How You Can Be Denied for a Credit Card Even With Excellent Credit

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Having good credit, even excellent credit, is no guarantee that you’ll get approved for a credit card. You may have already had the unfortunate experience of being denied for a credit card despite having an excellent credit score. And you were probably surprised by the decision. One of the perks of having excellent credit is supposed to be that your applications get approved. Unfortunately, credit scores aren’t the only thing credit card issuers use to decide whether you qualify for a credit card. A number of factors can lead to you being denied for a credit card even if you have excellent credit.

Your income isn't high enough.

Or, your income isn't high enough for the credit card you’re applying for. Trying to figure out which credit cards fit your income is pretty much a guessing game. To a certain degree, you have to trust the credit card issuers to approve you for the credit cards that best fit your income. The more prestigious credit cards, those with generous rewards for people with excellent credit, generally require a higher income.

You have too many credit cards.

Credit card issuers often consider the number of credit cards you have when they’re deciding whether to approve your credit card application. There’s no specific number of credit cards that’s acceptable for credit card issuers, at least not one that’s been made public. You may very well be able to handle an additional credit card, but the credit card issuer just doesn’t want to take that risk.

You have too much debt.

Having debt, whether it’s credit card debt or loan debt, can keep you from being approved for a credit card. This can happen even if you’re paying your debt well enough to achieve an excellent credit score. Credit card issuers may consider your debt load too high and deny your credit card application rather than extend additional credit that you may default on. It’s just as well. Adding an additional credit card to a high debt load may topple your finances. Paying down your debit can improve your odds of getting approved next time.

Your credit report hasn’t been updated with the most recent information.

You may have recently paid off a high balance or closed a couple of old credit cards, but that information may not show up on your credit report for a few more days depending on how often your creditor reports to the credit bureaus. There’s a chance that there’s slightly outdated information on your credit report because of the time it takes for credit card issuers to send your account details to the credit bureaus.

You’ve applied for too many credit cards recently.

While credit report inquiries may not have a huge impact on your credit score – they’re only 10% of your score – they can affect whether you get approved. If you apply for several credit cards within a short period of time, the first couple of credit card issuers may approve your credit card applications. But after a few inquiries hit your credit report, you may experience a denied application. Several credit card applications in a relatively short timeframe could indicate that you’re having financial trouble or taking on too much credit, both considered risky by credit card issuers.

It’s too soon since your last recently opened credit card.

Some credit card issuers may deny your credit card application if you opened just one new credit card within the past several months. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have too many credit cards, but the credit card issuer may need to see more history with your new credit card before deciding to grant additional credit to you.

Your credit report is locked.

If you’ve placed a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report, your credit card application may be denied because the credit card issuer can’t pull your credit report. In the case of a fraud alert, the creditor will have to take additional steps to confirm your identity before approving your credit card application. With a security freeze, you’ll have to unlock your credit reports – at least with the bureau whose report the creditor is attempting to check – to have your credit card application completed.

You defaulted on a credit card with that business a long time ago.

Some credit card issuers will hold a previous default or against you, even if the defaulted account has passed the credit reporting time limit and even if you’ve since improved your credit. In this situation, it may be helpful to talk to someone with that credit card issuer. Clearing up the defaulted balance may give you the opportunity to get a new account with that credit card issuer.

What to Do If Your Credit Card Application Is Denied

Many credit card applications are processed electronically with a system that pulls your credit history, combines that with the information on your credit card application, and compares it to some predefined criteria. The computer doesn’t have the ability to look at your information subjectively and make an exception to the criteria.

Fortunately, many credit card issuers have a reconsideration phone number that you can call and talk to a human about your application. You can plead your case, explaining why you’re a good candidate for the credit card and if you’re lucky, you’ll get approved after all.

If you are turned down for a credit card, the credit card issuer will send a letter letting you know the specific reason or reasons that your application was denied. You’ll also receive a free credit score if your credit score was used in the decision and instructions for accessing a free credit report if your credit report was used in the decision. Use this information to improve your odds of getting your next credit card application approved.