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Why was my credit card application denied?

Worried about your credit card application being rejected?

There are numerous different steps and requirements you need to meet to get a 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.

From making a mistake on the application to not including supporting documentation or dealing with poor credit history, we explore the most common reasons credit card applications are rejected and what you can do about it.

Reasons your credit card application may be declined

Understanding the different reasons your credit card application may be rejected can help you figure out your next steps. Having bad credit isn’t always the cause for a credit card rejection. Some of the most common problems include:

  • Your age. If you are under 18 years of age then your credit card application will be declined.
  • Incorrect information on your application. Something as simple as incorrectly entering your driver’s license number or misspelling your residential address could mean the credit card issuer 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 issuer by amending your application.
  • Recent changes in your circumstances. If you’ve recently moved or changed jobs and you haven’t updated this information across all your networks, it could be hard for the issuer to verify your identity or access your credit report. As with mistakes on the application, you may be able to fix this by calling the credit card issuer and/or by providing additional documentation.
  • Not meeting income requirements for the card. Many credit cards have minimum income requirements. If your annual earnings are less than this amount, you’re application will be declined.
  • Poor employment circumstances. Stable, ongoing employment helps show issuers that you can meet repayments for a new credit card. So if your employment is temporary, casual, part-time or hard to verify for another reason, you may find it hard to get approval for certain cards.
  • 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 compared to your income, the issuer may determine that there is a high risk you won’t be able to meet repayments and decline your application.
  • Not meeting citizenship or residency status. While there are some credit cards available for temporary residents, other cards are only available for permanent residents and citizens of your respective country. So your application could be rejected if you don’t meet these requirements for a particular card.
  • Bad credit history or “adverse bureau” information. When you apply for a credit card, the issuer will request a copy of your credit file from a credit reporting agency. If you have negative or “adverse bureau” information in your credit history – such as late payments, defaults, too many applications for credit or even not enough credit history – the issuer may find you do not meet the requirements for the card and decline your application.


It’s important to remember that credit card issuers assess applications on an individual basis, so the specific reasons your application may be declined will vary depending on the circumstances. Some issuers may be willing to discuss these details with you through a reconsideration line but others may not. Either way, it’s a good idea to keep a copy of your application and go over all the details above to figure out why it was declined.

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How can I improve my chances of credit card approval?

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Now that you know the most common reasons credit card applications are declined, you’ll be able to avoid those issues next time you apply for a credit card. The following key strategies also help you increase your chances of approval:

  • 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 are 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. Request a free credit report from all of the major bureaus once every year. 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 residential address, phone number, email address and employment information is updated across all your networks so that it’s easy for credit card issuers 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 up any errors before you hit the “submit” button.
  • Have your supporting documentation ready. Credit card issuers require a range of documents before they can fully process your application, including copies of your passport or driver’s license, 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.
Credit qualityApproval oddsRecommended credit card issuers
  • Poor
Well below averageThe First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card, First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card, UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card, Fingerhut Credit Account, AccountNow Prepaid Debit Cards
  • Fair
Below averageCredit One Bank® Platinum Visa®, Credit One Bank® NASCAR® Credit Card, Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit
  • Good
Above averageChase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, Hilton Honors American Express Card
  • Excellent
Well above averageChase Sapphire Reserve®

Dos and don’ts for credit card applications


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


  • 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

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 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

I’ve tried to move my balance on my current card to another card with a balance transfer offer but my applications keep getting rejected. What should I do?

Frequent applications and rejection can hurt your credit rating. In this case, you may want to wait a few months and then find a card that suits your needs and also has eligibility requirements you can meet.

I’m retired. How will this affect my application?

It depends on the card. Lenders look at someone’s income and employment details, so it’spossible to still get a credit card when you’re retired if you meet the minimum income requirements.

I’m new at my current job. How long should I wait before applying?

Card issuers generally require a minimum of two to four months of employment with your current employer. Alternatively, you may be asked to provide a letter from your employer confirming the terms of your employment and salary.

How hard is it to get approval for your first credit card?

Credit card issuers consider many different factors before approving or declining an application. While you may not have much credit history if it’s your first credit card application, other details such as your employment and income can help you get approval.

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