Should I Call if I Don’t Get Instant Credit Card Approval?

Sep 14, 2014

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TPG reader Brian asked me on Facebook:

“If my online credit card application isn’t approved instantly, is there any benefit to calling the reconsideration line right away rather than waiting until I receive a yes or no decision? Would it be better to wait and then call if the decision is no?”

Applying for credit cards can be a lucrative, yet time consuming activity. These days, a lot of credit card issuers won’t automatically approve you right away, especially if you’ve got a number of different cards open.

Right now I’ve got over 22 different credit cards open, and I have pristine credit because I pay off my bills in full every month. However, a lot of the automated approval systems for credit card companies will flag you if you’ve got a lot of recent inquiries, which is a problem I face every time I apply for a new card. I usually get a pending decision right off the bat, and then a week or so later I’ll get an official decision in the mail (unless of course, I decide to call).

TPG reader Brian is wondering what he should do if he has applied for a card but hasn’t been instantly approved. Should he call, or simply wait to get a response? I would advise Brian to call, especially if he’s anxious to begin using the card. 

It couldn't hurt to give the  bank a call and check on your application. Shutterstock.
It won’t hurt to give the bank a call and check on your application. (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

If I don’t get instant approval, sometimes instead of waiting I’ll call the bank and see what’s going on. Some banks are more strict than others, and when you call, they might just say they need the full 7-10 days to reach a decision, and that you must let the process take its course. Other issuers may just take a look and decide right there with you on the line. This can work in your favor if you have good credit and already have a positive relationship with the bank from paying all your bills on time.

I always recommend that if you call, make sure to explain why you want the card you applied for. Don’t just mention the sign-up bonus; discuss other perks the card might have that you like, such as no foreign transaction fees, or chip and pin capability. It’s also a good idea to let on what kind of spend you plan to put on the card.

It can’t hurt to call shortly after applying while waiting to see if you’ve been approved. However, wait at least one day to make sure the system has the application. If the card issuer tells you to wait for their response, don’t call again–the last thing you want is to seem annoying or desperate. It could work against you if you seem needy for credit, so if you call,  just play it cool. Be as friendly as possible when you call, not only because it’s the courteous thing to do, but also because the agent you speak to is less likely to give you an answer if you seem rude or condescending.

So just give them a polite call and see what happens. If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at

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