Best Credit Cards to Apply Online

Best Credit Cards to Apply Online

Updated 25 March 2021

Written by Nikki Dale

Why Apply for a Credit Card Online?

There are several ways that you can apply for a credit card, but the fastest and often the simplest is by using an online application process.

If you are applying for a credit card from a bank, you can go to your local branch and apply in person. Some credit cards accept postal applications; you can download and print an application form, pick one up from a branch or ask for one to be sent to you.

A telephone application process will consist of a call handler going through the application form for you during the call.

Online applications are faster.

You can usually find out if you have been accepted for the card immediately upon completing the application, and the card itself will normally be with you in about 10 days.

It is often faster to apply for a credit card offered by your bank as they already have the relevant information they need to make a decision.

If more information is needed, the decision may take a bit longer, around 5–10 days, depending on when you apply.

Applying early in the week means you have a greater chance of getting the application reviewed faster.

To make the most of your application, remember that the information you provide needs to be accurate.

You also need to be sure that the card you are applying for is suitable – multiple applications for credit in a short time can have a negative impact on your credit rating.

This can be avoided by using an eligibility checker to perform a soft search on your credit history to discover the likelihood of you being accepted.

Do You Need to Send Identification Documents if You Apply Online?

An online application uses several resources to check your identification and credit – these include the electoral roll, which confirms your address, and credit reference agencies.

It is often simpler and quicker to pass identification checks when you apply for a credit card from the bank that you already have an account with, as they should hold a lot of the information.

There may be instances, however, when further details are needed to confirm your identity.

To prove your income for affordability purposes, the credit card company may request copies of:

  • Your driving licence or passport
  • Utility bills
  • Bank statements

These further checks can delay the application.

Any further documentation usually needs to be posted to the credit card company or taken into a branch, if you’re applying through a local bank.

In some cases, the documents can be scanned and uploaded to a secure document storage facility.

What Information Do You Need to Apply for a Credit Card Online?

To prevent fraud and ensure that you are suitable for credit, card companies need some information from you.

It is important that you have all the details to hand when you fill out the application form – this will make it much quicker.

Name (and Name Changes)

Establishing your identity and credit history through credit reference agencies requires your full name – and any name changes that you may have had (such as through marriage).

Date of Birth

To be eligible for credit, you must be over 18. Your date of birth will also help to identify you.

Nationality

If you’re applying for a UK credit card, credit is usually only available to UK residents.

Current Address and Address History for Three Years

Your address history should be easily confirmed through the electoral roll.

The credit card company may also need to know your previous addresses if you have moved within the last three years.

Employment Status

Some credit card companies will not lend to people who are not full-time employees, while others are happy to take on people receiving certain benefits or working part-time.

Salary

As responsible lenders, credit card companies need to make sure that people applying for credit can afford repayments – and to do this, they ask for the applicant’s income.

Before Applying Online

Register on Electoral Roll

Establishing your home address via the electoral roll is a necessary step to ensure that your identity can be confirmed quickly.

If you are not currently registered, make that the first step in your application.

Check Your Credit Report for Mistakes

Your credit report is what any creditors will check to decide if you are eligible for credit.

If you check it before applying you will know whether there are any problems with unpaid debts, incorrect information or loans that have not been repaid.

There are many companies that can offer you access to your credit report, some more accurate than others.

Bear in mind that the two main agencies people use are Experian and Equifax.

You can get a free trial for either of these two companies to check out your report.

Although there are companies who can provide the information for free, it may not be as up to date.

Improve Your Credit Score

If you can make your credit score better without applying for further credit, it will increase the likelihood of acceptance for the cards you want.

There are several ways you can improve your score, although they may take time:

  • Make repayments on time – If you have existing credit (such as loans or store cards) then make sure you are making repayments on time. Meeting the responsibility of your existing credit will go a long way to reassuring credit card companies that you can be relied on to make the required repayments. If you cannot pay them in full, be sure to make at least the minimum payment every month.
  • Pay off existing debt – If you can, pay off as much existing debt as you can afford so that you have less open credit. Try and get your existing debts paid off as soon as possible.
  • Close unused credit lines – If you have unused credit lines like overdrafts or credit cards, it is a good idea to close these. If not, the credit card companies may see that you have available credit to be used, and you might end up overstretched financially.
  • Use a credit-bulding credit card – A credit-building card is a low-limit credit card designed to help you create a credit history.

Use an Eligibility Checker With Your Chosen Credit Card

Every credit application you make is recorded on your credit history, whether you are approved or denied.

If you make multiple applications in a short space of time, it might suggest to the credit card companies or banks that you are desperate for credit and might be experiencing financial hardship, so they will be less inclined to accept you.

There is a way for you to find out if you are eligible for a specific credit card without having to complete the whole application – a soft search or eligibility checker.

You will usually find that the bank or credit card company has an online quick-check facility that can indicate, without affecting your credit score, whether you will be accepted.

An eligibility checker will check for your existing debt, any unused overdraft or credit, poor financial history, any joint bank account, mortgage or loan, as well as the usual identity questions.

As each credit card company and bank will have different criteria, there is no guarantee that you will be accepted for your preferred card.

An eligibility checker reduces the risk of you applying for a card and getting declined.

You should always research the credit cards in which you are interested, to check that they are right for you.

There are cards designed for almost every purpose, for example:

Some cards also offer perks or rewards.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card Online?

Immediate acceptance is one of the most important reasons that people choose to apply online for a credit card, but it can take some time to process and receive the card.

If there is a specific reason that you are opening a new credit card – to fund a big purchase like a holiday or to move credit balances from other cards before the end of an introductory period – then it is a good idea to apply well before you need it.

The application form might only take 10 minutes to fill in, but if there are any delays or further queries that need answering, your acceptance might not be completed for up to 10 days, and receiving the card (and the PIN) could take another 10–14 days.

If you need credit by a particular date, apply at least a month before you need it to ensure that everything is ready.

Best 10 Credit Cards in the UK to Apply Online 2021Best 10 Credit Cards in the UK to Apply Online 2021

Best 10 Credit Cards in the UK to Apply Online in 2021

1. Santander All in One

Fees: £3 per month
Immediate decision: Yes

The Santander All in One credit card is designed to be used for both purchasing and balance transfers.

Introductory rate:

  • 0% interest on balance transfers for up to 26 months
  • 0% interest on purchases for up to 20 months

Rewards/perks:

  • 0.5% cashback on all purchases
  • Up to 15% cashback from partners with retailer offers
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No balance transfer fees

Representative rate:

  • 23.7% APR variable
  • 17.9% p.a. (variable) on purchases

Pros

A great everyday credit card with a reasonable APR out of the introductory rate. Cashback is a nice bonus too.

The long-term 0% interest rate for both purchases and balance transfers is also an attractive feature.

Cons

One of the very few credit cards that has a monthly charge, which might be the deciding factor for some people.

Visit Santander All in One

2. Santander Everyday Credit Card

Fees: None
Eligibility checker: Yes
Immediate decision: Yes

This card is designed to be useful for everyday purposes, including purchases and balance transfers.

Quick application process and an eligibility checker available.

Introductory rate:

  • 0% interest on balance transfers for up to 18 months
  • 0% interest on purchases for up to 3 months

Rewards/perks:

  • No balance transfer fees

Representative rate:

  • 20.9% APR variable
  • 20.9% p.a. (variable) on purchases

Pros

No monthly or annual fee, and a decent balance transfer introductory period. Quick application process.

Cons

No perks or bonuses.

Visit Santander Everyday Credit Card

3. Virgin Bank – Virgin All Round Credit Card

Fees: None
Eligibility checker: Yes
Immediate decision: Yes

Virgin Bank offers various card options for different needs, and the All Round Credit Card is a multipurpose card that offers benefits to those looking to make purchases and transfer balances.

As a Virgin subsidiary, there are benefits available to cardholders on various other Virgin products.

Introductory rate:

  • 0% balance transfers up to 23 months
  • 0% on purchases up to 20 months (depending on status)
  • 2.9% balance transfer fee

Rewards/perks:

  • Holiday and travel offers
  • 20% off Virgin Experience Days
  • 30% off Virgin Balloon Flights
  • 40% off Virgin Wines

Representative rate:

  • 21.9% APR variable

Pros

Virgin Bank offers some great perks and rewards, and their introductory rates for both balance transfers and purchases are available for a long period.

Cons

The length of the introductory period depends on your credit status. There is also a balance transfer fee to take into account if you want to use that facility.

Visit Virgin Bank – Virgin All Round Credit Card

4. Halifax Low Fee Balance Transfer

Fees: None
Eligibility checker: Yes
Immediate decision: Yes

This card is designed for those who are looking to transfer a balance but still take advantage of a low-interest rate on purchases.

It doesn’t have many ‘bells and whistles’ in terms of perks, but is a simple, straightforward option.

Introductory rate:

  • 0% on balance transfers for up to 23 months
  • 0% on purchases for up to 9 months (depending on status)
  • 1.5% balance transfer fee

Rewards/perks: None

Representative rate:

  • 19.9% APR variable
  • 19.95% p.a. on purchases (variable)

Pros

Long introductory period for both balance transfers and purchases, and the representative APR is lower than most of the other cards available.

Cons

There are a few fees to be aware of: the 1.5% balance transfer fee, and a 2.95% non-sterling transaction fee that could make this less attractive to those looking to travel abroad.

Visit Halifax Low Fee Balance Transfer

5. Sainsbury’s Bank Dual Offer Credit Card

Fees: None
Eligibility checker: No
Immediate decision: Yes

Sainsbury’s Bank credit cards and banking facilities are popular because they are straightforward – and they reward customers with Nectar points for using the card.

Introductory rate:

  • 0% on balance transfers for up to 20 months
  • 0% on purchases for up to 20 months (depending on status)
  • 3% balance transfer fee

Rewards/perks:

  • Up to 7,500 bonus Nectar points in the first two months
  • 3 Nectar points for every £1 spent in Sainsbury’s, TU, Argos and Habitat
  • 1 Nectar point for every £5 spent elsewhere

Representative rate:

  • 21.9% APR variable
  • 21.95% p.a. (variable) on purchases

Pros

Great bonuses for Nectar customers – points can be converted into vouchers for shopping and for entertainment. Long introductory rates for both balance transfers and purchases.

Cons

There is a balance transfer fee, and the lack of a soft-search facility means you need to be sure you will be accepted before you apply, to avoid an unnecessary addition to your credit history.

Visit Sainsbury’s Bank Dual Offer Credit Card

6. Tesco Bank – All Round Credit Card

Fees: None
Eligibility checker: No
Immediate decision: Yes

Aimed at Tesco customers, this credit card is great for both purchases and balance transfers with specific benefits for those who use Tesco for their grocery shop.

Introductory rate:

  • 0% on balance transfers for up to 15 months
  • 0% on purchases for up to 12 months (depending on status)
  • 1.94% balance transfer fee

Rewards/perks:

  • 5 extra Clubcard points for every £4 spent in Tesco and on Tesco Fuel
  • 1 point on every £8 spent outside Tesco

Representative rate:

  • 20.9% APR variable

Pros

A long period of 0% interest and great for use as an everyday card, as well as for balance transfers.

Extra perks for Clubcard customers.

Cons

Balance transfer fee could be a problem when other cards don’t have one.

Visit Tesco Bank – All Round Credit Card

7. Tesco Bank – Foundation Credit Card

Fees: None
Eligibility checker: No
Immediate decision: Yes

This card from Tesco Bank is designed to help build credit. It has less-strict eligibility criteria and built-in tools to help you manage your money.

Introductory rate: None

Rewards/perks:

  • Lower credit limits (£250–£1,500)
  • 5 extra Clubcard points for every £4 spent in Tesco and on Tesco Fuel
  • 1 point for every £8 spent outside Tesco
  • Free access to TransUnion to monitor credit score
  • Help managing credit

Representative rate:

  • 27.5% APR variable

Pros

Great for building credit with support from Tesco Bank and partners.

Cons

High-interest rates and no introductory period.

No eligibility checker, but less-strict criteria regarding bad credit.

Visit Tesco Bank – Foundation Credit Card

8. Capital One Classic

Fees: None
Eligibility checker: Yes
Immediate decision: Yes

This card is created specifically for those who need to build a better credit score, so you are more likely to be accepted for this card if you have bad credit.

Introductory rate: None

Rewards/perks:

  • Manageable credit limit (£200–£1,500)
  • Up to two optional credit-limit increases each year subject to status

Representative rate:

  • 34.9% APR variable

Pros

Quickcheck eligibility checker takes the guesswork out of applying, and the lower credit limit makes it easier for you to manage your repayments.

Cons

Much higher APR than other cards as is normal with a card made for bad credit.

Visit Capital One Classic

9. Aqua Classic

Fees: None
Eligibility checker: Yes
Immediate decision: Yes

The Aqua credit card is from a credit company rather than a bank. It is another good option for those who do not have the best credit history.

Introductory rate: None

Rewards/perks:

  • Manageable credit limit (£250–£1,200)

Representative rate:

  • 37.9% APR representative

Pros

This card offers both manageable monthly payments and a credit limit designed to help you not get further into debt.

Cons

Very hefty interest rates mean that it is important to pay off any purchases before the statement date so that you aren’t stuck paying back a lot more than you borrowed.

Visit Aqua Classic

10. M&S Credit Card – Reward Plus

Fees: None
Eligibility checker: Yes
Immediate decision: Yes

The Marks & Spencer credit card offers a low APR and you can choose the way you want to use the card.

The Reward Plus card has introductory rates for balance transfers and purchases but also offers a whole host of perks.

Introductory rate:

  • 0% on balance transfers for up to six months
  • 0% on purchases for up to six months
  • 2.9% balance transfer fee

Rewards/perks:

  • Double M&S points on M&S purchases for the first 12 months
  • Digital statements offer extra points
  • One M&S point for every £2 spent elsewhere
  • Up to 55 days’ interest-free credit when you pay the full balance on time every month

Representative rate:

  • 19.9% APR variable

Pros

A great everyday credit card that rewards M&S customers. Low APR outside of the introductory period.

Cons

There is a balance transfer fee and the introductory periods are a lot shorter than other cards.

Visit M&S Credit Card – Reward Plus

Final Thoughts

Applying online for a credit card is not only much faster than completing a paper form in branch or to send through the post, but you may also receive a decision immediately.

Many credit card companies and banks offer soft search eligibility checkers so you can find out if you will be accepted without affecting your credit score.

Online applications usually take less than 10 minutes and you should get a decision straight away, although this might take extra time if the company needs more information to verify your identity and your affordability.

Take time to ensure that your credit history is up to date before you apply to give yourself the best chance. Research the available cards before applying.

You need to think about what you are going to use the card for when considering each option.

WikiJob does not provide tax, investment or financial services and advice. The information provided is for general reference and you should not rely on it to make (or refrain from making) any financial decisions. Personal situations will vary. Always seek independent financial advice when choosing how to manage your finances.