Q&A: Great credit, but rejected for a credit card. What gives?

Dear Liz: I recently applied online for a credit card and was rejected, as my credit reports were frozen. I thawed them and applied again, only to be declined again. I received a letter stating that the rejection was because I have no installment credit history. I have no debt, credit scores in the mid-800s and $2 million in retirement accounts. Our paid-for home is valued at approximately $1million. This makes zero sense.

Answer: Federal law requires credit card issuers to send the “adverse action” letter you received to explain why your application was denied. But that letter doesn’t have to be the last word.

You can call the issuer and politely ask that your application be reconsidered. Most credit applications are evaluated by algorithms, rather than people. Getting a human involved can make all the difference, so you’ll want to get this person on your side. Be friendly and polite.

Mention all of the factors in your favor, such as a steady income and a (presumably) long history of handling credit cards responsibly. Explain that you don’t have an installment loan, such as a mortgage, because your home is paid off. If you have an existing relationship with the issuer, such as other credit cards or bank accounts, mention that as well.

There are no guarantees you’ll be successful if you ask, but you’re guaranteed not to get the card if you don’t ask. Good luck!

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