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How to apply for a credit card

When you're looking to get a credit card the amount of choice can seem overwhelming. But no matter what you need a credit card for, applying for one is simple. An online credit card application only takes a few minutes to fill out and you can usually get an answer right away.

The first step is to find a card that's a good fit for your specific needs. But with so many providers to choose from, finding a suitable card can be confusing.

Here's a few things you need to know to help you make sense of your options. So you can apply for the credit card that's right for you.

What credit card should I choose?

Not sure which type of card you need? Or what different types of card there are? Take some time to weigh up the specific advantages and benefits of each one.

Explore our choice of credit cards to see if one of our other cards would also work for you.

Credit builder

Classic credit card

Classic credit card

Our most popular card with over 4 million people accepted.

  • Suitable for people with bad credit or want to build credit*
  • £200 to £1,500 credit limit
  • Up to two optional credit increases per year, subject to availability**

Representative example: Assuming a credit limit of £1,200 and an interest rate on purchases of 34.94% p.a. variable, you will receive a 34.9% APR representative variable.

*Your credit limit could improve as long as you pay on time and stay within your balance. Not doing this could harm your credit rating.

**If you use your credit card responsibly you may become eligible for a credit limit increase. But remember, a bigger balance could take longer to pay back and cost more in interest.

0% on balance transfers

Balance Transfer card

Balance Transfer card

Save money by transferring your higher-interest credit card balances

  • Credit limit up to £8,000
  • 0% on balance transfers for up to 18 months
  • Up to 3% transfer fee
  • You may be eligible for 0% interest on purchases for 3 months

Hints and tips:

Always try and pay more than your minimum payment as paying only the minimum takes longer to pay off your balance and will cost you more money in the long run.

Representative Example: Assuming a credit limit of £1,200 and an interest rate on purchases of 34.94% p.a. variable, you will receive a 34.9% APR representative variable.

Why should I check my credit score?

Your credit score can make a big difference when you make a credit card application.

When you apply for a credit card your credit score is used to see which cards you would be able to afford. The better your score the more choice you have of products and deals.

Are you eligible to apply for a credit card?

After you've found a credit card that's right for your needs and had a look at your credit score, the next thing to do is to see if you'll be accepted.

For starters, to get a credit card from Capital One, you must be aged at least 18 and live in mainland UK (that includes Northern Ireland too). But the best way to know if you'll be accepted is to use an eligibility checker.

Every time you make a credit card application a mark appears on your credit file. Making too many applications close together can harm your credit score. And if you get turned down for a card, it can become harder for you to get accepted by other lenders

That's why it's better to check if you're eligible for a credit card before you apply. When you use QuickCheck, Capital One's eligibility checker, we'll give you a definite yes or no in less than 60 seconds – without affecting your credit score.

What else will help you choose a credit card?

When you apply for a credit card there are a number of other things you may want to think about before taking the plunge. The first is pretty simple: Can you afford it? Do you know you'll be able to pay at least the minimum monthly payment on time every month?

Here are a few more things to think about before starting your credit card application:


You'll see Annual Percentage Rate or APR popping up a lot. This refers to the average annual cost of using that specific credit card, compared to what you'll spend on that card over the same period. In other words, it's the amount most cardholders pay to use the card over a year and it includes interest payments and fees. The APR of a credit card is a good way to compare a card with its competitors.

The APR that most providers advertise is the one that's offered to the majority of their customers, but not all of them. So when you apply for a credit card you could find that you're offered a different APR to the one you were after. But we're different to most credit card providers. The APR you see when you apply for a Capital One credit card is always the APR you'll get.

Find out more about APR with our Credit Knowledge.

Fees and charges

All credit cards will charge you a fee if you are late with a payment, miss a payment or go over your credit limit. But you could also be charged fees for making cash-like transactions. For example, if you take out cash from a cash machine or buy foreign currency. To avoid these fees, you may want to think about using a debit card instead or getting a credit card designed for travelling abroad.

Credit limits

Credit card providers will only offer you a credit limit they think you'll be able to manage, based on the information in your credit file. This is so you don't end up borrowing more than you can afford to pay back. You may want to think about your other options if you aren't offered the credit limit you're after.

Introductory offers

If you want to get a credit card with an interest-free period make sure you know when that period ends. You could face high interest charges if you don't pay off your balance in time.

Can I apply for a credit card online?

If you're ready to apply you'll find it's simple with Capital One. You can apply online any time you like and it just takes a few minutes. First go to QuickCheck, to check your eligibility. It'll tell you if you'll definitely be accepted for a Capital One card or not, without affecting your credit score. If you will be accepted you can go straight into making an application without needing to fill in all your details again.

What do I need?

To make an online credit card application, it's good to keep the following handy:

  • Your current UK address details. If you've moved home in the last two years, we'll also need your previous addresses from that period
  • Your name, date of birth and email address
  • Your income details (before taxes – this is also known as your gross income)
  • Your bank account number and sort code if you're setting up a Direct Debit

If you're applying for a Capital One Balance Transfer card, we'll also need the details of the card for the balance you're transferring.

Do I need to provide any documents?

Sometimes we may need a little more information, for example if you're new to the country. We would then want to see:

  • A photocard driving licence,
  • Your council rent card (no older than three months) or council tenancy agreement,
  • HMRC document no older than 12 months
  • We could also ask for documentation like a bank statement, utility bill, council tax bill or insurance policy (no more than three months old)

We'll tell you if we do need any extra details when you apply for a credit card.

We make sure that all the information you send us is kept safe and secure. Take a look at our privacy policy to find out more about how we use your personal data.

What do you look for in a credit card application?

A good credit score isn't always a guarantee that you'll get a credit card when you apply. Like all credit card providers we look at a range of things recorded in your credit file before making a decision.

These are some of the things we consider when you apply:

  • Your current outgoings and how much you've already borrowed (this can be loans and other credit cards)
  • Your work situation, for example how long you've been in your current job
  • Where you live and how long you've been at your current address
  • How well you've kept up to date with other credit repayments
  • How long you've had a current account in your name

Most of the time the details you give us in QuickCheck will be enough to decide on whether to accept you for a credit card. But occasionally we may need more information, which we'll ask you for.

You've been accepted. What next?

You'll get your new Capital One credit card within 7-10 working days.

Your PIN should arrive a few days before your card.

If it's been 7 days since you were accepted and you've still not had your PIN, please contact us and we'll send you a duplicate.

Once you get your card simply activate it to start using it right away.

Why wasn't my credit card application successful?

If you didn't get a yes from QuickCheck or recently made an unsuccessful credit card application it could have been for one of several reasons:

  • Your income isn't enough to cover your card repayments
  • You've missed too many payments on other cards or you already have too much debt
  • You recently applied for another card or have another application in progress

If you were declined, it's a good idea to wait a few months before you try applying again. Several credit card applications in quick succession are considered to be bad by credit card providers as it looks like you're trying to take on too much credit.

To find out more about why you were turned down for a credit card you can get a copy of your report from one of the three credit agencies in the UK. These are Equifaxopens in a new tab, Experianopens in a new tab and TransUnionopens in a new tab, and each one lets you see your report for free.

It's worth checking all three, as different lenders use different agencies for their checks. And if you find an error on your file you can ask for it to be fixed.

Want to know more?

If you've got more questions about how to apply for a credit card online from Capital One we have loads of answers to some of the most common questions on our FAQs page.

Apply for credit card from Capital One – see if you'll be accepted without affecting your credit score.