How Can I Apply for A Credit Card?

The credit card application process can be confusing for first-timers and existing users alike. Let's look at how the credit card application process works.

Steps to apply for a credit card

The credit card application process involves a few basic steps:

Understand your creditworthiness

Your creditworthiness can play an important role in whether you’re approved for a particular card. Credit scores help determine the likelihood that you'll pay back credit card debt and other loans based on a number of factors such as credit mix, credit utilization and payment history for both past and present loans.

If you’re not familiar with your credit history, you can request a credit report. You’re eligible for one free credit report every 12 months from each of the major credit bureaus.

Decide what credit card should you apply for

The next step is to find the right card for you based on your financial situation. Credit cards can be secured or unsecured.

Secured Cards: Secured cards require a security deposit. Your credit limit is often equal to the deposit. A secured card can be a good option for someone who has little or no credit history and can help build credit when used responsibly.

Unsecured Cards: These credit cards may have higher creditworthiness requirements than secured cards, and some may charge annual membership fees.

Learn what you need to apply for a credit card

After you've decided what card you'll apply for, you'll need to have certain information ready. You’ll typically need your:

  • Full legal name
  • Phone number
  • Street address
  • Date of birth
  • Annual gross income
  • Social Security number
  • Monthly housing payment (rent or mortgage)

Understand the terms of your credit card application

Every credit card application will state the terms and conditions for the card. Before proceeding with the application, make sure you understand these terms — especially the interest rates and fees, payment requirements, and consequences for not paying the minimum payment on time each billing period.

Ways to apply for a credit card

There are a few ways to apply for a credit card. Here are the most common options:


Applying for a credit card online may be the quickest way to apply. You can apply for a Citi credit card online today.


You can apply for a Citi credit card over the phone by calling our consumer line at 1-800-347-4934.

In person

You can easily go to your nearest Citi branch and apply for a credit card in person.

Can applying for credit cards hurt your credit?

While a credit card company does perform a hard inquiry on your credit file, a single inquiry will not do much damage to your score. A hard inquiry typically reduces your credit score by a few points; it can stay on your credit report for up to 2 years and can affect your credit score for 1 year. 

However, applying for multiple credit cards in a short period can put a bigger dent in your credit score. It can also signal to lenders that you’re intending to take on a lot of debt that you may not be able to repay. 

What if your application is denied?

It's important to understand why you were denied before you apply for another credit card. Reassess your creditworthiness. Should you be applying for a secured card instead of an unsecured card? Should you focus on ways to build up your credit, such as paying off your current credit card balances or other debts?

Apply for a credit card with Citi

Whether you’re looking for a secured card to help you build your credit or a card that lets you earn cash back on everyday purchases, Citi has options. Compare Citi’s credit card offerings and apply for a credit card today.

Disclosure: This article is for educational purposes. It is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and is not a substitute for professional advice. It does not indicate the availability of any Citi product or service. For advice about your specific circumstances, you should consult a qualified professional.

Additional Resources

  • Utilize these resources to help you assess your current finances & plan for the future.

  • Learn how FICO® Scores are determined, why they matter and more.

  • Review financial terms & definitions to help you better understand credit & finances.