By Stephanie Miller


5 Min. To Read

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Whether you’re just starting out in your credit-building journey or are a plastic-carrying veteran, nothing is guaranteed. Anyone can be denied for a credit card application at any time, even if you were confident in your odds for approval. So, what are the reasons you could have been denied, and what should your next move be?

Reasons You Got Denied

There are a few big reasons that your credit card application wound up in the No pile. Some of these you may have expected, while others might have come as a surprise.

If you’re brand new to building credit, a bank might not have wanted to take a chance on you. Most card products require a minimum credit score for approval; if you didn’t meet this threshold, you were denied.

If you have a spotty credit-related past, this could have also resulted in a credit card denial. Maybe you had a few accounts that went to collections, paid some bills late, or even filed for bankruptcy years back. If any of these are still on your credit report, there’s a good chance it impacted your application.

Another reason you could have been denied is if you have a high credit utilization. This happens when too many of your credit card accounts are carrying a balance month-to-month. Even if you have otherwise great credit – and even if you have an excellent credit score! – this revolving credit usage can scare off would-be issuers.

Depending on the credit card for which you applied, there are also a few specific rules that could have resulted in a denial. For example, Chase bank utilizes the 5/24 rule. This means that if you have opened 5 credit card accounts in the last 24 months, you are automatically denied for almost all of their credit products. Even if you pay off your balances each month and even if you have excellent credit, the bank is pretty particular about this limit.

What to Do Next

So, you got denied for that excellent new credit card that you really wanted. While you’re probably disappointed, there are a few things you can do now to ensure that you don’t get another denial down the road.

If you got denied due to poor credit or simply a lack of credit, you can begin building a positive history today. Negative reports on your credit will fall off over time (usually 7 years after they were first reported), so you will see your score improve over time anyway. However, you can also speed this process along by obtaining other credit products and managing the accounts wisely.

For instance, you could get a secured credit card. These products require a deposit (usually equal to the credit limit offered) and don’t typically offer cash back rewards or fancy perks. However, they usually have a lower credit score and history threshold for approval. Even if you just use one for a few years to build up a positive credit report, they’re well-worth considering.

If you were denied due to high revolving balances, the only move you can make is to lower your utilization. This might mean paying off the balances as soon as possible, even using a debt snowball or avalanche method. (The sooner you pay them off, the less you’ll spend in interest, too!) Another trick is to move balances around, lowering your utilization on higher-balance/lower-limit cards.

All of these are great credit moves to make anyway. But is there anything you can do now, if you really want that credit product for which you applied?

Asking the Company to Reconsider

There is one step you can take before you give up on that shiny new credit card: you can call up the issuer and ask them to reconsider your application. While this doesn’t always work (your chances hinge on the reason you were denied in the first place), it’s usually worth a shot.

If you already know the reason you were denied – the company will mail you a reason for denial, usually in 7-10 business days – you have a leg to stand on. First, make sure that there are no inaccuracies; if they say you have derogatory reports but you know for a fact you don’t, it’s worth checking your credit report(s) and disputing any errors.

If your credit history is simply too sparse, you might be able to convince an issuer to take a chance on you. They may want proof of your income, but you can often plead your case and get them to reconsider. Let them know why you want their credit card so badly – maybe you want a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, or you’re planning a big trip and want a card with travel benefits. Tell the issuer this and see what they say.

Being polite and kind here goes a long way. These reconsideration departments are typically staffed with credit analysts, many of whom will be the actual person reevaluating your request. Friendliness (and maybe even a little flattery of their fun credit product) never hurts.

If you are still denied the credit card you seek, don’t worry. While it will be disappointing, there is always time to come back and try again later. Maybe you wait until after you’ve paid down some balances, seen negative reports fall off your credit, or simply built up a stronger history. It could even be worth trying out a secured card for a year or so, just to prove that you can be responsible with your credit.

Then, the next time you go to apply for that exciting credit card, you’ll do so knowing that a satisfying approval message is waiting on the other side. Whether you’re just starting out in your credit-building journey or are a plastic-carrying veteran, nothing is guaranteed. Anyone can be denied for a credit card application at any time, even if you were confident in your odds for approval.

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