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Applying for a new card: from “declined” to “approved”!

You all know this: you fill in a card application and then click on “confirm”… Here are the different cases following the famous “confirm the request” click.

Status of a credit card application

There are two commonly known statuses for applying for a new credit card: approved or declined.

However, two other intermediate statuses exist: “soft declined” and “soft approved” (the closest being “declined under conditions” and “approved under conditions”).

Approved credit card application

approved 151676 960 720

This is the ideal scenario. You fill out the application and less than 30 seconds later, the financial institution approves you immediately. In this case, you don’t have to do anything except wait for your new credit card to arrive.

Conditionally approved credit card application

danger 39026 960 720Generally, you are on the right track: your file is missing some information so that the financial institution can definitively approve your application. For example, a missing apartment number or telephone number.

Credit card application declined

abort 146072 960 720In this cas, it is a little more delicate. Your application was immediately declined by the financial institution. The computer algorithm made the decision after checking your credit report with Equifax or Transunion.

Either you have made too many applications in the last few months, or you have not met your obligations (minimum payments, late payments)… To help you understand how your credit report is built, check out this article. Sometimes a missing apartment number, a recent move, a symbol or an accent in the form can make a big difference.

But be careful! Your credit card application may be declined… with conditions! And this is usually not indicated at the end of your application when you are denied. So you might end up being approved by a human! See the next paragraph.

Credit card application conditionally declined

warning 146916 960 720In this case, it is no longer a question of computer algorithms. The decision will be made by a person on the phone. You will need to call the financial institution with your application number.

You may be required to provide additional information: Social Insurance Number (SIN), last known address history, employer, salary…

And this is where a “declined” application can turn into an “approved” one!

For your information, this is very often the case with Scotiabank or TD Bank. If you are declined or conditionally approved: call the bank with your application number!

Examples of applications that have gone from “declined” to “approved”

As points & miles hoarder, we have a good knowledge of how most financial institutions operate when it comes to approving credit cards applications. Here are some examples.

American Express

amex logoUnlike all other institutions, American Express does not have a physical branch and does not offer the usual banking products (checking accounts, savings, mortgage products…). This means that American Express will rely entirely on the credit bureaus to grant or deny you a card.

A problem can arise when you change your address, and that’s what happened to Audrey recently when she tried to apply for for the American Express Gold Rewards Card.

We were surprised it was not approved immediately and to see the following message:

Your application is currently under review and will be processed within 10 days.

I told her to call immediately rather than wait for a response from American Express. And we were right: our change of address several months ago had not been taken into account by the organization consulted by American Express (Transunion). So there was a difference between our current address and the old one. After verification, the request was accepted.

The counselor explained to her that without a call from her, the application would have been denied.

Traditional banks: the example of Scotiabank

scotia 1Scotiabank will check your credit report (and your relationship with the bank if you are an existing customer, as all banks do).

Except that the query system is not the most efficient: if you make a mistake or enter your address “wrong” according to Scotia’s pre-established criteria (e.g. 123 Saint-Denis street #301 instead of 301-123 Saint-Denis street), your request will be declined under the pretext “insufficient credit history“.

In fact, this is a conditional refusal or “soft declined“. Just call, and there is a good chance that your Scotia Credit card will be approved.

That’s what happened to me when I applied for the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card. The message “insufficient credit history” had gotten my attention…! Matthieu told me that he had the same problem with the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite credit card.

The advisor then explained to me that for some reason… requests made from certain computers were systematically “conditionally declined”. Indeed, if you make your request from your work (IP address of a work network) or a cell phone, your request may be automatically declined! In fact, according to the advisor:

A person who is declined must call the bank with the application number within 60 days of the denial to get a chance to have the status of their application changed from “declined” to “approved”.

In my case, my application was finally accepted after the traditional questions from the credit bureau.


Therefore, we recommend that you always call as soon as you know that your application for a new credit card has been declined. The inquiry will have already been made to the credit bureaus, so you have nothing to lose! There is a good chance that your application will go from “declined”… to “approved”!

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
Jean-Maximilien is an expert in Canada and France about Loyalty programs, Credit cards and Travel. He is the Founding President of Milesopedia.

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