How to Apply for a Credit Card in Canada (+ Tips for Approval)

Jul 10, 2024

A credit card on a pink background with spheres surrounding it
A credit card on a pink background with spheres surrounding it

So, you’ve done your research on credit cards and have decided that you want to get one. Before you apply for a credit card, you should know a few important points that will help you through the process. 

Thankfully, you have us to guide you through the credit card application process, including the requirements, how to fill out and submit an application, and our best tips and tricks.

This article will include:

  • Credit Card Requirements 

  • How Old Do You Need To Be To Get a Credit Card? 

  • How to Fill Out and Submit a Credit Card Application

  • What to Consider When Applying for a Credit Card

Credit Card Requirements 

There are three main factors that credit card issuers will look at when you apply for a credit card: your credit score, annual income, and the documents you must provide. 

Credit Score Requirements

Credit card issuers don’t usually tell you the minimum credit score they require. However, you’ll likely need a credit score of 660 or higher to apply for most credit cards. 

Click here to learn more about how to manage and increase your credit score through your credit card.  

You can check your credit score for free via your bank, or through Equifax, TransUnion, or Borrowell

Can you get a credit card with bad credit?

Having bad credit means a score of 560 or below. People with a bad credit score have likely not had a credit account open for very long or have a hit to their credit report–this can mean too many open credit accounts, overdue bills, or a high credit utilization ratio. 

If you have bad credit and cannot apply for a regular credit card, a secured credit card can be a great option. Secured cards require a deposit for collateral, which is almost always your credit limit. 

For example, if you provide a $500 deposit, this is your credit limit that you cannot surpass. If you do not pay your credit card bill, the credit card company uses your deposit to cover it, and you will not get it back. You may also be at risk for account closure.

Income Requirements 

Most credit cards require a minimum personal or household income so that the credit card company knows you will be able to pay off your balance each month.

The minimum personal income requirement generally ranges from $0 to $15,000, depending on the type of card and the rewards you can earn with it. 

For example, most lower-level Mastercard and American Express credit cards (like the Amex Cobalt Card) do not have an income requirement. Those that do can vary from $12,000 to $15,000, making them quite easy to apply for. 

Some credit cards, like the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card and the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card, require a minimum personal income of $60,000. 

If you are applying for a higher-tier rewards credit card, like the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Credit Card, you’ll need to earn at least $150,000 per year. 

Documents Needed 

Most credit card applications require the following information: 

  • Your full name

  • Email address

  • Date of birth

  • Residential address

  • SIN (sometimes) 

  • Personal annual income 

  • Other household income

  • Homeownership status (whether you rent or own)

  • Employment status and details (employer’s name, job title, income) 

How Old Do You Need To Be To Get a Credit Card?

To apply for a credit card, you must be the age of majority in your province. 

You must be 18 in:

  • Ontario

  • Alberta

  • Manitoba

  • Quebec

  • Prince Edward Island

  • Saskatchewan 

You must be 19 in:

  • British Columbia

  • New Brunswick

  • Nova Scotia 

  • Northwest Territories

  • Nunavut

  • Yukon 

How to Fill Out and Submit a Credit Card Application

You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone, or in person, but it’s easiest to apply online. Before applying, research the best credit card for you and weigh all the pros and cons. 

Here are all the pages for all of the major credit card issuers:

How Do You Apply For a Credit Card Online?

Visit the credit card issuer’s website and click on the card you want to apply for. Read through all the details and ensure you meet all eligibility requirements. 

Click on the “apply now” button, and you’ll be taken to another page that guides you through the application process step-by-step. As outlined above, you’ll need to provide personal and financial information. 

Review your application to ensure everything is correct, then click “submit.”

Note that if you lie about your annual personal or household income, credit card issuers can verify your information, and your application will be declined. 

Applying In Person

Some credit unions may require you to come into the branch to apply, and newcomers to Canada are often encouraged to do so, as additional documents are likely required. 

Note that if you apply in a branch, you’ll need to bring physical copies of documents like your proof of income and photo ID. 

Applying Over the Phone

If you’re not super tech-savvy and don’t want to visit a branch, calling the bank and speaking to an advisor can be the best alternative. They will walk you through the process and tell you where to send your documents. 

A woman typing on a laptop on a desk

Image by This_is_Engineering from Pixabay

How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card?

Depending on the type of credit card you’re applying for and the issuer, approval can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few days. 

The physical card can take up to a few weeks to arrive, but you may be able to use your credit card online before the physical card arrives in the mail. 

What to Consider When Applying for a Credit Card

When choosing a credit card, you’ll need to compare various factors. These can include:

Credit card fees 

Some credit cards have annual or monthly fees, plus foreign exchange, withdrawal, and inactivity fees. 

Credit cards with no annual fees can be great starter cards, but they probably won’t offer as many benefits and rewards as those with annual fees. Beginner credit cards also don’t offer as high a spending limit as mid- or high-tier cards. 

Three of the best credit cards with no annual fees include:

Credit card interest rates 

If you carry a balance on your credit card, the interest rate is an important factor to consider. The higher the interest rate, the more you’ll pay on your monthly balance.

You can look for a low-interest credit card, which can be a great option if you’re working to pay off your balance. Even if there is an annual fee, the lower interest rate can be worth it. 

Here are some of the best low-interest credit cards:

Credit card rewards and benefits

Many credit cards offer rewards points or cash back on most purchases. Consider what you value the most, whether that be travel rewards and insurance, cash back on high spending categories, or everyday rewards points. 

Credit card requirements 

As mentioned above, credit cards require at least a fair credit score, and some require a minimum yearly income. Ensure you meet all requirements before applying. 

If you have no credit history or a low credit score, consider applying for a secured credit card, which can give you a chance to build a credit history. 

If you’re currently a renter, sign up for Chexy with your debit card and add Credit Builder to your account to help build your credit score faster, so that you can get access to better credit cards.

Tips for Credit Card Approval

Here are a few tips to help you get approved for a credit card:

Check your credit score 

Before applying, check your credit score to see if you’ll be approved. Your score should be 660 or higher. The higher your credit score, the higher your chance of approval. 

Pay your bills on time

Paying your bills on time and in full is what makes up 35% of your credit score, so it’s important that you do this and don’t miss any payments. 

Keep your credit utilization low 

Your credit utilization ratio (the credit you’re using vs your credit limit) should be 30% or less. This can improve your credit score, increase your chance for approval, and show lenders you can manage your credit responsibly. 

What Are the Easiest Credit Cards to Get in Canada?

Some of the easiest credit cards to get are secured credit cards, which require a deposit from you as collateral in case you cannot pay your credit card bill.

Besides secured cards, some American Express credit cards, including the Amex Cobalt Card and the SimplyCash Preferred Card, are quite easy to get approved for as they do not have a minimum income requirement. If you apply online, you can get instantly approved in minutes. 

A few other notable credit cards with instant approval include:

What Are the Best Credit Cards for Paying Rent?

These are our recommendations for the best credit cards to use when paying rent with Chexy. Look out for credit cards with high cash back or rewards points, such as:

Once you’ve submitted a credit card application and get approved, start using your credit card to pay rent with Chexy. Not only do you earn points, cash back, and travel rewards, but you can also build credit on your rent payments, split with your roommates, and more. 

Get started with Chexy today. 

Subscribe to The Chexy Rundown for exclusive travel rewards and credit card deals you won’t want to miss. 

FAQs

Does applying for a credit card affect your credit score?

Applying for a credit card can temporarily decrease your credit score, as each credit application is considered a hard credit check. If you pay your bills on time and don’t open multiple credit accounts at once, you should have no problem raising your credit score again.  

Can a Canadian get a US credit card?

Some banks and credit card companies offer a US credit card for Canadians. They usually have no foreign transaction fees on US purchases and allow you to build a US credit history. Getting one of these credit cards is much easier than opening a US bank account. 

What is a normal credit limit in Canada?

According to Equifax, the average credit limit in Canada is about $5,800. Credit limits vary based on the credit card and your personal income, employment history, and other factors. 

What should I do if my credit card application is declined?

You may be able to contact the credit card issuer or financial institution to find out why you were declined. It may be because you had too low a credit score, didn’t meet the minimum income, or your information has not been able to be verified. 

So, you’ve done your research on credit cards and have decided that you want to get one. Before you apply for a credit card, you should know a few important points that will help you through the process. 

Thankfully, you have us to guide you through the credit card application process, including the requirements, how to fill out and submit an application, and our best tips and tricks.

This article will include:

  • Credit Card Requirements 

  • How Old Do You Need To Be To Get a Credit Card? 

  • How to Fill Out and Submit a Credit Card Application

  • What to Consider When Applying for a Credit Card

Credit Card Requirements 

There are three main factors that credit card issuers will look at when you apply for a credit card: your credit score, annual income, and the documents you must provide. 

Credit Score Requirements

Credit card issuers don’t usually tell you the minimum credit score they require. However, you’ll likely need a credit score of 660 or higher to apply for most credit cards. 

Click here to learn more about how to manage and increase your credit score through your credit card.  

You can check your credit score for free via your bank, or through Equifax, TransUnion, or Borrowell

Can you get a credit card with bad credit?

Having bad credit means a score of 560 or below. People with a bad credit score have likely not had a credit account open for very long or have a hit to their credit report–this can mean too many open credit accounts, overdue bills, or a high credit utilization ratio. 

If you have bad credit and cannot apply for a regular credit card, a secured credit card can be a great option. Secured cards require a deposit for collateral, which is almost always your credit limit. 

For example, if you provide a $500 deposit, this is your credit limit that you cannot surpass. If you do not pay your credit card bill, the credit card company uses your deposit to cover it, and you will not get it back. You may also be at risk for account closure.

Income Requirements 

Most credit cards require a minimum personal or household income so that the credit card company knows you will be able to pay off your balance each month.

The minimum personal income requirement generally ranges from $0 to $15,000, depending on the type of card and the rewards you can earn with it. 

For example, most lower-level Mastercard and American Express credit cards (like the Amex Cobalt Card) do not have an income requirement. Those that do can vary from $12,000 to $15,000, making them quite easy to apply for. 

Some credit cards, like the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card and the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card, require a minimum personal income of $60,000. 

If you are applying for a higher-tier rewards credit card, like the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Credit Card, you’ll need to earn at least $150,000 per year. 

Documents Needed 

Most credit card applications require the following information: 

  • Your full name

  • Email address

  • Date of birth

  • Residential address

  • SIN (sometimes) 

  • Personal annual income 

  • Other household income

  • Homeownership status (whether you rent or own)

  • Employment status and details (employer’s name, job title, income) 

How Old Do You Need To Be To Get a Credit Card?

To apply for a credit card, you must be the age of majority in your province. 

You must be 18 in:

  • Ontario

  • Alberta

  • Manitoba

  • Quebec

  • Prince Edward Island

  • Saskatchewan 

You must be 19 in:

  • British Columbia

  • New Brunswick

  • Nova Scotia 

  • Northwest Territories

  • Nunavut

  • Yukon 

How to Fill Out and Submit a Credit Card Application

You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone, or in person, but it’s easiest to apply online. Before applying, research the best credit card for you and weigh all the pros and cons. 

Here are all the pages for all of the major credit card issuers:

How Do You Apply For a Credit Card Online?

Visit the credit card issuer’s website and click on the card you want to apply for. Read through all the details and ensure you meet all eligibility requirements. 

Click on the “apply now” button, and you’ll be taken to another page that guides you through the application process step-by-step. As outlined above, you’ll need to provide personal and financial information. 

Review your application to ensure everything is correct, then click “submit.”

Note that if you lie about your annual personal or household income, credit card issuers can verify your information, and your application will be declined. 

Applying In Person

Some credit unions may require you to come into the branch to apply, and newcomers to Canada are often encouraged to do so, as additional documents are likely required. 

Note that if you apply in a branch, you’ll need to bring physical copies of documents like your proof of income and photo ID. 

Applying Over the Phone

If you’re not super tech-savvy and don’t want to visit a branch, calling the bank and speaking to an advisor can be the best alternative. They will walk you through the process and tell you where to send your documents. 

A woman typing on a laptop on a desk

Image by This_is_Engineering from Pixabay

How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card?

Depending on the type of credit card you’re applying for and the issuer, approval can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few days. 

The physical card can take up to a few weeks to arrive, but you may be able to use your credit card online before the physical card arrives in the mail. 

What to Consider When Applying for a Credit Card

When choosing a credit card, you’ll need to compare various factors. These can include:

Credit card fees 

Some credit cards have annual or monthly fees, plus foreign exchange, withdrawal, and inactivity fees. 

Credit cards with no annual fees can be great starter cards, but they probably won’t offer as many benefits and rewards as those with annual fees. Beginner credit cards also don’t offer as high a spending limit as mid- or high-tier cards. 

Three of the best credit cards with no annual fees include:

Credit card interest rates 

If you carry a balance on your credit card, the interest rate is an important factor to consider. The higher the interest rate, the more you’ll pay on your monthly balance.

You can look for a low-interest credit card, which can be a great option if you’re working to pay off your balance. Even if there is an annual fee, the lower interest rate can be worth it. 

Here are some of the best low-interest credit cards:

Credit card rewards and benefits

Many credit cards offer rewards points or cash back on most purchases. Consider what you value the most, whether that be travel rewards and insurance, cash back on high spending categories, or everyday rewards points. 

Credit card requirements 

As mentioned above, credit cards require at least a fair credit score, and some require a minimum yearly income. Ensure you meet all requirements before applying. 

If you have no credit history or a low credit score, consider applying for a secured credit card, which can give you a chance to build a credit history. 

If you’re currently a renter, sign up for Chexy with your debit card and add Credit Builder to your account to help build your credit score faster, so that you can get access to better credit cards.

Tips for Credit Card Approval

Here are a few tips to help you get approved for a credit card:

Check your credit score 

Before applying, check your credit score to see if you’ll be approved. Your score should be 660 or higher. The higher your credit score, the higher your chance of approval. 

Pay your bills on time

Paying your bills on time and in full is what makes up 35% of your credit score, so it’s important that you do this and don’t miss any payments. 

Keep your credit utilization low 

Your credit utilization ratio (the credit you’re using vs your credit limit) should be 30% or less. This can improve your credit score, increase your chance for approval, and show lenders you can manage your credit responsibly. 

What Are the Easiest Credit Cards to Get in Canada?

Some of the easiest credit cards to get are secured credit cards, which require a deposit from you as collateral in case you cannot pay your credit card bill.

Besides secured cards, some American Express credit cards, including the Amex Cobalt Card and the SimplyCash Preferred Card, are quite easy to get approved for as they do not have a minimum income requirement. If you apply online, you can get instantly approved in minutes. 

A few other notable credit cards with instant approval include:

What Are the Best Credit Cards for Paying Rent?

These are our recommendations for the best credit cards to use when paying rent with Chexy. Look out for credit cards with high cash back or rewards points, such as:

Once you’ve submitted a credit card application and get approved, start using your credit card to pay rent with Chexy. Not only do you earn points, cash back, and travel rewards, but you can also build credit on your rent payments, split with your roommates, and more. 

Get started with Chexy today. 

Subscribe to The Chexy Rundown for exclusive travel rewards and credit card deals you won’t want to miss. 

FAQs

Does applying for a credit card affect your credit score?

Applying for a credit card can temporarily decrease your credit score, as each credit application is considered a hard credit check. If you pay your bills on time and don’t open multiple credit accounts at once, you should have no problem raising your credit score again.  

Can a Canadian get a US credit card?

Some banks and credit card companies offer a US credit card for Canadians. They usually have no foreign transaction fees on US purchases and allow you to build a US credit history. Getting one of these credit cards is much easier than opening a US bank account. 

What is a normal credit limit in Canada?

According to Equifax, the average credit limit in Canada is about $5,800. Credit limits vary based on the credit card and your personal income, employment history, and other factors. 

What should I do if my credit card application is declined?

You may be able to contact the credit card issuer or financial institution to find out why you were declined. It may be because you had too low a credit score, didn’t meet the minimum income, or your information has not been able to be verified.