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Rejection is never fun. You want something, ask for it, wait hopefully and then — bam — someone crushes your hopes. While getting turned down for a credit card isn’t as painful as some other types of rejection, it can leave you wondering what you did wrong and what you need to do to avoid having this happen to you again.

1. Find Out Why the Answer Was No

Luckily, you’ll get something of an answer. By law, if you are turned down for credit, you have a right to know why. You should get an “adverse action” letter within 10 business days, explaining why you were rejected, along with the top reasons your application was rejected, and a credit score. Your credit may not be the only reason you were rejected; you may have made an error on your application, had an income that didn’t meet the issuer’s standards or have a mistake in your credit report, the source of the data used to calculate your scores. That letter will include contact information for the credit reporting agency that provided the score. Understanding why the action was taken can help you increase the odds that your next application will be approved.

Some people understandably worry that being turned down for credit will become part of their credit report and will make it even harder to get credit. That’s not true. Applying for credit counts as a “hard inquiry” on your credit reports, which means simply that you applied for credit. There is nothing on your credit report to indicate whether your application was approved or rejected. But a hard inquiry will likely cause a small, temporary dip in your credit score.

2. Appeal the Rejection

When a credit card issuer says no, you can still appeal the decision. Sometimes a human being on the phone will be willing and able to override the initial decision. Or, you may realize you failed to consider certain income or that there was some other error on your credit application. You have nothing to lose by calling the credit card issuer to ask them to reconsider. You may learn that the issuer has a different product that you could qualify for. In that case, if you want the card offered, you could get it without an additional hard inquiry. The worst thing that could happen is that you won’t get a card — and that has already happened.

3. Check Your Credit Reports

If the reason you didn’t get the credit card was tied to your credit information, you can get a free credit report (for 60 days). This is in addition to the free annual credit report you are entitled to from each of the three credit reporting agencies. The report can look intimidating, but it’s important to learn how to read it so that you can check it for accuracy. Wrong information on your credit reports can drag your scores down, because scores are calculated from information found in your credit reports. If you find errors, dispute them and check to be sure that they are corrected.

It’s also smart to keep an eye on your credit scores. You can get two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free from Credit.com. Monitoring your scores can also alert you when something is amiss in your credit reports — whether it’s fraud or if your credit has been mixed up with someone else’s — before you find out by getting turned down for credit when you need it.

Finally, if you still don’t have the credit card you wanted and feel strongly that you need one, consider a secured card. Applying for one will result in another hard inquiry, but these cards are generally easier to get because they are secured by a deposit. If your application was denied because of a lack of credit history, you could also consider a “credit-builder” loan from a credit union.

No matter how you decide to deal with your rejection, though, you can be informed and prepared the next time you apply.

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