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Why Was My Credit Card Application Denied?

Learn the 12 most common reasons your credit card application was denied, and how to improve your chances of approval.

There are a number of different requirements you need to meet to get your credit card application approved. This also means there are many reasons your application could be unsuccessful – and most lenders won’t automatically tell you why it was declined. Read on to learn the 12 most common reasons credit card applications are rejected and what you can do to improve your odds.

12 reasons your credit card application may be denied

These are 12 of the most common reasons your credit card application may get declined.

1. Credit score is too low

While every credit card will have its own unique credit score cutoff requirement, you can generally expect to have issues getting approved for a credit card if you’re score is less than 650. Credit scores in Canada range from 300 to 900, so if your score lies between 300 and 649, your card options will be limited and you probably won’t be eligible for typical credit cards.

2. Bad credit history

When you apply for a credit card, the provider will request a copy of your credit report from one of the two credit bureaus: TransUnion and Equifax. If you have negative information in your credit history – such as late payments or defaults – the provider may find you do not meet the requirements for the card and decline your application. Read more on how to build up your credit score in our comprehensive guide.

3. Short credit history

Sometimes your credit card application can be denied because you haven’t built up your credit history for long enough. Lenders like to see that you have a long track record of making on time payments. If you’re new to credit, lenders may be more hesitant to give you credit because they can’t verify that you can responsibly handle credit. In order to build up credit, consider applying for a secured credit card or a student card instead.

4. High credit utilization ratio

Your credit utilization ratio is one way lenders assess your financial health. Experts generally agree that you should shoot to keep this ratio below 30%. Let’s say, for example, you have a credit card with a $4,000 limit. In order to keep your utilization ratio below 30%, you would have to make sure you never carry a balance over $1,200. If your utilization ratio is too high, your credits score will be negatively impacted.

5. Too many recent credit applications

Applying for too many credit cards or other types of loans around the same time is a red flag to creditors. It signals to creditors that you’re desperate for money, which means your finances might be in danger. Plus, in order to assess your application, lenders have to do a hard check on your credit, which will lower your credit score. Try to keep the number of credit cards you apply for to a minimum.

6. Recent changes in your circumstances

If you have recently moved or changed jobs and you haven’t updated this information across all your networks, it could be hard for the provider to verify your identity or access your credit report. As with mistakes on the application, you may be able to deal with this by calling the credit card issuer and/or by providing additional documentation.

7. Income is too low

Creditors want to make sure you’re earning enough money to pay back any debt you build up on the card. That’s why most credit cards have minimum income requirements, generally ranging anywhere from $12,000 to over $80,000 per year. If your annual earnings are less than the required amount, your application will be declined. Check out our guide to low income credit cards to learn what options may be available to you.

8. Insufficient employment circumstances

Stable, ongoing employment helps show providers that you can meet repayments for a new credit card. If your employment is temporary, part-time or hard to verify for some other reason, you may find it hard to get approval for certain cards.

9. Other financial risks

When you apply for a credit card, you have to enter information about your income and expenses. If you have a lot of expenses in comparison to your income, the provider may determine that there is a high risk you won’t be able to make your repayments and therefore decline your application.

10. Not meeting citizenship or residency status

While there are some credit cards available for temporary residents, other cards are only available to permanent residents and citizens of Canada. Your application could be rejected if you can’t prove you have a valid Canadian address, or are a permanent resident.

11. Your age

If you’re under 18 years of age, or the age of majority in your province or territory, then your credit card application will be declined. Learn more about getting access to credit if you’re under 18 years old in our full guide.

12. Incorrect information on your application

Something as simple as entering your driver’s license number wrong or misspelling your address could mean the credit card provider is unable to verify your details and move forward with the application process. If a mistake is the reason your credit card application is declined, you may be able to resolve the situation with the provider by amending your application.

Remember that everybody’s finances are different…

It’s important to keep in mind that credit card providers assess applications on an individual basis, so the specific reasons your application may be declined will vary depending on your specific circumstances. Some providers may be willing to discuss these details with you, while others may not. Either way, you can keep a copy of your application and go over the details above to figure out the likely reason it was declined. It also doesn’t hurt to contact a lender to discuss why your application specifically was denied.

Do’s and don’ts for credit card applications

Do’s

  • Do compare credit cards options before you apply
  • Do check all the application requirements
  • Do provide accurate information on your application

Don’t’s

  • Don’t apply for a credit card too many times
  • Don’t apply for another card soon after being rejected
  • Don’t apply if you can’t meet the application requirements
  • Don’t provide false information on your application

Is it illegal to lie on credit card applications?

Yes. It may be easy to think that you can get away with stretching the truth on a credit card application, and some people do. But the consequences of doing so – even a little – can be stiff if you’re caught. Lying to get a credit card is considered a fraudulent act according to section 342(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

There are a number of ways someone could lie on a credit card application including inflating or misrepresenting his/her annual income, employment status, residential status and other personal information.

What happens if I’m caught lying on my credit card application?

Best case scenario — your application is declined and you’re flagged for future applications at the provider. Even if your future credit applications are solid, you could still be declined.

Worst case scenario — you’re at risk of serving up to 10 years in prison (according to section 342(1) of the Criminal Code). Ultimately, the consequences will depend on the nature, type and extent of the fraud.

How can I improve my chances of credit card approval?

If you want to limit the chance that your credit card application will be denied, consider the following tips:

  • Choose a card that suits your circumstances. Make sure the credit card you apply for is right for your needs by considering how it will fit with your current financial situation. For example, if you don’t earn a lot of money, you may want to look at credit cards for low income earners. Similarly, if you’re retired, on a pension or self-employed, you could look at the range of cards that accommodate these circumstances.
  • Get a copy of your credit report. You can request a copy of your credit report from Equifax or TransUnion. This allows you to make sure all the details listed are current and accurate. It can also give you a better understanding of how you can improve your finances. For example, if you see a lot of listings for late payments, you may want to focus on paying your bills on time to help improve your credit score.
  • Update all of your details before you apply. Make sure your address, phone number, email address and employment information is updated across all your networks so that it is easy for credit card providers to verify the information on your application.
  • Read over the application before you submit it. Going over the details in your application will help you pick out any errors before you hit the “submit” button.
  • Have your supporting documentation ready. Credit card providers require a range of documents before they can fully process your application, including valid ID, pay stubs and bank statements. It can speed up the application process if you have these documents ready before you apply because you’ll be able to provide them as soon as they’re requested.

What credit cards can I apply for with my credit score?

Credit scoreApproval oddsRecommended credit card issuers
  • Poor
Well below average

559 and below

  • Fair/Good/Very Good
Just above or below average

560-759

  • Excellent
Well above average

760-900

Compare credit cards

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
OFFER
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
30,000 Points
2x points per $1 spent
11.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 630
Get 30,000 Points (up to $150 in value) when you spend $2,000 in the first 6 months. Plus, get the 1st year annual fee waived for the primary cardholder ($25 value). Apply by January 31, 2022.
BMO CashBack Mastercard
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to max. spend of $2,000). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
Tangerine World Mastercard
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until January 31, 2022. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
Neo Financial Credit Card
N/A
Average 5% cash back
19.99% - 24.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an average 5% cashback at thousands of partners and at least 1% cashback guaranteed. Neo partners with major gas and grocery stores, restaurants, gyms, coffee shops and more.
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
3.99% rate on balance transfers for 9 months
N/A
12.99%
$20
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
American Express Cobalt Card
50,000 points
Up to 5x points per $1 spent
20.99%
$155.88
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 50,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year. Earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your card (up to 30,000 points). Plus, earn a Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend a total of $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.
Brim Mastercard
Up to $200 worth of bonuses
1 point per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to $200 worth of bonus points when you shop with Brim retailers for the first time through the Brim mobile app.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until January 31, 2022. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
SimplyCash Card from American Express
4% cash back
Up to 1.25% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn 4% cash back on purchases (up to $200 cash back) for the first 6 months of Cardmembership.
American Express Green Card
10,000 points
1 point per $1 spent
20.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $1,000 in purchases to your card in the first 3 months as a new Cardmember.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Balance Transfer Rate Balance Transfer Fee Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
Scotiabank Value Visa Card
0.99% for the first 6 months (then 12.99%)
N/A
12.99%
$29
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by February 28, 2022.
BMO CashBack Mastercard
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to max. spend of $2,000). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
Tangerine World Mastercard
1.95% for the first 6 months (then 19.95%)
3%
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until January 31, 2022. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
3.99% for the first 9 months (then 12.99%)
1%
12.99%
$20
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
1.95% for the first 6 months (then 19.95%)
3%
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until January 31, 2022. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
BMO Rewards Mastercard
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 725
Get a bonus of 10,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card
1.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
N/A
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases). Plus, get a 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months with no balance transfer fee. Apply by January 1, 2022.
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
0% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
1%
19.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year (that's up to $400 towards travel) and no annual fee in the first year, including supplementary cards. Plus, get a 0.00% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (A 1% balance transfer fee applies). Apply by January 1, 2022.
Scotia Momentum Visa Card
2.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
N/A
19.99%
$39
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a 2.99% introductory rate on balance transfers and a 0% balance transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by February 28, 2022.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
OFFER
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
30,000 Points
2x points per $1 spent
11.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 630
Get 30,000 Points (up to $150 in value) when you spend $2,000 in the first 6 months. Plus, get the 1st year annual fee waived for the primary cardholder ($25 value). Apply by January 31, 2022.
American Express Cobalt Card
50,000 points
Up to 5x points per $1 spent
20.99%
$155.88
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 50,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year. Earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your card (up to 30,000 points). Plus, earn a Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend a total of $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.
BMO World Elite Mastercard
30,000 points
Up to 3 points per $1 spent
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 30,000 points and the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.
American Express Aeroplan Card
40,000 points
Up to 2x points
30% annual interest rate applies to balances not paid in full each month
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to a total of 40,000 welcome bonus Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass. New Cardmembers can earn up to $1,200 in value within the first year.
American Express Business Edge Card
57,000 points
Up to 3 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$99
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 57,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year.
American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
2,000 Miles
Up to 1 Air Mile per $5 - $10 spent
20.99%
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES within the first three months. That’s enough to redeem for $200 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash.
American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
90,000 points
Up to 3x points
19.99%
$599
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to a total of 90,000 welcome bonus Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass. New Cardmembers can earn up to $3,000 in value within your first year. Plus, receive up to $100 in statement credits every four years when a NEXUS application or renewal fee is charged to your card.
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
100,000 Points
Up to 6 points per $1 spent
19.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($149 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Earn up to 100,000 Points. Get a Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Points (up to $100 value). Plus, earn an additional 80,000 Points and get the 1st year annual fee waived for the primary cardholder (up to $549 value). Apply by January 31, 2022.
BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard
Up to 10% cash back
1% cash back
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 10% cash back in your first 3 months and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year.
American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card
90,000 points
Up to 3x points
16.99%
$599
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 90,000 Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Welcome Offer Cash Back Rate Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Reward Description
Neo Financial Credit Card
N/A
Average 5% cash back
19.99% - 24.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
BMO CashBack Mastercard
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.
Tangerine World Mastercard
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
SimplyCash Card from American Express
4% cash back
Up to 1.25% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn 1.25% cash back on all eligible purchases.
SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express
10% cash back
2% cash back
19.99%
$99
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases
BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard
Up to 10% cash back
1% cash back
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Earn 5% cash back on groceries, 4% on transit including ride sharing, taxis and public transportation, 3% on gas and electric vehicle charging, 2% on recurring bill payments and 1% unlimited cash back on all eligible purchases.
BMO Cashback Business Mastercard
10% cash back
Up to 1.75% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Earn 1.5% cash back on eligible gas purchases, office supplies and on cell phone and internet recurring payments, earn 1.75% cash back at participating Shell stations, and earn 0.75% on all other eligible card purchases.
BMO CashBack Mastercard For Students
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.
Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card
Up to 5% cash back
1% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 1% cash back on all eligible gas station, grocery store and drug store purchases and recurring bill payments, and get 0.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
BMO CashBack Mastercard
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to max. spend of $2,000). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
Tangerine World Mastercard
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until January 31, 2022. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
Brim Mastercard
Up to $200 worth of bonuses
1 point per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to $200 worth of bonus points when you shop with Brim retailers for the first time through the Brim mobile app.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until January 31, 2022. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
SimplyCash Card from American Express
4% cash back
Up to 1.25% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn 4% cash back on purchases (up to $200 cash back) for the first 6 months of Cardmembership.
American Express Green Card
10,000 points
1 point per $1 spent
20.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $1,000 in purchases to your card in the first 3 months as a new Cardmember.
BMO Rewards Mastercard
10,000 points
Up to 2 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 725
Get a bonus of 10,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
Home Trust Secured Visa (No Annual Fee)
N/A
N/A
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: Any score
The no annual fee Home Trust Secured card comes with a standard 19.99% purchase and cash advance rate. Apply with any credit score and start rebuilding your credit.
BMO Cashback Business Mastercard
10% cash back
Up to 1.75% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get 10% cash back on gas, office supplies, cell phone bills and internet bills for 3 months.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
800 Miles
Up to 3x Air Miles for every $25 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Min. Required Deposit Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee
Refresh Financial Secured Card
$200
17.99%
N/A
$12.95 + $3/month
The Refresh Secured Card has no credit check, a low annual fee and guaranteed approval once you secure your card with anywhere from $200 - $10,000.
Home Trust Secured Visa (No Annual Fee)
$500
19.99%
19.99%
$0
The no annual fee Home Trust Secured card comes with a standard 19.99% purchase and cash advance rate. Apply with any credit score and start rebuilding your credit.
Home Trust Secured Visa (Low Rate & Monthly Fee)
$500
14.9%
19.8%
$60
Pay a monthly fee of $5 and get a low purchase interest rate of 14.90%.
Home Trust Secured Visa (Low Rate)
$500
14.9%
19.8%
$59
Rebuild your credit score and enjoy a low purchase interest rate of 14.90% and a cash advance rate of 19.80%.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Credit card issuers require a wide range of information before they can make a decision about your application. By learning more about these requirements and the common reasons credit card applications are declined, you can make informed decisions about what cards to apply for and increase your chances of approval in the future.

Frequently asked questions about declined credit card applications

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