Tips for applying for credit cards on your phone

By Benjamin Salisbury


Using mobile devices for financial transactions is one of the leading trends of the last few years. Consumers are checking bank accounts, paying for everyday costs and bills, and transferring money via mobile. But do you know that you can also apply for a credit card using your mobile phone?

Here's how to do it and what to do to make it easier for you to complete the application process.

Mobile application abandonment rates are high
Most banks and card issuers offer credit card applications on mobile devices, but that presents some challenges when you're on the go and applying for a credit card.

Spokespeople for Santander, American Express and First Direct say the process of applying for a credit card with your mobile device is the same as seeking a card on your desktop PC.

"Applying for an American Express card on a mobile device is not any different to the desktop journey, as the credit decision process across devices is the same," a spokesperson for American Express said in an emailed response to questions.

Because financial applications tend to be long and complicated, the number of new applications that are successfully completed is low.

According to the August 2017 Remarketing Report from SaleCycle, the "cart abandonment rate" for all industries is 76.9%. That is, the percentage of people who began a transaction online but failed to complete it. For financial services, the abandonment rate was even higher, at 83.7%.

Why do people abandon applications?
SaleCycle's report showed that the most common reasons for not completing forms in the financial services sector were that the process took too long to complete and the customer was asked to provide too much personal information.

Other factors that are unique to the financial sector include the requirement for eligibility checks, bank account information and credit checks.

Finally, aspects such as needing to go to a branch or send in personal information separately factor in as well.

Tips on starting - and completing - applications
With a little research and preparation, you can increase the chances of successfully completing your credit card application on a mobile device.

Firstly, make sure you are using a secure wifi connection before you start any application. This protects your financial information when you're sending it to the financial institution.

"Recent research from Santander suggested over a quarter of British adults (26%) and 49% in the 18- to 34-year age group have carried out financial transactions on their phone using an unsecured wifi network," a Santander spokesperson said in an emailed response to questions.

Before you start, read the terms and conditions of the application and note the information necessary to complete the application. Then, have that documentation or information ready in advance.

For example, you may need to have personal details, addresses and bank account information for yourself and other account holders or details of any credit checks that will be carried out as part of the application process.

Make sure you have a bit of time, too.

"Do it when you have the basic financial info to hand - annual salary and other income, monthly outgoings, existing card balances if looking to transfer to take up an offer rate, and 10-15 minutes to spare without interruption as many online applications will not save the information inputted if connection is lost," a spokesperson for First Direct said in an emailed response to questions.

If you are interrupted, some card issuers, including Santander, will allow you to save your application and return to complete it later.

How can you ensure that your data is safe?
The technology used to link mobile devices to credit card issuers' online systems is typically safe, and there have been improvements in this area over the last few years.

However, the threat from cyber-attacks and fraudsters remains, as they also adopt new technology and systems to try to stay one step ahead of the game.

One key area that has seen improvements is the ability to authenticate the identity of card applicants. Technology introduced over the last two years has made this system less vulnerable.

Wireless links used for mobile credit card applications use encrypted links and are often safer than using wired internet or an unsecured wifi system. They also don't have the security threats that traditional paperwork sent through the post can have, such as when people can intercept and copy a letter or paper application form.

When you apply through a mobile device, you are essentially just entering your personal details directly onto the bank's database. This information is not stored on your phone so there's less chance of fraudsters getting hold of it.

"People applying for a credit card should follow best practice in keeping their data secure, and should be mindful of industry and first direct data security advice," said First Direct's spokesperson.

See related: 5 steps to applying for cards you're likely to get, 7 small mistakes that can break your score

Published: 28 August 2017