates. However, credit card providers have tried and tested ways of determining the authenticity of submitted documents and may report you to the authorities if they discover you’ve submitted counterfeit documents or false details.
Applying for a credit card, especially for the first time, can be a long and laborious process, but the requirements are so strict for a good reason. Above all else, banks and credit card companies want to make sure that their clients can shoulder the responsibility of credit card debt and manage their cash flow reliably. If you’re still working on qualifying for a credit card, use the time to assess your spending and develop good financial habits. This will not only help expedite your application but serve you well in your daily life going forward.