This Is By Far My Weirdest Credit Card Application Denial To Date

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Best Western Surprise

Best Western Surprise: An Unexpected Outcome From a Quirky Bank

You may have read (or scrolled past) my recent article describing our next three credit card applications.  I’m a huge fan of the less popular hotel chain credit cards, and the Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard has been high on my list for awhile.  I was ready to pull the trigger on applying.  I did not expect this Best Western surprise, however.


I felt prepared to apply for the card, but I always remember that the issuer, First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO), has been a bit fussy with approvals in the past (at least for me).  I wasn’t approved when I applied for the Best Western card a few years ago due to how busy I was obtaining other cards.  Also, while I was previously a proud holder of the La Quinta Returns credit card, I hadn’t held any other cards with FNBO.

I applied online, and my application went to pending status.  Later that night, however, I got an email prompting me to check my application status, as FNBO had apparently made a decision.  Not approved!  Wah-wah.  I got the usual type of wording – “you’ll receive a reason for the decision in the mail within 7-10 days.”  In the meantime, I chalked it up to tougher approvals these days due to COVID-19 and moved on.

Best Western Surprise

The Best Western Surprise

I received the letter about a week later.  FNBO stated they could not approve me for the following reason: “elements associated with fraud”.  I’ve seen a variety of justifications in denial letters, but this is the first time I got this one.  While it caught my attention, I wasn’t overly concerned because I didn’t have a ton of other FNBO credit cards I planned to apply for in the future.  Also, given FNBO is not exactly one of the major banks, I figured they may just use jargon I didn’t usually see.  Again, at this point, I wasn’t heartbroken about not getting the card.  Nonetheless, I was curious, and I called.

The Call

A representative from FNBO quickly answered.  The woman with a bubbly voice on the other side of the line sounded like she was in a wind tunnel.  Indeed, customer service calls in the age of COVID-19 have been a wild, and sometimes entertaining, ride.  She verified my identity, and I asked for clarification on the letter.  She first asked if I had been a victim of fraud.  That struck me as an awfully broad question.  Anyway, I said that I’d had to dispute credit card charges a few times in the past, but all issues had been previously resolved.

Best Western Surprise

The representative then asked how I applied for the card, and I answered I applied for the card on my home desktop computer.  She answered that software flagged the device that my application was submitted from, and the process was stopped.  FNBO didn’t even get to the step of pulling my credit.  I asked about the software, and she stated this was a FNBO program used to check for fraudulent applications.  The representative offered that these type of fraud alerts happen from time to time to legitimate applications.

(Quick Aside:  I applied using either Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome.  I use both browsers, and can’t remember which.  Regardless, I wasn’t using any type of incognito mode.  I’ve experienced no issues with my computer or network recently, either.)

Wrapping Up The Call

The representative then said my application can be reconsidered.  In my mind, I thought “my application wasn’t even considered the first time, it was my computer that was flagged”.  Alternatively, I can apply again in the future.  Here, I thought, “I guess I’ll have to call to apply, since my computer will just get flagged”.  She said I had 30 days from the date of the original application to call in for reconsideration.  I opted to hold off on the reconsideration for now.  I thanked her for her help, and the call ended.

What I Learned

It’s tempting to avoid seemingly-unnecessary calls to banks.  Sometimes I wait on hold forever (hello, Citi).  Other times, they provide absolutely no information (thanks, US Bank).  But with FNBO, the representative answered quickly and provided valuable context.  Bigger picture, I reminded myself that there’s no harm in calling for additional info on any credit application, even if you expect a predictable answer.

Best Western Surprise – Conclusion

But why did I not ask for immediate reconsideration in the call?  I didn’t want to move too quickly now because I have since had some other applications go pending, and I don’t want to fly too close to the sun.  I’m not the first to say this, but stuff is definitely tightening up in the credit card approval space.  I’m adapting as I face new challenges.  What has surprised you in the hobby lately?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA expense-free (or close to it). He enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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  1. I use VPN all the time. The problem is that some VPN IPs are flagged because of fraudulent activity in the past and if you happen to land on a server that assigns one of these IPs and banks don’t approve, you will not get very far. There are firewalls, rules, blacklists in place to ensure customer security and over time it’s getting filled. It’s not easy to programmatically do this, that’s why companies use blacklisted IP tables.

  2. I applied for the Target Red Card with a $40 credit. I previously had the card, but cancelled it several years ago. I got a letter stating that I already had an application on file. Not sure what they meant by that statement.

    • Stefan,

      Great point! I shouldn’t assume anything. Next steps will only involve the cutting edge OS, “Phone”.

  3. Maggie:
    VPN software enables you to hide your identity and in particular your location. Businesses often use it as a way to safely connect remote workers to their secure servers. Can also be used to “pretend” you’re in another country to use services that might otherwise be blocked in your current location. Google for free VPN apps.

    • Virtual Private Network – you can use apps that will make it look like you’re using your computer in NYC but you’re actually in Thailand right now.

    • Thanks! I’ve gone incognito before but not done vpn. Tell me if i’m correct on incognito…it just hides your search from others using your device in the regular browser. But the websites you visit while incognito can see who you are?

  4. Got to chime in about using a VPN when doing bank stuff and even bill palying. Had a problem paying, of all things, my local TRASH bill when I was in Italy and was regularly using a VPN. Their system caught it and would not accept. Crazy!

  5. So you applied for this card a week prior and then decided a week later not to bother with it after a denial? Seems odd that you had such a change of heart for a card you had wanted to apply for, for so long.

    Seems weird.

    • @Mike T

      If he applied for the Best Western cars BEFORE the other applications that he currently has pending AND FNBO had already pulled his credit then they wouldn’t see the other hard pulls.

      Since they never pulled his credit at the time he actually applied then reconsideration means that would then pull his credit and see the inquiries of the cards he has applied for after his initial denial.

      Makes sense why he didn’t go for reconsideration. I wouldn’t have either. FNBO is very conservative and inquiry sensitive so it would have probably been a waste of a hard pull depending on how many other inquiries were racked up afterwards.

      I found out how sensitive FNBO was when I applied for their 2% BucksBack Visa a few years ago.

    • Mike T,

      To Randy’s point, I simply want to see how my other pending applications turn out prior to making a final decision regarding FNBO. No need to jump the gun based on subsequent events. Perhaps I could have spelled that out a bit more clearly in the article.


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