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.
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.
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.
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?