You’ve done the research. You’ve figured out which one of the myriad of rewards credit cards you want. It’s the perfect card to earn a free flight fast to wherever you want to go. You apply and… you get declined! Don’t worry; we know what you should do next.
Getting the right credit card is the best way to earn points and miles, and sign-up bonuses are some of the most lucrative offers available. With all of that on the line, you should take whatever steps you can to get the card you want, even if you’ve been turned down.
Here are some suggestions for working around a declined application:
Check Your Application for Errors
The first thing you should do if you’re denied is to double-check your application. Hopefully you’ve taken a screenshot of your completed form, or you have some version of it in your records. Take a look, sometimes the simplest mistakes, like a mistyped home address or phone number, can delay the process.
Get a Credit Report
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to check your credit report. It’s not unheard of for there to be an error on a report, and those errors can result in a declined application. If something looks out of place, contact the credit reporting agency and figure out what’s going on.
Call the Reconsideration Line
The next thing to do is to call the reconsideration line. This is your chance to talk to an actual human about your application and, more importantly, make a case for why you should get that new card. Remember, credit card companies want you to have their cards and the individuals manning the reconsideration lines are typically rational and friendly. Be nice, you want them on your side.
Depending on which cards you’re applying for and why you were denied, there are a variety of tactics you might use to try to convince the agent that you should be approved. If, for instance, you already have a personal card in the issuer’s lineup and you’re applying for a similar business card, you can explain that you want to keep your personal and business spending separate.
In reality you might want both cards to get two sign-up bonuses or to take advantage of different bonus earning categories, the agent doesn’t need to know this. For example, if you have the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card, you might also want the Amex Business Gold Rewards card. You’ll get a second 25,000-point sign-up bonus and the opportunity to earn bonus miles on different kinds of purchases, like triple miles at gas stations.
Similarly, if you have a charge card but are applying for a credit card, you could explain that you want a card for large purchases that you can pay off over time as well as a card for everyday expenses that you plan to pay in full every month.
Or, if the new card has no foreign transaction fees, explain that you’re planning to travel abroad and you want a card for those expenses.
Sometimes an issuer will deny your application if you’ve already reached their maximum credit limit. If the agent tells you that this is the case, ask if you can move credit from a card you have to the new one.
Card balances that you’ve recently paid off can sometimes appear as unpaid debt on a credit report. This is particularly problematic if you recently made some big purchases. The credit agency may not have the latest information, and if this appears to be the case, ask the agent to hold your application for a week or so before checking your credit again.
It’s always worth a call to find out why you didn’t get a card and to appeal to an actual person. Here are some numbers to try for the big issuers:
- American Express:
Application status: 877-399-3083
Reconsideration line: 800-453-9719
Application status: 800-432-3117 and 800-436-7927
Personal card reconsideration lines: 888-245-0625, 800-432-3117, 888-609-7805 and 888-871-4649
Business card reconsideration line: 800-453-9719
Personal card reconsideration lines: 800-695-5171 and 888-201-4523
Business card reconsideration lines: 800-645-7240 and 800-288-4653
- Bank of America:
Personal card reconsideration lines: 877-721-9405 and 888-221-6262
Business card reconsideration line: 800-481-8277
Reconsideration line: 866-408-4064
- Capital One:
Application services: 800-625-7866
Customer service: 800-951-6951 and 800-548-4593
Ask About Other Cards
If you can’t convince the issuer to give you the card you want, consider asking if there’s another card in the lineup that you might qualify for instead. This can be a useful approach if you’ve been denied due to a low credit rating.
Some issuers offer cards that are specifically designed for people with lower credit scores. They might have smaller sign-up bonuses and fewer benefits, but you can still earn miles or points and you’ll have a chance to build your credit.
Don’t Apply for Too Many Cards
Don’t apply for too many cards at the same time. If there are too many inquiries into your credit within a certain amount of time, the issuer will consider this a sign that you’re financially insecure and possibly desperate. It’s a red flag.
There are no clear guidelines for what banks consider a reasonable number of inquiries during a certain time period. If you can, though, try to limit your applications to 3 or so every six months. If you have good credit, you might be able to get away with applying for more cards.
It may seem like a hassle to get the travel rewards credit card you want, particularly if you’ve initially been declined. But you’ll be glad you did it when you’re on a free flight to your fantasy vacation destination.