Getting a credit card when you’ve never had a credit card before is a struggle. But it can be done! I started with no credit history and I’m self-employed, so that makes it even tougher. If your credit card application gets declined or is put under review, I’ll show you exactly what to do!
But first, here’s my history of credit cards:
My First Credit Card: A Secured Credit Card From My Local Credit Union
Date opened: Sometime in 2013
Credit limit: $500 (secured)
The very first credit card I got was around 2013. I had no credit history, so my local credit union said that could only give me a secured credit card. To get a “secured” credit card, you have to put down a deposit. Mine was $500. While your secured credit card works just like a regular credit card and allows you to build credit, the bank keeps your deposit just in case you’re late on payments.
Secured credit cards are like the training wheels of credit cards.
Credit Card #2: An Unsecured Credit Card From My Local Credit Union
Date opened: Sometime in 2015
Credit Limit: $1,000
After two years of using my secured credit card and paying it off every month, I felt ready to upgrade. I contacted my credit union and asked if they’d switch me over to a regular credit card and increase my limit from $500 to $2,000.
The problem was, at this point, I was self-employed. That meant I didn’t have the steady paycheck of an employer, making me look much more risky to creditors. My credit union denied my request.
So I gave them a call. I asked to speak with the credit card department. When I got on the phone with an employee there, I said something like this:
“I have had this secured credit card for two years. I have never missed a payment. I’ve been a loyal customer of yours since I was a child. Is there anything you can do to reconsider my application?”
The woman on the phone was understanding. She said that because my initial credit limit was $500, the department didn’t feel comfortable making such a huge jump to $2,500. But, she said, they could do $1,000. She put me on hold, and next thing I knew, I was approved!
I finally had a “real” credit card with a limit double what it had been before. On top of that, I got my $500 deposit back.
Credit Card #3: Chase Freedom
Date opened: March 2016
Credit Limit: $10,500
After having built up some credit history for about three years, I felt ready to apply for a bigger credit card. Well, I initially attempted to apply for the coveted Chase Sapphire Preferred (the Chase Sapphire Reserve didn’t exist yet), but that was too ambitious—they denied me. When I called the reconsideration line to ask why I had been rejected, they said it was a simple matter of procedure: My highest credit limit in my history was $1,000. The Chase Sapphire Preferred’s lowest credit limit is $2,500, and (so the guy told me), they never jump to more than double a person’s highest previous credit limit.
So, deflated, I settled for the Chase Freedom Card—and I got approved! I knew this would help me move on up to the more prestigious Chase cards later, since I would build a relationship with this bank.
Credit Card #4: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Date opened: August 2016
Credit Limit: $13,300
Now, this is the big leagues. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card hit the market around August 2016 with a whopping 100,000-point credit card bonus! That was unheard of! Everyone was clamoring to get this card.
Though I was still fairly new to credit cards and I’d only gotten the Chase Freedom card five months prior, I decided to go for it.
I applied online and got the dreaded “we’ll mail you your decision in a few days” message. I then called the reconsideration line and explained my situation and asked if there was anything I could do to expedite their decision.
If I remember correctly, they just had a few more questions to ask me and needed to verify some things. Then, I got approved while on the phone with them!
Credit Card #5: Chase Business Ink Cash
Date Opened: March 2017
Credit Limit: $14,000
By 2017, I figured it was about time to get a credit card for my business. That’s when I applied for the Business Ink Cash.
Credit Card #6: Delta Skymiles Gold > Later Upgraded to Delta Skymiles Platinum
Date Opened: March 2017
Credit Limit: $13,300
I had some upcoming travel, and I really wanted the 60,000 Skymiles bonus that AmEx was offering with their Delta card. For this one, I remember having to send in documents proving my address before they approved me for the card.
Credit Card #7: Chase Business Ink Unlimited
Date Opened: May 2019
Credit Limit: $12,500
I actually documented this one by keeping notes in a draft email, so I do have the details. I hope this is helpful.
Now, keep in mind this is for a BUSINESS credit card because I own a business. This may not be relevant if you’re applying for a personal credit card.
On April 19th, I applied online for the Chase Business Ink Unlimited. But I got a screen telling me that they would mail me a decision in 7 business days. I also got an email that said they would let me know their decision “as soon as possible.”
I immediately called their reconsideration line. They told me that they needed additional documents to process my application. They asked me to fax them two documents:
- A copy of a utility bill or cable bill or electric bill, not more than 90 days ago. It had to have my name on it
- A copy of my EIN confirmation letter that showed name, business address, and tax ID number
I did as they said. On April 22, I hadn’t heard anything, so I called them again. They informed that I had been approved! It had been finalized that morning. They said they’d send me a welcome letter first, and then I should receive the actual card in one to two weeks.
But…I asked them if there was any way they could expedite it. They said yes! (In my experience, they always say yes if you just ask them to expedite it.)
What to Do If Your Credit Card Application Gets Rejected Or Is On Hold
#1 Always, always call the reconsideration line.
The Chase reconsideration line phone number is 1-888-270-2127.
When you call, say something like this:
Hello, I’m calling because I just applied for the [INSERT CARD NAME], and I [got a rejection/was told it would take 7 days for the decision to be made/whatever the screen told you]. I was wondering if there’s anything I could do to help speed the review process along/be reconsidered?”
If you move around a lot like I do, nine times out of ten, when you get the dreaded “your application is under review” screen instead of an instant approval, it’s because Chase needs to verify your address. Sometimes, they’ll ask you to send proof of your address (such as a utility bill), but other times, I’ve called and they verified my identity over the phone and approved me on the spot.
#2 Follow up if you haven’t heard back.
For my most recent card, the Chase Business Ink Unlimited, I had to fax documents over to verify my address. After I did this, I called them to confirm they received the documents. When I called, I found out I had been approved. So always follow up!
#3 Provide documents for verification.
Again, you might need to fax things over. I know, I know, who has a fax machine anymore?! Well, there’s an easy way around that! I use HelloFax to “fax” the documents over (it actually does send it to their fax machine). Plus, it’s free for five pages.
This is the fax number for Chase (business credit card department, I think. Check with them!): 201-328-3289.
#4 Always ask them to expedite it.
You’ll probably be super eager to get your card in the mail, so ask them to expedite it. I always ask Chase for this, and they always say yes.
I Hope This Helps! Use Those Credit Cards Responsibly
After writing out my credit card history, I realized I have way too many credit cards. Seriously, seven?! I might have to cancel a few soon since I don’t use them.
Also, a word of caution: Don’t fall into credit card debt. I know everyone says that, but it’s a serious stressor. I fell into credit card debt in 2017 and didn’t get out until the end of 2018. It’s torture, so please don’t use that credit card unless you have the cash to pay it off—and pay it off immediately! Even if it isn’t due yet. It’s a good habit to pay it off as soon as you charge.