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A credit score is a 3 digit number between 300-900 that gives potential lenders a snapshot of a customer’s credit history and payment record. In India, three credit bureaus are authorised by RBI to issue credit reports and credit scores – CIBIL™, Equifax and Experian. Though all three scores are valid, the CIBIL™ score is generally the most widely used in India.

A credit score of 750 or above is generally considered to be a good score. A person with such a score stands a good chance of having their credit card application approved quickly. A score of 750 or above signifies that the customer has demonstrated financial discipline and good repayment history over a long period of time. Banks, NBFC and credit card companies view such customers as being relatively low-risk borrowers who have previously demonstrated responsible repayment behaviour. Lenders are therefore more willing to approve loan and credit card applications from such customers. If you have a credit score of 750 or above, you stand a high chance of having your application approved quickly and on good terms.

Will I get a card with a CIBIL™ score of less than 750?

Yes, lenders do approve applications from those with a score of less than 750, but the approval process will take longer, the credit limit will be lower and the interest rate on the balance might be higher. Therefore, while you might be approved for a card with a credit score of less than 750, the terms and conditions of usage on the card might not be attractive. It is advisable to improve your score to 750 before applying for a card so that you can avail of better terms and save a significant amount of money on your repayment burden in the long run.

How do people with a low credit score get credit cards?

Most lenders are unwilling to approve credit cards applications from customers with a low credit score – i.e. in general, a score below 750. Credit card companies do not want run the risk of delayed payments or defaults and might be inclined to reject applications from customers with a score of less than 750. However, not all those with a low score have consistently poor credit discipline. There might be several other reasons for a low credit score: You might have a family emergency that requires extra expenditure and leaves you short of funds to make full repayments. Or, if you do not have an adequate number of loans or credit cards to your name, there may not be enough credit history to judge your credit behaviour. This might also cause your credit score to be low.

People with a low credit score who do not qualify for a credit cards can apply for a ‘secured’ credit card. A secured card works exactly the same way as a regular or unsecured credit card except that the customer has to make a fixed deposit with the bank that is issuing the card. In case the customer defaults on a payment, the bank deducts the amount to be paid from the fixed deposit. As the bank runs no risk of losing money, even people with a low credit score can qualify for a secured card. By making full and timely payments on this card, customers can rebuild their credit history and increase their score.

Therefore, while there is no fixed minimum CIBIL™ score to apply for a card, it is recommended that you ensure that you have a score of at least 750 before you apply for a card. If you have a low score, there is a high chance that your application will be rejected, and each rejection causes your credit score to drop even further. Take steps right away to improve your score so that you avoid rejection, and to allow you fast and hassle-free access to credit in the future as well.

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