You’ve done your research, sorted through your options and found a great credit card, only to have your application denied.

What determines whether or not you get approved can be tricky to understand, so you may be feeling confused on top of your disappointment. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to both educate yourself on why you were rejected and set yourself up for future success.

Don’t immediately apply for another credit card

You may feel the need to go out and submit an application for a comparable card, but give yourself some time before making another attempt.

You’re more likely to be turned down when applying for cards in a short period of time due to the additional inquiries on your credit report. Credit issuers will see multiple applications in a short period of time as someone desperate for credit, therefore lowering your credit score and labeling you a riskier potential cardholder.

In addition to avoiding sequential inquiries, taking some time before applying for another card will also allow you a chance to understand why you were initially denied and consider alternative card options.

Determine why your credit card application was denied

To clear the cloudiness of why you were rejected, the credit card issuer will send you a letter after 7 to 10 business days. Known as an adverse action notice, these letters arrive in your mailbox or email and will identify the reason(s) why you weren’t approved.

Getting denied may ultimately be due to your employment history or income, but if your credit report is cited as a factor, the credit issuer will let you know which of the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) provided the report and the corresponding score. Your credit score will come with reasoning as well, whether it’s late payments, poor credit utilization or high credit card balances.

Understanding your rejection may be demoralizing, but it’s a chance to improve on your financial issues and build better credit. By knowing your weak points, you can devise a well-thought-out financial plan to improve your candidacy as a cardholder.

Review your credit report

After a denied credit card application, you have a 60-day opportunity to request a  free copy of your credit report. Once you receive it, review your report for errors and dispute any that could have factored into why you weren’t approved. Cover your back by making your disputes in writing with the credit bureaus.

If you’re able to identify errors and get them updated, consider reaching out to the card issuer to review your application again. The credit bureau should automatically resend your credit report to the issuer, but it’s on you to make the request.

Work on improving your credit

In most cases, your card application has been denied because of poor credit. Untimely payments and unpaid collections can be the ultimate driver of your low score, so it’s time to start considering ways to repair it.

Luckily, your adverse action notice and credit report will shed light on what you need to do to improve your standing, so focusing on problem points should be easy. The issues could simply stem from bad habits, but some circumstances have more specific fixes.

If recently incurred outstanding debts are the main issue, consider applying for a balance transfer card. Executing a balance transfer can be a way to improve your credit via the card’s introductory 0% APR offer. You’ll be able to group some (if not all) of your credit card debt into one account and avoid paying interest on the outstanding balance. The added organization and inexpensive interest that come with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Discover it® Balance Transfer or a multitude of other options give you a chance at cutting down on your debts and boosting your credit score.

Another method to improve your credit score with credit card use is looking into cards for average credit. It may be a longer-term solution, but these cards have lower barriers of entry and can help you build your credit before re-applying for a more coveted card. With a card like the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card , you can earn cash back while practicing responsible financial habits until they become routine. Getting used to making on-time, sufficient payments and reeling in your spending will eventually help grow your credit score.

Resolving past issues by paying down your debts or any other fixes to improve your financial health is a must when you’ve been denied a credit card. If a credit card or added discipline isn’t the solution, there are some other routes you can take.

Alternative options

For those trying to establish or rebuild your credit, retail store cards or secured cards may be your ticket into creditworthiness. These cards are designed to help those with poor or no credit and accept most applicants no matter their credit score.

Retail cards will likely start with high interest rates, so it’s vital to get payments in on time. They’ll also most likely offer low credit limits at first, but proper financial habits may allow for an increase over time.

A secured credit card works differently than a traditional credit card. You’ll have to pay a security deposit to create your account, which will be kept as a savings account deposit in case you default on your payments. Some issuers of secured credit cards will automatically graduate you to a traditional card after 6 to 12 months of proper payments, but with good credit habits you should be eligible for an upgrade in that amount of time either way.

How to make sure your next card application gets approved

  • Know your score and set realistic expectations.
  • Take your time before applying for another card.
  • Request pre-approval for a potential credit card.
  • Review your credit report and learn from the mistakes you’ve made in the past.
  • Improve your credit score to better your standing in the eyes of credit card issuers.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.