Table of Contents In this article

Why You Can Trust CNET

CNET Money’s mission is to help you maximize your financial potential. Our recommendations are based on our editors’ independent research and analysis, and we continuously update our content to reflect current partner offers. How we rate credit cards
Advertiser Disclosure

CNET editors independently choose every product and service we cover. Though we can’t review every available financial company or offer, we strive to make comprehensive, rigorous comparisons in order to highlight the best of them. For many of these products and services, we earn a commission. The compensation we receive may impact how products and links appear on our site.

How to Turn a Credit Card Denial Into an Approval

If you couldn't get approved this time, here are the steps to take to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Dave Whelan/CNET

Whether you’re looking to transfer a balanceearn rewards or take advantage of a limited-time welcome bonus, getting denied for a credit card can throw a wrench into your financial plans. If you find yourself unable to get approved, there are steps you can take to understand what went wrong and put yourself in a better position for instant approval next time.

Why did I get denied for a credit card?

There are many reasons why a credit card application might be denied. You may have blemishes on your credit report. You may have applied for too many accounts too quickly. Your credit utilization ratio may be too high. Maybe you have an unpaid balance on an account you forgot about. Or it could be something else altogether. Being declined can be discouraging -- but you have options.

What to do after your application is declined

  • 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, you’ll want to spend some time working on your credit to make you a better candidate next time around. Everyone is guaranteed a free credit report annually from each credit bureau at
  • 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.

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.

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. 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.

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.