Is it ok to apply for a credit card online?
I just received a credit card offer in the mail and it made me wonder, how safe it is to apply for a credit card online, really?
So, I set the paper application down and picked up my laptop and started digging into just how safe it is to apply for a credit card online. The long and short of it is, yes, it is safe to apply for a credit card online, well, sort of. I know, not a very helpful answer, right? Trust me, I felt the same way. So, I continued to dig to get a more fulfilling answer. And here is what I found. It really depends on how reputable the website is that you are providing your personal information too. Okay, great, but what does that mean? Below are some of the answers that I came up with as more questions sprang out from the original question.
What type of safety measures do websites use to protect my personal information?
The big factor to look for is what type of encryption the website is employing. There are a variety of different encryption types which include, DES, which is a low level encryption and not widely used anymore, TRIPLE DES, which is simply DES run three times, ADVANCED ENCRYPTION STANDARDS or AES, which has been the United States of America standard since 2002 and is the most widely used, and TWOFISH, which is free to use for hardware or software and as far as algorithms go, it is one of the fastest available.
So most, if not all, reputable websites use some type of encryption software to protect the personal information that you are keying in their electronic application form. Most websites use what is called SSL (Secure Sockets Layers) encryption. This basically “scrambles” the information while it is being transported from the computer you are entering it into the end terminal, say the company collection the credit card application.
Do websites that collect my personal data have privacy policies in place?
Are there benefits to applying online versus over the phone or with a paper application?
Yes, there are several advantages to applying for a credit card online rather than with a paper application. The biggest advantage to filling out an online application form, or any online form really, is ease. Many paper applications may have smaller areas to fill in and if your handwriting is large or sloppy this can be a pain. Online forms remove those obstacles instantly. Which leads right into the second advantage, accuracy.
With online forms if you make a mistake filling it out, the mistake can be easily and quickly fixed, before submitting it. Also, the person processing the information on the other end will not have to “figure out” illegible handwritten applications. A third advantage is that you don’t have to sit face to face or even talk to a person over the phone when filling out an application. It is often more convenient to be able to fill out one of these online forms while still in your pajamas. Also, sometimes people may feel uncomfortable, like the other person taking the information is judging them on their financial situation.
One final advantage is speed. With a paper application after you fill it out, you must wait for your local post office to collect it, sort it, and ship it to the credit card company. Then you must wait for the company to open your letter and process your application. Then you must wait even longer to get a response as to whether you were accepted or rejected. However, by filling out the application online, once you have completed it and proofread it for accuracy, you can simply click the submit button, and away it goes, being delivered almost instantly to the credit card company. And nowadays, many times you will get an acceptance or rejection response in a matter of hours, usually via email.
What information will I need to apply online?
The information may vary a little from company to company that you may be applying with online. However, you should expect to provide these five basic essentials at a minimum:
- Full Legal Name
- Current Mailing Address
- Date of Birth
- Social Security Number
- Annual Income
Depending on the type of credit card or the company offering said card, there may be other questions you may be required to answer. Usually, though, these five questions are enough for the company to start the review process of your application. I hope this helps answer your questions about whether it is safe to apply for a credit card online and to alleviate some of your security risk concerns upon doing so.