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Update: Some of the offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express
This is the fourth post in a series on my most recent round of credit card applications and will focus on how to conduct a personal credit card inventory and decide which cards to keep and those to cancel. The first post covered the basics of credit and how to perform a personal check to make sure everything is healthy before a round of applications. Post 2 covered when to cancel a credit card and taking inventory of your credit card portfolio. Post 3 evaluated the top current card offers and which offers to go after and which to hold off on and my own application process.
When it comes to applying for multiple credit cards at a time, chances are you’re going to get an automatic “pending” or “decline” response from some of the major issuers. While it might seem like a small hassle, reconsideration lines can be your best friend when applying for credit cards on your way to becoming a points powerhouse.
When you apply for a credit card, the issuer runs your application through a couple levels of analysis. The first is a computer program that crunches your numbers and spits out a yes or no, or holds your application for further analysis. That’s when an actual human comes into the picture. Issuers have credit analysts going over applications that are more complicated than a yes or no and will make the final decision.
Only it’s not ever really the final decision because beyond them is the reconsideration line, which is usually staffed by rational, patient and friendly analysts who will go over your application with you, cover why it was red-flagged, point out any issues and can either fast-track it towards acceptance or give you specific reasons for why you will be declined. Remember, credit card companies generally want people to get approved for cards, so even if you’ve have a lot of inquiries or had credit issues in the past, it is often possible to get approved.
That said, you might get an answer of no when you first call that turns into a yes after you talk to them. Calling a reconsideration line is your chance to make your case why you should have the credit card you applied for. Think of it as debate club…for points.
What strategy you use will depend on which card you are trying to get.
If, for instance, you’re applying for a business card but don’t have a major business or are applying as a sole proprietorship – and many banks including Citi have tightened up their restrictions for who can apply for such cards – you can make the case that you are trying to keep your business/work expenses separate from personal and that’s why you need both the Ink Bold and the Sapphire Preferred for example, even though both accrue Ultimate Rewards points and are Chase cards. As for American Express, OPEN cards are exclusively for business owners though that category also covers sole proprietors.
Going a step further, even if you have an Ink Bold, you can also get an Ink Plus, which is a credit card (vs. the Bold, which is a charge card) by explaining that you need the option to balances over time since charge cards make you pull in full every month. This strategy has worked successfully for me and I’ve been able to rake in multiple 50,000 point sign-up bonuses, which I value at around $1,000 a piece. The more you educate yourself on the ins and outs of the particular card you want, the more likely you are going to be to convince the rep you get that you should have that card.
If the issue was your overall credit limit has been reached in the bank’s estimate, you could always suggest shifting some of your existing credit line onto the new card. This has worked for tons of people with Chase’s cards.
Don’t overthink it, though – sometimes all you need to say is that you plan to travel more internationally and just want a card with no foreign transaction fees, or one that has a SmartChip – if those are offered by the card you want – and that’s that.
Sometimes an application just gets flagged if you apply for more than one card from a single bank in one day. Usually they just put one of the applications on hold and process it a few days later, but it never hurts to call in and ask what the status of your application is. This happened to me last August when I applied for the Starwood personal and business cards in the same day- eventually I got approved for both (but did incur two hard inquiries).
Another frequent occurrence is that a bank will pull your credit score from an agency that hasn’t gotten your most updated statements from all your cards, so if you were charging up a storm, even if you paid off your balances on time, the credit agency could still show them as on your account. In this case, you can ask the bank to hold your application for a few weeks and then to pull your credit from a different agency, and a lot of times, that should take care of it.
The bottom line is, reconsideration lines are your chance to both humanize and rationalize your application. Present the details of your case, but have all the information and facts at your fingertips that justify why you need to get the card you want. The person on the other end of the line will listen and is in a position to make that happen, so treat them as a friend and chances are they’ll repay you with an accepted application.
With all that in mind, and given how many of these numbers I have on my speed dial, I thought I’d put together a list of all the reconsideration numbers I could find for the major issuer so readers could access them all in one place. If you have more to add, or experience with any of these in particular, feel free to share them in the comments below.
Bank Of America
(866) 458-8805 – General Account and Reconsideration Line
(877) 721-9405 – Personal Application Status Line, dial option 3
(800) 481-8277 – Business Application Status Line
Online Application Status Check
Barclay’s Credit Card
(888) 232-0780 – General Card Services and Application Line, dial option 3 for application status
(866) 408-4064 – Credit Line Questions
Online Application Status Check
(800) 625-7866 – Application Services Line
(800) 951-6951 – General Customer Service, automated
(800) 548-4593 – General Customer Service and Application Line, automated
Citibank Credit Card
(800) 695-5171 – Personal Application Status and Reconsideration Line with live rep
(800) 763-9795 – General Personal Application Inquiries with live rep
(800) 645-7240 – Business Application Status and Reconsideration Line, dial option 3 then option 1 for application status
(800) 288-4653 – Business Application Status and Reconsideration Line, dial option 3 then option 1 for application status
(866) 606-2787 – General Application and Account Questions with live rep
(800) 947-1444 – Credit Card Underwriting Services, automated
Ink Plus® Business Credit Card