Your guide to calling a credit card reconsideration line

Jul 18, 2020

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Credit card issuers have the final say over whether or not your application is approved, and they rely on data like your credit score, income and history with the issuer to make that decision. Obviously, the goal is to get as many of your applications approved as possible, and you can help your chances by applying for cards that match your credit profile and studying up on issuer-specific restrictions — but rejections are bound to happen.

(Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
(Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

What you may not have known is that even when your credit card application is rejected, you usually have a chance to appeal and potentially reverse the decision. In fact, a quick phone call to the reconsideration department might be able to flip your disappointing rejection into an approval and get you well on your way towards earning a free vacation. Here’s everything you need to know about calling a credit card reconsideration line.

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In This Post

How credit card reconsideration works

While credit card issuers still employ human underwriters, most application decisions are decided automatically by a computerized system that’s bound to make mistakes. Because of the risk and cost involved in accidentally approving uncreditworthy applicants, these mistakes tend to skew toward application errors, or rejecting applicants who are creditworthy.

Related reading: Why banks are struggling to assess creditworthiness during the coronavirus pandemic

This is where the reconsideration department comes in. While not every issuer has a separate, dedicated reconsideration department, most major card issuers (including Chase, Amex and Citi) have underwriting agents with the authority to review applications that have been rejected and reverse the decision (i.e. approve the application) if there’s good reason to do so.

Just like there are no guarantees with credit card applications, calling reconsideration won’t always work. Your odds of success vary heavily depending on the reason for your denial (for more information, see the section on case studies below), but it’s always worth your time to try. I’d estimate that I’ve personally had my rejections overturned by the reconsideration department roughly one-third of the time. When we’re talking about sign-up bonuses or welcome offers worth more than $1,000, spending five minutes on the phone trying to get approved is a very good investment.

When should you call reconsideration?

(Photo by Getty Images)
(Photo by Getty Images)

Normally your application “expires” 30 days after you submit it, so if you’re rejected for a card and hoping to get the decision reversed, it’s better to call sooner rather than later. I personally call reconsideration every time I have an application rejected, but some people also choose to call if their application goes to pending (i.e. the computer doesn’t give you an immediate decision and usually says something like “we’ll inform you of our decision within 7-10 business days”).

Related reading: How bad is it to get denied for a credit card?

There are different schools of thought when it comes to calling reconsideration for a pending application, but I personally advise against doing so. Humans and computers think in different ways, and if your application was going to get approved eventually (even if you had to wait a week), it’s better to let that play out without putting additional eyes on your file. This is especially true if you apply for many credit cards and have tons of recent inquiries on your report.

The only time I’d recommend calling reconsideration for a pending application is if you need the card immediately to make a large purchase. In that case I’d be sure to explain that to the reconsideration agent so they understand your sense of urgency.

How to contact reconsideration

The easiest way to contact your card issuer’s reconsideration department is to simply call their main customer service line and ask to be transferred to reconsideration. Sometimes you’ll get a contact number with your denial letter.

You can also call the direct lines for most banks’ reconsideration departments to avoid dealing with an automated menu or waiting to be transferred. Unlike general card customer service departments that operate 24/7, many reconsideration agents are only available Monday to Friday, 9-5 EST (though the exact hours may vary by bank). Keep this in mind when planning your calls. Doctor of Credit has compiled the reconsideration numbers for major card issuers.

How to talk to a reconsideration agent

Before you talk to a reconsideration agent, it’s worth spending some time doing your homework and preparing what you’ll say. I always open my call with some version of the following:

“Hello, I recently applied for (insert name of card) and was surprised to see that my application (was rejected/wasn’t instantly approved). I was hoping I could talk to someone to better understand this decision and possibly get it reconsidered.”

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosures Act (CARD Act) of 2009 requires issuers to explain to you in writing the reason your application was rejected. It’s very important to have this piece of information before you call the reconsideration line so you can politely explain to the agent why the concerns the bank raised aren’t relevant and you would, in fact, make a great customer.

Case studies

It’s not enough to simply say “but I really want this card, is there anything you can do?” You need to understand the reasons your application was rejected in the first place and come prepared to argue against them. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

A delayed credit report update

Adding a spouse, sibling or child as an authorized user on your credit card can be a great way to help them build credit. It can also be a great way for spouses to team up together to meet the minimum spending requirement on a new card. Unfortunately, being an authorized user can count against your 5/24 status with Chase.

Let’s say person A opens a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and adds their spouse to help meet the minimum spending requirement. After a few months, the spouse (person B) decides they want to open their own Sapphire Preferred to earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Person A removes person B as an authorized user, and person B applies for a Sapphire Preferred the next day.

It can often take several weeks for credit reports to update with this information, so there’s a very strong chance that person B would be automatically rejected, and given a reason along the lines of “you already have or have recently had this card.” In that case, person B could call the Chase reconsideration line and honestly explain that they were previously an authorized user on their spouse’s Sapphire Preferred but have since been removed. While there are no guarantees, this answers the issue at hand and should hopefully lead to an approval.

Too much total credit

Banks all have their own internal formulas to calculate how much total credit they’re willing to extend to an individual. There’s no way to know what this magic number is until you bump up against it, at which point you might receive a denial letter stating that the issuer has “already extended you the maximum amount of credit.”

Not to worry, as this is normally one of the easiest denials to get overturned. Simply call the reconsideration line and offer to move credit from one of your existing cards to this new account. That way you can be approved without the bank having to extend you any new credit. Just keep in mind that every card has a minimum amount of credit you can have on it (usually $1,000 or more), so you’ll have to move enough to the new card in order to open it while still leaving credit behind on the other card.

When calling reconsideration won’t work

Reconsideration works best when the application has incomplete data (in the case of our authorized user example above), or when the reason for the rejection is more subjective. Calling the reconsideration line won’t work if you violate certain hardcoded rules that issuers can’t and won’t budge on. For example…

  • Reconsideration won’t overturn a denial due to Chase’s 5/24 rule (unless, as mentioned above, you aren’t really over 5/24 because your credit report hasn’t updated yet).
  • Certain cards require you to have a minimum of one year of credit history to be approved. This can’t be overturned by an agent.
  • Some issuers have rules about how many total cards you can have, or how many cards you can open in a set 30/60/90 day period. These are “hard-coded” rules that can’t be overturned

Bottom line

Getting rejected for a credit card is disappointing, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the road. Spend some time reading your denial letter to understand what went wrong, map out your case, and call reconsideration. You may get lucky and get your denial reversed or you may not, but either way there’s huge potential upside for making a short phone call.

Featured photo by Popartic/Getty Images

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