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Bottom Line Up Front

  • Stay on top of your credit report to check for inaccuracies and identity theft, and to correct errors.
  • Consider a secured credit card if an unsecured credit card isn't an option.

Time to Read

3 minutes

May 12, 2022

If you’ve applied for a credit card but your application has been denied, don’t be discouraged. A few denials don’t have to be the final word on your credit card access.

In fact, here are 5 ways you can start improving your creditworthiness and increase your chances of being approved the next time you apply for a credit card account.

  1. Find out why your credit application was denied. After a credit card application is denied, you’ll receive what’s called an adverse action notice. Common reasons for denial include insufficient income, missed payments and a high balance on an existing credit card.
  2. Make sure your credit report is accurate. If your application was denied by the card issuer or lender due to information in your credit report, you have 60 days after you receive the adverse action notice to request a free copy of your report. Read through your report carefully to make sure you understand and agree with all the information being reported and that no fraud or identity theft has occurred.

    It’s a good idea to keep tabs on your credit beyond just when you’re applying for a credit card. That way, when you need a loan or a credit card, you won’t be surprised by anything you find. Your credit score is calculated using the details in your credit report. Having a low credit score can influence the interest rates on future loans, among other things.

    You’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the 3 major credit bureaus once every 12 months: Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®. Through December 2022, everyone in the U.S. can get a free credit report each week from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion at
  3. Fix errors and address roadblocks to building credit. 34% of consumers have found an error on their credit report. If you find any errors in your credit report, you can dispute them in writing with the credit bureau. And don’t forget—you may have made an error yourself. Review the information on the credit card application you submitted to the credit card company to see if you made any mistakes on the income or expenses you listed.
  4. Apply for a secured card. Sometimes, no one made a mistake. If you’re a first-time borrower or have poor credit, a secured credit card from a financial institution like Navy Federal Credit Union may be the answer. Secured credit cards require a security deposit equal to the amount of your available credit. They’re available through most major credit card issuers. They can be used wherever unsecured credit cards are accepted. Using a secured credit card to establish or improve your credit score can be really effective, but make sure you confirm that the credit issuer will report your activity to the 3 major consumer credit bureaus first.

    As you develop smart money habits and good credit, like consistently making on-time payments and checking the accuracy of your credit report, you’ll be on track for a traditional credit card in no time. Learn more ways you can establish or rebuild credit.
  5. Get help if you need it. If you need help getting your finances in order, a personal finance counselor from Navy Federal may be able to help. Counselors are available at select branches, or you can speak with someone over the phone—and the service is free.

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. If you were recently denied for a credit card, review your adverse action notice to get a better understanding on why. You should also review your credit report to check for any inaccuracies.
  2. Easily monitor, manage and help your credit score with our Mission: Credit Confidence® Dashboard


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This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.