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Why your credit card application was declined

The 8 most common reasons for not getting approved for a credit card and how you can improve your chances next time.

To get your credit card application approved, you need to prove to the bank you can meet your repayments. There are also eligibility criteria you have to meet and documents you need to provide, which means there are many reasons your application might not be approved. In fact, Finder's research shows that 8% of people have had their credit card applications declined.

Here are the most common reasons your credit card application may have been declined and what you can do to get approved next time.


8 reasons why your credit card application may be declined

1. Unsteady income or employment circumstances

Finder research shows unsteady income is the main reason people are declined for a credit card, affecting 36% of those whose applications are rejected. This is because stable, ongoing employment helps show to lenders that you can meet repayments for a new credit card.

If your employment is temporary, casual, part-time or hard to verify for some other reason, you may find it hard to get approval. If this is the case but you meet the income requirements, contact the bank beforehand to confirm if there is any additional information you need to provide to demonstrate your ability to repay.

2. Not meeting minimum income requirements

Some credit cards list a specific minimum income requirement that you must meet to apply. But even those that don't list an income amount must consider if your income could allow you to reasonably manage the card under Australia's responsible lending requirements.

If your annual earnings are less than this, your application will be declined. You can compare credit cards with low annual income requirements (between $15,000 and $25,000 p.a.) for some low-cost alternatives.

3. Incorrect information on your application

Credit card issuers need to be able to verify all of your details before they move forward with the application. Something as simple as a misspelt address or wrong digit in your licence could cause a problem. Make sure you carefully review your application before you submit it. If you make an error, you may be able to resolve it by contacting the issuer and amending your application.

4. Recent changes in your circumstances

If you have recently moved or changed jobs and haven't updated this information across all your networks, it could be hard for the issuer to verify your identity or access your credit report. As with mistakes on the application, you may be able to deal with this by calling the credit card issuer and providing additional documentation. If you include your employer's contact details in the application, you should also let them know that they may receive a call from the bank regarding your application.

5. Bad credit history

Credit card issuers in Australia only approve applicants who have a good or excellent credit score. When you apply for a credit card, the issuer will request a copy of your credit report from a credit reporting agency. Late payments, defaults, too many applications for credit, or even not enough credit history, could result in negative information on your report, and the issuer may decline your application.

Finder research has found having a bad credit score affected 21% of people who had their credit card application declined. So before you apply for a credit card, check your credit report and credit score to make sure it's in good standing.

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6. Financial risks

Lenders not only look at your income when you apply for a credit card, but also your expenses. If your expenses outweigh or take up a large percentage of your income, the issuer may consider you a high-risk applicant who could struggle to repay your balance.

This includes debt, with Finder research showing 22% of people had their credit card applications declined due to having too much debt.

7. Not meeting citizenship or residency status requirements

While there are some credit cards available for temporary residents who hold a specific visa, other cards are only available for permanent residents and citizens of Australia. If you don’t meet these requirements for a particular card, you won't be approved for it.

8. Your age

You must be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card in Australia. If you are under 18 your application will be declined. While there is no maximum age limit on credit cards, banks may decline your application based on other factors, like your income or employment.

Keep in mind: Some issuers may be willing to discuss the details of the denial with you but others may not. It’s a good idea to keep a copy of your application and review the details to see why it may have been declined.

Finder survey: How many Australians have had a credit card application declined?

Response
No73.76%
Yes15.45%
I have never applied for a card10.78%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1113 Australians, December 2023

How to improve your chances of credit card approval next time

If your credit card application has been declined, it may be because the bank has deemed you unlikely to meet your repayments. As much as you may want a credit card, it may not be the best financial decision for you at this time.

In Australia there is around $18.6 billion worth of credit card debt. While many people say they could manage their finances without a credit card, around 28% say they could not. This is where having a credit card could become dangerous, because there is a risk of ongoing debt.

If you feel that you will be able to make your repayments and you are eligible for a credit card, here are some ways you can prepare for your next application:

Wait a while before applying again

Applying for several credit cards in a short period of time leads to multiple enquiries on your credit report and can be a red flag for lenders. If you're denied, wait a few months before applying for another card. In that time, you can improve your credit score and compare your options before applying for another card.

Get a copy of your credit report

You can request a free credit report from all of the major bureaus once every year. This allows you to make sure all the details listed are current and accurate. It can also give you a better understanding of how you can improve your finances. For example, if you have multiple late payments listed, paying your bills on time could improve your credit score.

Choose a card that suits your circumstances

Make sure you can meet the eligibility criteria. For example, if you don’t earn a lot of money, you may want to look at credit cards for low-income earners. If you are retired, on a pension or self-employed, you'll need to provide additional documentation to prove whether you are eligible.

Update your details before you apply

When you check your credit history, make sure that your personal details (including residential address, phone number, email address and employment) are up to date before you apply. This will make it easier for credit card issuers to verify the information on your application.

Have your supporting documentation ready

Credit card issuers require a range of documents before they can process your application. This includes copies of your passport or driver's licence, pay slips and bank statements. This will help the bank verify your information and may speed up the approval process.

Credit card issuers require a lot of information before they can make a decision about your application. So understanding what may cause a bank to decline your application, means you can improve your chances of approval next time.

How to improve your credit score

Frequently asked questions

Pictures: Shutterstock

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39 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    SimJuly 21, 2017

    In the “Dos and don’ts for credit card applications” you list to not apply for several credit cards within a short period of time. What is considered a “short period of time”? Weeks, months etc… please elaborate on the time frame.

      AvatarFinder
      JhezelynJuly 22, 2017Finder

      Hi Sim,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Short period of time for numerous credit card applications may be in a weekly or monthly manner. These days most providers offer an outcome in minutes when you apply online. No matter how long the wait, it is important to hold off applying for other products until you have an outcome. Therefore, you should submit one application at a time.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

    Default Gravatar
    DylanJune 19, 2017

    Hi,

    I am interested in applying for a credit card with a very small limit, just to build up my credit history and establish a good reputation.

    However, absolutely NOBODY will approve me, even for the lowest limit.

    I earn approx. $35,000 pa.

    So my question is, how can I build up my history when nobody will allow me the opportunity to?

      Default Gravatar
      danielle.valino@findercrew.comJune 20, 2017

      Hi Dylan,

      Thanks for reaching out. I’m sorry to hear about the problem you’re having.

      I highly recommend that you check our guide on how to improve your credit score. The tips mentioned there don’t need you to open a credit. So, please do check that one out.

      You may also seek the advice of a Credit Specialist for a more personalised help.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

    Default Gravatar
    CoOctober 25, 2016

    Hi,

    I have recently applied for a credit card but later on realised that other credit provider offers a better deal. The credit card that I have already applied for has not been approved yet (I kept missing their call for the ID verification). Would it be not wise to call them up and withdraw my application then apply for one that offers better deal as there would be a recent enquiry recorded on my credit file?

      AvatarFinder
      MayOctober 28, 2016Finder

      Hi Co,

      Thank you for your question.

      Please note that all credit applications you make are recorded in your credit file whether they are approved or not. Generally, too many applications within a short period may have a negative impact your file.

      So if you will apply for the other card with the better deal, most likely, the issuer will make an enquiry on your file and will find that you have just made a recent application from a different bank. So yes, it may not be a good idea to apply for that card (with the better deal) this very soon.

      Cheers,
      May

      Default Gravatar
      CoOctober 28, 2016

      Hi May,

      Thank you for your reply. So how long should I wait to apply for the other one? I know this can be very different cases by cases, but how about in general.

      Thanks

      AvatarFinder
      MayOctober 28, 2016Finder

      Hi Co,

      Thanks for getting back.

      Generally, to ensure that your rating will not be affected, you may have to wait for a few months (or up to 6 months) before you start applying again.

      Cheers,
      May

    Default Gravatar
    DawnOctober 3, 2016

    If my card application was declined by an online 60 second response will it be recorded on my credit file?

      AvatarFinder
      MayOctober 4, 2016Finder

      Hi Dawn,

      Thank you for your question.

      Most likely, yes. Usually, when you apply for any form of credit, for instance, a credit card, the bank will surely check your credit file to examine your ‘creditworthiness’ and by doing so, that will leave an “enquiry” on your file.

      Cheers,
      May

      Default Gravatar
      DawnOctober 4, 2016

      Yes but this is a 60 second response….how can they do a credit check in that amount of time?

      AvatarFinder
      MayOctober 4, 2016Finder

      Hi Dawn,

      Thank you for getting back.

      Unfortunately, all applications are recorded in the file and the “speed of response” is not a factor at all. So, in future, in order to avoid any possible enquiry on your credit file, you may have to contact the lender or the credit card company first and discuss your chances of approval with them before submitting an application.

      Regards,
      May

    Default Gravatar
    simonJuly 20, 2016

    How long must I wait after been declined,

      Default Gravatar
      ChesterJuly 20, 2016

      Hello Simon,

      Credit card companies and banks across Australia do not have the same application approval criteria. There are various reasons why your application might be declined. I have sent you an email so to provide some information in regards to your current status.

      Cheers!
      Chester

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