My Credit Card Application Was Denied. Now What?

No one likes being rejected. There are several steps you can take to improve your chances of being approved the next time around.


Alex Cramer

Key Takeaways: 

No one likes being turned down. Whether it was from a school you wanted to attend or a job you interviewed for, it can hurt to hear the word “no''. 

It also hurts to receive a rejection letter in the mail instead of the credit card you were expecting.

The credit card approval process can feel mysterious, but there are several things you can do to improve your chances of being approved.  

Learn why Your Credit Card Application was Denied

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, if your application is denied, you are entitled to receive a notice known as an adverse action notice (AAN) explaining why you were turned down.

The adverse action notice will outline the specific reasons why your application wasn’t approved. For example, if your denial is related to something on your credit report, the credit card company is required to tell you which credit report they checked and what your credit score was. 

Common reasons a credit card application might be denied include: 

Ultimately, companies want to issue cards to people they believe will pay them back. If they have a reason to think that’s something you’ll struggle with, your application may be declined.

Does Getting Denied Hurt my Credit Score?

Getting denied for a credit card does not lower your credit score. However, the ‘hard inquiry’ that credit card companies perform on your credit report when you apply for a card can have a negative effect on your rating. 

The good news is that as long as you use your credit responsibly and pay your bills on time, your credit score should recover fairly quickly from this type of inquiry.

It's a good idea to wait at least a few months between credit card applications. Too many hard credit inquiries in a short period of time can negatively impact your credit score and could be seen as a red flag by credit card companies. 

What you can do When Your Credit Card Application is Denied

Photo credit: Nick Fewings

Even if your application for a credit card gets denied, you can take steps to improve your chances of being approved in the future such as:  

Monitor Your Credit 

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your credit score and credit reports to deal with red flags like errors, identity theft or inaccuracies immediately rather than be surprised when you’re applying for a credit card.

The Last Word

While it never feels good to be told no, an AAN isn’t the final word on whether or not you can receive a credit card.

Take the time to understand why you were turned down, fix the issues, and look for a card that you can be approved for while you work to improve your credit score.