What’s more, because the lender will have run a search on your credit file and left a footprint, that failed application can even prevent you from applying for the next best card.
This problem is one of the reasons that moneysupermarket.com has launched its new 'Find the right card for you' tool, which runs a soft search on your credit file and recommends credit cards you are likely to qualify for.
Unlike a normal search run by a provider when you apply for credit, a soft search doesn’t leave a footprint, meaning it won’t affect your credit score.
It then offers credit cards you’re more likely to be accepted for, although you can still tell it what kind of plastic you’re after, for example, a card for balance transfers or one for overseas spending.
But if you’ve recently been rejected for credit then it’s worth getting hold of your credit file to check what might have held you back, particularly if you thought your credit score was good.
Here are 10 common reasons for being rejected for a credit card.
You have access to too much credit
However excellent your credit score, there will come a point when lenders get nervous about the credit you have access to.
You may not use your overdraft facility or existing credit cards but, as far as the lender is concerned, you could if you wanted to and that might leave you over-indebted.
So, you may want to consider closing down unused credit cards before applying for another. This is also a good idea to protect yourself from fraud.
Bear in mind too that lenders will often not issue you with a card if you already have one of their credit cards. As some cards are issued by one provider under different brands - for example, the Virgin Credit Card is issued by MBNA – this can lead to some unexpected rejections or lower-than-anticipated credit limits.
You aren’t on the electoral role
If you’ve moved house recently, have you added yourself to the electoral role at your new address? This is really important as lenders check this register of voters to avoid identity fraud.
You don’t have to vote if you’d rather not, just add yourself to the electoral role before applying for credit.
You’ve applied for loads of cards
This is a really common mistake. Maybe you were concerned about whether or not you’d qualify for a specific card, so you applied for more than one – but this can actually make you seem less creditworthy and cause you to be rejected for cards you would otherwise have been accepted for.
Lenders worry when they see a spate of applications, it looks like you may be overstretching yourself.
If you’ve made this mistake, stop applying now and leave it for at least six months before you make another request for credit.
There are mistakes on your credit file
It’s not impossible that there are mistakes on your credit file, or that it’s missing information that shows how creditworthy you really are.
This is another reason why it’s worth getting hold of a copy of your file, so that you can make sure all the information is accurate and up-to-date.
You’ve been a victim of identity theft
If you believe your credit file should be whiter-than-white but you are rejected for a credit card, it isn’t impossible that you’ve fallen victim to identity theft and someone else has been borrowing in your name.
Again, a quick check of your credit file should clear this up. By subscribing to a credit monitoring service for just a few pounds a month, you can receive alerts when changes to your file occur, making it easier to watch for fraud.
You haven’t borrowed before
If you’ve never been irresponsible with your borrowing simply because you’ve never used credit before then that doesn’t mean you’ll have a perfect credit score. In fact, lenders like to see that you have a history of managing debt well as this reassures them that you’ll repay their lending on time.
A credit builder credit card can be a good way to prove to future lenders that you can handle your debt, although you will need to clear the card’s balance in full each month or be hit with APR as high as 40%.
Lenders are increasingly picky
Maybe in the past you’ve found it easy to flit from one leading credit card to another but, since the credit crunch, things have changed. Lenders who would conceivably have accepted your application in the past are now a lot more cautious and it may be that your earnings or credit history aren’t as excellent as necessary for the deal you’re applying for.
Once again, using the 'Find the right card for you' tool to find credit cards you’re more likely to qualify for can save you a lot of wasted applications.
You don’t fit the lender’s profile
Different lenders have different ideal customers. Just because one credit card company is willing to give you a competitive credit card, it doesn’t follow that the others will.
Knowing what’s in your credit file can give you a good indication of whether or not you’ll qualify for a top card, but don’t assume that one organisation lending you money will mean they all will.
Previous problems are still showing
If you’ve handled your borrowing well for the last few years, it can be annoying to have an application for a credit card rejected because of a CCJ (a County Court Judgement) from years before, but these remain on your credit file for six years.
There isn’t much you can do about that apart from handle all new borrowing responsibly and prove you’re creditworthiness. However, it is worth checking that any CCJs are marked as ‘satisfied’ on your credit file.
If you have cleared a CCJ and it isn’t showing as settled on your credit file, request a letter of satisfaction from the issuing county court and send it to the credit reference agencies so that they can correct your file.
You’re in a new job or home
If you’ve recently moved house or changed jobs then you may find it harder to qualify for the most competitive credit cards for a short while.
Lenders want to see that you have the ability, stability and willingness to pay back your debt – and changing jobs suggests you are in a less stable position than before. Leave it a few months and get out of any probationary period before applying for a new card.