Credit card companies often send elaborate mailings and email messages that promote the many features and benefits their cards offer. Despite how some of their marketing messages may name you specifically, say you’re pre-approved, and invite you to apply, there are no guaranteed approval credit cards.

In fact, all credit cards require that a customer formally complete a credit card application before they’re given the green light to open a new credit card account — regardless of their credit history, income, or credit score.

Here’s a look at why guaranteed approval credit cards don’t exist — and how to increase the chances that your credit card application will result in an approval when you see a credit card offer that’s too good to pass up.

Are there credit card offers that guarantee my approval?

In a word, no. Credit card companies cannot issue credit cards to consumers without the customer’s permission to pull and view their credit report.

Known as a “hard inquiry,” the process empowers credit issuers to review details about a potential customer’s other credit accounts, the balances on them, and payment history, to determine how much risk a potential customer presents if they are offered a line of credit.

In turn, this hard inquiry process gives customers control over who can view their private credit-related information.

If there are no guaranteed approval credit cards, why do I get credit offers?

Credit card issuers invite customers to apply as a form of targeted marketing, according to?Experian. While not an exact science, this allows credit issuers to promote their products to customers who are most likely to want a particular credit card based on other brands they may buy, magazines they read, and products they own.

If you receive an offer for a guaranteed approval credit card, a credit card issuer may have purchased your name on a list of customer contact information from other brands you have a relationship with — like rewards or loyalty programs, catalogs, and magazines.

The credit card issuers who send you offers from these lists may not have seen your credit or financial information; they simply have reason to believe that you could qualify for the product they offer, based on other products you have purchased.

Is there an online tool I can use to get a guaranteed approval credit card offer?

While there are no guaranteed approval credit card offers, some credit card issuers offer a short online form that may present you with a pre-qualified offer.

Online Pre-approval tools like Discover’s can instill more confidence in the card application process because it uses your specific information to match you with a credit card offer. All you have to do is fill out an easy, brief online form with some personal and financial information. From there, you are presented with an offer and can choose whether or not you wish to apply for the card. Moreover, this pre-approval tool does not impact your credit score. Your credit will only be affected if you choose to apply for the card.

What goes into approving me for a credit card?

When you complete a credit card application, you’re generally asked to provide information like your Social Security number, current mailing address and phone number, occupation and employer — along with your current salary — and debt obligations.

How do I improve the chances that my credit card application will be approved?

There may not be guaranteed approval credit cards, but you can get a sense of your credit health by checking your credit score and history before you apply.

If your credit score is in the “low” or “average” ranges, focus on how to improve your credit score over time before you apply for a new credit card. For example, you might commit to making timely monthly payments, paying down other credit card balances and limiting the amount of your credit lines you use for several months before you apply for a new credit card. You could also sign up for an online product, such as Discover’s Credit Scorecard, that allows you to stay on top of your credit score by providing information on what’s helping and hurting your score every 30 days when you refresh it.*

*Credit Scorecard Information: Credit Scorecard is provided by Discover Bank, and includes a FICO??Credit Score and other credit information. Credit Scorecard information is based on data from Experian and may differ from credit scores and credit information provided by other credit bureaus. This information is provided to you at no cost and with your consent. You must be 18 years old and a U.S. resident or a resident of America Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands. Your Credit Scorecard will be refreshed the later of every 30-days or the next time you log in to Credit Scorecard. Discover and other lenders may use different inputs, such as a FICO??Credit Score, other credit scores and more information in credit decisions. This product may change or end in the future. FICO is a registered trademark of the Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.