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How to Turn a Credit Card Denial Into an Approval

If you couldn't get approved for a credit card this time, these steps can improve your odds the next time you apply.

Wong Yu Liang / Getty

Every credit card issuer has its own set of eligibility requirements used to approve you for a new card. Some of the best travel and rewards credit cards have the tightest credit requirements, making it harder to get approved for them over cards with fewer rewards or features.

If you were denied for a credit card, you still have options. You can wait a few months and apply for a card with a lower credit score requirement, or you can continue to work on your score and reapply down the line. Here are some tops to improve your chances of being approved after a credit card denial.

Why did I get denied for a credit card?

There are many reasons why a credit card application might be denied: 

  • Your credit score is too low. Certain credit cards have higher credit requirements than others. Try improving your score before reapplying.
  • You may have blemishes on your credit report. If you have too many recent credit applications or missed payments on your credit report, you may not be approved.
  • Your credit utilization ratio is too high. Your credit utilization ratio, or how much credit card debt you have compared to your available credit, is something that factors into your credit score. If you’re constantly maxing out your credit cards, lenders see you ask a riskier borrower and may not approve you for another one.

What to do after your application is declined

Getting declined for a credit card you want can be discouraging, but you have options.

Determine why your application was denied

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act requires credit card issuers to send applicants the rationale for any declined application within seven days. Common reasons include a high debt-to-income ratio, a low credit score, insufficient monthly income, a limited credit history or delinquencies. 

Once you know why your application was denied, you’ll know what to work on.

Request a copy of your credit report

You should also request a copy of your credit report to ensure all information is accurate. If you were denied due to a low credit score, spend time improving your credit to make you a better candidate next time around. 

If you see incorrect information on your credit report, you can dispute it with the credit bureau. If the credit bureau agrees that the information is an error, it will remove it from your credit report, which can boost your credit score. Check your credit report regularly for any unrecognized transactions or activity.

Ask for a reconsideration

Credit card companies can miss information or end up with incorrect information due to computer or human error. For that reason, these companies have a reconsideration process, where applicants can ask the company to reconsider the rejected application. 

If you believe you were wrongfully denied, you can call the credit card company’s main customer service line and ask to talk to an agent about reconsideration.

Find a more suitable card

It could be that your credit card application was denied because you weren’t a good candidate; for example, the card might have a higher annual income requirement or credit score. Credit cards for bad credit and credit cards for fair and average credit may prove a better fit.

Work on paying off debt

If your debt-to-income ratio is too high, it could prevent you from qualifying for a credit card. Each lender has its own DTI requirements -- Wells Fargo, for instance, recommends a DTI of 35% or less to be considered a favorable applicant -- but shooting for less than 40% can boost your chances of being approved. Before applying for another card, try paying down your debt to lower your DTI ratio.

How long should you wait before reapplying for a credit card?

After a credit card denial, you may be tempted to apply again right away. However, it can pay off to spend several months (potentially even six months or longer) improving your credit and financial situation before you apply for another card.

Waiting this long will give your credit score the chance to rebound after the hard inquiries other credit applications caused, and it can give you enough time to pay down debt and improve your score as well.

What should you do after multiple credit card denials?

If you have applied for several different credit cards and all your applications have been denied, that’s a sure sign to work on your credit. Take some time to focus on making on-time payments for the credit accounts you already have, then reassess your credit score. If you’re looking for a way to build your credit, consider applying for a top secured credit card that doesn’t have a set credit score threshold, but does require a security deposit to fund your credit line.

How to improve your chances of getting approved for a credit card in the future

Use your current credit cards carefully

Your credit report and credit score are two of the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for a credit card. You can increase your chances of approval by improving your credit. Start by making monthly payments on time, paying more than the minimum when possible, and paying off any debts currently in collections. Practice healthy credit habits and you could start tosee improvement in just a few months.

List all income when applying

Credit card companies look at your income and current debt payments when determining if you qualify for a card, so be sure to list all of your current income. Some applicants forget to include income from freelance gigs and side hustles, which could lead to a denial. If you’re married and over 21, you can also list your household income on a credit card application, which could increase your chances of getting approved.

But don’t overstate your income -- lying on an application can be considered credit card fraud.

Look for cards that match your credit profile

To increase your chances of approval, apply for cards with eligibility requirements that you meet. You may also look for credit cards that offer preapproval so that you can get a sense of your chances before authorizing a hard credit pull.

Become an authorized user

If you’re worried you won’t get approved a second time, you might consider becoming an authorized user on a friend or family member’s credit card. This can help you establish healthy credit -- as long as the card owner is a responsible credit user.

Apply for a secured card

Secured credit cards are more accessible to anyone with poor or no credit. That’s because secured credit cards are backed by a cash security deposit that is only refunded when the account is closed. In most cases, your credit line will be equal to your deposit amount. If your deposit is $500, for example, your credit line will generally also be $500. This protects the card issuer in case you default on your payments -- the tradeoff is access to a card that can help you start to build healthy credit habits.

Does getting denied for a credit card hurt your credit?

Though applying for a new credit card account may ding your credit score by a few points, an approval or denial won’t directly affect it. If lenders see that you have applied for several credit card accounts in a short period of time, however, they may interpret it as a signal of financial distress and consider you a higher-risk borrower.

The bottom line

Credit card denials are fairly common, but they don’t mean you are barred from having a credit card for the rest of your life. Try not to see a denial of your credit application as a failure, and instead ask yourself what you can do to turn the situation around. You may just need more time to build credit, less debt overall or a different type of credit card to get started.


Take steps to improve your financial situation and credit score, and you may find that the credit cards that were previously out of reach are now available to you.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Erin Gobler is a personal finance writer based in Madison, Wisconsin. She writes about topics including budgeting, student loans, credit, mortgages, investing, and insurance. Her work has been published in financial publications and startups such as The Simple Dollar, LendingTree, Robinhood and more.
Holly Johnson is a credit card expert and writer who covers rewards and loyalty programs, budgeting, and all things personal finance. In addition to writing for publications like Bankrate,, Forbes Advisor and Investopedia, Johnson owns Club Thrifty and is the co-author of "Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You'll Love."