As you may have heard, Wells Fargo is currently revamping its line of credit cards. Among the current players in its credit card lineup are:
- Wells Fargo Active Cash Card, a new credit card offering an industry-leading flat rate of 2% cash back on all purchases.
- Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card, another new entry, with up to 21 months of 0% APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers — great for transferring high-interest debt.
Generally, you’ll need good to excellent credit scores to qualify for these cards. That means your FICO credit scores should be at least 670, and your chances for approval should improve with higher credit scores.
When you apply for a credit card, the card issuer will perform a hard inquiry of at least one of your credit reports. That hard inquiry may slightly harm your credit scores, and it will remain on your reports whether or not the card issuer approves or denies your credit application.
Fortunately, Wells Fargo has a pre-selection tool that helps to protect your credit scores by allowing you to see which cards you may qualify for before you apply.
How Do You Find Out if You Qualify for Wells Fargo Cards?
To determine if you qualify for any Wells Fargo credit card, visit the bank’s pre-selection tool. You’ll be asked to enter some personal information in the form, including your name, address, and the last four digits of your Social Security number. Wells Fargo will then perform a soft inquiry — which does not harm your credit scores — to see if you qualify for their cards. You now have an idea of whether you will be approved for a credit card without impacting your credit.
There are other ways you might discover if you are pre-selected for a Wells Fargo credit card. If you’re already a bank customer, pre-selected credit card offers may appear in your account dashboard. Also, you may receive pre-approval offers in the mail, which means the bank already did a soft inquiry on your credit report and decided you’re eligible to be approved.
Which Wells Fargo Credit Cards Can You Pre-Qualify For?
Because Wells Fargo is currently revamping its credit card portfolio, there are only a few personal card options to choose from. That said, these cards offer valuable benefits to cardholders that are worth considering. Here are Wells Fargo’s top credit card offerings:
Wells Fargo Active Cash Card (Review): This is the best Wells Fargo card for flat-rate rewards. You’ll receive 2% cash back on all your purchases, with no category restrictions. You can also earn a strong bonus for a card with no annual fee: $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.
While the Active Cash is known as a cash back card, you can still take advantage of a pair of introductory APR offers for purchases and balance transfers: 0% APR for 15 months, then 14.99%, 19.99%, or 24.99% Variable.
Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card: The Reflect is Wells Fargo’s best card for balance transfers. As long as you make your payments on time each month, the 0% intro APR period can expand from 18 months to 21 months. That makes it one of the longest 0% introductory offers on the market, along with those of the Citi Simplicity® Card (Review) and the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card (Review).
Does a Credit Card Pre-Approval Guarantee You’ll Get It?
If you receive a pre-approval offer for a credit card, understand it does not represent a guarantee of approval. Credit card companies routinely request lists of people who meet basic credit criteria from the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
If a credit bureau includes you on one of its lists, that could simply mean that your credit meets some of the credit card company’s preliminary credit requirements, such as having a strong payment history without any collections accounts. In this case, a credit card issuer might identify you as a strong candidate for a credit card offer. Consequently, they may send you a pre-qualified credit card offer in the mail as part of their marketing efforts.
So, while meeting an initial set of requirements may make it more likely you’ll be approved for a credit card, you won’t receive final approval until the card issuer performs a hard inquiry and reviews your qualifications in more detail. Among other important factors, a creditor will typically want to verify you have sufficient income to pay your bill each month. They’ll also want to make sure your employment is stable and that your monthly housing costs leave enough room in your budget to repay your credit card debt.
What’s the Difference Between Pre-Approved, Pre-Qualified, Pre-Screened, and Pre-Selected?
When you receive credit card offers, you may notice similar terms, such as “pre-qualified,” “pre-approved,” “pre-screened,” or “pre-selected.” These terms are often used interchangeably. Typically, they mean that your credit and financial data meet at least some of the eligibility criteria to qualify for the credit card. Since many companies use these terms differently, it can be confusing for consumers to understand.
The prefix “pre” is the key component of these terms to remember. If a credit card offers says you are pre-qualified or pre-approved, it simply means you meet some of the requirements to become a cardholder. But, as mentioned above, you still need to apply, and the lender must perform a hard pull on your credit before you get approved.
It’s good practice to consider these promotional offers as invitations to formally apply for a credit card. And, because you are pre-qualified or pre-approved, you can apply with added confidence, knowing you meet some of the initial criteria needed to become a cardholder.
How Can You Check for Pre-Approval for Other Credit Card Offers?
Want to know which credit card companies may have already pre-approved you for one of their offers? Here are links from many of the major credit issuers to check for pre-approved offers.
American Express: Fill out a form with your name, home address, and some personal information.
Barclays: There is no pre-qualification tool for U.S. consumers; U.K. consumers do have such a tool.
Bank of America: You can choose to log in or continue as a guest, then fill out their brief form.
Capital One: Capital One walks you through a form by asking you questions about your address, income, and other personal information to determine the best option for you and your eligibility status.
Chase: Chase no longer offers a public-facing pre-qualification tool on its website.
Citi: Currently, Citi doesn’t offer a pre-qualification tool online.
Discover: You’ll fill out a form to check for card offers. Once you select an offer you’re interested in, you’ll be asked to submit more information and formally apply, which will include a hard inquiry on your credit report.
How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Pre-Approved
If you don’t qualify for the credit card you want, you might consider improving your credit scores to increase the likelihood of pre-approval. More importantly, having strong credit scores improves your odds of being approved for a credit card with a favorable interest rate and terms.
Here are a few of the best practices high-credit-scorers employ:
- Make payments on time: Your payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO credit scores, so it’s paramount to pay your debt payments by their due dates consistently.
- Pay down your balances: Credit utilization makes up 30% of your FICO credit scores. What is credit utilization, you ask? It’s the amount of credit you have used compared with the amount of credit a lender extends to you. That means, if you have a credit card with a credit limit of $2,000 and use the card to pay for $500 in transactions, your credit utilization for this card is 25%. It’s good practice to keep your overall credit utilization for all debts as low as possible.
- Keep older credit accounts open: The length of your credit history factors for 15% of your total FICO credit scores. Closing older accounts could reduce the average length of your entire credit history. Keeping the account open is better, so your credit reports display more experience managing credit and paying loans on time to help lenders evaluate your creditworthiness.
How Long Do Pre-Approvals Last?
When you receive a pre-approval offer, it often comes with an expiration date, generally 30 to 60 days. You may wish to wait to become pre-approved until you are ready to shop for a credit card seriously. But, there’s no harm in checking your pre-approval status at any time because doing so doesn’t have any impact on your credit.
Conversely, you could check for pre-approval and apply right away, while you’re likely to be approved. Getting pre-approval now (or not) could also alert you to any potential issues so you can get a head start on correcting them.
The Bottom Line
If you’re considering getting one of Wells Fargo’s new credit cards, it may be helpful to check your eligibility before you apply by using the bank’s online pre-approval tool. And since the tool uses a soft credit inquiry, you’ll be able to gauge your eligibility without risking damage to your credit.
Of course, other major credit card issuers have similar pre-approval resources on their websites, and you can access them with the links listed above.
Remember, a pre-approval simply means you meet the initial eligibility criteria for a credit card. You still need to submit an application, upon which the credit issuer will perform a hard inquiry of your credit reports. Ultimately, the company will approve or deny your credit card application based on your credit history, income, and other financial factors.