How Long Should I Wait to Apply for a Credit Card After Being Denied?

No one likes rejection, and getting denied a credit card can make you feel confused and upset. You may even want to apply for another one in the hope of getting approved to make yourself feel better.

But in some cases, you may want to hold off. How long you should wait typically depends on the reason for your being denied.

How long do you have to wait?

The first reason to wait is that, when you apply for a credit card, the creditor runs a so-called “hard inquiry” on your credit report. This usually knocks a few points off your credit score. That said, it is not the fact you got denied that harms your credit score — it’s just the inquiry stemming from your application that affects it.

But not every inquiry counts against you. “Though businesses have various legitimate reasons to pull your credit report, the only inquiries that factor into a credit score are those associated with you applying for credit,” says Freddie Huynh, vice president of credit risk analytics for Freedom Financial Network. The other inquiries are considered “soft” credit checks, which usually happen as part of a background check or preapproval.

Hard credit inquiries remain on your credit report for two years, but the negative impact of one will typically go away after just a few months. Having multiple credit inquiries in a short amount of time, however, can signal to creditors that you’re desperate. That can lead them to view you as risky.

“There’s no hard-and-fast rule for the timing of applying for multiple credit cards,” says Huynh. To know when you should apply for another card, the first step is knowing why you were denied in the first place.

Why was my credit card denied?

There are several reasons why you may have been denied. You’ll typically get a letter in the mail telling you the reason. Alternatively, you can call the bank directly and usually get a quicker response. Here are the top reasons for credit card denials:

Your debt-to-income ratio is too high

This can happen if your income is too low or you have too much current debt. If this is the case, you should wait to reapply after you have addressed the problem. This may take a while, especially if you have to wait to increase your income, or if you have a large debt load. Either way, it’s in both your and the bank’s interest for you to have a low debt-to-income ratio.

Your credit score is too low, or you have a thin credit history

If you’re new to credit or working to rebuild your credit, you may have applied for a card that is targeted to people with higher income or a better credit history. That does not mean you cannot apply for another card right away, but you’ll need to know what your options are.

In many cases, your best option might be a secured credit card. These cards aren’t ideal because they require a security deposit, usually equal to your credit limit. But they can be a great way to build, or rebuild, your credit and get you where you want to be so that you can apply for a better credit card in the future.

You have too many inquiries on your report

“There is a relationship between credit risk and the number of credit inquiries,” says Huynh. “The more inquiries you have, the more likely you are to default on credit obligations.”

If this is the case for you, it means you’ve already applied for multiple credit cards or loans recently, and the credit card company already views you as a risk.

In this situation, you should consider waiting up to six months before applying for another card. It can take a while for the negative effects of those inquiries to go away and taking a break shows lenders that you aren’t as desperate for money as they might have thought.

You have major negative items on your credit report

Similar to having a low credit score, this reason simply means that you probably applied for a card that you don’t qualify for. That may be because you have a bankruptcy, foreclosure, tax lien, or some other major negative item on your credit report. These items can stay on your report anywhere between seven and 15 years, depending on the item.

There’s nothing wrong with applying for another card soon afterward, but you should consider a secured card instead.

One thing to consider before applying again, though, is to call your issuer of choice and ask them if they have any policies against approving someone with the specific negative items that you have. For example, some may not approve you if you have an open bankruptcy. Call ahead to make sure you have all the information.

You weren’t actually denied

When you apply for a credit card, issuers typically respond with one of three decisions:

  1. Congratulations! You were approved.
  2. We’re unable to approve you at this time.
  3. Your approval is pending.

If you get the third response, don’t apply for another card until you get a final response. It may be that the lender needs to verify your identity first or it needs to do a manual review of your application.

Challenge the denial first

Before you apply for another credit card, find out if the bank that denied you is willing to reconsider your application. You can call the bank’s reconsideration line and speak with a human and plead your case.

Here are the reconsideration lines for some of the top credit card issuers:

  • American Express: 877-399-3083
  • Barclaycard: 866-408-4064
  • Capital One: 800-625-7866
  • Chase: 888-270-2127
  • Citi: 800-695-5171
  • Discover: 888-676-3695
  • S. Bank: 800-947-1444
  • Wells Fargo: 866-412-5956

If that doesn’t work, you can ask at that time for the reason of the denial and decide your next steps. If you do plan to apply for another card, check out our top personal and business credit cards to see which one best fits your needs and credit profile.

By choosing the right credit card for you, you’re more likely to get approved the next time you apply.

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