7 Things You Could Do If Your Credit Card Application Is Denied

You applied for a credit card, and your application was denied. Now what? Having your credit card application denied is no fun. What you do after your credit card application is denied is important for making sure you don't hurt your credit any further.

Apply Again With Caution

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Avoid applying for more credit cards to see if you'll get approved. The more credit card applications you put in, the more likely it is that you’ll get turned down again. That’s because additional inquiries on your credit report make you look desperate for credit.

Inquiries may show up on your credit report right away, so if your credit card application is denied, it's best to wait until you know why before applying for another credit card.

Read Your Adverse Action Letter

Within 7 to 10 business days, you’ll receive a letter from the credit card issuer stating the specific reason or reasons your credit card application was denied. It could be related to something on your credit report, recent late payments or high credit card balances for example. In that case, you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report to make sure the information in it is accurate.

If you were denied because of your credit score, the credit card issuer would send a copy of the credit score and the top factors contributing to your credit score.

You could also be denied for a reason unrelated to your credit, like your income or employment history.

Request Your Free Credit Report

When your credit card application is denied because of information on your credit report, you’ll have 60 days to request a free copy of the credit report used in the decision. If you'd like to view your credit reports from the other bureaus, you'll have to order them separately.

Once you order your credit report, you can dispute any errors that may have caused your credit card application to be denied. After your credit report has been updated, consider asking the credit card issuer to review your credit card application again. You can ask the credit bureau to automatically resend your credit report to anyone who’s reviewed it recently.

Review Your Free Credit Score

Banks are now required to send a free credit score when your credit card application is denied. Unlike the adverse action credit report, you don't have to do anything to get your free credit score; the creditor should send it automatically after denying your credit card application. The free credit score will also list a few factors affecting your credit score, e.g., too high balances or too few installment accounts.

Your credit score, along with the adverse action notice, will give you a better understanding of why you were denied. Work on improving your credit score to improve your chances of having your application approved next time.

Repair Your Credit

Your credit card application may have been denied because you have bad credit. Unpaid collections, recent delinquencies, and high credit card balances are all things that need to be fixed before you can be approved for a credit card (or a decent one at least).

Use your credit report as a starting point for repairing your credit. You can improve your credit by disputing errors, getting caught up on past due accounts, paying down high balances, and minimizing the number of new credit applications you make.

Apply for a Retail Store Card

Retail credit cards are often easier to be approved for than major credit cards, even if you have a low credit score. If you apply and are approved for a store credit card, you’ll likely start out with a low credit limit. Fortunately, you can increase your credit limit over time based on your purchases and payment history.

Interest rates on store credit cards are typically higher, so be careful about carrying a balance. Keep your purchases to a minimum and pay in full to avoid paying expensive finance charges on your balance.

Use a store credit card wisely can help you improve your credit score and qualify for a better card in the future.

Get a Secured Credit Card

A secured credit card is another option for getting a credit card when you don't have the best credit. This type of credit card requires an upfront security deposit to be made against the card’s credit limit. The deposit is placed in a savings account and only used when you default on your credit card payment.

After you’ve made your payments on time for six to twelve months, some credit card issuers will convert your secured credit card to an unsecured one. Once you've converted your account, your security deposit will be returned to you.

Even if your secured credit card doesn't automatically convert, you may be able to qualify for a regular credit card after using your secured card responsibly for a year.