Credit Card Application Failures & Lessons Learned

Credit Card Application Failures & Lessons Learned

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My last round of applications (colloquially known as an “APP-O-RAMA”) was in October 2016. I actually got really lucky, considering how many cards I had opened throughout the year. Of the seven applications at that time, all were approved with no calling in necessary.

I like to space out my applications in three month periods – this gives me enough time to complete the spending between new rounds of applications and approved cards. This time, I wasn’t as lucky…

The Failure

I applied for nine cards. I knew full well that it wouldn’t be as easy as last time… but the results were disheartening.

Here is the order in which I applied, and the decisions.

Bank of America

Of all the major banks, Bank of America has been the most churner friendly. Though it’s only a matter of time before that changes (and it already has started), I wanted to get some more Alaska cards while I was still able. I’ve also been eyeing the Merrill+ Visa for myself, which I recently picked up for my wife.

1. Bank of America, Merrill+.

Decision: Denied, with eventual approval.

Reason: Too many new accounts, too many inquires for credit.

2. Bank of America, Alaska Airlines Personal Visa.

Decision: Denied.

Reason: Too many new accounts, too many inquires for credit.

3. Bank of America, Alaska Airlines Business Visa.

Decision: Approval after some fraud verification.

Though I was disappointed not to have been approved for the personal Alaska Airlines credit card, I figured two from Bank of America was still pretty solid… And from here, it went downhill.


4. Marriott Business Visa

Decision: Denied.

Reason: Too many new accounts, too many inquires.

While the personal Marriott card from Chase is affected by Chase’s “5/24” rule, the business version isn’t. Never having had a Chase Business card before (I know – surprising, isn’t it?), I thought I’d give this one a chance. I also called reconsideration several times, with ultimate failures.

American Express

5. Mercedes Benz Platinum

Decision: Initially pending, then email approval.

American Express will merge credit pulls and will approve you for two cards on the same day. However, I’ve had most other charge and credit cards from AMEX so I went with this – and was pleased with the ultimate decision.


6. Arrival+

Decision: Denied.

Reason: Too many new accounts, too many inquires.

Over the past few years, in my experience and in that of others, Barclays tends to have some of the toughest (and most stubborn) reconsideration department reps. The last Barclay card I applied and was instantly approved for was the Aviator Red World MasterCard. That was about two months ago. I did know that this was a long shot because of my recent application… Oh well!


7. AAdvantage Platinum World Elite MasterCard

Decision: Pending, followed by approval email.

I recently received a targeted mailer for this 50,000 point bonus and  no restrictive language. I wasn’t surprise that this went pending – nor was I surprised when I received the approval email a few days later.

Capital one

8. Venture

9. Spark for Business

Decisions: Pending, followed by denial emails.

Reasoning: Too many new accounts, too many inquires.

Though Capital One does pull all three credit bureaus, there are two ways you can minimize the impact:

(1) Freeze Experian, and they’ll pull Transunion and Equifax.

(2) Capital One does merge credit pulls for business and personal (unlike Chase or Bank of America), so going for a business and personal in the same day can’t hurt.

Though Capital One does get a bad rap – mainly because they pull from all three credit bureaus – I figured it’s time to start branching out as I’m limited more and more by other banks.

Total cards applied for: 9

Total cards approved for: 4

Total points: 180,000 points/miles

The Lessons Learned

I knew some of these would be  long shots (I’m still going to try reconsideration a few more times), such a monumental failure of applications hasn’t occurred to me in a long, long time.

The most common decision for denials?

Too many new accounts and too many inquiries.

Though inquiries make up the smallest part of your credit profile, to a representative, that many inquires and new accounts can look risky. (See, Let’s Talk About Credit).

The conversation went something like this:

Representative: “I see you have… 10 new accounts in the past 6 months and… 5 requests for credit in the past 4 months. Sir, why are you asking for so much credit?”

Me: “Uh…”

While I am not planning on fleeing the country with my lines of credit, I do see how this could look risky to a representative.

So what’s the lesson I learned? 

Though inquires matter less than other factors to your overall credit health (and score), they do matter on your report when a human being is conducting a review.


Bottom Line

Part of sharing successes, is also sharing failures.

I used to be so nonchalant about credit pulls – giving myself the idea that they didn’t really. Practically, this meant I’d apply for a card here, a card there, etc. And while many of us in this hobby understand how small of an impact the inquires actually have on our credit score and the technical impact on the calculation – we must remember that if not automatically approved, a human being may see our obscene number of inquires and be rightfully concerned and cautious.

So now? I’ll consolidate applications and be more judicious about freezing Experian.

-The Miner

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