Credit cards are available from banks, credit unions, retail stores, and even oil companies. If you have reasonably good credit, all you’ll need to do to apply for a credit card is sort through the offers stuffing your mailbox. You may even be “pre-approved” for a card. This means only that the creditor making the offer has decided, based on its general criteria for eligibility, that you’re a good candidate for credit. Actual acceptance will come only when you’ve completed the credit application and the creditor is satisfied with a review of your personal information and credit history. In most cases, you can complete an application for a credit card by providing information about yourself on paper, over the telephone, or via the Internet. Once the creditor has your information, you’ll probably receive a reply within hours; if you’re approved, you’ll have your card within a few days.
Even if you have a blemished credit history, it’s likely you’ll still receive a credit card. However, the greater the risk the creditor perceives you to be, the higher the interest rate you’ll be charged when you “charge it.” Before you accept a credit card, be sure you understand the specific terms and conditions of its use. The basics of these terms and conditions are usually spelled out in the application material, and detailed information is included in the cardholder agreement you receive with the card itself.