5 Things to Say to Overturn a Denial on a Credit Card Application

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Knowing what to say could be your ticket to a credit card approval.

Sometimes a credit card application doesn't go your way. You fill it out thinking that you're on your way to a new card, only to get the dreaded denial.

In situations like these, your best option is to call the card issuer's reconsideration line. Credit card companies will often take another look at your denied application, but only if you call them and ask.

I've made a couple successful reconsideration calls, and I have a good idea of what works and what doesn't. If you know the right things to say, your chances of success skyrocket. But there are also slip-ups that almost guarantee you won't get the card. Here's exactly what you should say to improve your odds.

1. Start the call with a friendly greeting

Example: "Hi, (representative's name). I'm calling about my recent credit card application. How's your day going?"

Never underestimate the power of being polite. When you are, it's more likely the representative will want to help you. It's also simply the right thing to do.

A friendly greeting will set a good tone for the rest of the call, so make sure that's how you start.

2. Mention why you'd be a good cardholder

Example: "I have excellent credit, so I'm surprised that my application was denied."

The ideal cardholder for a credit card company is someone who uses their card regularly, pays on time, and avoids racking up debt that they can't pay off.

Provide a couple reasons why you're that type of cardholder. Here are some of the best things you can mention in your favor (assuming they're true, of course):

  • You have a good credit score.
  • Your payment history is perfect.
  • You always pay your credit card bill in full.
  • You keep your credit card balances low.

3. Ask for a reconsideration

Example: "I'd really like to get this card. Could you take another look at my application and see if there's a way to approve it?"

At this point, you explain why you're calling and how the representative can hopefully assist you.

Personally, I think it's good to add how much you want the credit card when you ask for a reconsideration. Remember that credit card companies are looking for people who will use their cards regularly and keep them open long term. If you sound like you're excited about getting the card, you'll seem more like that ideal cardholder.

4. Point out one or two benefits you like (except the sign-up bonus)

Example: "Bonus cash back on groceries would be great for me, because I've been spending lots of money on those lately."

One of the most important parts of the conversation is explaining the reason you want the card. The representative will probably ask you, and how you respond could make or break your chances.

Be ready to point out one or two perks and why you like them. That could be bonus rewards in a big expense category of yours, a balance transfer offer to help you save on credit card debt, free checked luggage with an airline you use often, or almost any other feature the card has.

Here's the lone exception -- do not, by any means, mention the sign-up bonus. Credit card companies don't like it when cardholders take sign-up bonuses and run, because it costs them money. Even if that's not your intention, simply bringing up the bonus can set off alarm bells.

5. Address the denial reason

Example: "I understand my application was denied because I have a couple recent credit accounts, but I always pay them on time and in full."

There was a reason, or possibly multiple reasons, why the credit card company denied your application. Although you'll receive a letter in the mail with this information, you can also get the denial reasons when you call.

With denial reasons, there are generally two ways to handle them: Propose a fix or mention a counterpoint in your favor.

Let's say you already have other cards with the card issuer, and it doesn't want to extend you any more credit. You could ask that it lower your credit limits on those other cards and use the credit you just gave up for the new card. If you lowered your credit limits by $5,000, the card issuer could then approve you for the new card with a $5,000 credit line.

Not every denial reason can be fixed, and if it can't, then your only option is to counter it. While you can't change how many credit cards you have open, you can bring up how well you've managed all of them.

Your reconsideration call may not go in that exact order, but those five things to say will cover the major moments in the call. If you hit those points, you stand a much better chance of getting your application approved.

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