Reduce Barclaycard Credit Limits to Get Approvals?

Barclaycard is really tough for me. I have not been approved for any accounts since December 2012. They have some decent new-ish cards that I would like to get but it has been deny, deny, deny. Here’s my blow by blow of the main reasons given by Barclaycard credit agents:

  1. Too many applications with Barclaycard;
  2. Too many new accounts with other banks;
  3. More than enough credit already extended on existing cards;
  4. Not long enough history with existing Barclaycard cards.
  5. Not enough usage of existing Barclaycard cards. Even though I have consistently put about $500/month on each card these have been cited as insufficient because of not enough everyday spend. They expect to see primary card-level usage of all types of transactions.

I am not going to change much on 1 or 2. 4 takes time. 5 I can only put so much on cards I don’t highly value. 3, though, I saw an interesting post on FlyerTalk from diclemeg:

My experience has been that one can now only apply for any Barclays card once every 6 months. And you should first request them to lower the credit limit on each card you have, to like 6000 each.

Preemptively reducing credit limits goes against all the conventional wisdom with credit card issuers. Existing credit lines are typically key to getting approvals, either moving portions of credit lines or closing entire accounts to move credit. Reducing available credit will also negatively bump up credit utilization.

Yet ‘more than enough’ credit with them has been cited every time I have called Barclaycard, and further, they have never agreed to move credit for me to approve an application.

I checked with an expert, spiffster, who replied:

first i heard of asking to lower your limit but if a metric is “utilization throughput”, then 6K is a nice number to use – just over 5K signature minimum.

So, readers, I have the following:

  • Choice Privileges: $2,400
  • Priceline: $6,400
  • US Air 1: $12,500
  • US Air 2: $7,000
  • (closed December 2013) Virgin America: $8,400

What should I do? Drop US Air 1 down to $6,000?

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  • Carl P.

    I was refused for a card by them. I then cancelled the NFL card, just leaving US Air. Then I was approved for Arrival when I applied about 4 months later.

  • guera

    Wow, can’t believe you have that many cards open already with Barclays. I only have one with them (Priceline 2%) and they denied my application for the US Airways card. It is the ONLY denial I have had in the last three years. Their reason, sufficient credit extended–your reason #3. I guess I should have been using the Priceline card up to my 10K limit in the previous months????

  • Jin

    You have 2 US Airways cards? How do you do that? I have one currently…and would love to have a 2nd one (with the 10k Anniversary bonus!) They would not deny you for having the same card or is it the business version?! Thanks in advance.

  • @Jin – it used to be fairly easy to get a 2nd US Airways personal card, since last fall I have heard reports of people being denied for their 2nd, reason stated as already having one. Barclaycard got a lot tighter in many respects in 2013. It may be worth a try at some point before the card goes away however I have not seen enough reports to evaluate chance of success.

    @guera – I had got my first US Air in June 2012, then in December 2012 applied for the all the others and all successively auto-approved with decreasing credit limits. That method seems to be dead.

  • john

    Thanks for this. I have been lazy to put spend on my barclays card. I am happy for that because I would have never put $500 or more on it anyway. Good I did not waste my time.

    For your situation, did you consider closing three of the cards and keeping the oldest one? wouldnt that put you in a better situation to get new cards from them? They seem to dislike both high credit line and many cards. Since reconsideration is not really something they do, there is no point keeping the cards for horse trading. Seems like you would have a better chance with fewer cards/less credit. Unless you find the cards valuable that is.

  • @john – I have thought about closing my Choice Privileges card. I want to burn the points first since their elite status has a longer booking window. Some good values i Europe, and since the bulk of my points expire this year I’ve got get a move on. When I was in Australia a while ago I tried to use but pricing was often very high and many of the hotels were small-scale with limited hours, like no check-in after 9 pm.

    The 2 US Air I will keep as long as the 10k anniversary bonuses from those keep posting.

    Priceline I got when it was true 2% cash back everywhere and still is plus 5% on Priceline purchases, so I do not want to give that up.

    If I were adding cards I would get the Arrival for a year, I have previously tried for Lufthansa 50k, and possibly Hawaiian, though I am sitting on a stash with no short-term use in mind.

  • Gerry

    My first ever card from Barclays was my first US Air card, auto approved December 2012. Next card from them was Frontier, April 2013, again auto-approved. In July 2013, I tried for a second Frontier card, denied, recon said no because I already had that card. I asked the recon guy if I had applied for a business version of the same card, he said that would be different, and encouraged me to apply. I did. That was refused too. I gave it about 6 months, with some modest spending on both my USAir and Frontier cards (average $600/mo). In January, I applied for USAir card #2, and was auto-approved. I then closed my first USAir card. In June, I’m going to try for a second Frontier card or a third USAir card, after pushing my spending on each current card over $1K/month.

    I was thinking I might lower the credit limit on my existing cards as you describe, since (I think) auto-approval is absolutely critical with them – their recon line is just a denial line.

    IN answer to your question, I think the answer is obvious: turn down the CL on that USAIr card. It’s not like you’re using any of it anyway, and they do not horse-trade, so what’s the point in having it?

    I *would* suggest you do that (lower the CL) well in advance of your next attempt – my sense is that things (like updates) move slowly in their systems. I’d do this a full 3 months before your attempt if you can.

    Please report your results – I’m hoping to spin the Barclays wheel-of-fortune in June or July so I probably need to turn down my CL soon too.

  • @Gerry – thanks for the detailed note. I will go ahead to move the CL down. I am going to try to wait a year between apps with them, certainly no less that 6 month and will update then.

  • JB

    6 cards may be too much. Have you converted some cards to no fee cards?
    That is the first step I would make. then reapply after 4 months. I have had some probs hewing to the 91 rule at Barclays.


  • @JB – I had 5, closed one last Dec, been meaning to close another, and this week also got around to reducing all the cards to no more than 6k credit limit. The one I am planning to close is the Choice Privileges, I have been wanting to clean out my points, which expire this year, before closing in case I am a few short for an award and need a boost.

  • Jb

    I would seriously consider converting to a no fee cash card to preserve length of total credit.

  • @Jb – cash card, not sure what product you mean? My Choice and Priceline ones are no fee, I would like to keep them, but if I am not going to be able to get any new approvals with Barclays I am considering these unconventional measures.

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  • What is the 91 rules?

  • He is referring to that recent credit inquires on your credit report are there for 90 days, then are still reported until they drop off at the 2 year mark. The idea has been to apply for credit cards every days + 1 to not be applying while there are still recent inquiries. Barclaycard often needs 4-6 months nowadays.