How to Interpret Reasons You're Turned Down for Credit

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There are several reasons you could be denied credit.
There are several reasons you could be denied credit. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

If you have been turned down for credit -- for a credit card, auto loan or mortgage loan -- the financial institution must give you a reason for the denial. The notification letter you receive may contain terms you don't understand. If you are wondering why your credit score isn't as high as it could be, there are several terms you may encounter. Before you can begin to correct your credit problems, you need to be able to interpret the reasons you've been turned down.

A "serious delinquency" means you have late payments showing up on one or more of your accounts. Check your credit report to determine if that is accurate; if not, get it removed from your report to boost your credit score.

A "serious delinquency and public record of collection filed" means you have had one or more accounts reported to a collection agency. If this is true, there is nothing you can do immediately to improve your credit score, but be sure to clear up any false reporting.

A "level of delinquency on accounts" indicates you have at least one account that is more than 60 days past due. You can contact your creditors to try to negotiate these accounts down to at least 30 days past due or even get them completely removed from your record.

A "time since delinquency is too recent or unknown" means you have an account that is recently past due. You can call the company to try and negotiate to have it removed from your record.

A "length of time accounts have been established" indicates your credit is too new in the reporting agency's eyes. You'll need time to establish a pattern of good credit. This is one reason not to cancel your oldest credit cards, even if you aren't using them anymore, so you have a history of credit.

A "too many accounts with balances" means you have several lines of credit open, which lenders consider risky for several reasons -- a higher risk of missed payments, late fees or over-the-limit fees. Cut back on your applications for new credit, and consider canceling an extra credit card if you don't really need it.

An "amount owed on accounts" indicates you simply have too much debt. Paying off some credit cards or paying down your loans can slowly raise your credit score.

A "proportion of balances to credit limits on revolving accounts is too high" means you have very high credit balances in proportion to your credit limits. Paying bills on time and keeping balances to less than 30 percent of your available credit will address this issue.

A "number of accounts with delinquency" indicates you have many past-due accounts, making you a credit risk. Paying off those accounts and avoiding any future delinquencies will help improve your credit score over time.

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