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Credit card bonuses present an excellent opportunity for consumers to earn cash back and airline miles for purchases they’re already making. As a result, it’s no surprise that more than half of adults in the U.S. use at least one rewards card.
But while credit card bonuses can often be lucrative, it can be challenging — and time-consuming — to find the best deals and decide which card is right for you.
The CardMatch tool helps to clear up some of this confusion by using your credit score to match you with the best credit card offers you’re eligible for. It’s a quick and simple way to discover targeted offers for cash back and travel rewards, especially if you have a good credit score.
We’re breaking down exactly how the CardMatch tool works, as well as a few things you should know before getting started.
What Is CardMatch?
CardMatch is an online tool that helps to match you with credit cards which you may be eligible for. The tool uses your credit score to find credit cards you’re pre-qualified for and would likely be approved for. Depending on your credit score, CardMatch may also help you find excellent credit card sign-up bonuses, including airline miles and cash back. .
How Does CardMatch Work?
The CardMatch tool uses your personal information to find credit cards that might be suitable for you. When you use the online tool, you enter information including your first and last name, address, the last four digits of your Social Security number, your employment status, and your monthly housing payments.
Using the information you’ve provided and a soft credit check, the CardMatch tool will display credit cards that might be a good fit for you. First, it will share cards that you’ve pre-qualified for or are likely to be approved for. Additionally, it may share targeted offers with better sign-up bonuses and rewards.
You can use CardMatch at CreditCards.com (which is owned by the same parent company as NextAdvisor.)
Will CardMatch Affect Your Credit Score?
When you use the CardMatch tool to get credit card recommendations, it runs a soft inquiry on your credit report. This credit check provides the information necessary to make accurate recommendations, but it does not have a negative impact on your credit. Soft inquiries don’t affect your credit score because you aren’t applying for credit.
However, if you take the CardMatch tool’s recommendation and ultimately apply for a credit card, then the credit card company will run a hard credit check to ensure you qualify.
“The soft pull won’t hurt your credit score,” said Andrea Woroch, a nationally recognized consumer finance expert. “It’s when you put in your final application and have the hard pull that you’ll see the impact on your credit score. Many hard inquiries can be a bad sign to lenders, so if you’re planning to buy a home or make another large purchase soon, be careful about adding hard inquiries to your credit report.”
Hard inquiries remain on your credit report for two years, but they likely won’t impact your credit for more than a few months. Additionally, inquiries for the same type of credit in a short period of time appear as a single hard inquiry. So if you apply for multiple credit cards close together, the impact to your credit score won’t be as severe.
How Accurate Is CardMatch?
CardMatch is able to recommend the best credit cards for you based on a soft credit check. If your true credit situation matches what the CardMatch tool discovers, then it’s likely that the recommendations you receive will be accurate.
However, because the CardMatch tool isn’t doing a deep dive into your credit report, it’s possible that some negative marks may not show up in their search. You could run into a situation where a piece of missing information leads the CardMatch tool to recommend a card which you don’t actually qualify for.
One strategy is to use the information from CreditMatch to do a bit of your own research. You can look into the credit card that’s been recommended to you and investigate its credit requirements. Then, you can run your own credit report to ensure there’s nothing on it that may prevent you from qualifying for the card.
It’s also important to remember that while the credit cards recommended to you on CardMatch might be a good fit for your credit score, they aren’t the only cards available.
For best results with the CardMatch tool, look at it as just one piece of the puzzle. Be sure to run your own credit check to ensure the accuracy of the tool’s recommendations and do a bit of your own research.
“Understand that there might be cards that aren’t on CardMatch,” said Joshua Strange, Certified Financial Planner and president of Good Life Financial Advisors of NOVA. “Don’t assume they’re going to cover the entire universe of cards. Some of the best credit cards for you might not show there. Don’t limit your search to just what’s on CardMatch.”
Before you start using the tool, consider what you’re hoping to get out of a credit card. Do you travel a lot, and therefore travel rewards are the best fit? Or are you planning to make a large purchase and could use the cash back? The tool can direct you to cards that you’re likely to be approved for, but it can’t tell you which one best suits your lifestyle.
When you know what type of reward you want — typically either cash back or airline miles — you can proactively seek out cards with bonuses that fit your financial goals.
What Is a Targeted Credit Card Offer?
Targeted credit card offers are a tool that credit card companies use to attract creditworthy borrowers to sign up for their cards. Targeted offers often include special sign-up bonuses that may be higher than what you’d find elsewhere. Companies often target a certain type of borrower, such as those with higher credit scores.
“The offers can differ based on what your qualifications are,” said Beverly Harzog, consumer finance analyst and credit card expert at U.S. News & World Report. “If they deem you particularly creditworthy, they might offer you a better sign-up bonus. It’s one of the promotional tools that credit card issuers use to target the best customers. There’s a lot of competition among credit card companies.”
Harzog also advises that if you have a high credit score, you may still be eligible for those sign-up bonuses, even if you didn’t receive a targeted offer.
“If you have seen an offer that someone else got and it’s a much higher sign-up bonus, you can call the credit card issuer and tell them you’re interested in applying for the card and you’d like that bonus,” Harzog said. “If you have excellent credit, you’ve got a great shot at success.”
The CardMatch tool can simplify the credit card shopping process by using your credit score to find targeted card offers for you. Consider it as another tool in your toolbox, and use it to consider your options.