How You Can Be Denied for a Credit Card Even With Excellent Credit

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While excellent credit is certainly a goal worth pursuing, having one of the best credit scores doesn't guarantee you’ll get approved for a credit card. You may have already had the unfortunate experience of being denied for a credit card despite having an excellent credit score. And you were probably surprised by the decision. Naturally so. One of the perks of having excellent credit is supposed to be that your applications get approved.

Unfortunately, credit scores aren’t the only factor credit card issuers consider to qualify you for a credit card. A number of factors can lead to a denied application, even when you have excellent credit.

Insufficient Income

Or, your income isn't high enough for the credit card you’re applying for. Trying to figure out which credit cards fit your income is pretty much a guessing game. To a certain degree, you have to trust the credit card issuers to approve you for the credit cards that best fit your income. The more prestigious credit cards, those with generous rewards for people with excellent credit, generally require a higher income.


Don't misrepresent your income to qualify for a credit card. If the lie is discovered, you could face penalties and possible jail time.

Too Many Credit Cards

Credit card issuers often consider the number of credit cards you have when they’re deciding whether to approve your credit card application. There’s no specific number of credit cards that’s acceptable for credit card issuers, at least not one that’s been made public. You may very well be able to handle an additional credit card, but the credit card issuer just doesn’t want to take that risk.

Too Much Debt

Having debt, whether it’s credit card debt or loan debt, can keep you from being approved for a credit card, even if you’re paying your debt well enough to achieve an excellent credit score.

Credit card issuers may consider your debt load too high and deny your credit card application rather than extend additional credit that you may default on. It’s just as well. Adding an additional credit card to a high debt load may topple your finances.

No Recent Credit Report Updates

You may have recently paid off a high balance or closed a couple of old credit cards, but that information may not show up on your credit report for a few more days depending on how often your creditor reports to the credit bureaus. It takes time for credit card issuers to send your account details to the credit bureaus, so slightly outdated credit report information is fairly normal.


The credit reporting time limit only allows most negative information to remain on your credit report for seven years (two years for inquiries and 10 years for bankruptcy). You can file a dispute with the credit bureaus to remove outdated information.

Too Recent Applications

While credit report inquiries may not have a huge impact on your credit score – they’re only 10% of your score – they can affect whether you get approved. Several credit card applications in a relatively short timeframe could indicate that you’re having financial trouble or taking on too much credit, both considered risky by credit card issuers.

If you apply for several credit cards within a short period of time, the first couple of credit card issuers may approve your credit card applications. But after a few inquiries hit your credit report, you may experience a denied application.

A Recently Opened Account

Some credit card issuers may deny your credit card application if you opened just one new credit card within the past several months. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have too many credit cards, but the credit card issuer may need to see more history with your new credit card before deciding to grant additional credit to you.

Frozen Credit Report

If you’ve placed a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report, your credit card application may be denied because the credit card issuer can’t pull your credit report. In the case of a fraud alert, the creditor will have to take additional steps to confirm your identity before approving your credit card application. With a security freeze, you’ll have to unlock your credit reports – at least with the bureau whose report the creditor is attempting to check – to have your credit card application completed.


It's now freeze to place a security freeze on your credit report. You won't incur any additional fees to temporarily "unthaw" your credit to allow a business to pull your credit report.

Recent Credit Card Default

Some credit card issuers will hold a previous default or against you, even if the defaulted account has passed the credit reporting time limit and even if you’ve since improved your credit. In this situation, it may be helpful to talk to someone with that credit card issuer. Clearing up the defaulted balance may give you the opportunity to get a new account with that credit card issuer.

What to Do If Your Credit Card Application Is Denied

Many credit card applications are processed electronically with a system that pulls your credit history, combines that with the information on your credit card application, and compares it to some predefined criteria. The computer doesn’t have the ability to look at your information subjectively and make an exception to the criteria.

Fortunately, many credit card issuers have a reconsideration phone number that you can call and speak to someone about your application. You can plead your case, explaining why you’re a good candidate for the credit card and if you’re lucky, you’ll get approved after all.

If you are turned down for a credit card, the credit card issuer will send a letter letting you know the specific reason or reasons that your application was denied.

You’ll also receive a free credit score if your credit score was used in the decision or instructions for accessing a free credit report if your credit report was used in the decision. Use this information to improve your odds of getting your next credit card application approved.


You can get one free credit report per week from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian through December 2023 at

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Discover. "What Are the Requirements for a Credit Card?"

  2. Credit One Bank. "How Many Credit Cards Are Too Many?"

  3. TransUnion. "How Long Does It Takes for a Credit Report to Update?"

  4. myFICO. "What's in My FICO Score?"

  5. Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604. Permissible Purposes of Consumer Reports," Pages 14-15.

  6. Legal Information Institute. "United States Code of Federal Regulations § 1022.72 - General Requirements for Risk-Based Pricing Notices,"

  7. PR Newswire. "Equifax, Experian and TransUnion Extend Free Weekly Credit Reports in the U.S. Through 2023."

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