If you’re in the market for a new credit card but don’t want to waste time poking around credit card company sites looking for pre-approved deals, consider checking out CardMatch—a tool that can uncover higher sign-up bonuses than what’s publicly available otherwise. And while the tool isn’t a comprehensive one-stop shop for credit cards, it’s a good place to start shopping around. Here’s how it works.
What is CardMatch?
CardMatch is an online tool that matches you with credit card offers based on your credit score (you can find it here). If your credit score is higher, you might see deals for sign-up bonuses (in reward points or air miles) that will be higher than what’s normally available in public channels.
As an example, with CardMatch I’m pre-approved for the AmEx EveryDay Credit Card, with a sign-up bonus of 15,000 rewards points. Without the tool, a web search only turns up an offer of 10,000 rewards points, a difference of 5,000 points—which is worth about $30-50 according to American Express’ points calculator.
What’s the catch for using CardMatch?
The trade-off with CardMatch is that you have to provide personal information, some of which might be used for marketing spam emails and texts. You will have to submit an email, address, phone number, salary, and the last four digits of your social security number, as the tool will run a “soft inquiry” credit check in order to generate offers (unlike a hard inquiry, a soft inquiry does not affect your credit score). Of course, you can opt out of those marketing text and emails as they arrive, but they’re still annoying.
In terms of security, the tool is run by Bankrate, a consumer financial services company which uses bank-level security to ensure that your personal information is safe, according to The Points Guy. Again, if you don’t want to risk the spam or don’t want to share that much personal information, that’s fine, too. But if you’re already shopping around? It’s not that much different than applying for pre-approval on credit card sites directly.
The other consideration is that the tool is not comprehensive—since the tool is based on partnerships with credit card companies, you won’t see every card in the market. Using CardMatch is a good way to start shopping, but you still might want to do some research outside the tool, too.
Pre-approval does not mean actual approval
CardMatch merely tells you what cards you’re likely to qualify for, based on a soft inquiry on your credit. If you actually apply for the credit card, the lender will run a hard inquiry on your credit, which is a deeper dive into your credit history and can temporarily ding your credit score by a few points. In that case, it’s possible that the tool will recommend a card you don’t actually qualify for. That said, barring any hidden surprises in your credit history, you should be able to qualify for a card that’s pre-approved.