How to find the best pre-qualified credit card offers

Jan 28, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

With each issuer using its own approval criteria for applications, it can be hard to know which credit card offers you are likely eligible to receive. This can be especially difficult if you don’t have a long credit history.

That’s where pre-qualified offers — and the tools you use to find them — can come in handy. Not only do pre-qualified offers help you figure out which cards you are most likely to be approved for, but they can also help you find targeted offers that aren’t available to every applicant.

Today, I’ll walk you through how pre-qualified offers work and how you can use tools such as CardMatch to find elevated bonuses and other special offers.

Find out if you pre-qualify for a credit card

There are multiple ways for you to get a pre-qualified credit card offer. As annoying as mail offers can be when they are crowding your mailbox, don’t be too quick to shred them all. You can get great personalized offers with elevated bonuses, extended low-interest introductory periods and more. Many issuers have a pre-qualification tool on their website, including Capital One and American Express.

My favorite way, however, is to go through the CardMatch tool to find offers. That way I can filter and compare pre-qualified offers from multiple issuers at once. Plus, in my personal experience, I’ve found that the CardMatch tool has the best offers from each issuer available compared to mail offers or even branded pre-qualified offer tools.

Check the CardMatch Tool to see which card you pre-qualify for. Keep in mind these offers are subject to change at any time.

First, you fill out your information on the CardMatch site.

CardMatch information form

From there, you’ll be taken to a results page with the relevant offers for you. The pre-qualified offers will have a blue flag indicator, and you can sort by type of card and issuer.

CardMatch results page

(Offer retrieved on August 25, 2019.)

You may notice on my results page that American Express is not an available issuer to sort by on that side filter. I recently applied for the Amex Gold during the rose gold limited-time offer, so I am not pre-qualified for any Amex offers. Your results will, of course, be catered to you.

Best pre-qualified offers from Amex

Some of the best CardMatch offers are for Amex credit cards, including The Platinum Card® from American Express and the American Express® Gold Card. Keep in mind with these offers that Amex has a rule against earning more than one welcome bonus per lifetime of each card. If you’ve earned the bonus for one of these cards, you won’t be able to earn a bonus for that same card again.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

With the public offer, you can earn 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening. However, we’ve seen reports of pre-qualified offers on the Amex Platinum that span from 70k to 125k.

Most commonly, some people are being targeted for a 100,000-point welcome bonus (after you spend $5,000 in three months) through the CardMatch tool. This bonus is worth a generous $2,000 according to TPG valuations. However, others are being targeted for a lower, 75,000-point offer (after you spend $5,000 in the first three months). You’ll want to double-check the offer details to see the specific terms of your targeted offer.

Offer pulled 1/27/20 (see rates & fees)
Offer pulled 1/27/20 (see rates & fees)

 

More recently, there have been reports of a 125,000-point pre-qualified offer that some are seeing on Amex’s site. Targeted users can earn 125,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months. This bonus is worth a lucrative $2,500 according to TPG valuations. Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that you’ll be targeted for the 125,000 offer, and that it’s less common to be targeted for it than the CardMatch 100k or an onsite 70k pre-qualified offer.

American Express® Gold Card

The card’s public offer is currently 35,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. However, in addition to the Amex Platinum, some people are targeted for a 50,000-point welcome bonus (after they spend $2,000 in three months) via CardMatch. Personally, I’ve seen this offer through Amex’s site and through CardMatch. It’s worth $1,000 according to TPG valuations.

Offer pulled 1/27/20 (see rates & fees)
Offer pulled 1/27/20 (see rates & fees)

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Some potential new cardholders have recently targeted for an elevated $300 welcome bonus (after spending $1,000 in three months). While I have yet to personally see this offer listed on CardMatch, I have seen it on Amex’s website and through the referral portal. It’s worth checking CardMatch, the issuer site and trying to get a referral to see if you could score this higher bonus. The public offer for this card is currently $250 statement credit after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Best pre-qualified offers from Chase

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

I have yet to see elevated bonus offers from Chase through CardMatch, and Chase doesn’t currently have a pre-qualified offer tool available on its site. However, you can still find out if you are likely to be approved for Chase’s top cards through the CardMatch tool.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The card is currently offering 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. When you redeem those points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, this bonus is worth $750. However, TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, meaning we consider this offer worth $1,200 when you’re strategic with your redemptions. While this is the standard offer, going through CardMatch to see if you pre-qualify is especially useful for beginners in the points and miles game who may not be sure if they meet Chase’s criteria for approval.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Another card you may see pop up in CardMatch is the Chase Freedom Unlimited. It offers a sign-up bonus of $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months. However, that bonus can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points if you also hold another Chase Ultimate Rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred. This is a new sign-up bonus from Chase, and a change from the first-year 3% cash back offer that the card previously offered to new cardholders. As another beginner card, using the CardMatch tool to see if you pre-qualify can help you eliminate some of the risk before you apply. The public offer on the card is currently $500 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account.

Best pre-qualified offers from Capital One

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

On my personal CardMatch results page, most of my pre-qualified offers are from Capital One — probably because I don’t currently hold a Capital One card. Unfortunately, none of them are offering elevated bonuses, but here are two of the top offers to consider.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Even with no elevated bonus, you’ll still get 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. The bonus is only worth $500 in travel, but the $95 annual fee is waived the first year. The Capital One Venture is a favorite among beginners because of its fixed-rate rewards structure and easy redemption process. However, it still requires a good-to-excellent credit score, so finding out if you pre-qualify is a smart move.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Savor offers $300 after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. While that’s certainly lackluster compared to some of the other offers we’ve talked about in this article, the 4% cash back on dining and entertainment you’ll earn is one of the best rates available. Like the Venture, the Savor requires a good-to-excellent credit score. If you’re unsure about whether you’re likely to be approved, using CardMatch to see if you pre-qualify is a decent indicator.

Does a pre-qualified offer cause a hard pull on my credit report?

A pre-qualified offer is based on what’s called a soft pull on your credit report. Going through the CardMatch tool or an issuer pre-qualify tool to check for targeted offers will not affect your credit score or list as a hard pull on your credit report.

However, if you go through a bank’s pre-approval process, that may result in a hard pull on your account. 

Difference between pre-qualified and pre-approved

Though some people use these terms interchangeably, there is an important distinction between a pre-qualified offer and a pre-approved offer. A pre-qualified offer means based on a soft pull done on your credit report, you meet certain criteria that may make you eligible for a certain card or a certain card offer. It doesn’t hurt your credit score to check to see if you are pre-qualified for an offer.

A pre-approved offer, on the other hand, is typically given after you’ve authorized a bank to do a hard pull on your credit report. Other times, you may receive a pre-approved offer because you have an established relationship with a bank or credit union, or because an issuer has a recent credit report from a previous application. Unlike a pre-qualified offer, it’s possible that a pre-approved offer can temporarily affect your credit score.

Can you be denied if you are pre-approved?

Neither a pre-approved or a pre-qualified offer counts as an official approval for a card. While it might mean that your credit profile has a higher likelihood of being approved, there is no guarantee. There is a possibility that you could still be denied for the credit card, for any host of reasons. The only way to find out if you are officially approved for a credit card is to put in a formal application.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re looking for the best targeted offers or you simply want a better idea of which cards you are likely to be approved for, there is a lot of value in searching for pre-qualified offers. Sometimes, like in the case with the Amex Platinum offer through CardMatch, you can even find lucrative sign-up bonuses that you otherwise would lose out on. Any time I’m considering a new credit card, I always check CardMatch and other pre-qualify tools to make sure I’m getting the best sign-up bonus available.
Have you taken advantage of any great offers through CardMatch or another pre-qualification tool? Tell me all about your success stories in the comments.

Check the CardMatch Tool to see which card you pre-qualify for. Keep in mind these offers are subject to change at any time.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.