Does Getting Denied for a Credit Card Hurt Your Score?

A rejection doesn’t hurt your score. But your score may drop when you apply for a card, even if you're approved.

Bev O'SheaJanuary 7, 2019
On a similar note...
On a similar note...

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Getting denied when you apply for a credit card has an extra sting if your credit score drops, too.

But it can happen. One component of your credit score is how recently you have applied for credit. You can potentially lose a few points simply for applying.

The good news? Time can heal the damage. If you stop applying for credit for about six months, your score should rebound.

Still, before you apply, it's smart to check your credit report and score, and to apply only for credit that you feel reasonably sure you’ll qualify for.

Know where your credit stands

Check your free credit report and see your score. Your info updates weekly so you can track changes.

If not the rejection, then why did my credit score drop?

The reason your score drops when you apply for a card is because lenders generally do a “hard inquiry” to check your credit before deciding to approve or reject you. Requests for additional credit, especially if you have several close together, suggest more risk for the lender or card issuer. That's why the more hard inquiries you have, the more of an effect it'll have on your score.

So the “no” does not hurt your score, but the application does.

Approval, though, can make the potential drop a lot more palatable — and it offers ways to balance it out. If you get approved for a credit card, for example, it bumps up your total credit limit. The percentage of your credit limit that you're using is a major factor in your credit score. When your total credit limit increases, that makes your outstanding balances a smaller share of the now larger overall credit limit, so that extra breathing room can help your credit.

If you get turned down for a credit card, you might be able to appeal the decision with the issuer. It’s also smart to understand why the application was rejected so that you can be successful the next time around.

We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines, and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet’s official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.