Can You Be Denied Approval For a Credit Card Because You Have No Credit Card Debt?

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Well folks, I think it finally happened; I’ve actually been “punished” for being too fiscally responsible. Haha!

Yesterday, I was trying to take advantage of one of the free money promotions I posted about (the $100 cash back bonus for signing up for the Citi Dividend Platinum Select MasterCard).

After entering in the normal pertinent details for applying for a credit card, I received the usual “you’ll receive an answer in several business days” message. I thought nothing of it.

To my surprise, this morning, I woke up and had the message below in my email inbox.


Why we’re writing you
Thank you for applying for the Citi(R) Dividend Platinum Select(R) MasterCard(R) account. Unfortunately, we are unable to approve your request for the account at this time because of the following:

Your credit bureau report shows you have no revolving accounts with a balance.

How about that folks? The way I read this news is that I was denied the credit card because I have no credit cards on which I am carrying a debt balance from month-to-month.

In other words, the credit card companies are not making money off me (except for the fees they charge the merchants for each card transaction I make – which by the way, MAKES THEM A LOT OF MONEY).

After half-way coming to terms with what had just transpired, I then did a quick Google search to see if this had happened to anyone else and if they could shed some light on the situation (see the link below for details of my findings).

Google Search For Reasons Why I Was Rejected For Not Carrying a Balance Discussion Board About Being Rejected For Not Carrying Balances Discussion Board – Being Rejected for Having No Credit Balances

As it turns out, this has happened many times to people applying to CitiBank credit cards. And, the only thing that the others could figure out was that they were rejected because they were currently paying off their balances in full each month.

What Can You Learn From This?

I think the key thing to learn from this is 1) to not apply for CitiBank credit cards for free money bonuses unless you are carrying a balance month-to-month on your credit cards and 2) to stick to what you know is right and keep paying off your balance in full each month (even if society seems to be enticing you to SPEND, SPEND, SPEND, AND SPEND MORE).

How about you all? Have you ever been denied a credit card for seemingly strange/weird reasons? What did you do about it? Did you ever get the company to overturn their decision? 

Share your experiences by commenting below!

    ***Photo courtesy of


    1. I was denied a card once (25 yrs ago) because a negative remark on my credit report. It turned out to be erroneous, but it took me 6 months to clear it up. I never reapplied.

    2. Jacob, Obviously they are looking for folks from whom they can make money. You are to sensible to qualify. Congrats 🙂

    3. That's awesome! I'm the same way, pay off cards every month, don't carry a balance. I haven't applied for a new card in years, however so I guess I haven't experienced this. Sucks that you wont get the cool $100 though…
      My recent post The 15 Year Millionaire Plan- Year 0

    4. I just got a Citi card today in the mail……I NEVER carry a balance on my 6 cards…I use them once every 6 months to fill up on gas and then pay it off as soon s it shows up online.

    5. Wow! They actually admit that?!

      I wonder if only Citi does this or is this the norm now?

      Sorry to hear this Jacob – I would suggest if you really must, try PenFed. They have a pretty good rewards program and it is a credit union. Joining Penfed is a hassle, but in my opinion worth it.

      My recent post Buffett Is Bullish On India- So Should You!

    6. This sends the wrong message to Citibank cardholders. Their definition of financial responsibility is paying on time with huge interest rates like 24%. Their message is for people with good credit and no balances go somewhere else!
      My recent post 2011 Quarterly Goals Update

    7. This happened to me too!

    8. KNS_Financial says:

      I remember when I tried to get a car loan, and they told me that I didn't qualify because I didn't already have either a car loan or a mortgage (or any other installment loan)!

      I think I had the same reaction that you did!

    9. I am waiting for this to happen to me! I can't believe they actually admit that in the letter. I have too many cards that I use for once-in-a-year thing. Citi has gone downhill anyway. I just closed a citi card and opened PenFed. I am considering a discover card as well (their revolving thing is much better than the others I think). I still have citi forward I regularly use for restaurant & bookstores. But major money is going with Schwab visa and (now) penfed. Looks like now if I get rejected for citi I should be proud 🙂
      My recent post How to make a budget and stick to it

    10. Thanks for letting me know. I'm going to apply for a credit card for my blog business and hadn't decided where to start.

      My recent post Epsilon Data Breach- Is This the New Normal

    11. Good news everyone! I just received and activated my Discover More Card today, and will spend the required $250 on it, get the $50 bonus, than stop using it (except for a small monthly auto transaction to keep the credit line active!
      My recent post My Personal Finance Journey Vs The United States of America – How Much Do You Save For Retirement

    12. I've never been denied for a card, but in this case for you I'd say congratulations on being denied! Shows that you're on the right track by not carrying a balance. Perhaps you're too responsible to be profitable?

    13. Pamela D. says:

      I worked as an account services representative for this prestigious credit card company in the US and I was in charge of those stuffs (sending people denial or approval letters) I never really denied anybody some credit for being current on their accounts but I’ve heard that some may have done that. I guess it just depends on the person who handles your account then.

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