Eligibility checking and soft searches
Eligibility checking and soft searches
Eligibility checking allows you to see your chances of being accepted for a certain credit product before you apply. It’s quick and easy to do, free, and it won’t affect your credit score.
What is an eligibility checker?
There are hundreds of different credit cards on the market and each one will have different eligibility criteria. If you don’t meet the eligibility criteria, you won’t be accepted for the credit card.
Eligibility criteria can relate to things like your age, income, employment status, credit history and homeowner status.
Reading the eligibility criteria for every credit card you’re considering applying for would be a time-consuming exercise. So, an eligibility checker does the hard work for you.
Some eligibility checkers will just check your eligibility for credit cards from one provider, while others will search the wider credit card market for you.
How does eligibility checking work?
An eligibility checker will ask for some basic information about you. This normally includes your:
Date of birth
Address and when you moved there
Financial dependents and commitments
UK residency status
It will then carry out a soft search on your credit file. This type of search can’t be seen by lenders.
The eligibility checker will then tell you if you’re likely to be accepted for a particular credit card. Although the results aren’t 100% guaranteed, it’s a pretty good indicator.
Why is using an eligibility checker important?
Too many credit applications in a short space of time can leave a mark on your credit report. If you apply for a credit card, it will be visible to lenders. If you are rejected and apply for a different card and are rejected again, it may make it even more difficult to access credit.
Using an eligibility checker should mean you only apply for credit cards you have a very good chance of being accepted for.
What should I do if I’m not eligible?
If you’re not eligible for a particular credit card, you should examine why. Take a look at the offer details to make sure you match the requirements and check your credit report.
Armed with this information, you should then search for credit cards you have a better chance of being accepted for.
For example, if you have bad credit, a ‘credit builder’ card could be right for you. These cards often accept people with low credit scores, a history of missed payments, or County Court Judgements against their name.
To be accepted for any credit card you’ll need to be aged 18 or over, have the legal right to live in the UK, and be able to prove a UK address.
What are hard and soft searches?
A credit search (or credit check) is when a company or individual looks at information on your credit report to understand your financial behaviour. Credit searches can be ‘hard’ or ‘soft’.
A hard search is an in-depth search of your credit record. The number of hard searches that have been carried out on your credit report will affect your credit score.
A soft search looks at certain information on your credit report but doesn’t include a full examination of your credit history. Soft searches don’t affect your credit score.
Top tips for credit acceptance
Although an eligibility checker can’t guarantee you’ll be accepted for any credit card, it can give you a good idea of which ones you could get.
You’ll still need to pass the provider’s fraud and identity checks, and it will carry out a hard search on your credit report.
To increase your chances of being accepted for a credit card you should:
Be on the electoral roll at your current address
Pay down existing debts
Check your credit report for any errors
Raise a dispute if anything is incorrect on your credit record
Keep your credit utilisation low
Close down old credit accounts you no longer use
Pay household bills on time
Shop around for the best card for your needs
Avoid making multiple applications in a short time
If you have a low credit score or no credit history, consider a credit builder card
See if you'll be accepted before you apply
Quick and easy to fill in your details.
Get a response in 60 seconds.
No impact on your credit rating.
Use your card sensibly — if you don’t make repayments on time or stay within your credit limit you will pay extra charges, forfeit the 0% offer and getting credit in the future may be harder and more expensive.