Is it possible to apply for a credit card with a soft pull inquiry? This is a question I get asked a lot. Obviously the fewer hard inquiries you have on your credit report, the better. But can you really get a new card using only a soft credit check?
Usually not, but sometimes you can.
There are no hard and steadfast rules when it comes to this. More often than not, a hard pull will be done. But here a few times it might not always be the case (updated for 2013).
1. CardMatch (new for 2013 – checks across all major issuers!)
CreditCards.com has a new feature to match you with offers based on your credit score. Using this to check does not affect your credit because only a soft pull is performed.
However if you choose to apply for an offer that you are pre-selected for, then there likely will be a hard pull. But the good news is that since you were already pre-selected for it, the chances of getting approved are extremely high.
I’ve had people test this with varying levels of credit (awful, moderate, good, etc) and what the system spits back is dead-on. My friend with bad credit had no results available, but then my other friend with great credit was given 2 pages of offers.
Anyone can use this feature – from awful to excellent credit. And if you fall into the latter category, you may be matched for exclusive signup bonuses which are higher than what the general public can get.
2. Multiple account applications within a short period
Last spring I applied for two different cards from Chase within a short period of time (if I recall correctly, it was within a 30 or 45 day window). And guess what? Only one hard pull from them showed up on my account. So I basically got a 2 for 1 special.
Let me be clear your experience with Chase may differ. I’m not claiming this will happen if you try the same thing, but at least that one time for me that’s how it worked out.
3. Orchard Bank card pre-selector for bad/fair credit (no longer available)
2013 update: Orchard Bank is no longer around. They were recently acquired by Capital One.
If you’re looking for soft pull credit cards, I’m going to go out on a limb and say there’s a good chance that the reason for that is because you think you might get turned down (due to bad credit or just lack of credit history). And that’s smart thinking, because you don’t want to use a credit inquiry only to have your application declined, right? If your credit is borderline, then my recommendation would be Orchard Bank and their soft credit check credit cards: Check for MasterCard (4 cards avail)
Check for Visa (4 cards avail) Technically speaking there are not 8 cards, but rather 4, since the only difference between each group is the MasterCard or Visa affiliation. After you check pre-qualification, if you choose to apply for one of the offers then a hard check will be done. But the correlation between pre-qualification and actual approval typically should be spot on, so hopefully the inquiry won’t be used in vain.
Do you know of any other applications for credit cards with soft pulls for pre-qualifying? If so, share in the comments below!