How to use the CardMatch tool to get better welcome offers
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
Although the sign-up offers that credit card issuers display to the general public are usually the best deals available at any given time, sometimes banks target specific consumers with even better options. These offers are subject to change at any time, but are worth checking for when you’re considering applying for a new credit card.
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Some issuers, like American Express, send mailers to potential customers with limited-time offers for which they have been pre-selected. Others, like Chase, make certain sign-up bonuses available only in their physical branches for banking customers.
Another great way to look for higher sign-up bonuses is the CardMatch Tool.
What is CardMatch?
The CardMatch Tool takes some simple personal information and then matches you with current credit card offers for which you might be eligible. These offers can be higher — sometimes even much higher — than those available through other public channels.
CardMatch will perform what’s called a soft pull on your credit report. Based on that pull, you’ll be recommended cards that you are more likely to be approved for. And the better your credit score (along with other factors), the more likely you are to be targeted for offers that are higher than publicly available.
Keep in mind that CardMatch does not give recommendations based on your goals or spending habits. The recommendations are purely based on what cards you are likely to be approved for.
Related reading: Best pre-qualified card offers
Why you should use CardMatch
The CardMatch Tool serves two main purposes. It helps you determine which cards you are likely to be approved for and it gives you access to targeted offers from issuers.
For beginners or those with lower credit scores, knowing which cards you are most likely to be approved for can help you map out your credit card strategy while you build up credit history and improve your score. When you apply for a credit card through a card issuer or The Points Guy, a “hard pull” is performed on your credit report. That “hard pull” signals to creditors that you are looking to open a new line of credit and it can lead to a 3-5 point drop in your credit score. Using the CardMatch Tool to figure out which cards are best matched to your credit score can help you minimize these drops.
For those with good-to-excellent credit scores (meaning you probably aren’t as worried about your approval odds), the CardMatch Tool provides value in a different way. You can often find targeted special offers for certain credit cards that give you better welcome bonus opportunities than the publicly available offers. Everyone wants the best welcome bonus possible and that is especially important for American Express credit cards because you only have one opportunity to earn a welcome bonus per card per lifetime.
No matter which category you fit into, the CardMatch Tool is something you should use prior to applying for a credit card.
How to use the CardMatch Tool
First, go to the CardMatch Tool homepage. It should look like this:
You’ll need to enter some personal information, including your first and last name, home address, the last four digits of your social security number, and your email address.
If you’re concerned about incurring an extra inquiry on your credit report, don’t worry — the site only performs a so-called “soft inquiry” on your credit to match you with potential offers. Although the pull will show up on your credit report, it has no impact on your credit score.
Related reading: 5 ways to improve your credit score
You’ll then have to agree to the terms and conditions, which basically state that you willingly gave your personal information to the site.
Then, in less than a minute, the credit card offers available to you should show up.
The quality and quantity of offers you see on CardMatch will vary over time and from person to person — don’t expect to get impressive offers that are better than what is publicly available each time you check. If you want to apply for any of the offers you see, just click the “Apply Now” button next to the offer and you’ll be taken to the bank’s site where you can complete the rest of the process.
Related reading: How many credit cards should I have at once?
Top offers you could find in CardMatch
Offer retrieved April 15, 2020. (See rates and fees)
Those 100,000 Amex Membership Rewards points are worth $2,000, based on TPG’s most recent valuations. Compare that to the current public offer on the card of 60,000 points when you spend the same $5,000 in the first three months of account opening. That’s a 40,000-point difference — or $800 based on TPG’s valuation of Membership Rewards points — so it’s clearly worth checking to see if you’re targeted for the higher offer.
Related reading: Maximizing benefits with the Amex Platinum Card
Using the CardMatch Tool, we’ve also seen a 60,000-point or 75,000-point welcome offer for the American Express® Gold Card after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. The publicly available offer for the Amex Gold is currently 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Offer retrieved April 15, 2020. (See rates and fees)
At the beginning of 2020, we also noticed elevated offers for the American Express® Green Card and The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express through the CardMatch Tool. In the past, we’ve also seen elevated offers for the Delta family of American Express cards.
The information for the Amex EveryDay Card have been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related reading: Choosing the best American Express credit card for you
Frequently asked questions
Is it safe to use?
Yes. The CardMatch Tool uses bank-level security to ensure that your personal information is safe.
Does it impact my credit score?
No. As mentioned before, CardMatch performs what is called a “soft pull.” This type of inquiry into your credit report does not affect your credit score at all, no matter how many times one is performed.
What’s the difference between CardMatch and a regular application?
Submitting your info into CardMatch is not an official credit card application.
An actual card application must be submitted to an issuer for approval or denial. In that application, you’ll likely be asked for more information, including your annual income. That application then authorizes a credit card issuer to do a “hard pull” on your account, which is a more in-depth look that can affect your credit score (though generally only short-term).
CardMatch does match you with credit cards that you are likely to be approved for based on your credit score, but getting a pre-qualified offer through CardMatch does not guarantee that you’ll be approved. Only an official application will give you an official approval or denial.
Related: How to apply for a credit card
Should you apply for a credit card?
As always, whether you apply for a credit card offer depends entirely on your own travel goals, your credit history, whether you’re eligible for the welcome bonus and whether you can complete minimum spending requirements without harming your finances. Just because a card offer is listed on the CardMatch Tool, that doesn’t mean you’ll get approved or that you’re currently eligible to receive the bonus.
But if you’ve been waiting for the right time to apply for a specific credit card and you come across an offer on the CardMatch Tool that’s better than you’ve seen elsewhere, it’s certainly something to consider. If you’re in the market for a new card, it’s a good idea to check the CardMatch Tool periodically to see what new offers pop up, since offers tend to change frequently.
Check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for any special offers. These offers are subject to change at any time.
Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy.
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