​​​If you're applying at a traditional bank...

Don’t complete online applications.You’ll have to go to the bank anyway to show your documents. bankers are least busy when the branch opens. Even better, book an appointment. 

​​​​​​​​before you apply

Prepare your IDs: you will need a government-issued photo ID and proof of address. Try to bring your driver’s license and passport. What if you don’t have those?

Your provider (bank / retailer) will want to know:

  • Your address, phone number, and email
  • Your yearly income and where it comes from (family / gift / part-time or full-time / scholarship). If you're a student, providers are okay with low/no income. 
  • The name of your employer (if you work).
  • Whether you own a house or rent. If you own property they'll want to know how long you've owned it for.
  • If you apply for a student card, provide the name of your college/university, area of study, and your year.

Remember that you'll be asked to confirm that you're the age of majority in your province (18/19), and that you haven't declared bankruptcy in the last 7 years.

apply for a credit card

completing the application

Confirm the credit card you're about to apply for has the features you expect. Check what other perks the card may offer. For example, purchase protection (a type of insurance) is common, even with no-fee cards. It may be useful if it's a free perk, but if this is your first credit card, you most likely don't need purchase protection if it comes with a fee.

Complete the application.

Don't provide your SIN (social insurance number) when applying for a credit card.  

The provider will want to check your credit history
. You'll have to give them permission because making purchases with a credit card is the same as borrowing money. 

You may be asked if you would like to purchase additional services, for which you’d have to pay, such as payment protection Generally, you should decline.  

Sign the application.

You should get a response within a few days, most likely by email.  If your application has been approved, your card will be mailed or you can pick it up at the branch, depending on which option you chose when applying.

If you didn't receive a response / were declined, you have a few options.

No Response / declined? 

Call the provider. Ask why you haven't heard from them / were declined - expect a clear and reasonable answer. It's okay to ask the banker for advice on how to proceed.

Here some possible explanations:

  • Perhaps your application was lost, some information may have been missing, or there was a mix-up of identities and the bank didn't manage to inform you / you missed the call.

  • It's possible your particular bank doesn't target students / young people.

  • If you're older and have a credit history, perhaps it has a problem you need to clarify and/or fix.

  • If you're not a student, your income may be too low for the credit card you applied for.

Take one of the following steps:

  • Provide any missing information and reapply - make sure to do so in person at the bank.

  • Apply at a different bank or for a different card.

  • Inquire about alternatives, like a secured credit card (which you back by putting up some cash) or a joint credit card that you share with a family member willing and able to support you.

  • If multiple providers are turning you down, consider a retail credit card – retailers have a reputation for being more flexible than banks / other financial institutions.

If you're applying at an online bank or retailer...

You'll complete your application online. An online provider will ask you to provide similar information / documents to a traditional bank.