Home > Credit Cards > I Have an 800 Credit Score. Why Was I Rejected for This Travel Rewards Card?

Comments 0 Comments

[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

It started simply enough. For months, I’d had my eye out for a premium travel rewards card, one that had a great rate of return, a sweet signup bonus and a rare miles redemption.

After a week of research, I settled on the Barclayard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, a popular option that packs perks, carries a low annual fee of $89 and offers miles that never expire. It also features a 5% redemption, awarded every time you cash out your miles.

To ensure I’d be able to qualify, I did my due diligence and pulled my credit reports on AnnualCreditReport.com (you can also view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com). Nothing looked suspicious: After years of keeping a budget and dutifully paying my credit card bills on time, my hard work had paid off and my credit score was in the solid 800 range.

So you can imagine my shock and frustration when I received a rejection letter from Barclaycard a few days after submitting my application online. What had I done?

“Too few accounts with sufficient satisfactory performance,” read one of the bullets. “Insufficient number of credit cards on your credit report,” read another.

Armed with this information, I gave Barclaycard’s customer service line a call. Yes, I was a reliable customer, I explained. Yes, I paid all my bills on time. See? It said so right there on my credit report. After responding to a few more questions, which mainly involved why I’d closed two other cards, I was approved.

“Consumers should always try to call and speak with a human if they want a different outcome,” said Eric Lindeen, vice president of marketing for ID Analytics in San Diego. “Sometimes they are able to take care of you.”

The Curse of Closing Two Credit Cards 

I could’ve avoided all of this. The two cards I’d canceled were the only ones I had — a big no-no in the world of credit, said Lindeen, whose company offers credit-risk management scores to issuers to help them onboard new customers.

“If the two cards you canceled were your only two cards, that would have a big impact on your score,” he said. Having “one to two cards is good, three to five is great; zero is not good. That probably was a 30- to 50-point hit to your score.” (You can learn how credit utilization — your total amount of debt versus how much credit has been extended to you — affects your credit score here.)

The issuer may also have perceived my lack of cards as a sign that I was “experiencing a high turnover of cards,” Lindeen said, referring to the practice of card, or mile, churning. For the unfamiliar, card churning refers to the act of signing up for rewards credit cards, spending just enough to earn the signup bonus and ditching the plastic before the annual fee kicks in.

As evidenced by the wildly popular Chase Sapphire Reserve — which touted an unprecedented 100,000-point bonus for spending $4,000 in the first three months — and the backlash Chase received on dozens of blogs and Reddit after reportedly establishing a 5/24 Rule (you won’t be approved if you’ve opened five or more accounts in the past 24 months) to prevent this kind of behavior, it’s no wonder issuers have grown wary. Who wants to give away money and not make a profit?

Certainly not American Express, whose Platinum Card has some of the best travel rewards out there. Prospective applicants are warned: “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.” Likewise, Citi notes that its bonus ThankYou Points “are not available if you have had a ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige card opened or closed in the past 24 months.” [Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.]

“Your application was initially declined because the system found that there had been at least two recent account closures — which flagged the application,” said Barclaycard representative Nicole DyeAnderson over email.

How to Avoid Rejection (by a Credit Card) 

Keeping an eye on your spending and credit behavior is a big deal. Even one purchase can cause your score to plummet, said Lindeen, and the last thing you want is to permanently damage your standing. Keeping debt levels low, applying for cards as your score can handle them and paying bills off on time are the right ways to build up your credit. But all too often, people get carried away or lured by a large signup bonus.

Lindeen also stressed the importance of keeping your oldest credit card open as long as possible. “Mortgages and car loans reach an end point and later drop off your report,” he said, whereas a “credit card is something you can keep on file for your entire life.” A key metric in most scores is the age of your oldest tradeline, or item on your credit report, so holding onto your credit cards is important for building and maintaining credit.

For yours truly, it might be worth it to call my old issuers and see if they’ll reopen the cards with the original open date. Until then, I’ve learned my lesson — and probably won’t cancel another credit card again.

At publishing time, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard and Platinum Card from American Express are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: fizkes

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other sponsored content on Credit.com are Partners with Credit.com. Credit.com receives compensation if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any financial products or cards offered.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.



Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team