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Smart Money

What To Do When Your Credit Card Application Is Declined

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It’s the two words you least want to see when you apply for a credit card. Application declined. So, what happens next?

While you may want to head online and apply for another credit card straight away, that’s probably not the best idea. When you’re rejected for a credit card, it’s recorded on your credit report. So, if you apply for another credit card after a rejection, it may increase the chances of you being declined again. And again, that rejection would be added to your credit report.

Instead, it may be a better idea to find out why your application was declined. From there, you can work on improving your chances of getting approved next time you apply. In this post, we’ll go over the various reasons why your application may have been declined, and what changes you can make to reduce the chances of it happening again.

woman with pencil writing on paper

Reasons Why Your Application May Have Been Declined

There are many reasons why credit card providers may choose to reject an applicant:

You provided incorrect information on your application

Filling out forms can be tedious and time-consuming. It can be all too easy to rush through them just to get them finished. If you’re not careful though, you can make mistakes that could result in your application being rejected.

Why? Card providers have to verify the information you provide in order to move forward with your application. If details like your residential address or driver’s license number is incorrect and can’t be verified, the card provider will have to reject the application.

Is it possible to amend errors after applying? In some cases, yes, it may be possible to amend the information to allow the card provider to proceed with the application. Not always though.

There have been recent changes to your circumstances

If your circumstances have changed recently, for example, you’ve moved house or changed jobs, you may not have had the chance to update this information across all your networks. Again, the problem here comes down to the card provider not being able to verify the information you provided.

As with making mistakes on your application, you may be able to rectify this problem by providing additional documentation to the card provider.

You’re not old enough to apply

To apply for a credit card in Australia, you must be at least 18 years old. So, if you are under the age of 18, your credit card application will be declined.

You don’t meet citizenship or residency requirements

While there are some credit cards that allow temporary residents holding certain types of visas to apply, for the most part, card providers require applicants to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident. If you don’t meet the residency requirements of the card you are applying for, you won’t be approved for the card.

You don’t earn enough

Most credit cards have a minimum income requirement. If you don’t meet that requirement, your application will be rejected. As a minimum, that income requirement will be $15,000 per year. However, some cards require applicants to earn much more than that. To apply for some premium cards, you may be expected to earn $75,000 or even $150,000 per year.

It’s also worth looking at what the card provider classes as ‘income’. In some cases, income doesn’t have to be made up of just a paycheque. You may find that some card providers allow other forms of income to make up their minimum income requirement – while others will not.

Your employment situation does not satisfy requirements

When assessing each credit card application, the card provider has to weigh up how much of a risk the applicant will be. The card provider needs to know the applicant will be able to repay any spending made using the card – and employment plays an important role in this assessment.

If you have a stable job in a permanent, full-time position, and you have been in that role for a long period of time, that suggests you would be a low risk applicant. On the other hand, if your job is casual, temporary, part-time or hard to verify for some other reason, you would be deemed higher risk and approval would be harder to come by.

Your financial risk is too high

When you apply for a credit card, you have to provide details of not only your income, but your expenses too. You will usually have to provide an estimate on how much you spend on your rent or mortgage, insurance, utilities and other bills, childcare, food, entertainment, and various other outgoings.

How much you owe on loans, such as personal loans and car loans, will also be factored in. As will any credit cards you have. If your expenses outweigh or take up a large percentage of your income, the card provider may decide you would struggle to repay your balance, denying your application.

You have bad credit

One of the most important factors used to determine whether your application is approved or declined is your credit. Checking your credit history, the card provider can see how responsible – or irresponsible – you have been with credit in the past.

If you have had a good relationship with credit, this suggests you are likely to continue to deal well with credit in the future. However, if you have bad credit, with late payments, defaults or even bankruptcy on your credit report, you may be deemed too high risk to be approved for a credit card.

woman smiling

Making Changes To Improve Your Chances Of Approval

When your credit card application is declined, the card provider may or may not provide the reasoning behind the rejection. If no explanation is provided, you can choose to ask the card provider for details, which it may or may not do. Not very helpful, we know.

If your card provider offers a reason for the declined application, you’re a step ahead. You can start making changes. If not though, you’ll need to work it out on your own. Look at the above reasons, and go through the card’s eligibility requirements carefully to find the most likely culprit.

From there, you can start working on making changes that will improve your chances of being approved next time you apply.

Find the right fit

When you apply for a credit card, it needs to be as suited to you as you are to it. While it’s easy to be swayed by introductory offers and enticing extras, try to look beyond all that to find the card that matches your needs and your circumstances.

Low Fee: A credit card with a low annual fee could work well for you if you want a simple card that keeps costs down. With a low or no annual fee, this type of card can also work well for cardholders who don’t use their card that often, or who only want to keep a credit card for emergencies.

Low Rate: A card with a low interest rate could be a good choice for cardholders who tend to carry a balance. While they are typically basic in terms of the features they offer, they can help cardholders save on interest, allowing them to pay off more of what they owe as they keep their balance as low as possible month to month.

Low fee and low rate cards are typically easier to apply for, often with lower minimum income requirements. Card providers will still look for applicants with good credit history however, who also meet the card’s eligibility criteria.

Rewards: Rewards cards tend to suit cardholders with a larger monthly spend, who always pay off their balance. Rewards programs range in style, with some of the best known being frequent flyer programs such as Qantas.

Premium: Platinum and black cards also tend to suit bigger spenders who clear their balance each month, providing them with perks such as travel credit, airport lounge access, and insurances. These cards typically offer higher credit limits and a higher rewards earn rate.

Along with higher annual fees, rewards and premium cards often have stricter eligibility requirements. They may require applicants to have excellent credit history, and a much higher annual income.

Want to compare your options? What better place than

Checking Your Eligibility

Each credit card has its own list of specific eligibility criteria that you must meet if you want to be approved. Here are some of the big ones to look out for as you compare cards and their eligibility requirements.

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years of age
  • Applicants must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • Applicants must have an annual income over a certain amount
  • Applicants must have a steady job
  • Applicants must own some assets, such as a home, car or investments
  • Applicants’ outgoings must not outweigh their income
  • Applicants must have good credit
  • Applicants must not be bankrupt or have defaults

If you’re not sure what the eligibility requirements are for the card you want to apply for, you can contact the card provider for more details. If you don’t meet certain criteria, for example if you’re self-employed, you may also ask the card provider if it’s possible to provide additional information to support your application and have it considered.

Check your credit

Before you apply for a credit card, it’s a good idea to check your credit first. Credit providers hold the information held within your credit report in high regard, and so should you. But how are you supposed to do that if you don’t know what your credit report says about you?

There are various ways you can access your credit report. You could apply for a copy of your credit report directly from any of the three major credit reporting agencies, or you could use a third party provider. When using a third party, consider how they will use your information, which credit reporting agency they use, and any costs involved.

What does your credit report say about you?

When you access your credit report, it’s a good idea to know what to look for. First up, your credit score.

Taking into account a number of factors, each credit reporting agency assigns you a credit score. This score goes up and down over time, according to how you deal with credit. Credit providers use this score to assess your creditworthiness, to then determine whether or not to approve your application.

What is good credit and what is bad credit then? Each of Australia’s three major credit reporting agencies breaks it down differently.

Equifax Experian Illion
Excellent 833-1200 800-1000 800-1000
Very Good 726-832 700-799 700-799
Average 622-725 625-699 500–699
Fair 510–621 550–624 300–499
Low 0-509 0-549 1-299

Aside from your credit score, your credit report will also include other important information regarding your creditworthiness.

Identification Information: This includes your name, date of birth and address history, as well as your driver’s licence number and employment history.

Consumer Credit Information: This includes any credit enquiries you have made, as well as any credit accounts in your name, including your credit limit and your repayment history. Details will also be provided of any overdue accounts, such as defaults and serious credit infringements, and any public record information like court judgments, bankruptcy, debt agreements and personal insolvency.

Commercial Credit Information: This includes commercial credit enquiries made in your name, such as mobile phone contracts, business loans or business credit cards. Overdue commercial credit accounts and other debts will also be detailed.

Correct any errors

With your credit report in hand, you can check it over for errors. You can apply to have errors corrected with the credit reporting agency in question. It’s a good idea to check your credit report with each of the three agencies, as each might have different information.

At this point, you may also want to take time to make sure all your information is up-to-date elsewhere. Ensure your employer has your correct personal information on file, and that everything is correct with the ATO and the government service department in your state or territory (for example Service NSW if you live in NSW), so that your identity can be easily verified.

Improve your credit

In Australia, credit reporting agencies use a system known as ‘comprehensive credit reporting’, which means that both negative and positive information is recorded on your credit report and used to calculate your credit score.

With that in mind, you can improve your credit score – and your chances of being approved for credit in the future – by making positive changes.

You can work on improving your credit score by:

Paying your bills on time.
Paying down loans and credit cards.
Making your monthly repayments on time every month.
Having a consistently low balance on your credit card.
Holding onto ‘good’ credit accounts that you have had for some time and have always paid on time
Not applying for new credit cards or loans

Want to know what will impede your efforts in improving your credit score?

Making late payments on your credit cards or loans.
Having bills or payments of at least $150 that are overdue by 60 days or more.
Applying too often for credit cards or loans.
Applying and being rejected for a credit card or loan.
Getting a balance transfer credit card but not repaying the transferred balance within the introductory period.
Applying for balance transfer cards one after the other.

What about checking your credit? While it’s often thought that checking your credit affects your credit score, it doesn’t. You can check your credit as often as you want without it negatively affecting your credit report or your credit score.

Reduce your risk

When a card provider assesses your application, risk is a big factor. A card provider doesn’t want to provide credit to someone who won’t be able to pay it back, after all. So, what is ‘risk’ in the eyes of a card provider?

Job stability and income play an important role here. If you have a stable job with a good income, you are deemed lower risk, as you are more likely to be able to repay your spending month to month.

What can increase risk however, is debt – or even the potential for debt. Of course, if you have a home loan, car loan or personal loan, you will know exactly how much your repayments on those loans will be each month. As long as your income comfortably covers that amount, the risk of providing more credit to you should be relatively low.

And credit cards? Instead of focussing on how much you owe on your credit cards, new card providers will look at how you could potentially owe. While you might never think of maxing out your credit cards, a potential card provider has to consider whether you could afford to cover those payments if you did – and whether adding a new card into the mix would be too much of a risk.

With that in mind, you can work on reducing your risk before applying for a credit card. Getting a better paid job and sticking at it could help. As could paying down your loans and credit cards. You could also look at closing old credit card accounts you don’t need.

TIP: If you’ve had a credit card for a long time and always made repayments on time on it, consider reducing the credit limit rather than closing it.

Case Study

George decides to apply for a credit card to take advantage of its balance transfer offer. He wants to transfer the balance from three of his four existing cards on to the new balance transfer card.

On card 1, his credit limit is $4,000 and his is balance is $2,000. On card 2, his credit limit is $3,000 and his balance is $3,000. On card 3, his credit limit is $5,000 and his balance is $4,000. On card 4, his credit limit it $8,000 and his balance is $0.

When he applies for the new card, he advises the card provider he wants to transfer $9,000.

Unfortunately, George’s application is declined. The card provider determines George to be too high risk due to his overall available credit limit, and the fact that he has a personal loan he is currently paying off.

Over the following nine months, George pays off his personal loan. He also pays off the balance of card 1 and closes it, while also closing card 4 to reduce his overall available credit limit. When he applies for another card, he makes sure he meets all eligibility requirements.

This time, George is approved and transfers the balances from his existing cards to take advantage of a balance transfer offer. Over the introductory period, he pays his transferred balance down and clears his debt.

Prepare yourself

Knowing what a potential card provider may need from you when you apply can also be a step in the right direction. That means having the correct supporting information and documentation ready. This could include:

  • Identity documents (such as your passport or driver’s license)
  • Proof of income (such as payslips and ATO tax assessments)
  • Your employer’s name and contact details
  • If you’re self-employed, you may need to provide your accountant’s information and previous ATO tax assessments
  • Your residential address
  • Your citizenship status (for example, citizen, permanent resident, long-term visa)
  • Contact details (including phone number and email address)
  • The current balance of your savings and transactions accounts
  • The current balance of other credit cards and debts in your name
  • Proof of your current credit card balance if you’re applying for a balance transfer
  • Your monthly expenses (including rent, mortgage, groceries, fuel or public transport, utilities, insurance, and more)

Case Study

Charlotte applies for her first credit card at the age of 21, having just finished university. She has held casual jobs since she was 17, and is currently working at a fast food restaurant in a part-time role until she finds the right role within her field of study. She makes the minimum required income for the card, but has only had the job for a few months.

Charlotte’s application is declined.

The following month, she finds the perfect job with a good salary. She gets a contract on a new phone, and makes sure she pays the bill on time every month. Twelve months later, she applies for a low cost card with eligibility requirements she knows she now meets.

The card provider looks at her steady job and good income, and the fact that she has built her credit with her phone contract while applying for no other forms of credit, and decides to approve her application, providing her with a credit card with a low credit limit.

Charlotte can now use her credit card to build her credit over time. By not overspending, and by paying down her balance before the due date every month, her credit should improve so that it becomes easier for her to apply for more credit when she needs it.

How Long Should You Wait To Apply Again?

There’s no hard and fast rule regarding how long you should wait to apply for another credit card after having an application rejected. However, it’s worth remembering that every time you apply for credit and your application is declined, it is recorded in your credit report.

If you apply again straight away, the new card provider will see that declined application and may deem you too high-risk to approve. Why? Not only has another credit provider declined your application, you are applying again, which may suggest you are desperate for credit.

Instead, it’s usually a good idea to wait at least six months before applying again. Although, if your circumstances are the same as when you first applied, you may find your application is rejected again. Especially if you apply for the same card.

Are There Any Alternatives In The Meantime?

If you need to use plastic but have to wait to reapply for a credit card, what can you use in the meantime? If you have another credit card, you can use that if it won’t hurt your credit or your financial situation to do so.

Alternatively, you could use a prepaid credit card or a debit card, or if you’re travelling overseas, you could opt for a card pre-loaded with the currency you need.

Getting It Right, Second Time Around

So, you’ve waited, you’ve improved your credit, and you’ve rectified all the issues that caused your application to be declined. Now, it’s time to apply again. What do you need to think about as you apply?

Compare, compare, compare! Use to compare credit cards and find one that suits your needs and your eligibility. Be sure to read the small print to make sure of your compatibility with the card before you apply, and check with the card provider if you’re unsure what eligibility criteria is in place.

Own bank or new provider? There are advantages to applying for a credit card with your own bank, especially if you have a good, long-standing relationship. However, you may find other options elsewhere that better meet your needs, so always compare what’s on offer elsewhere before applying.

Avoid applying for the same card over and over. It’s said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Instead of applying for the same card again and again, take a step back and find a more suitable option somewhere else.

Pay attention in your application. When you apply, you have to provide a heap of information. Don’t let a little slip-up cause you to receive another rejection letter. Be careful when entering each piece of information, and go back and check every detail before you hit apply.

Photo source: Pexels


Pauline Hatch

Pauline is a personal finance expert at, with 8 years in money, budgeting and property reporting under her belt. Pauline is passionate about seeing Aussies win by making their money – and their credit cards – work smarter, harder and bigger.

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8 comments (showing the latest 10 Q&As)

Adam De Laurentis

Adam De Laurentis

6 December 2021
Hi, I ram retired, credit rating WAS 920, I recently ENQUIRED at my bank regarding obtaining a credit card and was not aware the application had been submitted without my providing supporting documents, meanwhile I made an enquiry at another bank and emphasised to the official that I was simply enquiring re eligibility required, when informed I stated I would NOT be applying. I was subsequently informed by the credit rating agency that my credit score had declined despite my stating when speaking to the offical at the 2nd bank that I was only enquiring, NOT applying. Do I have any grounds for recourse. I subsequently proceeded with the application, with the first bank, which is the bank my pension and dividends are paid into and documents were forwarded, including confirmation that I had closed a credit card which I previously had, at another bank. I have subsequently been contact by the banks credit issuing section requesting copies documents which I have already provided when submitting the application. Meanwhile the official who completed and submitted my application does not respond to my phone calls, or emails, when I endeavour to contact her to arrange an appointment to clarify the situation. Question, do I have a legal right to obtain a copy of what was stated in the application when the bank official submitted the application on my behalf. She appeared to be busy typing away when completing my application but I am not sure what she typed/ sent. My apologies for the length of this message
    Pauline -


    7 December 2021
    Hi Adam, thanks for getting in touch and sorry to hear about your situation. The Australian Government operates a service where you can deal with errors on your credit file. You can contact the OIAC to lodge a complaint in writing. Find out more information here.


30 November 2021
My partner was injured in a motor accident and can no longer work but receives loss of income for what he wouldn’t have been earning under motor vehicle insurance. He was recently rejected for a credit card for this form of income. He just wanted a card for the rewards. Is it worth escalating it further with the bank as this maybe something that don’t normally come across?
    Pauline -


    1 December 2021
    Hi Kath, thanks for your message and sorry to hear about your partner. In terms of your credit card application, the banks keep their internal approval criteria very close to their chest and very rarely let you know why you were declined. You could try calling the bank and asking for more information but they will usually point to internal eligibility processes. Might be best to order a copy of your credit file, find a credit card that has a lower income threshold and chat to them through any concerns you have. Good luck and let us know how you go!


6 September 2021
Hello, So today I was looking for credit cards to apply (pretty much just trying) and I found two that I might have been eligible for. It's a ridiculous situation, but I filled out one application but before I submitted I wanted to go back to another option, and decided to apply for that instead. It got rejected so I went back to the other application to close it, and I have no clue why I accidentally submitted it. While I assumed it did hurt my credit score, I was just wondering how badly it is affected now...? It was probably excellent before so I wanted to see if I have just ruined my life or not. Hahh. Thank you.


2 August 2021
Hey Roland, I have good credit at 853 and I applied for a credit card they declined me to my surprise, I am after rewards card for everyday use, and want to close my other credit card, how soon can I apply for a different provider with good credit rating?
    Roland B Bleyer - Founder


    3 August 2021
    Hi Stacy, thanks for your question and sorry to hear about your declined application! First of all, any credit card application, may it be approved or not, will impact your credit score. Most banks will consider it a red flag if they see multiple applications for credit in a short period of time. Different credit cards have different eligibility requirements but evidence suggests applying for a new card once a year or a few months after the last application. If after a few months you are ready to apply for a credit card, the first thing you should do is to check your credit score online for free. Hope this helps!

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