Adventures in reconsideration calls

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So, fuckers, you probably know that if you get denied for a credit card — or even if you go into a wait cycle rather than instant approval — you can call the credit card company and ask to be reconsidered. Or maybe you don’t know that, in which case, I am telling you. In the wake of the pandemic, banks are not exactly throwing credit around, so I have had to do this a lot lately. (The numbers to call are listed at the always invaluable Doctor Of Credit.)

To paint a picture: in early April, when shit was starting to hit the fan, I applied for my first credit card in a year, a Chase United Explorer. I always need more United miles, especially now that they’re worth jack shit, and that I’m kinda living in Santa Barbara with a lot of anticipated trips back to NYC once the death plague is a little bit more under control, so I scooped it up. Easy approval. They automatically took credit from a different card, but what do I care. They did take too much, though, so I had to secure message them to distribute it more sensibly.

(Santa Barbara airport is small, as you might imagine, and your only options to anywhere are United to SFO/DEN, American to PHX/DFW, Alaska to PDX/SEA. The flight from SFO is the only opportunity to get to NYC on a nice transcon rather than blah 737’s. Prior to the pandemic, you could also do United to LAX, which also offered a nice transcon, Delta to SLC, Sun Country to MSP, Frontier to DEN, Contour to LAS/OAK. Maybe those will come back one day. And I can always drive two hours to LAX if I want to fly a different airline, but I don’t really want to, so it’s still gonna end up being all about UA for me.)

Ok, so, after that, Ms X and I bought a fucking house here, if you can believe that shit, and it’s really cute as fuck and we’re excited about it, and that triggered multiple mortage inquiries over May-August, spiking my hard pulls on my credit report, as well as a new home loan account.

So, when, in early September, I applied for both a Citi Premier and a Chase Freedom, I was initially shot down, and same for a Chase United Business I just applied for last week. (I was, however, approved for an Amex Business Gold a day or two before that, because Amex are whores and they’ll give their cards, especially their charge cards, to anybody.) I had to bring my best game and a little luck, but I was able to triumphantly reverse all three denials. I rule. You can too!

So, first off, let me give you the general tips about reconsideration: be polite, frame yourself as the one offering to help by providing information, don’t back down, don’t give up, offer to move existing credit rather than having new credit extended, express that you always pay on time and in full, and tell the truth (or fake it convincingly). Think it through first, so you have answers ready. And persist, trying again if the first time wasn’t the charm.

Check your credit report first (you can get it for free at Experian, or CreditKarma for Transunion and Equifax), so you know what they’re seeing. You can figure out what bureau the bank you’re applying to pulls here (thanks again, DoC). Remember that most business cards won’t appear on your personal credit report, though they are potentially visible if you’re applying for another card from the same bank. Here’s some of what you might be asked, though you probably won’t be asked all of it.

  • Why you’re applying for the card: do not mention the welcome bonus. Do mention the card’s benefits, choosing a specific one or two if you like, and how that applies to your life currently.
  • Gross annual income: remember that you’re allowed to include money that you have access to, i.e. that of your spouse/partner, provided s/he likes and trusts you and everything. Or if family members don’t mind sharing their cash with you, throw it in.
  • How much you’re expecting to spend on the card monthly: I never know what to answer to this, so I say, I dunno, probably $2000. Seems like a nice average reasonable number for a professional who’s not going crazy with their spending, but calibrate accordingly. Remember that these are the people who are just approving the card, and once that’s done, they have no further relationship with you; they’re not going to verify what you tell them.
  • Why you’ve got a high balance on another card: Just have some kind of answer, like home improvements, or, if it’s a business card, office improvements or new business investments.
  • Why you’ve got several balances on different cards: Just have a good story here, like that you’ve got a mix of personal cards that you use based on benefits such as hotel cards for hotels, that you share a card with your spouse for shared expenses, that you use a personal card for a side business, or that you like using multiple cards for categorization and account purposes.
  • Why you have a whole pile of cards: Again, have a good story, like you’ve had different needs over the years as your career and location has changed.
  • Why you don’t have a lot of activity on other cards at the same bank providing the card you’re applying for: Have an answer, like you’ve been using another bank’s card because that was what made sense in the recent past, but the card you’re applying for better fits your current needs.
  • Why you have any late payments or delinquencies: Say it was a screwup because you moved and you weren’t getting statements, and if they look at your history you hope they’ll see that one card was an anomaly, or whatever.
  • How much credit you want to transfer from another card, and which one: This will only come once they’ve decided to approve you, but you may as well have an answer ready, rather than going um, uh, um.
  • If you’re applying for a business card, be prepared to tell them details of your business (or “business”), even if you’re a sole proprietor: gross income, net income (doesn’t necessarily have to be high, as many businesses spend all they make for capital investment, growth,  bonuses, or tax avoidance), projected income for this year, what the company specifically does, what your specific role in it is, how long you’ve been there, how long you’ve been in your field, how long it’s been in business.

In most cases, I think they’re just looking for a vaguely plausible answer; they’re not the Stasi, they’re just trying to figure out whether you’re credible, and hence creditable.

I’ll share some of the specifics on my recent reconsideration calls in upcoming posts.

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