Go to your bank and ask them if they carry credit cards, or if they can recommend a good company. Chances are, the answers will be yes, and yes. For unsecured cards, your bank may have less than great rates; but for cards secured by home equity or an equivalent security, your bank will probably have rates competitive with the best advertised prices out on the Web or television – and you have the added comfort of knowing you can trust them.
Go to the MasterCard or Visa websites and ask them for reputable card providers; they may be willing to provide you with a list. Or only apply for cards affiliated with a bank you have heard of, like Wachovia or Bank of America. If you are applying for a card with junk mail applications, look carefully at the application. Does it appear less than professional? Are there misspellings or odd errors? This may be a fraud.
Whoever you go to, keep a record of your application, and follow up on it a month or so later if you haven’t heard anything. The information you get that way may save your credit rating.