How to get a credit card

Learn about how to apply for a credit card, eligibility requirements and picking the right one for you.

Applying for a credit card is a great first step in building your credit history and improving your financial well-being — if you use your card responsibly. You can speed up the credit card application process by having the right information ready before you apply. If you’re  not sure which card to pick, we’ll help you choose the best CIBC credit card for you.

What information do I need to apply?

Applying for a credit card with us is easy, but you’ll need to provide some important details first:

  • Full legal name and date of birth
  • Home address, phone number and email address
  • Current and previous employers
  • Gross annual income
  • Social Insurance Number (optional)
  • Information on other credit cards you hold

Missing these details could delay the approval process or result in a denial. If you’re unsure of how to answer a question on your application, call us at 1-866-525-8622 Opens your phone app..

Choose the best CIBC credit card for you

Finding the right credit card depends on your spending habits, lifestyle and financial situation. We have different card options with different benefits. Choose from travel rewards cards,  cash back cards, student cards, and everyday use cards.

Travel rewards credit cards 

A travel credit card is a great choice if you enjoy traveling. You can earn points on everyday purchases and use them towards your next adventure — big or small.

Learn more about travel rewards cards.

Cash back credit cards

With a cash back credit card, you can earn cash back on everyday purchases. Plus, maximize your cash back rewards when you spend on certain categories.

Learn more about cash back cards.

No annual fee credit cards 

Skip the annual fee and still collect and redeem reward points or get cash back. If you don’t need all the frills or you just want to build your credit, this may be a good option for you. 

Learn more about no annual fee cards.

Low interest credit cards 

A low interest credit card can save you money if you tend to carry a balance or need to pay off a large purchase over a few months. 

Learn more about low interest credit cards.

Student credit cards

Student credit cards can help you build your credit history and collect rewards while you focus on school. Plus, some charge you no fees. 

Learn more about student cards.

Business credit cards 

Separate your business and personal expenses with a business credit card. Use your card to cover business purchases, earn travel rewards and improve your cash flow.

Learn more about busines cards.

Not sure which credit card to pick? Use our compare tool to narrow down your options.

How to qualify for a credit card  

Here are some of the basic requirements you need to meet when applying for a credit card:

  • You must be a Canadian citizen or resident. If you have temporary residence status, your application may take longer to review
  • You must be the age of majority — 18 or 19, depending on the province you live in
  • You have a good credit score 
  • You haven’t filed for bankruptcy in the past 7 years
  • You meet the minimum annual income requirement

How to apply for a credit card

You can apply for a credit card in one of 3 ways:

How to speed up the application process

To speed up the application process, fill out your application form correctly with all the necessary information. Apply for cards that match your credit profile. 

Here are some more tips to consider:

Check your credit score 

Before you apply, check your credit score. If it’s not where it should be, you can request a copy of your credit report to understand the factors that have affected your score. If you have a poor credit score, you may have a harder time getting approved for a card. But we can help you make a plan and take proactive steps to bring your score up.

Lower your credit utilization ratio 

Your credit utilization rate is the amount of available credit you use at any time — it’s also an important factor in determining your credit score. A high utilization rate may indicate you’ll have a hard time paying off your card balance on time, so a lower utilization rate is better for your credit score. You should aim to have a credit utilization ratio of 30% or less. Anything higher can damage your credit score. Not using your card enough can also affect your credit score because lenders won’t be able to measure your creditworthiness.

Reduce outstanding debt

If you’re carrying a lot of debt, you may have a hard time getting approved for a credit card. To creditors, high balances mean you’re at risk of defaulting on your new credit card balances. It may be a good idea to reduce your outstanding debt, especially if you have a lot of it, before you apply. 

Find out if you prequalify for a card 

If you prequalify for a credit card, this usually means your credit score and other financial information matches some of the initial eligibility criteria to open a card. Getting prequalified doesn't guarantee an approval but it does improve your chances. Most prequalification offers will appear in your online or mobile banking, or you might get a letter in the mail. To learn more about whether or not you prequalify for a card, call us anytime at 1-866-525-8622 Opens your phone app..

How does my credit score impact the credit card application process?

Your credit score is an indicator of your credit risk. Your credit risk shows how likely you are to make your credit card payments on time.

A strong credit score can improve your chances of getting approved for a credit card because it shows creditors you can use your credit card responsibly. Having a low credit score means you might be approved for a credit card, but with a lower credit limit. 

Your credit history directly impacts your credit score. Your credit history includes a record of transactions, and lists the types of credit you have — like credit cards or loans. Your credit history will also show your payment history, including your on-time payments, late payments or missed payments. 

Learn more about your credit score and ways to raise it.

What should I do if my application is denied?

Being denied for a credit card can be frustrating, but it doesn’t mean you’ll never qualify for a credit card again.

Here’s what you can do after your credit card application is denied:

1. Understand why you were denied 

You’ll get a letter stating the reason why your credit card application was denied.  This could be related to your credit report or credit score. If you’ve missed payments, have debt or tend to carry a high credit card balance, you may have a tough time getting approved for a credit card. You could also be denied for forgetting to fill out important information in your application or if you don’t meet all the eligibility requirements. 

2. Review your credit report

If your credit report was a factor in the application decision, review your report. If you find mistakes, you can dispute them with the credit bureau.

3. Try to fix the problem

If your credit score is low, take a few months to build it up. Use your credit card responsibly, make your payments on time and try to pay off the entire balance each month so you’re not charged interest. Good credit habits will help you get approved on your next application. Plus, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements — like you’re the age of majority and your income meets the threshold.

4. Wait before you apply again 

If you were denied for a card, don’t start applying for other cards right away because this could negatively impact your credit score. Wait until you know why you were denied and start making positive changes to improve your chances of being approved for the next card. When you’re ready to apply, go for a credit card that fits your credit profile.

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