Credit Card Denied? Try This…

Credit Card Denied - Try This - picture of stack of credit cards

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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 (Editor’s note: This offer has expired and the card is no longer available)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.

Reconsideration Numbers

Just to help you out, here’s a list of the reconsideration line numbers for some of the most popular card issuers.

American Express

  • 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 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 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 instead.

A secured card is a credit card in which you provide collateral with which you can earn a credit line. They can be a good way to build credit if you have none. These cards often provide a free monthly FICO® credit score as well.

Compare the best secured credit cards here.

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:

Have you ever had a credit card denied?  Have you ever called a credit card reconsideration line?

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  1. ahhh Chase… they love giving us credit! One other reason that we’ve been put in the “pending” pile is because we have fraud alerts on my credit report. That triggers a human to look at it, and call us to confirm identity, every time. It freaked me out the first time, since it didn’t say why we weren’t immediately approved, but in hindsight I like the process for security.

    1. I actually like it when that happens. It makes me feel like someone is looking out for my identity!

  2. Calling Citi will generally make no difference, you need to send a letter to their executive team

    1. I have actually been approved over the phone with Citi. My application for a Citi Aadvantage card came back pending and I called to see why. I had moved and my address didn’t match up to the address on file for my other cards. I had to answer a bunch of questions to confirm my identity but I was able to change my address on everything and get approved over the phone.

  3. I am insanely jealous of all your credit card reward schemes in the US. Over here in the UK, the choice is pretty rubbish. I think I’ve got one of the better ones with a capital one cashback credit card and I get the grand total of 1% cashback. Woo Hoo!

  4. I was denied for a credit card offered by my credit union and it included free balance transfer. I was denied due to my debt to income ratio. I will never be able to get a fancy credit card that offers great rewards until my student loans are practically paid off.

    1. Ha! I think it makes Greg nervous too. He tries not to think about it.

  5. One thing I’m curious about. If there’s a fee involved, do they not charge you right away? If I understand correctly, you are able to get signup rewards before they charge a fee, and then cancel the card before that happens. How do you know when the fee kicks in? I’d be interested to know from your readers if this is possible to this extent in Canada. I would have thought credit card companies would be wise to this, but I think it’s great how you can manage this!!

    1. Some cards have an annual fee that is charged right away or on the fist billing cycle. Others have an annual fee but waive it for the first year. I often earn the reward then cancel the card before the annual fee kicks in. That’s how you do it!

  6. That’s pretty nice that they will let you move some of your credit around for the sake of getting another card! I wasn’t aware that they’d allow that. Good to know!

    1. Yes, apparently they thought they had extended Greg enough credit already. Ha!

    1. Yes… each inquiriy is like 4-8 points or something like that, but then you get more available credit so your utilization ratio drops. So in the end (when you are responsible) most people end up with a net positive benefit of a higher credit score, which then makes it easier to apply for more credit.

      1. In most cases opening up new credit cards will lower scores. In addition to the inquiries any new credit account will also drop scores. Inquiries simply occur before the new line of credit is opened.

        In the example given, they simply got a new card but did not increase their total amount of credit with Chase. So their utilization ratio stayed the same.

    2. My goal is always to keep our scores above the 720-730 range so that we can qualify for all of the best rewards offers. Other than that, it doesn’t make a huge difference to me. I track it on Credit Karma to see where it’s going. It just went up 7 points and is back over 750!

  7. Well I don’t open that many credit cards so I hope this doesn’t happen to me anytime soon, but a good reference if it does!

    1. Hey, you never know when you’ll need this valuable information =)

  8. In my credit card days, I only had three or less cards. Can’t imagine keeping track of 20-40. Sounds like you have a good system though. How much time do you spend keeping track of it all? Seems like a good deal of work.

    1. Well, I write about credit card rewards at one of my writing jobs so I probably spend more time on it than most people! =)

  9. Ah, the old “shower them with compliments” routine! So easy and so effective. I had the experience of my card getting denied (not getting denied for a card) last weekend because it had been put on hold for fraudulent charges — without them telling me — so when I attempted it use it, it got declined and then I immediately got a call from the customer service line and it was taken care of. I felt pretty crappy about the card initially getting denied though!

    1. I’ve had that happen more than once- usually when I go on vacation and forget to tell my credit cards that I will be using the card out of the country!

  10. I have never had this happen, but I do know that you can always call and try to work something out. It’s amazing that with 7 cards already, Chase is willing to give yet another one. At least you and Greg are responsible, I can’t imagine, though, how many irresponsible people they say yes to.

    1. Yeah, I know. We carry a zero balance from month to month. I don’t know why they keep giving us credit when we aren’t even utilizing the credit we already have.

  11. Very often, you are turned down for no reason other than a mistake. You should always question a denial because it is probably a mistake.

    1. I agree. Sometimes they also just need additional information. That is usually the case for us.

  12. Great tips, Holly! I just had this happen with the Barclays card- I didn’t get instant approval, and I was bummed. Called them up and they just needed to verify some info, and now the card is on it’s way. Easy peasy!

  13. I’ve never been denied for a credit card, but I have been denied on a request to increase my limit. I think I had a $700 limit and asked for $10,000 and they offered me $1,200, which I thought was ridiculous because if you’re trying to keep utilization to 30%, that’s $400 of spending allowed on the card and I net over $7,000 per month. And hello, my mortgage payment is basically that credit limit and I’m fine with that!

    So basically, I told the rep just that and she transferred me to another department, something along the lines of retention. I didn’t quite get $10,000, but I did get $3,000, which is totally reasonable for what I use that card for. Then a few months ago, they raised the limit to $4,000 all on their own. When I cancel my Chase Sapphire Preferred, I’ll probably ask them to move the limit to that card so that I don’t lose the available credit.

    I was so happy that I was automatically approved for the Barclaycard, Chase Freedom, and Chase Sapphire Preferred! That had never happened before! Yay for my credit finally being good! (I only started building it after graduating from college ~4.5 years ago.)

    1. Nice! It sounds like you are building up some awesome rewards!

  14. Chase actually denied me an ink bold card. 🙁 I have excellent credit, so this has stumped me. I should probably call them and see if I can get them to reconsider.

    1. I called and they said because they (chase) issued me a southwest business card in feb and I haven’t put enough on it (I only used it until I got my points then switched to another card) that I had sufficient enough credit for my income. 🙁 Any thoughts?

      1. Did you offer to move some of your available credit on your existing card to the new card? That sounds like it has worked for Holly and Greg in the past.

        1. no, I never thought about that. The lady practically interrogated me asking me why my business needed another card and more credit. Frustrating since I have excellent credit. I felt pretty turned off by the whole idea at that point.

  15. Awesome tips Holly. I’ve dealt with Chase too, and can say, they are crazy easy. Even when I was helping people with debt, their financial hardship department was friendly and helpful…I love that bank!

  16. Thanks for the tips. I used to get a lot of offers from Chase years ago. So many that I got tired of seeing them in my mail. I called them up to opt out and now I get nothing. However, now I’m interested in getting the Chase Sapphire Preffered Card in a few months so I’ll have to see how it goes. I’m happy to hear that they’re easy to deal with.

    I have a few Amex cards and have found them easy to deal with. We just got approved for the Gold Premier Rewards. The targeted offer was for 50,000 membership rewards after spending $1,000 in 3 months. It came in the mail and I had forgotten about it so I’m glad I jumped on it before it expired. Any tips on the best way to maximize Amex Points?

    1. It depends what your goals are. They transfer out to 21 airlines including Virgin Atlantic, Delta, British Airways, etc. That’s a great value!

  17. Great tips Holly! I’ve had to call the reconsideration line for Chase a few times. Most of the time it was for a biz card so it wasn’t all that surprising. I just got to coach my wife through her first one a week or so ago and she did quite well. Now we have the Ink with the extra points and a Frontier card (which we got the points needed for the tickets in one purchase) so that card is being put away. 🙂 You can’t stress that point about being nice enough. A lot of those reps deal with crap all day, plus it pays to simply be nice.

  18. We finally got around to signing up for the Barclay credit card. I was a little nervous opening an extra line of credit that we didn’t really need but the offer is too good to turn down! If we ever get denied or pending in the future I definitely will not hesitate to call the company up. Thanks for the info.

  19. I got pending for both by Chase Ink Plus and Bold (60,000 pt. deal for each). Super easy call, no questions. The Plus was approved by the time I called.

    Haven’t had any issues when signing my wife up either. But I def. have the reconsideration numbers handy for when it does happen.

    We should compare rewards balances sometime 🙂

  20. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel says:

    Holy Moses! My wife’s nervous with our 6 cards so I’ve been holding off on adding any more. But if it works, why the heck not? 😉

  21. I have not had that many cards and never plan on doing so. I have been declined for a card before, but that was due to information not matching up. It was fixed in about 5 minutes!

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  23. Between Amex and Chase, it seems Chase is harder for me to do reconsideration. Never tried Citi.

  24. I recommend going to and look at the Chase section. Chase has recently started cracking down on folks and may deny a card bc the applicant has applied for 5 or more cc in the previous 24 months. (Not just Chase cards – any cards). They are especially strict on their own cards (i.e. Sapphire, Freedom). Flyer Talk posters keep up on all the twists and turns.

  25. Thanks for this information. I applied for the Chase Sapphire card this morning and then received the dreaded ‘Pending review’ answer. I was really worried as I had a hard inquiry on my account from a home loan pre-qualification a month ago and got a new Virgin card a few months ago and the length of my credit age is under 2 years. I called the reconsideration line and was cheerful and polite, the lady put me on hold to check my application and a few minutes later she came back saying that I was approved, yay!!

    1. Awesome! Sometimes they just need a little information from you to push your app through!

  26. I wonder if I misunderstood you that you could apply again for a credit card you already have? My husband was denied for the IHG card for the reason he already has it. He got the first one last year. Sorry if this is a dumb question.

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