Credit Cards

5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Card Application Approval Chances

approvedNo one likes being denied for things and for credit card points and miles enthusiasts it goes without saying that being denied for that shiny new card is the worst thing that can happen in this hobby. Recently Chase announced their new Sapphire Reserve card which comes with an unprecedented 100,000 Ultimate Reward point signup bonus. This offer has set the points and miles world ablaze with and has everyone who has any idea what a point/mile is submitting their applications. While many are being approved I have seen many who were not. The biggest declination reasoning seems to stem from users who’re over the 5/24 limit which is an unofficial rule that basically means you’re not eligible for Chase credit card products if you’ve got 5 or more new accounts opened in the past 24 months. While there may be ways to circumvent that, we’re not going to discuss them here. Rather, in this post we’re going to cover 5 ways you can improve your chances of getting approved for a credit card regardless of whether is the Sapphire Reserve or something else.

  1. Pay off any outstanding balances on new issuers cards – For the sake of this article we’ll continue to use the Sapphire Reserve as our example. If I were to apply for this card (and I plan to) the first thing I would do is zero out all of my outstanding credit card balances with Chase. I’ve currently got 3 chase products in my wallet (Amazon, Freedom, Sapphire Preferred) and on application day it would behoove me to have a $0 balance across all three cards. This is important because you want the credit card companies to know that while you’re applying for more credit you don’t necessarily “need it”. If you had outstanding balances on your existing cards that may raise a red flag and it would most certainly take away some of your leverage when you call the reconsideration line should you be not instantly approved. For example, lets say that you’ve just got the Sapphire Preferred with Chase and it has an $8,000 credit limit. You plan on paying the bill when the statement comes but on application day you owe $3,000. One strategy when calling reconsideration lines is to ask the issuer to take the credit limit you’ve got with one card and transfer some of it over to the one for which you’re applying. In this case however that may not be an option because the minimum credit limit on a Sapphire Preferred is $5,000. Because you’ve only got $5,000 in available credit theres nothing for you to move from this card to the other. Bottom line here is that if you’re applying for a new card be sure to zero out your balances at that bank prior to applying so that you’ve got the maximum amount of leverage come reconsideration time.
  2. Understand your credit report – I touched on the 5/24 limit earlier and before you apply for a new card you should know whether or not you’re over that limit. An easy and free way to run this check is to head over to CreditKarma.com and open your “Credit Reports”. From there you’ll scroll down to the “Accounts” section and click on “Credit Cards”. This page will list all of the open credit card accounts that you have. You may then sort by “Open Date” and you’ll then want to count the number of accounts opened within the last 24 months. If you’re well over 5/24 you may want to refrain from applying for any new cards until that number sorts itself out. If you’re right on the number theres a chance you could still be approved and assuming your income and credit score are high enough it may make sense to submit the application.
  3. Have reconsideration phone number handy: Be ready to negotiate – In the event that you’re neither immediately approved nor denied you may go into a pending status. Should that happen one of the best ways to improve your odds of being approved is to call the reconsideration line. These phone numbers are a quick Google search away for any one bank and essentially on this call you’re going to explain to the agent that you’ve just applied for a new card, you’re super excited about the prospect of having this card, and that you’d like to know what else you can do in order to increase your odds of an approval. They may ask you some questions, they may just approve you. Regardless of what happens, stay calm, and be willing to negotiate. Moving credit limits around is a great way to go from denial to approval and while they may not offer that up as a suggestion you should not hesitate to if the opportunity presents itself.
  4. Apply early in the morning – This tip is probably somewhat controversial but its one I tend to abide by. Basically this tip boils down to decision fatigue. This is a term in psychology that basically  says you’re more likely to receive a favorable decision if the person you’re asking has had to make fewer decisions so far that day. Roy Baumesiter wrote a book on this called “Willpower” back in 2012 and while there have been opponents of the theory since Im personally a believer in the general theory. So for this reason if you apply earlier in the day and are forced to call the reconsideration line you may have a better chance of being approved because the person on the phone will have taken less reconsideration calls so far that day. Its hard to quantify how helpful this tip is, but hey, why risk it?
  5. Make sure its a card worth applying for – This is less of a single application tip as it is general advice for you and your credit card strategy. When big offers come along you don’t want to be the person that cannot get approved because you wasted all of your applications on cards with mediocre signup bonuses and benefits. Its important that for each application you submit it is for a card that you’re absolutely sure you want and it comes along with a plethora of perks and a good signup bonus. I’ve made the mistake in the past of opening bank cards for no reason other than the banker asked me if I wanted a card. Don’t do that. Do your research, know what you’re applying for and why. In the long term this will help you pick and choose the offers you want most and ensure that you’ve got the highest probability of being approved for such offers.

What tips do you have for fellow readers who’re looking to improve their overall approval chances? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter!

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