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Once you’ve been at this hobby for a while you will begin to amass not only points and miles, but also new accounts and hard inquiries on your credit report. Though each card issuer treats this somewhat differently, it’s inevitable that your ability to open new credit cards will begin to dwindle and you risk getting the dreaded, “thanks but no thanks” response from the bank. Even if you are not denied outright, you may begin to get “application pending” responses where they say you’ll receive a letter in 7-10 business days with their decision. This can be extremely frustrating if you’ve spent a long time choosing a particular card or have a large expense coming up that you were hoping to put on it to help meet the minimum spend and earn a hefty welcome bonus.
However, that’s not always the final word on the matter. Here’s what to do if you do not get instantly approved for a credit card application to help turn the situation around.
Why Your Application Was Not Instantly Approved
There are a multitude of reasons why a credit card application may not be instantly approved, including:
- Your credit score is too low. This is rarely an issue for award travel enthusiasts, because by nature we ensure our cards are paid off each month and in full (which makes up more than one third of your FICO score). However, if there is a blemish on your report, such as a recent late payment or bankruptcy, it may temporarily lower your credit score and push you out of the bank’s acceptable range for that particular card.
- The number of hard inquiries on your report. Each time you apply for a credit card, mortgage, or any other line of credit, the bank does a hard inquiry on your credit report to check your payment history, amounts owed, and how many times your credit has been checked by other institutions. A high number of inquiries on your report in a short period of time can be an indication that someone is desperate for credit and not in a hurry to pay off their debts, which banks want to avoid.
- Application Restrictions. Some issues (like Chase) have instituted measures such as the “5/24 rule” which does not allow consumers to open any additional accounts with them if they’ve opened five or more with any other card issuer in past two years. Citi has a similar rule where you aren’t allowed to open a new account that earns ThankYou Points if you have opened or closed another ThankYou Points-earning card in 24 months. If you violate any of these rules by submitting your application, it is unlikely to get approved.
- You’ve recently moved. If a bank checks your credit report and the information listed, such as your address, doesn’t match what you put on the application, they may give a “pending decision” to take a closer look to ensure it’s a legitimate request.
- The bank feels they have given you enough credit already. If you already have several credit cards open with a particular bank and apply for another, they may decide that they have reached their limit of how much credit they would like to extend to you at that time. There is no hard limit on this so it can be challenging to know what that amount is for each bank and how it might change over time.
If you’ve applied for a credit card and received a denial or pending decision, don’t give up – there’s a still a high likelihood of getting the card approved if you call the reconsideration line. The reconsideration line, also known as “recon”, is a specific phone line used to answer questions and render decisions on previously submitted applications. Each bank has their own recon line, and it should be the first place you turn if an application is not instantly approved. Doctor of Credit has put together a fantastic resource combining the phone numbers for reconsideration lines of all major credit card issuers, so be sure to reference that to get directly to the correct person when calling.
Calling the reconsideration line and pleading your case with someone as to why they should approve your application or overturn a denial can be a nerve-wracking experience for the uninitiated. Here are some tips to help get you through the experience.
- Call promptly. The bank will have record of your application instantly, so there is no need to wait. If you don’t call within one month, your application is dropped and you will need to submit a new one (and receive another hard inquiry) in order to have the chance of getting approved.
- Call the correct recon number based on the reference at Doctor of Credit. If you call the number on the back of the card you won’t get routed to the correct person and they are unlikely to be helpful.
- When they pick up, say “I would like to check the status on an application I submitted recently”. Even if you submitted the application five minutes earlier and already know the current status, this gets the agent to open your file and review the application.
- Once the details of your application are confirmed, the conversation may go a couple of different ways:
- It may be as simple as an address or identity verification requirement. Answer a couple of questions about where you live, your social security number, etc., and the card might get approved right away.
- They may ask you why you applied for the card, referencing that you already have several other travel cards. Be sure to emphasize your loyalty to the bank, how much you’re looking forward to utilizing the benefits of the card (lounge access, earning 5x on travel, etc.), or perhaps mention that you have several businesses and would like to separate expenses between them.
- They might say that they have extended enough credit to you already and cannot approve an additional line. Ask if you can move credit from an existing account to the new one. If possible, avoid closing existing accounts before applying to new ones so that you have this option available.
- If the application was denied outright and they won’t give you a specific reason over the phone, use your existing relationship with the bank as leverage and politely remind them of your loyalty or explain any inconsistencies on your credit report and how you are fixing them. Ensure you are courteous here, and if there’s any wiggle room the agent may be able to influence the decision. If you are rude, do not expect any assistance.
- If all else fails, hang up and call again (HUCA). You may get someone else on the line next time that will be more helpful or at least explain the decision so you are more informed next time.
In my experience, calling recon works out in your favor nine times out of ten. Most often, they just need to verify some information on the application and then they resubmit on your behalf right away and have a decision for you in a few seconds.
Tips to Avoid Calling Recon
Not everyone wants to go through the hassle of calling the bank every time you apply for a card. This is especially true for those of us who play in two player mode with a reluctant partner – the last thing they want to do is deal with prodding questions from a bank representative about an account they couldn’t care less about to begin with. Here are a few ways you can limit having to call recon:
- Space out your applications. There is no hard and fast rule about how often you should apply for new cards, but hard inquiries fall off your report after two years so the common advice is one application every three to four months to
- Maintain a high credit score. This is a no-brainer, but if your credit score hovers close to the lower level of “Good” or below, then you risk having more denials. Make sure you are paying off your cards monthly and in full to ensure a solid payment history and low utilization, which helps greatly to increase your FICO score.
- Fill out the application accurately and completely. As previously mentioned, if there is a mismatch in the information you provide on the application and what’s listed on your credit report, the bank will want to take a closer look. If you’ve recently moved, had a large increase in income, or some other major change in your life that perhaps has not been noted in your credit file, expect to have to make a quick call to clear up the discrepancy before being approved.
- Wait it out. Some banks, Chase in particular, are finnicky with their recon rules. Sometimes the agents won’t tell you any information or try to help out whatsoever and will simply say, “wait until you get a letter in the mail”. Other times, and this has been the case with business card applications, they will grill you about specifics such as how much income you make in your business each year, how long you’ve been around, what type of products you sell, and then require that you send them proof of incorporation. On the bright side, Chase will often approve applications that receive a pending decision a few days later without having to call recon. If you find yourself in this situation with Chase, wait it out and don’t call in – you’ll either see the new card show up in your online account or you will receive a denial letter in the mail. If you receive a letter, then you can try your luck with recon.
Getting denied for credit cards is no fun, but thankfully you can oftentimes get those and pending decisions overturned in your favor by calling the reconsideration line. Though calling and pleading your case can be a drag, understand that the worst thing that can happen is that they say “no”, and you’re no worse off than you were before you called.
When I lived overseas, I had a domestic U.S. address that would change every couple of years. Since then, every application I submit gets a pending decision regardless of the bank so I have made these calls dozens of times and it almost always ends in approval. So unless you’ve received a pending decision from a Chase application, your best bet to get those new cards approved is to pick up the phone and ask them – it will be well worth your time.
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