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Your guide to calling a credit card reconsideration line

July 29, 2022
12 min read
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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 credit card application rules.

That being said, rejections are bound to happen.

What you may not know 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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How credit card reconsideration works

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While credit card issuers still employ human underwriters, most application decisions are made automatically by a computerized system that can make mistakes. Because of the risk and cost involved in accidentally approving applicants who are considered risky, these mistakes tend to skew toward the conservative side — in other words, rejecting applicants who meet the application rules, are creditworthy and likely should be approved.

Related reading: 8 ways to maximize your chances of being approved for a credit card

This is where the reconsideration department comes in. While not every issuer has a separate, dedicated reconsideration department, most major card issuers 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). However, it's worth if you think there's a slight chance in turning a "no" into a "yes" on the card. This most frequently happens with a denial that's open to interpretation, rather than being denied for a clear violation of a published bank policy.

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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?

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Normally, your application “expires” 30 days after you submit it. If your application for a card is denied and you're hoping to get the decision reversed, it’s better to call sooner rather than later. You can wait for the bank to notify you of the denial — if not denied immediately — but you may also need to wait if your application goes to pending. This happens when the system doesn’t give you an immediate decision; usually you'll see a message 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 a significant number 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. Maybe you have a large purchase coming up that would meet the sign-up bonus requirements in one fell swoop. Maybe you're heading out of town and want to use that card before it sits in your mailbox for the next two weeks unattended.

In situations like these, explaining your sense of urgency and asking for the card to be expedited in the mail can help.

Related: Debunking credit card myths: What can you do if your application isn’t immediately approved?

How to contact reconsideration

The easiest way to contact your card issuer’s reconsideration department is to simply call the 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 certain times of the day (though the exact hours may vary by bank). Keep this in mind when planning your calls.

Here are some of the main card issuer's reconsideration numbers to try, courtesy of Doctor of Credit:

  • American Express: 1-877-399-3083 (new customers), 1-866-314-0237 (existing customers).
  • Capital One: 1-800-625-7866.
  • Chase: 1-888-270-2127 (personal cards), 1-800-453-9719 (business cards).
  • Citi: 1-800-695-5171 (personal), 1-866-541-7657 (business).

How to talk to a reconsideration agent

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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.

Remember: the point of this call is to counter the reasons for denial. Stay laser-focused on those, since the only way to turn a denial into an approval is to alleviate the bank's concerns that resulted in a denial in the first place.

Understanding denial reasons

It’s not enough to simply say, “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 your spouse or partner opens a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and adds you as an authorized user to help meet the minimum spending requirement. After a few months, you decide to apply for a new Sapphire Preferred card to earn your own sign-up bonus. Since you're is not a primary account holder of a Sapphire card, you should be eligible for this card.

However, we know the computer systems often reject people in your situation — with reasons like “you already have or have recently had this card.”

In that case, you could call the Chase reconsideration line and explain that you're an authorized user on your spouse’s Sapphire Preferred but not the primary account holder. Thus, you never had this card on your own and should be eligible to open one for your own slew of benefits. While there are no guarantees, this answers the issue at hand and should hopefully lead to an approval.

The same concept applies if you have been added as an authorized user and an automated system flags these new accounts as being your own, thus considering you to be over Chase's 5/24 rule. Asking the phone representative to count the number of accounts where you are just an authorized user and remove those from consideration should be simple and should help the rep know that you aren't, in fact, over 5/24.

This can also come into play if you've recently closed a card to "free up" a slot for a new one, which is especially applicable with American Express. You're currently limited to just five credit cards with Amex, and when you cancel one, it could be a matter of weeks before it no longer appears on your credit report. TPG director of content Nick Ewen recently was denied for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card because he had too many Amex accounts — even though he had canceled his Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card three days earlier.

The computer system didn't see this cancellation yet, so he was immediately rejected. However, after calling an agent and having his application manually reviewed, Amex saw that he did (in fact) have an open slot for the Delta Reserve, and he was approved.

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.

The good news is that this is usually 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. For example, you could say something like this:

"Since I have $15,000 in credit on my (card name), could you take half of that to use for opening this new card? That way, there's no new credit being issued, but I would be able to have this new card to enjoy the perks it offers."

While this was previously possible with Capital One, the issuer no longer will shift credit from existing accounts to create new accounts.

Related: 6 lessons I learned from my rejected credit card applications

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).
  • 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.
  • American Express has lately used a system where the phone rep you speak to will simply resubmit your application with a sentence or two of notes, asking for it to be reevaluated. This means your chances of discussing the application with the person who makes the decision are removed, and the decision may not change.

Finally, calling reconsideration is almost certain to fail if you are argumentative. You may think the denial reason is subjective and doesn't make sense. However, being belligerent on the phone will not help you get approved for a card.

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 then call reconsideration. You may get lucky and get your denial reversed. Then again, you may not.

Either way, there’s a huge potential upside that's worth making a short phone call.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more