Seriously folks, I love all of the best travel credit cards – and even some of the not-so-great ones. We usually have anywhere from 20-40 cards at any given time. That probably sounds like an overwhelming number, but it’s not that hard to keep track of it all with a simple spreadsheet.
On a regular ol’ sheet of paper, I keep a list of every card we have, which one of us signed up for it, when we signed up, and when the annual fee kicks in. Then, when I cancel the card, I write down the cancellation date in a separate column. Boom.
But racking up rewards with credit cards isn’t as easy as it used to be. New rules from some of my favorite credit card issuers have made it tougher to get approved. And the last thing anybody ever wants is to have their application for a credit card denied.
Heck, even we get our applications denied sometimes. That’s no reason to fret, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t still get the card. If you’ve had an application for a credit card denied, here are few reasons why it may have happened to you plus some tips for how to get around it.
Greg’s Credit Card Application: DENIED!
So, when the annual fee on Greg’s Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX card finally kicked in, we had a tough decision to make! We both needed to cancel a card, so we decided to apply for at least one new offer first. And since we still needed to earn Greg’s signup bonus for our Spring Break trip to Jamaica, we decided it was time for him to sign up for the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card. Not only would he earn a nifty sign up bonus, he would also earn a free night’s stay on his one year cardmember anniversary.
But there was a problem. After I submitted the credit application for Greg, he didn’t get an immediate approval. Instead, he got an email that stated his application was “pending review.” *cue tears
Why Your Credit Card Application May Be Denied
There are oodles of reasons that your application may be denied. The most common are:
- Bad or Insufficient Credit Score – In order for your best travel credit cards applications to be accepted, you must have an acceptable credit score. Of course, each card issuer’s requirements are different. Additionally, credit score requirements can vary from card to card. For access to the very best rewards cards, you usually need to have a good to excellent credit score. (Hot Tip: We’ll talk more about how to improve your credit score in a little bit!)
- Too Much Open Credit – If you’ve had an application for a credit card denied, it could be because you already have too much credit available to you. This number is usually based on your income. Of course, if you really want a particular card, there are ways around this too. You’ll see how below.
- Too Many Recent Inquiries – This is a relatively new reason issuers are denying applicants, but it could have a big impact on your plans. In particular, the new Chase 5/24 rule is causing a bit of havoc. If you’ve opened more than 5 new lines of credit within the past 24 months, you’re likely to be denied a new Chase card. Those 5 lines even include being named as an authorized user on others cards.
What to Do When You’re Denied For a Credit Card
The good news is, there are plenty of options if you are flat-out denied for a card. Even if you get the dreaded “pending” email, you can still have hope. For our situation, we knew that Greg had excellent credit and the 5/24 rule didn’t apply. We figured his credit lines may have been too large, but we still really wanted him to get the new card. So, what’s a rewards card lover to do?
Helllllooooo!?! You ask the issuer to reconsider your application. Most card issuers have a reconsideration line that you can call to try and get your credit card application pushed through. Just call the number, talk to a credit analyst, and explain your situation. You’ll usually get an answer before you hang up the phone.
Just to help you out, here’s a list of the reconsideration line numbers for some of the most popular card issuers.
- 877-399-3083 (new accounts) 8am-midnight EST M-F, 10am-6:30pm Saturday
- 866-408-4064. (credit analyst) 8am-midnight EST, 7 days a week
- 888-245-0625 (personal credit analyst, 7am-10pm EST M-F; 8am-10pm EST Sat., and 9am-9pm Sun.)
- 800-453-9719 (business credit analyst, 8am-10pm EST M-F)
- 800-695-5171 (credit analyst) “Normal business hours” (assumed to be 9am-5pm M-F)
- 800-763-9795 (personal and business card application status) 7am-midnight EST 7 days a week
In my experience, Citibank is not overly willing to hand out cards if they see something they don’t like. American Express is a close second, although I’ve been approved for all but one AMEX card that I applied for. Chase used to be a breeze to deal with, but the new 5/24 rule has made getting our favorite rewards cards a bit more difficult. Just be cognizant of how many cards you’ve applied for before submitting any new applications to Chase!
How to Handle a Credit Card Reconsideration Call
Since the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is a Chase card, we were a little bit nervous that he was going to get stonewalled. But, you can’t win if don’t play the game. Greg called the Chase reconsideration line and spoke with a credit analyst. Here’s a basic rundown of how the conversation went:
Greg: I applied for the IHG Rewards card and it said it was pending. Can you help me? (I sit in the background and coach him on what to say because he usually doesn’t even know which card he signed up for.)
Credit Analyst: Sure. Do you have a reference number?
Greg: No. (Arrrgh! Fail!)
Credit Analyst: That’s okay. (looks information up) It appears that you have seven Chase cards already. Is there any reason you need another one?
Greg: I just really love Chase cards. I use them all the time. (That’s not exactly what I told him to say…..but….)
Credit Analyst: Ummmm…….okay. Well, I can give you the IHG card if you’re willing to transfer some credit from another card. Sound okay?
Greg: Sure, whatever. (He’s only mildly interested in this process.)
See! How easy that was? Now we have a shiny new IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card on its way, and I couldn’t be happier. It feels like Christmas!
What You Need When You Call the Reconsideration Line
Greg’s conversation with Chase was insanely easy, but there are times when credit card issuers need to delve deeper in order to issue an approval. A few tips:
- Have your information ready. When your application is pending, the credit card issuer might need more information to verify your account. This can include your gross income from the previous year(s), your monthly house payment amount, your current gross income, etc. You don’t necessarily need to have all this information out in front of you, but it does help to know these questions might be asked.
- Shower them with compliments. When you have several open lines of credit with a bank already, it makes sense why they might wonder why you need even more. In my experience, the best thing to say is that you love their product. Who doesn’t like a compliment every now and then? I’d send them flowers if I could, but that might get to be a little much.
- Offer to move credit around. The card issuer may ask for you, but you can always offer to move credit around. For example, if you have a $15,000 credit limit on your Chase Sapphire Preferred card but want the Chase Freedom card, you could always offer to move $5,000 of your open credit to the new card.
- Be nice. You should always be polite when you’re asking for something, especially when the credit analyst’s opinion can make or break your case.
How to Improve Your Credit Score
Credit card denied but you’re not sure why? It could have something to do with your credit score.
Generally speaking, to get access to credit cards, you need to use credit. It seems like a Catch-22, right? How can you prove that you’ll use credit responsibly when nobody will lend to you? How do you build credit from the ground up?
Building credit from scratch or repair your bad credit can be a real pain. But, you have to start somewhere. Here are a few tips to help you get your credit score moving in the right direction.
1) Know Your Current Credit Score
Before you can improve your credit score, you need to know where you stand right now. You can get a free credit score from websites like Credit Sesame. You’ll not only receive your free score, but you’ll also get email updates whenever anything changes. Although these free scores are good enough for most people, keep in mind that these are not the “official” scores used by lenders. To get your FICO score, you can pay a monthly fee through MyFico. Some secured credit cards may also provide this score for free (see below).
2) Monitor Your Credit Report
Before going any further, be sure to check your credit report for any errors. You can file a formal dispute if you find something that is wrong or if you disagree with a negative mark. Luckily, all three major credit bureaus are required to provide you with one free credit report every year. That means you can check one credit report every 4 months for free. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to learn how.
3) Pay Your Bills on Time
In order to improve your credit score quickly, you need to make sure that you aren’t acquiring any new unfavorable marks. That means it’s essential to pay all of your bills on time. Since 35% of your credit score is based on your credit history, take care of any late payments immediately…then stay current. If you’re new to building credit, don’t fall behind. Those negative marks can have a big impact on your score, and they take a while to fall off.
4) Get a Secured or Student Credit Card
If you’ve had an application for a credit card denied due to your credit score, chances are you applied for the wrong type of card. Try applying for a secured credit card or a student credit card instead.
The Discover it® Secured Card is without question our favorite secured card on the market. With this card, you won’t just be building your credit score. You’ll be earning cash back. The card offers 2% cash back each quarter on the first $1,000 in combined purchases at grocery stores and gas stations, plus 1% cash back on other items. Discover will even double it after your first year. Additionally, you’ll receive your free FICO® credit score on your monthly statements. That’s an awesome deal if you’re looking to build your credit.
For students who have yet to build their credit score, the Discover it® Chrome for Students is a great card to start with. Again, you’ll earn 2% cash back on the first $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter at gas stations and grocery stores. You’ll also get the free FICO® score and double cash back your first year. The coolest part of this card, though, is the “Good Grades Rewards.” For every year your GPA is above 3.0, you’ll get a $20 reward. There is no annual fee to worry about, so this is a great card to start building your credit score.
Credit Card Denied? Don’t Fret!
If you credit card application was denied, don’t lose hope! They may only need to verify your information or move some of your open credit around to seal the deal. And if you actually need to improve your credit score, start by using the simple tips outlined above. In my opinion, it’s always worth calling a reconsideration line and answering any questions they may have. All they can do is say “no,” right?
Need Help Choosing the Right Rewards Cards?
Are you planning a trip but aren’t sure which rewards card is best for you? Never fear! We are here to help. All you have to do is visit our FREE Rewards Advice Page and fill in our form. We’ll give you a personalized credit card rewards plan that can help you take the trip of your dreams for pennies on the dollar. The sooner you get started, the better off you’ll be. So, click here to start planning your travels today!
Want to read my latest posts about credit card rewards? Check them out here:
- 5 Ways to Make Sure Travel Hacking Isn’t Ruining Your Credit Score
- The Holy Grail: How to Book an All-Inclusive Resort with Points
- How to Pay Your Mortgage with a Credit Card
- Best Credit Card Rewards Offers for 2016
Have you ever had a credit card denied? Have you ever called a credit card reconsideration line?