Change Your Altitude

The Time I Successfully Appealed My Ritz Carlton Rewards Card Denial

We all apply for different credit cards for different reasons given the ancillary benefits offered by the card and how it dovetails with our own lifestyles – spending patterns, travel schedules and perhaps where we live. Some cards might work for you where at the same time it’d be a disaster for me.

After several months of going back and forth on if I should get the Ritz Carlton credit card, I finally bit the bullet and applied.

I applied online and after doing so, I received a response saying they needed more time to review my application.

Not a problem – this is a pretty normal occurrence for most and has happened to me before, and has (more than once) resulted in receiving the card in the mail two days later, without other notification of approval.

JP Morgan Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card

After a couple of days, I hadn’t heard anything (good or otherwise), and was beginning to worry. Had the famed Chase 5/24 rule reared it’s ugly head? Since this was one of Chase’s co-branded cards, it shouldn’t have taken 5/24 into consideration, but you never know.

Alas today, I walked home and found the dreaded plain, letter size envelope in the mail. Terrible things come in this envelope. Bills. College rejection letters. Constant letters from Bank of America about that “great” (terrible) credit card offer I’ve been pre-approved for.

Not today. Today it came from Chase.

I gently ripped the envelope open and found it – my denial letter. Here’s the Cliffsnotes:

  • Good: Thanks for applying.
  • Bad: Based on the credit cards you have, we can’t give you any more credit.
  • Party Line: Other things that may affect our decision include age of credit, credit utilization, total accounts… (aka the factors that make up your credit score).

So I’ll admit – I was pretty surprised. I don’t have a ton of credit cards (more than the average person, though less than most points and miles enthusiasts). So, how did this happen?

I thought I had a couple things going for me –  what it comes down to is that I am a good credit card customer. Now, I’m not typically one to argue, though I would be remiss not to at the very least call and see if this was an error.

A very upbeat chase customer service associate answered my call and tried to help.

  • “Do you track your credit score regularly?”  (yes – one of my credit cards provides this information to me)
  • “How are you tracking this? There are three reporting bureaus that report your score…” (yes I also track it through another monitoring site and see all 3)
  • “Oh um so your score might be different depending on who’s reporting” 

I finally jumped in and described to him specific points why I felt the decision should be reconsidered. At this point he put me on hold while he went to find someone in another department who could review my application.

The next associate was less cheerful (I could see why – I can’t imagine he gets too many friendly calls), but was helpful and to the point. After a few minutes of reviewing my application, he came back and let me know the main driver of the decision: Chase had already given me too much credit on my existing credit card accounts and could not issue me any more, given the information I provided them. After talking to the associate on the phone, I realized Chase’s application asks for “gross income” rather than “household income” – I had mistakenly filled this out with just my annual salary, rather than the annual income I have access to.

Long story short – I should have put my household income, which would have likely avoided this whole issue (and article, I suppose). In the end, I asked Chase to reduce the credit from one existing account to give them an amount of credit they could issue me, which then allowed them to reverse the decision on my application.

So what are the takeaways from this?

  • If your application for a credit card is denied, it’s worth calling to see if your application has merit to be reconsidered. 
  • If the basis of your denial is that the card company can’t issue you more credit, ask if they can move some of the credit you have on existing accounts into this account
  • When stating your income, be sure to include all income you have access to, and not necessarily just the amount you earn annually. This includes your spouse/partner’s income, alimony payments, child support, or any other external source of income that you have regular access to. 

It might be a painful conversation to have, but if you strongly believe your application was not wholly considered (or are stubborn like I am), it’s certainly worth the call to make sure you are on the same page as the card issuer. Worst case scenario – you end up without the card, no harm, no foul. Best case scenario – you get the credit card you applied for (and actually deserved).


Have you had any success in requesting a credit card decision reversal? Share your stories in the comments!

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