4 Reasons You Could Be Denied a Credit Card

by Christy Bieber | Published on Oct. 10, 2021

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A denial can be disappointing -- but here are some reasons it can happen.

When you apply for a credit card, there's a good chance you are excited about the perks and features that the card offers. That's why it can be disappointing if the card issuer denies your request to open an account.

Unfortunately, people can and do get denied credit cards all the time. Here are four of the most common reasons that might happen to you.

1. Your credit score isn't high enough

A low credit score is one of the most common reasons you may not be approved for a credit card. This is especially likely if you apply for a card with a generous reward program or many cardholder perks. That's because these cards are often reserved for the most well-qualified applicants.

The good news is that if you are denied a card because of a low credit score, there are plenty of other options. For example, you could apply for a secured card or a credit builder card designed for people with no credit history or low scores.

These cards offer easy approval. You can use them to build credit, and eventually try again to get the original card you wanted.

2. You owe too much money

If you have a lot of debt already, card companies may not be willing to give you more credit -- especially if they feel you're in over your head. In this situation, the best thing to do is work on paying down your debt. Once you've reduced your balance to a more manageable level, card issuers are more likely to approve your application for a new card.

3. You don't have reliable proof of income

Card companies want to be sure you can pay back charges you make on your card. They may look at your income, and if you don't have reliable proof of that income (such as pay stubs or tax returns), you may not get approved.

Applying with a cosigner can be helpful in these situations, as the card company takes both your income and credentials and the cosigner's income and credentials into account. This could open the door to approval for a card even if you're still working on boosting your income. Just remember that ideally, you will avoid carrying a balance -- so don't charge more than you can afford based on your earnings.

4. You've applied for too many credit cards recently

Some card companies won't give you new credit if you have recently applied for too many other cards. If this happens, simply wait until some of the inquiries drop off your credit record.

Since this is a common reason for being denied a new card, be choosy about which new cards you apply for. Don't necessarily apply for anything that looks like it might be a good fit -- research your options and only apply for a new credit card if it is really worth it.

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