Why have you been refused a credit card?

Being turned down for a credit card can feel like a setback. Understanding the possible reasons for this will help you take control of your credit rating as well as take steps to improve it.

Reasons why my credit card application was declined

Credit card applications can be turned down for lots of different reasons. When you apply for credit, lenders look at your credit history to see whether you have a good history of using credit properly. Unfortunately, having no credit history can be as bad as having poor credit history.

Understanding the factors that can impact your credit score can help you understand why you might be facing a refused credit card application.

Have you made lots of credit applications in a short space of time?

This could seem to a lender like you’re having problems managing your money. Credit applications show up in the background credit checks lenders make. It’s a good idea not to make too many all at once, especially if you have a refused credit card application already.

Do you have a poor credit history?

If you’ve made late credit payments on existing cards or loans, it could count against you in credit applications. Late credit payments also mean paying extra in fees and charges, which can make managing your money harder. If you’ve had CCJs or filed for bankruptcy in the past, this can also mean you have a poor credit rating.

Do you have no credit history?

Even if you’ve never had credit or missed a payment in the past, you might still be turned down for a credit card. No credit history makes it harder for lenders to assess how reliable you’ll be when making repayments.

How will my credit rating be affected?

There are a lot of myths about how your credit score is calculated, which can make it hard to know what’s really going on if you are refused a credit card.

There are two types of record which show up on your credit file – hard and soft enquiries. Checking on your own credit score is a 'soft' enquiry, and won’t actually be taken into account by lenders. But actual credit applications count as a 'hard' enquiry. Being refused credit doesn’t automatically mean your score goes down, but your application will be taken into account.

What to do if your credit card application is denied

If your application for credit is declined then don’t panic. There are steps you can take that can help improve your overall credit rating and boost your credit score so you’re more likely to be approved for credit in the future. Read our tips on how to improve your credit rating.

It’s best to thoroughly research cards before making a credit application. Most providers have an eligibility checker so you can see if you’re likely to be approved. Compare our range of M&S Credit Cards to find the right credit card for you.

If you have questions on how to use your credit card, check out our credit card support pages.

Published August 2023