“After reviewing your credit history, we regret to inform you…”
If you have fair or poor credit, then you probably recognize these words. They’re basically a polite way of saying, “Sorry, your credit sucks. We don’t give people like you credit cards.”
I don’t know about you, but I feel frustrated, discouraged, and sometimes a little embarrassed whenever I have a credit application rejected. And trust me, I’ve had plenty of them rejected. My credit used to be awful, even after repaying some of my debts. I couldn’t get anyone to give me a credit card – not even a freaking secured card – until I discovered the shopping cart trick.
Almost everyone gets approved using the shopping cart trick. I tell you this from personal experience (more about that later), and I’m confident that most of my readers can get a credit card using this simple trick. Yes, even if your FICO sucks.
The shopping cart trick helped me rebuild my credit after a bankruptcy, but you can also use it to establish credit. I raised my FICO from 434 to 590 in less than a year, and it’s partly because of the shopping cart trick.
So what exactly is the shopping cart trick?
The shopping cart trick lets you apply for a credit card using a soft credit pull rather than a hard credit check. A soft pull doesn’t affect your credit, but a hard pull does (and not in a good way!).
You can get a credit card from popular stores like Victoria’s Secret, Buckle, Pottery Barn, Boscovs, and Overstock using the shopping cart trick. Tons of others, too – I just listed the ones that seem like they’re the easiest to get.
You generally can’t get a Visa or MasterCard using the shopping cart trick, but some people have lucked out and gotten them from Sportsman Guide and Total Rewards. I’m not sure if either of those still work with the shopping cart trick, but I’ll update this blog post when I find out.
How do you do the shopping cart trick?
Open a private browser and visit a site that runs its credit card apps through Comenity Bank. Here are some retailers that offer Comenity credit cards (AKA shopping cart trick credit cards):
- Victoria’s Secret (you can use this card at Bath and Bodyworks too – but only at brick-and-mortar B&B stores)
- Abercrombie and Fitch
- Pottery Barn
- J. Crew
I’ve heard reports of people getting cards from American Eagle and The Children’s Place using the shopping cart trick, but I can’t confirm whether these sites work. Please come back and let us know if you have success with them!
Okay, I found a site I like…what next?
Make sure you are using a private browser. I know I mentioned this already, but please double check. I like to use Incognito Mode on Chrome. The iPhone has private browsing options too, but I think it’s easier to do the shopping cart trick on a laptop or desktop PC. Clear your cookies or cache if you can’t figure out how to use a private browser.
Make sure you’ve got your popup blocker off, and turn off antispam settings too. Yes, this temporarily puts your computer at risk, so do the shopping cart trick fast!
Once that’s done, add some stuff to your digital shopping cart. Take your time and browse for a bit if you want, but it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference as far as credit card approvals go. Make sure you add between $30 to $200 of stuff depending on your credit score and how big you want your line of credit to be.
When I had a 434 FICO, I figured I’d end up with credit lines around $250 to $350. I was right (with the exception of Pottery Barn – they gave me a whopping $750 credit line!), so I didn’t add too much stuff. I figured it would be hard for me to get preapproved for a $250 credit line with $500 of household goods in my cart. After all, Comenity Bank is hoping you’ll use your card right away, and they don’t want you to go crazy with it.
It’s time to check out…but don’t worry, you don’t actually have to buy the stuff in your cart.
Hit “checkout”, “done,” “finished shopping,” or whatever button takes you to the payment section of the retailer’s website. Enter your information as if you’re planning to buy the stuff in your cart, but make sure it matches your credit report. If you don’t know what’s on your credit report, you can get a free copy from each of the 3 main bureaus once a year.
Your first and last name, address, telephone number, and even your email address should match your credit report. Here’s where it gets tricky, though:
- Each credit bureau might have different info for you, so you have to figure out which agency the card usually uses for a soft pull (post your questions in the comment section below so I can try to help!)
- Your credit report might contain inaccurate information, such as an outdated address or phone number. You have to enter the old info to get a preapproval and then update your credit report when you get a chance.
- Your credit report might contain a middle initial or middle name, but the retailer’s checkout might only have space for a first and last name.
- You might have opted out for preapproved offers. If that’s the case, you need to opt back in before you can get the shopping trick to work for you.
Let’s pretend my name is Missy The Blogger on my credit reports. Sometimes I’d enter Missy T. Blogger to get the shopping cart trick to work. Other times, I’d have to type MissyT Blogger (no space between “Missy” and “T”) to get it to go through. I’ve heard some people have to type Missy TBlogger to get it work, but I haven’t personally tried that method.
How do you know you’re preapproved for a shopping cart trick credit card?
You’ll get a popup that looks something like this:
After you accept the preapproved credit card offer, you might get something like this:
These are real screenshots that verify the shopping cart trick isn’t a scam. I took these screenshots when I got preapproved for the Victoria’s Secret credit card using the shopping card trick earlier this month. Please don’t steal these images. You can Pin this article or share the link on social media, but don’t take the pics and pretend they’re yours. I’ve seen that happen to other bloggers who share screenshots.
Important info about your Social Security Number:
You don’t have to enter the whole thing when you get a preapproval notice. Soft pulls often work with just the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number, so there’s no need to give out your whole number. Some people enter 5 zeros followed by the last 4 digits of their Social Security numbers. Entering your entire number can result in a hard pull, and you don’t want that.
Also, applying for a card without receiving a preapproval popup is NOT what you want to do if you’re hoping for an approval using the shopping cart trick. I often get questions from people who want to know if they can just head straight to the credit card application and fill in their info. Nope, not if you want a preapproval!
Help – the shopping cart trick isn’t working for me!
Ugh. I know it’s frustrating when that happens, but you have to keep trying! Sometimes it takes a few tries to figure out the right name, address, and phone number. You may also need to add or delete a few items from your shopping cart. Don’t forget to use a private browser and/or clear your cookies and cache.
So, what else do I need to know about the shopping cart trick?
You’re applying for credit cards, not gift cards – so don’t go crazy and apply for too many. You have to make monthly payments on your cards if you want to improve your credit score. If you miss a payment, you’ll mess up your FICO even more. Please don’t do that to yourself.
My monthly payments for the Comenity Bank cards I got using the shopping cart trick range from $25 to $35 per month. I try to keep my utilization below 30% on each card because that helps my FICO. I recommend that you do the same – or even pay off your cards in full each month if you can.
About 6 months after I got my Comenity credit cards, I was able to get approved for cards from Capital One and Credit One. Keep in mind that I had a recently discharged bankruptcy that was less than a year old on my credit report, plus $30,000 in student loan debt that didn’t get discharged in the bankruptcy. I’m sharing this so you can see how much the shopping cart trick can help you repair your credit if you use your cards responsibly. I hope this nifty credit card trick helps you as much as it has helped me.