Take action and be reconsidered when applying for credit


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Ever get turned down for a credit card?

Chances are your application was rejected by a computer. If you had called the card issuer and pleaded your case with a person, you ultimately may have been approved.

"Reconsideration is an unpublished secret in the credit card industry," said Bill Hardekopf, CEO of the credit card comparison site Lowcards.com, in Birmingham, Ala. "If you get turned down for a card that you think you are qualified for, don't be afraid to pick up the phone."

Card issuers are required by federal regulations to tell people why they've been rejected for credit. If someone has an explanation or solution to the card issuer's objection, the issuer might be willing to take another look.

Maybe, for example, the application was denied because the applicant's credit score was too low, but only by a few points.

"You could say, 'I have a long-standing credit history with other issuers. I've never missed a payment. I've held my job for 20 years,' " Mr. Hardekopf said.

The issuer could reconsider, he said.

When asking for a second look, it also may help to explain why a particular card would be a good fit.

For example, maybe the applicant travels frequently and wants the card because it doesn't impose foreign transaction fees. "Say, 'This is why I want your card.' That would signal you are going to be using the card frequently" and producing transaction fees for the card issuer, Mr. Hardekopf said.

He said he wasn't sure exactly how often people were successful at getting a credit card rejection reversed. But he said the chances go up by being armed with the right information -- and being realistic.

"If you have horrible credit, and you're trying to apply for [a premium card], it's a waste of time" to argue, he said.

In some cases, a rejection will be based on an error on the applicant's credit report. Ideally, people should get copies of their credit reports at least once a year to look for errors and get them fixed.

Consumers are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three main credit reporting agencies. They're available by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling toll-free 1-877-322-8228.

To start the reconsideration process, call the card issuer's main number and ask to speak with a representative who handles such requests.

While on the phone, be considerate, polite and stay calm, Mr. Hardekopf said. If you are turned down again, check back in a few days and try with a different representative.

Don't wait too long to take action, he said. After 30 days, the issuer will require another application, triggering another inquiry on your credit report, which temporarily dings your credit score.

Some people are hesitant to follow up when they get rejected for a card because they don't like conflict, Mr. Hardekopf said. Still, "All they can do is tell you no," he said. "But be prepared when you call to make your case."

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Patricia Sabatini: psabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066.


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