Expert Q&A

Why do I keep getting rejected for a new card?


Even though you repaid the balance, don’t expect complete forgiveness

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Dear To Her Credit,
I had two Capital One cards back in 2011 and 2012. I lost my job and had to let the credit cards go so I could afford the car payment and mortgage.

Since then I have obtained another job, sold the house and paid off the car. I paid off 95 percent of my debt, and once I pay $3,780 on the truck and $550 on two of my credit cards, I will be debt free like a 14-year-old. (Side note: I’m going to keep one payment on my truck payment so that a car loan remains on my credit so I have a higher score when I go to buy a house.)

My question is: I have a few strikes on my report, two of which are from Capital One. I paid off all the charge-offs and since upped my score to 730.

I have attempted twice to apply for Capital One and have been turned down. Could I possibly write them to see if they’d be willing to give me another chance or is it a waste of time until the old negative marks fall off my credit report? Also, would getting a savings account in one of their banks help at all? – Josie


Dear Josie,
You’re doing great paying off debts and improving your score. However, a couple of common misconceptions about credit may be tripping you up.

First, paying off the truck loan won’t make you lose your track record of payments. When you close or pay off a loan, it doesn’t leave your credit history for 10 years. The fact that you made your payments on time and paid the loan in full should do wonders for your credit history and score. Having had an installment loan, such as a vehicle loan, also helps your “credit mix” – more so than having another credit card would.

Second, the negative marks will fall off your credit history after seven years, but Capital One still has access to its own records from when you got behind on your credit card payments. There’s nothing that prevents a bank from reading its own files and finding out what happened last time they extended you credit. The good news is that as the years go by, the negative marks become less and less important. They’ll be far more interested in how you’ve been handling credit lately.

Since you have been denied, however, I wouldn’t just keep applying for credit cards with the same card issuer and hoping for the best. You can actually lower your credit score by making too many credit card applications – and that’s not the effect you were looking for.

When you are denied credit, the lender is required by law to provide you with a letter stating reasons you were rejected. It may say that you have too many cards, insufficient credit history or high balances on your cards, for example. Read the letter carefully. You may be surprised at the reasons you were denied credit. If there is something you can fix, or have fixed since you applied for credit, you may be successful on your next try. Otherwise, you may want to apply for a card with an issuer other than Capital One, where you may stand a better chance of being approved. You can always call the credit card issuer before you apply for a card and see what credit score and other factors they are looking for.

Another good way to get a second chance on a credit card is to get a secured card, which requires you to put money in a security deposit account connected to your credit card that serves as your credit line.  If you default on your card, the bank takes money from your security account. After you establish with the bank that you can handle credit, you should be able to qualify for a regular credit card.

I like your idea of being “debt-free like a 14-year-old” – only you’re doing better than that with good credit (soon to be excellent). You’re working on buying a house and have wisdom and experience far beyond a happy-go-lucky teenager. Best of luck as you work toward your financial goals!

See related:Rejected for credit: When to take “no” for an answer, Credit card application rejected? 3 steps to getting the next one approved


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