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Beyond having a qualifying credit score, there are several things you can do to avoid getting rejected for credit card applications. In this article, I will break down eight different factors to consider in order to avoid getting declined for future credit card applications.
1. Credit card application rules
The first thing you need to do is to make sure you are not violating any credit card application rules.
Pretty much all of the major banks have these like Chase, American Express, Citibank, etc.
Over the past couple of years, banks have come out with many more credit card approval restrictions and so getting approved for cards (and receiving bonuses for them) is now more difficult than it has ever been if you are actively pursuing rewards.
So it is a good idea to make sure that you are not violating any of these rules and an easy way to do this is to use the free app WalletFlo.
WalletFlo will automate the calculations for all of these approval rules and if you are not currently eligible it will remind you when you are. It’s an easy and free way to find cards you are eligible for and to avoid unnecessary dings on your credit report so I would highly recommend you check it out.
2. Get your foot in the door
If you are a borderline candidate meaning that your credit score is on the lower end of what is usually recommended for your card or you have a thin credit history, then try to ease your way in with the bank by going for an easier to get card first.
For example, If you had a 695 credit score and were interested in the Chase Sapphire Preferred, it would probably be a better idea to apply for the Chase Freedom and then wait 6 to 12 months as your score improved to around 720 and then go for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
In other words, you want to work your way up to the most premium cards in order to avoid rejections.
3. Be strategic about credit pulls
Some banks like Capital One are known for pulling from all three credit bureaus while others like Barclays sometimes may only pull from one credit bureau like TransUnion.
It’s a good idea to keep tabs on what banks are pulling from what credit bureaus because this could allow you to look more favorable in the eyes of the banks. For example, you could space out your applications so that you are alternating credit bureaus every few months and thus reduce the impact on each one.
Maybe every six months you get a pull on your Experian and your Equifax and in between that you have a TransUnion pull. That would be much better than having Experian and Equifax credit pulls right by each other, since successive hard pulls can exacerbate their negative impact on your score.
4. Bolster your income (ethically)
Listing all of your “accessible income” can help improve your approval odds for some credit cards that factor in your income.
For example, there are a lot of premium type of credit cards like the Platinum Card that seem to factor in how much you make. So be sure to list your accessible income which is the income available to you that could also come from someone like a family member or a spouse.
There are a few restrictions when doing this but basically if you are 21 years or older and you have reasonable access to funds, you probably can list those funds when stating your income on a credit card application.
You have a reasonable expectation of access when the non-applicant:
- Deposits the income into a joint account shared with the applicant;
- Deposits the income into an account to which the applicant does not have access but regularly transfers a portion of the income to the applicant’s individual deposit account; or
- Regularly uses a portion of the income to pay for the applicant’s expenses
5. Put spend on cards
If you have additional cards with a bank that you are applying for, you need to make sure that all of your other cards have recent spend on them.
Ideally, you would have spend put on those cards throughout the year and not just a few days before you apply for a credit card but it is better to have some activity than none. (Remembering to put spend on cards you don’t normally use is cumbersome but that is another reason to get WalletFlo.)
6. Have a banking relationship
Some banks like Wells Fargo like to approve their own customers.
That’s not to say that you will never get approved for their cards if you don’t have a bank account with them but in my experience and based on my research, these are the type of banks that are way more prone to decline you if you don’t have some sort of account with them.
Many times you can earn a special bonus when you open up a checking or savings account so it can be well worth your time to set up some type of account. You just need to be aware of the fees and any requirements associated with your bonuses such as direct deposits.
7. Optimize timing
Applying for too many cards in a short time span is a way to raise red flags and also to get denied for credit cards. Many people can be okay applying for a few cards around the same time but for most people, I would recommend waiting 90 days between credit card applications.
The reason is that after 90 days hard inquiries seem to have less of an impact. If you want to be a little bit safer, you could wait three to six months between your credit card applications.
8. Always call reconsideration
The last way to reduce your rejected credit card applications count is to call into reconsideration. Not every bank has an official reconsideration line but many do.
Reconsideration is your attempt to persuade a bank agent that you should be approved for a credit card.
Typically this just means having a good reason for getting the card and being able to explain away any potential issues on your credit report, such as recent inquiries or recent accounts opened. You can read my in-depth article on the Chase reconsideration line here.
Make sure that before you call you know what to expect and that you are ready to offer them alternatives such as shifts in credit over to other credit cards. And if you are denied, you should try to call back and try again at least once.
If you follow the steps above, you should be able to avoid getting denied for many credit cards. Many of these steps can be worked into reminders with WalletFlo so I would once again recommend checking out that app if you have not got the chance to.
UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.