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Who Qualifies for Credit Cards in Kenya (And What to Do If You Don’t)
Who Qualifies for Credit Cards in Kenya (And What to Do If You Don’t)
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Who Qualifies for Credit Cards in Kenya (And What to Do If You Don’t)

Rose Muthoni
December 16, 2021

Once one has made the decision to apply for a credit card, there are several considerations that they have to make. Apart from deciding which provider suits their needs, one also needs to find out whether they qualify to get a credit card. Whereas some requirements cut across issuers, some banks have specialized eligibility criteria for different cards. 

Credit Card Application Process 

Application for a credit card is a straightforward affair. If one has access to a phone or a laptop, applying for a credit card is just a click away. You will typically enter basic details such as your contact information and the issuer will contact you to process your application. 

Usually, you will be required to visit the bank’s branch to hand over the documents needed such as copies of your pay slip or bank statements if the bank does not provide for online submission. Once it’s ready, you may need to pick the card from a bank branch or it can be mailed to you depending on the issuer. 

General Requirements by Credit Card Issuers

  • Copy of an identity card (ID) or passport
  • Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) PIN certificate
  • Work permit or alien ID if not a Kenyan
  • Passport sized photos

Specific Requirements by Credit Card Issuers

  • Application form: To qualify for a credit card one must present a fully filled application form.
  • Bank Statements: As proof of creditworthiness, some issuers require that the applicant carry bank statements ranging  from between three and six months. ABSA Bank for instance requires new clients who do not have an existing account to carry a three months bank statement from their current bank while National Bank of Kenya (NBK) requires bank statements for the last six months prior to application.
  • Pay slip: As a salaried employee, to qualify for a credit card at I&M bank, one must carry their latest certified pay slip whilst at KCB one must produce a three-month salary account statement. Many issuers will require proof of salary to qualify for a credit card designed for salaried customers. 
  • Account holder: Many, though not all, credit card issuers will require you to have either a current account or savings account with them to qualify for their range of credit card options. Some issuers could further require you to have your salary account with them for ease of payments - they could ask you to change your salary processing account to them. When this is not the case, it is possible that the issuer may raise your minimum net income requirement and credit limit than that of it’s customers.  
  • Business performance: For borrowers seeking to use their businesses to procure a credit card, different banks and credit card classes have differing requirements. Many card issuers will require proof of business registration including certificate of registration, incorporation and operating licenses. This is in addition to bank statements and audited accounts depending on the level of business and credit card category applied for. Business performance will determine the credit cards your business can qualify for. 

What to Do When You Do Not Qualify for a Credit Card in Kenya 

In the event that one does not tick all the boxes, there are ways to improve one’s eligibility. They include:

  • One needs to make sure they understand the reason why the bank rejected their application. This way, it is possible to remedy the reasons before applying again. 
  • Ask for a reconsideration: Upon understanding the reason for rejection, the borrower might ask the bank to reconsider especially if there is some information that it did not access or consider before rejecting the application.
  • Find a more suitable card: The rejection might be because the borrower approached an issuer who did not match their needs. For instance, one might have applied for a card with a higher income requirement. By using the Money254 credit card finder one will be able to determine the best bank and card class that is a better fit.
  • List all income sources: Applicants sometimes forget to list all their income sources including freelance gigs and side hustles which could be all they need to beat the minimum income requirement. Note, however, one should not overstate their income as this is considered fraud.
  • Improve creditworthiness: If a bank rejected one’s application because of a poor loan repayment history, one can set out to repair their reputation by paying their existing loans on time.
  • Low income: If your income is below the issuer's minimum monthly amount, one should work to shore up their income through alternative income generating activities.
  • Missed credit card payments: Missed payments might communicate inability to pay to a potential card issuer. To remedy this, one must ensure that they minimize future missed payments.
  • Wait before you apply for another credit card: Consistent credit card and loan payments over time will improve your risk standing with the bank and bring you closer to taking out a card with the lender of choice.


Before even worrying about the card application process and whether you are eligible for one or not, the first step must be to determine whether a credit card is a good cash management option for you.

We have been helping you understand how credit cards work in a series of articles over the last few weeks which we highly encourage that you read to get a good grasp of this oft misunderstood financial product. 

Once you have decided that a credit card is a good option for you, then you can move on to the next step of finding one that best suits your needs. If you travel a lot, you may want a credit card that is loaded with travel rewards and discounts, if you shop online a lot, you want to go for one that has lots of shopping discounts and cashbacks. 

Like we identified in an earlier article, one of the biggest advantages of credit cards is the potential to get free credit as long as you repay back within the interest-free period which in Kenya ranges from 30 days to 55 days. Choosing one with the longest interest-free period can be another thing to consider. 

Take your time to understand credit cards, why you need one and choose one that comes with the highest advantages for your financial lifestyle. 

Rose is a journalist with more than five years of experience writing and editing financial articles. She enjoy writing stories that educate and empower readers to make sound financial decisions. You can find her on LinkedIn here.

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