What Should I Do If My Credit Card Application Is Rejected?

By Markets Fool.com

Being declined for a credit card can be discouraging, but it's far from the end of the world. In fact, it can help you learn how to improve your creditworthiness and avoid being rejected in the future. You simply have to take a step back and resist the urge to

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You can start by asking the reason for the rejection, though you may not have to; most creditors will mail you a letter explaining their decision. Of course, you can also call and ask to speak to a representative. Take note of everything you learn, and then use the information to develop a plan to improve your credit.

5 Ways to Recover From Being Rejected

1. Don't immediately apply for credit elsewhere
Applying for multiple lines of credit during a short period of time can hurt your credit score. Plus, you should hold off on applying for a different card until you've had a chance to see what's in your credit reports.

2. Get your credit reports: In addition to the information you provide on your application, every credit card issuer relies on data supplied by the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. If your application was rejected, it may be because of information kept by these organizations.

If you've been rejected for credit, Federal law mandates that you are allowed a free credit report from the agency the lender used to make a decision about your application. Just contact the bureau -- you can follow the links above for contact information -- and specify that you were recently denied credit and would like a free copy of your report. (Note that there is also legislation that allows you to check your Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian reports for free once a year, regardless of whether you've been denied credit. Go to annualcreditreport.com to pull your reports that way.)

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3. Look for mistakes
Once you have your report, check dates, balances, and status of the accounts tracked. Are there errors? Your credit may be taking a beating for an account that's in good standing but marked otherwise. Or you may still be paying the price for a mistake long since corrected -- such as an overdue payment made six years ago -- that was removed from your credit report at one bureau but not another.

4. Write to creditors to request updates if necessary
There's no quick fix for cleaning up a stained credit history. (And certainly do not believe any person or business that promises to fix your credit in a short period of time!) Paying balances on time is your best bet for getting back on the right track. Your second-best bet is to write to creditors who have marked up your report, asking them to remove negative comments. You may be surprised by how many agree.

5. Pay down balances and pay your bills on time
Creditors appreciate borrowers who demonstrate good, consistent money-management habits.

Time heals all credit wounds
Don't fret if your credit card application is rejected. Your most recent behavior weighs more than old news in the credit scoring formula. So, as you start to manage credit responsibly -- paying your bills on time, keeping balances to a minimum -- your chances of getting approved improve exponentially.

The article What Should I Do If My Credit Card Application Is Rejected? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Tim Beyers has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends American Express. The Motley Fool owns shares of Capital One Financial. and JPMorgan Chase. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.