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Why Was My Credit Card Application Denied?

Last Updated: February 16, 2022
3 min read

When you’re denied for a credit card, especially if you keep getting denied, it’s may be due to your credit score or credit history. If you understand the factors that cause creditors to decline a credit card application, you can work to address credit issues so you may be less likely to be declined for a credit card.

Creditors tell you why your application was declined

If you’re denied for a credit card or any other type of credit, the creditor is required to send you an adverse action notice that explains why you were denied credit. Once you know the reason your credit card application was declined, you may be able to take steps to fix the problem.

Reasons for a credit card application to be denied

Credit card companies look at a number of factors when considering your application, and when you’re declined for a credit card, one of these things may be the reason:

Low Credit Score

If your credit score is low, start by checking your credit report for errors. You can request a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com. You can dispute any errors you find. If you don’t see errors, take steps to address any problems in these factors:

  • Missed or late payments: Creditors may report your payment as late if it is 30 days past due. Paying late makes you a credit risk, and increases your chances of being denied credit.
  • Credit Card Utilization:Your credit utilization ratio compares the amount of credit you use to the amount of credit you have. Using too much of your available credit can negatively affect your credit score.
  • Hard Credit Inquiries:Each time you submit an application for a credit card or loan, the creditor will file an inquiry to receive your credit score and your credit report. Inquiries may impact your credit score, so it’s best to avoid applying for several credit cards at once.
  • Length of credit history: A long credit history, especially one that shows you’ve paid your bills on time, will make you a stronger candidate for a new credit card.

No Credit History

Having no credit history at all means that you may be less likely to be approved for some credit cards that are intended for individuals who have an established credit score.. If you’re a student, you may be more likely to qualify for a student credit card even if you have no credit history. For example, no credit score is required to apply for the Discover it® Student card.1

Income and Expenses

If you have a reasonably good credit score but keep getting denied for a credit card, it may be that your income is too low or your rent is too high in relation to your income. Credit card issuers take your income and expenses into account when assessing whether you’ll be able to pay your credit card bill.

Your age

If you’re younger than 18, your application for a credit card will likely be denied. That’s because 18 is usually the minimum age to get your own credit card account, but you can get a credit card if a friend or family member is willing to add you as an authorized user on their card.

Alternatives when your credit card applications keep getting denied

Apply for a secured card

In some cases, a secured credit card might be your best bet for getting a credit card if you’ve been declined for a regular card. With a secured card, you put down a deposit that will equal your credit limit after you are approved, and use the card as you would any credit card. If you’re responsible about paying your bill on time, you could  begin to build a credit history and may be approved for regular credit cards in the future. If you have a Discover it® Secured Credit Card, Discover will review your account after seven months to see if you qualify to convert to a regular card and get your deposit back.2

Become an authorized user

A friend or family member can add you as an authorized user to their credit card account. You don’t need to be approved, because the account owner is responsible for any charges you make.

Choose a store credit card

Some retailers offer credit cards that may have less strict application requirements than general credit cards. They may offer lower credit limits than you would get with a standard credit card, but using a retail card responsibly may pave the way to the ability to get approval for a general card down the road. Eventually after taking steps to put yourself on the right financial path, you will grow more confident when applying for credit cards.

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