What your Credit Karma Approval Odds really mean

Screenshot of Credit Karma Approval Odds in appImage: Screenshot of Credit Karma Approval Odds in app

In a Nutshell

Your Credit Karma Approval Odds can help you find a card that matches your credit profile, but they don’t guarantee approval. Ultimately, the credit card company has the final say.
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If you’re getting ready to apply for a new credit card, you might be concerned about whether you’ll actually be approved.

Nobody likes feeling rejected, but there’s more to it than that.

Applying for a credit card usually results in the issuer making a hard inquiry on your credit, which could lower your credit scores by a few points and stay on your credit reports for up to two years.

You don’t want too many hard inquiries clogging up your credit reports, so it’s important to understand your chances of being approved for a particular card. That’s where Credit Karma Approval Odds can help.

What are Credit Karma Approval Odds?

When you’re logged into the Credit Karma app and searching for a new credit card, you might notice a star with a check mark directly below each card image. Next to the star, you’ll see your Approval Odds.

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While the Approval Odds in the example are “outstanding,” other possibilities you might see include “excellent,” very good,” “good,” “fair” and “poor.” But what, exactly, do they mean?

Approval Odds serve as guidelines regarding the likelihood you’ll be approved for a specific credit card. Everyone’s credit situation is different, so your odds might be different from those of other Credit Karma members.

Click on the Approval Odds info button, and you’ll see a pop-up message that explains how Credit Karma determines your unique Approval Odds.

Credit Karma determines Approval Odds by comparing your credit profile to other Credit Karma members who were approved for this product, or whether you meet certain criteria determined by the lender. Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure thing, but knowing your Approval Odds may help you narrow down your choices. For example, you may not be approved because you don’t meet the lender’s “ability to pay standard” after they verify your income and employment; or, you already have the maximum number of accounts with that specific lender.

If you’re looking for a new credit card, these Approval Odds can certainly help you when you’re evaluating which one is the best fit for you.

Does getting rejected for a credit card hurt my credit?

When you apply for a credit card, the issuer usually checks your credit. This type of credit report inquiry is called a hard inquiry. Hard inquiries generally occur when a financial institution, such as a lender or credit card issuer, checks your credit after you’ve applied for any type of credit, such as a credit card, mortgage or auto loan.

Hard inquiries may have a negative impact on your credit scores. But there’s good news: Getting rejected or approved for a card has no impact on your credit scores.

Approval Odds are guidelines — not guarantees

Even if your Approval Odds are “outstanding,” “excellent” or “very good,” remember that the issuer — not Credit Karma — always has the final say in whether you’ll actually be approved.

Credit Karma compares your credit profile to the credit profiles of other members who were approved for the card or to lender criteria to assess the likelihood that you’ll be approved.

But keep in mind that though this determination is based on member data and lender criteria, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll be approved. Everyone’s credit situation is unique, so there’s simply no way to make a perfect comparison between our members’ profiles.

Some things a bank may take into account when deciding whether to approve your application include …

Why outstanding,’ ‘excellent,’ or very good Approval Odds don’t guarantee approval

Credit Karma is all about empowering people with accurate, transparent information — it’s baked into our mission.

Though Approval Odds use statistical analysis to determine the likelihood of approval, it’s important to understand some of the other factors at play.

First, there are several different credit score models out there. Credit Karma doesn’t actually calculate your credit score — the scores and credit report information you see on our site come from TransUnion and Equifax, two of the three major credit bureaus.

Credit Karma provides VantageScore 3.0 credit scores that are calculated by TransUnion and Equifax. But a credit card company will likely use a different scoring model altogether.

There can be variation among credit scoring models and even among credit bureaus. Many different factors could be considered when calculating a score, and each model may weigh credit factors differently.

But though your scores may vary, they’re all based on information in your credit reports. So focusing on what’s in your reports could help you build your credit overall.

These scores can help you figure out where you stand, but it’s ultimately the credit card company that will look at all your risk factors and determine if you’re a qualified candidate for its product.

What to do if you aren’t approved

If your application for a new credit card gets denied, don’t panic. Though the hard inquiry necessary for the application may affect your credit scores, getting denied doesn’t further hurt them. The impact on your credit may be small and can improve over time.

Secondly, check your credit reports to make sure all the information is correct. If not, you’ll want to dispute any errors.

On top of that, make sure your credit utilization — the amount of available credit you use — is below 30%. You’ll also want to verify your payments are on-time and paid in full to keep your credit in good shape.

If you really think the credit card company made a mistake in rejecting you, consider calling the company’s reconsideration line to make your case. There’s no guarantee this will work, but it can’t hurt to try.

Bottom line

While by no means the final say, Credit Karma Approval Odds should be used as a guideline for the types of credit cards that may be a good fit for you.

Ultimately, your best bet is to be a responsible credit user by making on-time payments and keeping your balances low. Building your credit is one of the best ways to increase the approval odds in your favor.

About the author: Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer and editor currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy and empowering people to take control of their finances. Her work has been f… Read more.