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Have you ever received an “application pending” screen after applying for a credit card? If not, let me tell you how deflating it is. Evaluating your travel goals, choosing the perfect rewards credit card with the perfect welcome bonus, and filling out the application takes mental energy. By the time you click the submit button, you’re already concocting trips with the card’s giant welcome bonus.
The last thing you want to see on the next page is “DECLINED” or “PENDING.” If you apply for lots of credit cards(like us) then it’ll happen to you at some point. Just remember that it’s normal. Everyone on the team has seen this message before, and we have really good credit.
I’ll explain what to do about it and why this message might appear. And be sure to read our credit card application tips to practice before opening your next travel card.
What ‘application pending’ and ‘under further review’ means
Banks tout their ability to give you a credit card application verdict “in 60 seconds” (or something similar). However, you almost certainly won’t receive an immediate answer if you apply for credit cards at the rate of normal MMS readers.
If after you submit your application you’re taken to a landing page that says “application pending” or “under further review,” that’s not bad news. The bank is simply saying, “I don’t know yet, I’ll get to it as soon as I can.” Yes, it’s always best to be approved on the spot, but a “pending” status doesn’t mean you’ve been denied.
Why your application may need further review
The factors credit card issuers use to decide whether to approve an application we simply do not know — nor does anyone else. It goes beyond just a simple credit score.
Here are some examples.
Credit card application restrictions
Each credit card comes with its own set of rules for approval. If you’ve violated these rules, you’re either unlikely to be approved for the card or unlikely to earn the card’s welcome bonus. Here are some examples of credit card application rules
- Chase 5/24 rule: If you’ve opened five or more cards from any bank (excluding most small business cards), you won’t be approved for the best Chase credit cards
- Chase Sapphire rule: You can only open a Chase Sapphire card if you don’t currently have one. In other words, if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can’t open the Chase Sapphire Reserve® unless you first cancel/downgrade your Sapphire Preferred.
- Bank of America 24-month rule: You can’t open certain Bank of America cards more than once every 24 months
- Citi AA 48-month rule: You can’t earn the same American Airlines card bonus more than once every 48 months
Subscribe to our newsletter and you’ll learn these rules in no time. They’re much less intimidating than they sound.
Inconsistent application information
Each time you request a credit card, the bank looks at your credit report to see your credit history and scores. But they also look at personal information like your name and address to see if it matches your credit application.
Your name and address may differ from your file if you’ve moved or changed your name. A quick call can clear the way towards an approval.
Perhaps you’ve applied for several credit cards recently, or this is your second credit card application in the same day. Banks want to make sure it’s you submitting the credit card application and not someone else using your personal information. When you call, you might just have to confirm it was you looking for a new credit card.
One of my recent applications went to “pending,” and said the bank needed me to call them. I called, and the agent pulled up my application and immediately approved me. She didn’t even ask me a single question!
On occasion, the bank won’t approve your card right away because they’d like you to confirm the income you’ve reported on the sign-up form. Some of us on the team have (very rarely) had to provide Amex with tax returns to verify income. This is absolutely not typically required, but it’s a good reminder to be honest about your income.
Along these same lines, if you’re applying for a small business card, the bank may want more information on what kind of a business you’ve got.
Your credit is frozen
If you’ve frozen your credit with Equifax, Experian or TransUnion (this is very intentional — you know if your credit is frozen), you’ll want to unfreeze it before applying for credit.
Credit report concerns
Your score may be in the high-700s, but if you’ve got some delinquent accounts in your credit report, or perhaps filed bankruptcy eight years ago, card issuers will take that into account.
My friend’s application with Chase went pending a few years ago because there was an unpaid medical bill on her credit report. She knew this bill was paid off and explained the situation to the credit representative who then approved her application. Situations like this is why it’s a good idea to check your credit report occasionally to make sure it’s accurate.
Busy at the bank
Sometimes banks get overloaded because of the popularity of a terrific limited-time offer. They might move your application to pending to have more time to review it.
How long does it take to review a credit card application?
If you’re not instantly approved, it can take several days, even a couple weeks, to learn that you’ve been denied. They’ll send you a letter with the reasons why, and also provide your credit score from the bureau they used to pull your credit. To speed up the process, most banks possess an automated number or a website that gives you status updates on your pending application. You can check these as frequently as you like.
If your application ends up being approved, you’ll usually receive a welcome email explaining the situation.
What to do if your application is pending
To find out why you haven’t been immediately approved, you can call the bank and ask for the reconsideration department. You’ll usually get to speak to a credit representative to find out what’s going on. If you have a checking or savings account at the same bank, sometimes your banker can contact the credit card department to see what information they are looking for.
However, we strongly suggest that you not contact the card issuer until after you’ve received that formal rejection letter in the mail. After all, you may still be approved for the card. If you wait until you receive that answer, you’re basically getting two shots at being approved. You can then call reconsideration and plead your case. Read our five tips to make your reconsideration call a success.
If your application is under further review, that’s not bad news! There could be several reasons for the holdup, several of which are easy fixes. Perhaps they just need you to confirm your address or income. Just don’t call right away — let them give you a full explanation of why you were denied, and then prepare to plead your case with the reconsideration line.