Home > Credit Cards > Can You Be Rejected For A Debit Card?

Comments 16 Comments
Advertiser Disclosure


When a clerk at Target told Annette Tierney her she could save 5% on her purchases by opening a Target REDcard debit card, it was a no-brainer. “Every time we go in there we get a cart full of stuff,” she explains. “We usually spend $250 to $500.”

It also seemed simple enough—the store’s debit card is set up to draw from a customer’s existing checking account.  She was shocked, though, when her application for the card was declined.

Since she and her husband avoid debt and have “great credit,” her first thought that was that perhaps they had been victims of identity theft. But when she called the customer service number provided, she was told her application was declined due to a lack of check writing history with Target. She told the representative that she uses a bank debit card when she shops at Target, but the representative wouldn’t budge. She was told she’d have to first establish a check writing history with Target to be considered for the card.

[Free Resource: Check your credit for free before applying for a credit card]

Tierney’s situation raises the question: Can you get turned down for a debit card? On the surface, it would seem that the answer would be “no,” or at least not likely, since the card is only used to access the money you already have in your bank account. But, in fact, you can be turned down for a debit card, though the reason is most often due to prior checking account problems.


Credit.com’s Credit Report Card
Check your credit bureau profile for free with this great tool. See your detailed credit evaluation, expert advice on managing your credit, and unlimited free updates every 14 days.
Get Started Here »

That’s what Rosalie Zamora found out when her application to open a Target REDcard debit card was declined.  “I received a ‘regret’ notice indicating that there was some negative reporting from a reporting agency called ‘Certegy’,” she said in an email to Credit.com. Certegy provides check authorization and guarantee services to merchants and businesses nationwide, and is considered a specialty consumer reporting agency under federal law.

[Related article: How to Get Your Free Reports from Specialty Consumer Reporting Agencies]

Zamora called Certegy and was told there was no negative information on file for her. She was then referred to another consumer reporting agency, Telecheck, which found an unpaid debt from “ACCS Bad Check Restitution.” When she called that company, she found out that her information had been mixed up with that of someone who previously bounced a check:

I was sent 3 letters of apology stating that a clerk at a store keyed in a driver’s license number incorrectly for someone cashing a $50 dollar check a few years ago that bounced. That driver’s license (number) ended up being mine and went on my record. They say that they have unlinked my driver’s license to that case and I should be good to go now.

Tierney, on the other hand, still doesn’t understand why she can’t get the card. The debit card application states that “Target may gather any information considered necessary and appropriate, including consumer reports,” however it makes no specific mention of requiring consumers to have a check-writing history at the store.

“They didn’t (admit) it was a ridiculous excuse,” she fumed.

She’s since sent email complaints to members of Target’s executive board. I shared with her that I was surprised by her story because I opened a Target REDcard debit card last year and, to my knowledge, I have never written a check at Target.

Target officials declined to comment for this story.

[Credit Cards: Research and compare prepaid credit cards at Credit.com]

Tierney speculates that Target would rather have her sign up for its credit card than the debit card. “I feel like they are using this great advertising campaign, but I feel like what they really want is for people to use their credit card. They want to push American consumers deeper and deeper into debt. That’s just my theory,” she says.

And even though Zamora’s check-writing history has been cleared, she didn’t appeal the decision with Target. “Forget it,” she says. “I’m done with Target. Although it’s not their fault, this issue left a bad taste in my mouth.”

[Related Article: Target REDcards Give You a 5% Discount: But At What Cost?]

Image: Mr. T in DC, via Flickr

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • shnllann

    I’m sure by now you’ve noticed that there was not an inquiry to any of your credit bureaus because a consumer report and credit report are 2 completely separate things. Your consumer report monitors things like check history and utility history as well as personal info like addresses and phone numbers.

  • Michael O’Connell

    Target Debit Card Application was not approved. The application requested a voided check with the bank that i have a checking account. After Certegy said no negative info and they checked by phone with Target and said they had no negative info and they suggested I call Target at 800 831 7764. Very polite telephone ops. After repeating bank account information for the third time they said the number was incorrect on the application. Very sorry and they will correct error and send letter to be received in 7 10 days. After I receive the red debit card and will then cancel it. Target needs major management help at my local store that is a large investment. I am selling my stock on Monday.

  • Jason

    I just got a Red Debit Card and have used it 4 times. So now I’m online trying to buy an iPad and I get the “We are sorry that we cannot accept this Target Debit Card transaction. Our decision was based on information from: CERTEGY” I called Target.com and Red Card Customer Service. CS was a joke. They just transferred me. So there’s a new dept who is supposedly looking into it. Im guessing that I just don’t have the transaction history. So now I just may go to Best Buy and get my iPad. Instead of saving 5% and paying for faster shipping, I’ll get my 2.5% Reward Zone and just pick it up. I’ll still use my card for groceries and regular stuff.

  • beth

    I go to target for absolutely everything! I have applied god knows how many times for a target debit card. I keep getting turned down and each time I am sent a letter from a company called certegy so I call them and they say something negative is on my account? Makes no sense at all. I used to have a target credit card and paid it off and cancelled it. They said they cleared whatever it was that was negative and that I could apply and should go through. I tried to apply again yesterday and still want approved! How am I not getting approved for a debit card??? Makes no sense at all. Now I’m tempted to just take my business elsewhere bc I could have saved quite a bit by now

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I have a friend who has gone through the same thing and can’t figure out how to fix it. Target needs to find a way to help (and keep) these customers.

  • a guy

    I work with target as a cashier (Only because of my current economics) and I have to say if we ever ask you for a debit card or credit card flat out say no or run the other way. There are lots of hidden fees that we are not allowed to mention and we are only suppose to push the 5% discount and free online shipping which isn’t very good at all (where I live it doesn’t even cover tax) Target “team members” are judged by how many redcard accounts we help open “to help save a guest 5% ” so it makes it so that the cashiers will lie about how much of a great deal it is. If you don’t believe me ask a cashier what the penalty fee is on the debit card or what the Annual Percentage Rate of the credit card is, most of them will instantly say “I don’t know” or will go for the red card application to look it up. Also ask them if them about the additional 5% on the pharmacy program and if it expires and again you will get the same reaction. (Hint hint it does if you don’t use it within a certain number of days) Overall never EVER trust the target RedCard or Debit Card from them.

    • Jason

      Hidden fees? Such as….? I understand what a penalty fee is…its like writing a bad check and getting it returned. But can you prove any other fees on the Debit Card?

      • Kyle

        He obviously either doesn’t like target or doesn’t work for them. I work at Guest Service in the Burleson, TX store, and there are no fees for a Target Debit card, it works just as your bank card except you will get 5% off your purchase and team members can use their discount on top of it. Now the Credit card obviously has fees if you don’t pay off your balance every month. I myself use a Target Debit Card for my purchases, never had a problem…

  • Ben

    Target debit card isn’t a debit card as a bank debit card it’s more of a way for them to do a direct with draw from your account as in when you pay with check they use these check company to see if you have ever bounce any checks. Target basically stores your account an then does a direct with draw as they would so with a check electronic check transfer. If you apply and get approve start with small purchase and over Time you would be able to make bigger purchase. It’s a hassle but target sucks anyways

  • Zinnia

    I am a cashier at Target. I have never had a problem with people opening a debit card..as long as they have a valid checking account and social security number.. That’s not saying that there aren’t glitches in the system.. There have been guests who have gotten the debit card, but when they try to use it gets rejected.. I have gotten yelled at about it even though store employees aren’t privy to any of the information.
    I know that once there is a problem, it seems to be almost impossible to correct. I feel bad for the people that it happens to, because the redcard debit is a nice savings.

    I also wish there was a way for people to open the debit card with some other form of ID then a social security number.. Such as a passport

  • Pingback: Paper or Plastic? Why Checks Aren’t Dead Yet | CreditRanker.com()

  • Pingback: Paper or Plastic? Checks Aren’t Dead Yet, Merchants Say | ComparePlastic()

  • Pingback: Can You Be Rejected For A Debit Card? | Apply For Credit()

  • Pamela

    I always used my debit card and got checks just so that I could apply for the Target debit card. It was accepted and my card arrived in the mail last week. I used it twice instore last week with no problems. Now today it came up not accepted when I tried to make an instore purchase. We tried it twice and got the same results.

    So after reading this blog I assume Target has taken away my debit card priviliges for not having a check writing history.

    I was livid at having to get the paper checks to apply, I certainly will not begin to use them as payment so that I can keep the card.

    This is ridiculous. I have been using my bank debit card heavily for the past 10 years, never keeping track of payments and never overdrawing.

    Chistopher, I do not have a driver’s license either but my state ID was accepted for the application. I don’t know why they wouldn’t accept a passport because I used one of those for years for banking purposes before I got the state ID at the registry.

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri

      Actually, Pamela, I think yours is likely a different issue. They reserve the right to limit or reject REDcard debit card purchases and other readers have complained that happened to them. In your case, because the card is fairly new they may be limiting them to make sure the purchases you have made are honored by your financial institution. But others have complained this has happened to them for no rhyme or reason. It does make you wonder about the “Save 5% everyday” promise!

      • Pamela

        Gerri, thanks for your reply. I hope that is the case that they are limiting my purchases for now. That is what the cashier suggested what must be the problem.

  • Pingback: Can You Be Rejected For A Debit Card? | Debt & Credit Blog | Free Online Tips and Resourses()

  • Christopher

    I tried to sign up for a Target Debit Red Card about 3 weeks ago, and they wouldn’t accept my Passport as valid ID to open the account. They would accept only a driver’s license or a military ID card. I live in the city without a car, and don’t have a driver’s license, so no more Target for me!

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri

      Interesting Christopher. I wonder if they can check a consumer report more easily with the driver’s license number?

      • Christopher

        Oh, they still asked for my SSN.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team