Getting Approved For A Credit Card: Some Are Easier Than Others

I’ve applied for four credit cards in the last three months.  No, I’m not a credit junkie….but I’m not going to pass up a great deal when I see one.  Getting approved for a credit card, especially four cards in three months, can be tricky.

Here is my experience with applying and getting approved for a credit card with four different issuers.

Getting Approved with MBNA

Last November, I took advantage of a promotion from Rate Supermarket and got a $100 gift card to Toys R Us when I applied for the MBNA Platinum Plus MasterCard.

Applying and getting approved for this credit card was easy.  That’s because MBNA’s eligibility requirements weren’t very strict.  I just needed to:

  • Be a Canadian resident and have a Canadian credit file
  • Be the age of majority in your province of residence
  • Have a credit history clear of bankruptcies or seriously delinquent accounts
  • Have a total household income of $35,000 or greater (NOT applicable to students)

My application was instantly approved online and I had the card in my hands within about 10 days.  The $100 gift card was emailed to me immediately upon approval.

Now I don’t need a balance transfer credit card because I don’t carry a balance, however I briefly considered using credit card arbitrage to earn some interest during the 10 month interest free period on the card.

In the end, I decided that would be too much of a pain and so I haven’t touched this card since receiving it in December.

Net result: +$100

Getting Approved with American Express

A few weeks later I was contacted by American Express to test drive a new rewards credit card called ChoicePlus.  It comes with a welcome bonus of 7,500 points, which is enough for a $50 gift card.  Amex waived the $65 annual fee for me in the first year.

The card sounded pretty unique because you get to choose 5 retailers where you’ll earn double points.  Plus, I need an American Express credit card to earn rewards when I shop at Costco.

Related: How To Use Your Non-Amex Rewards Credit Card At Costco

So I applied for the card and was instantly approved online.  Again, the application requirements were pretty straightforward:

  • You are a Canadian resident and have a Canadian credit file
  • You are of the age of majority in your province or territory of residence
  • You have a personal annual income of $15,000 or more
  • In the past 7 years you have not filed for bankruptcy and always made your monthly payments on time

I’ve used the ChoicePlus card for a few months and it’s proven to be a nice secondary card where I can earn additional points at retailers outside the core spending categories like groceries and gas.

Net result: +$50

Getting Approved with Capital One

My next credit card application was for the Capital One Aspire Cash World MasterCard.  I wanted a no-fee cash back credit card to replace the MBNA Smart Cash card, which had just reduced the amount of cash back you could earn.

Related: Changes To Smart Cash Rewards Explained

This card comes with a $100 bonus on your first purchase, and you can effectively earn 1.5% cash back on all your spending.

Getting approved with Capital One was a much more difficult than the previous two cards.  You’ll need a minimum personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000.  You’ll also need excellent credit to qualify.

During the online application process I had to indicate if I had applied for credit in the past few months.  Since I had just applied for two other credit cards within the last month I was warned that my application would likely be declined.

I finished the application anyway and, after waiting about two weeks, I received a letter saying my application was approved.  Then I received a proof of identity notification where I had to go to Canada Post and verify my ID.

Once I proved my identity I was told I’d receive the card in the next 10 to 12 business days.  I got my card 10 days later, but I still needed a PIN in order to activate the card.  It was mailed separately and I didn’t receive it for another seven days.

The whole application process took about five weeks.  The good news is that the $100 bonus was posted to my account a few days after my first purchase.  I like the fact that I can just apply it to my balance as a statement credit.

Net result: +$100 (plus ongoing 1.5% cash back on spending)

Getting Approved with Scotia

Finally, I’ve determined that the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite is the top cash back credit card for my spending habits, particularly for groceries, gas, drug store and recurring bill payments.

That’s because you’ll get 4% cash back on groceries and gas, and 2% cash back on drug store purchases and recurring bill payments.

As luck would have it, Rate Supermarket has another promotion where you can earn a free $100 gift card when you apply for the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite.

Like with Capital One, Scotia requires you to have an annual income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000.  Unlike Capital One, Scotia requires you to verify your income by faxing in a pay stub or your latest T4.

After applying online I got an email within 10 minutes telling me I was approved and that I needed to fax in my employment documents to verify income.

I didn’t hear anything from Scotia for about a week, but when I called to follow up the agent said my application was approved and I should receive the credit card in a few days.

Two days later I received a letter with my PIN and then the next day I got my card in the mail.  I quickly set up my recurring bill payments to get charged to this card and I’ve started using it for all of my grocery, gas and drug store spending.

One thing I’ve already noticed is that Walmart stores do not qualify as ‘grocery’ merchants and so you’ll only get 1% back when shopping there.  Here’s a handy list of merchants and how they’re categorized.

I have yet to receive my $100 gift card, but when I log in to Rate Supermarket I can see that my status is pending and that RSM needs to verify with Scotia that I’ve got the card.

Net result: +$100 (Plus ongoing cash back on my everyday spending)

Final thoughts

It’s interesting to see how each credit card issuer handles the approval process.  I can understand the need to balance ‘instant approvals’ with due diligence because they don’t want to have someone default on their payments down the road.

I found that Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite struck the right balance because they were able to approve me instantly online and then immediately send me an email asking for follow up information about my income.  The onus was then on me to send them the information back quickly if I wanted to speed up the process.

The whole process, from application to approval to receiving the card, took less than two weeks.

Getting approved with Capital One was a bit of a pain because they needed proof of identification through Canada Post and then the whole mailing process took a lot of time.

I’m done applying for credit cards for a while, but over the last few months I’ve earned $350 in sign-up bonuses and maximized the cash back that I’ll earn on my everyday spending going forward.

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