Posted by Chuck on February 25, 2015
Credit Cards

Published on February 25th, 2015 | by Chuck

50

Which Credit Card Issuers Will Approve an Application with a Frozen Credit Report?

We’ve written about placing a security freeze on your credit report, see Credit Freeze/Security Freeze. It’s meant for someone who has a specific security concern, but anyone who prefers their credit report frozen can do so. Some people feel more comfortable knowing with certainty that their credit report is only pulled when they give special permission.

A reader recently asked if we can provide more info on which credit card issuers will approve you for a credit card when your credit report is frozen. Which card issuers will agree to switch over and pull your credit report from a different credit bureau that they usually don’t use?

Freeze Your Credit

Credit card issuers typically pull your credit report from one of three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, or Transunion. When they ‘pull’ your credit report, it shows up as a ‘hard inquiry’ on your credit report and reduces your FICO score. If we could freeze one bureau and convince the card issuer to manually pull the report from a different bureau, we’d be able to stagger the pulls across the three different bureaus, so that any single report isn’t full of hard inquiries. This – in turn – would improve your credit score and improve your chances of credit card approval.

[RELATEDMy Credit Card Application Strategy]

Just to be clear, if there’s a freeze on your Experian credit report, for example, and you apply for a card from an issuer who pulls Experian, there definitely won’t be any instant approval. The application will automatically come up as ‘pending approval’ – since they weren’t able to access your credit report. The question is whether we can call up the card issuer and ask them to manually pull a different report and approve the application based on that.

This point is very important since many of us apply for lots credit cards and our approval rate is partially based on the fact that there’s no human intervention; the system sees our credit score and certain other info and auto-approves the application. This won’t happen when your credit report is frozen. Besides the headache of calling in to get an application approved, it may also make it harder to get approved, under the prying eyes of a human.

That being the case, many of us have a high number of inquiries on one credit bureau, Experian usually being the case, and very few on the other reports. Because of that we ventured to collect data points about which issuers will be amenable to pulling the credit report from a different bureau.

Please note, many of the data points are a couple years old. Things could have changed since then, and – in any case – these things vary a lot based on the agent you speak to.

How to Freeze

You can place a freeze on your credit report at these links:

Experian – https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

Equifax – https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp

Transunion – http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/credit-freezes.page

After freezing your report, if you decide that you want to allow a lender access to your frozen credit report, you have 3 options:

  • you can permanently remove the credit freeze
  • you can temporarily remove the credit freeze
  • you can give the lender a one-time use PIN so that they can access your credit report

Option 1 would only be a good idea if you no longer want your credit report frozen at all. If you still want your report frozen, then you should use option 2 or 3. Option 2 will allow numerous lenders to view your credit, while option 3 will only allow a one-time view of your report by the lender whom you give the one-time PIN.

Note: Experian limits us to 2 temporary PINs per day. Beyond that, you’d need to remove the freeze, either a temporary removal or a permanent one (1).

Cost: For more details on the cost of placing and removing a credit freeze, see our previous post on the topic. It’s either free or costs $5 or $10.

List

Here’s a list of reports on which issuers will allow freezes:

  • Chase Varying reports. Some have had success with them agreeing to pull a different credit report (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), but other attempts have not been successful (1, 2, 3 4). Chase will allow you to give them a temporary PIN in order for them to access your report (1, 2).
  • Bank of America Some found Bank of America willing to pull a different report upon request(1, 2), including recently (1, 2). Others found that they won’t allow pulling a different report (1, 2,)   BoA won’t allow using a temporary PIN to access the report; you’ll have to temporarily remove the freeze on your end (1). Others had success conferencing the credit bureau into the call, and giving BofA access to the report that way (1).
  • Citi They won’t agree to pull a different report (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), unless that report is Experian (1, 2). Citi is willing to access your report with a temporary PIN, you don’t need to unfreeze it on your end (1), but one person had trouble actually getting Citi to use the temporary PIN (1). Citi will send you a letter saying that you need to unfreeze your report in order for them to  process the application (1) .
  • Amex They won’t agree to pull a different report (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). Amex will allow you to give them the PIN to temporarily access the report, without needing to remove the freeze on your end (1, 2). If your report is frozen, Amex won’t do anything to inform you of an issue, they’ll just let the application expire (1). Others report that they’ll send you a letter saying that you need to unfreeze your report in order to process the application(1).
  • Capital One As we know Capital One pulls all 3 bureaus for any single credit card application. We’ve now seen numerous reports which indicate that you can freeze one report and still be approved by Capital One. You can even get an instant approval with one bureau frozen (1). More than one report frozen is assumed not to work. The particular data points that we’ve seen mentioned were in regard to freezing Experian and still getting an instant approval. From this myFico thread, it sounds like Equifax can never be frozen, but you can have either Experian or Transunion frozen.
  • US Bank One report indicates US Bank  does will not agree to pull a different report, even with a temporary PIN; you’ll have to unfreeze it on your end. Also remember that it’s helpful to freeze two smaller credit reports (ARS and Sagestream) before applying for a US Bank credit card.
  • Barclay We haven’t seen any reports on freezes before a Barclay application. That’s probably because Barclay pulls Transunion 99% of the time, and Transunion is one of the lesser-used Bureaus; most people are happy to just leave it be and have their Transunion report pulled.
  • First National Bank of Omaha. They will just deny you if the reported they wanted to pull is frozen.
  • Discover Won’t approve you with a frozen report, they’ll ask you to unfreeze it first. You’ll have to unfreeze it on your end; they won’t accept a PIN to access the frozen report.

Final Thoughts

Being able to manipulate which bureau will be pulled sounds intriguing, especially for someone with unbalanced numbers of inquiries on their various credit reports. As mentioned, there’s a big downside since you’ll need to deal with human approval and the added hassle of having to call in.

Note that if you apply for a credit card when your report is frozen you usually won’t lose anything in terms of credit, since the card issuer didn’t pull anything at all in most cases. However, it may not be good to have lots of unfinished credit card applications, since it may not look good to in the eyes of that issuer.

The one instance where freezing the report seems to be only beneficial is in the case of Capital One where you can still get an instant approval, despite the security freeze. It’s all gain: instant approval and saving an inquiry.

[RELATEDWhy Capital One Credit Cards Are Now on My Radar Screen]

It’s also interesting to know that Chase and Bank of America may be willing to pull a different credit report. And remember to freeze your IDA and ARS reports before doing a US Bank application.

If you’re interested in reading more about freezing credit reports, I’d recommend reading two post written by our friend Rapid Travel Chai here and here.

Here are some other useful credit card posts from our site, broken down by card issuer:



50 Responses to Which Credit Card Issuers Will Approve an Application with a Frozen Credit Report?

  1. Chao says:

    When I live in Ohio, Chase pulled both experian and exqufax. what can I do about this.

  2. Corridor! says:

    Chasee will always pull Transunion for me and sometimes pulls Experian too. I have had my Experian account frozen for my last 5 pulls from them and they never ask any questions. Only Transunion gets pulled. This goes for instant approval and recon.

  3. Ly says:

    Hi
    I need help
    is there a way to check the status of whether credit freeze been placed or not? because I helped a friend trying placed all three. Experian no account created, therefore no way to check. Transunion does allow acccount created so no problem. Equifax, their online says “we cannot process your online request” so I think I have to request by mail.
    all my concern right now was the Experian because I wanna make sure I put right info for the right person I helped
    thanks

  4. Ly says:

    Experian has no option for you to login or create a password.
    do you have phone # for all three?
    thanks

  5. Kampung says:

    Slightly OT.

    Is there a way to get Experian FICO score for free or cheap, or is there any credit card that provides free Experian score? Unfortunately the cards i have (Barclays/discover/Citi) only provide Transunion and Equifax while most of my pulls seems to be from Experian.

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  7. Mile Hustler says:

    What about Wells Fargo?

  8. otis says:

    Re FNBO:

    I was simply asked to unfreeze EX and then everything went through.

    Not sure why, but most places seem to pull EX when you’re in upstate NY…Citi, Chase, Macy’s (not surprised), FNBO, and Amex.

    The sole exception was Discover, which pulled EQ. Barclay’s pulled both TU and EX.

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  10. Jonathan says:

    Can you walk me through the process? Freeze the credit bureau, then apply for a credit card, receive the “pending” message, then call up recon right away? Or wait a few days? Or wait until we receive the denial letter?

    And we are calling recon, right?

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  12. mawmaw says:

    IME WF will not budge when it come to credit freeze i had to unfreeze my EX to get approved

  13. MosheD says:

    @Chao @Corridor! @Chuck
    When my reports where not frozen Chase always pulled from 2.
    Now that I’ve frozen they settle on EX

  14. Vic says:

    Just a data point for TD Bank
    I was applying for the TD Bank Aeroplan Visa Signature with Experian frozen.

    The application went pending immediately after I clicked submit.
    I called customer service, was transferred to credit analyst and she said that my report is frozen.
    I asked whether they can use other bureau’s report, and she said no, they only use Experian.
    She also said they don’t take PIN, so I have to unfreeze my report in order to apply.
    (I can call back and they can process it, or I can apply again online.)

  15. NoonRadar says:

    Has anyone tried to freeze two credit bureaus and apply for Capital One Venture and/or one of the Spark cards?

    I was thinking of leaving only Equifax unfrozen and giving it a try for both of these cards.

  16. Ashhh1991 says:

    Great Article. Here’s some data:
    All of my reports are frozen. The years below aren’t in error. I took a year long break to pay down some loans.

    2015-05-21: Applied for Amex Hilton HHonors card. Applied online. Application went to pending. I called in. They wanted to pull Experian. I gave them a one time code. It worked.

    2015-05-26: Bank of America AAA Member Rewards card. Applied online. Application went to pending. I called in. They wanted to pull TransUnion. They created a three-way call with TransUnion and I gave my PIN to the TransUnion person to release my report to Bank of America. Worked.

    2016-06-25: Chase Sapphire Preferred. Applied in Branch. I told the CSR about my frozen report. As expected, it went to pending. She called the lending people. They wanted to pull Experian. I gave them a one time code. It worked.

    2016-07-03: American Express Gold Delta. Applied online. Application went to pending. I called in two days later (on a business day). They wanted to pull Experian. I gave them a one time code. It worked.

    I didn’t know that asking the bank to pull a different report is an option. I’ll try it next time, since I have high inquiries on Experian and low on the other two.
    I also didn’t know that you could generate a one time code for TU and Equifax. Maybe that has to be done over the phone? I’ll look into it next time.

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  18. M says:

    For those of you who get two different credit bureau pulls from each Citi application, have you tried freezing one of the credit bureaus? Were they happy to pull just the other bureau?

  19. Kaycee says:

    “Discover Won’t approve you with a frozen report, they’ll ask you to unfreeze it first. Not sure if they accept a PIN to access the frozen report.”

    I applied in late July 2016 and Discover told me that their system doesn’t allow them to use the PIN method for frozen reports.

  20. Trey says:

    FYI, I have a data point that contradicts your information.

    I applied for the capital one spark card with my equifax score frozen and was instantly approved. I did have a small hiccup after I received the card where capital one froze my account because something was wrong with my application(capital one wasn’t sure what the problem was when I called?), a phone call to capital one confirming my identity cleared this up. (I think the temporary restriction was due to my frozen credit report, but I’m not sure).

  21. M says:

    BoA and Chase data points with Experian frozen:

    I asked BoA to pull another bureau (Equifax) and it worked.
    Chase would not pull another bureau, but they took my one-time PIN from Experian and it worked.

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  23. J says:

    US Bank flat out refuses to pull another bureau (had Experian frozen) they also will not use a temporary pin

  24. Liam says:

    A year ago, Citi wanted EX (frozen), but eventually got someone willing to pull EQ. They tried and it failed for whatever reason (never got a HP) but then they tried TU and it worked.

  25. daxihe says:

    There seems to be some ongoing problem with Amex’s system. The agent asked for a PIN and a hard pull was generated; Experian also confirmed the pull. However the Amex agent claimed the PIN is invalid and I had to place a temporary lift to workaround it.

  26. Jane says:

    Froze Experian before Chase business card app.

    They would absolutely not pull another report. Had to give them a PIN and got approved. She said if they pick a bureau, they will not approve till they get that bureau’s report. Other recent DPs seem to confirm this.

    It seems like freezing would work for Chase only if they usually pull 2 reports from you and you freeze one of them.

  27. Nancy says:

    Froze Experian before Capital One Venture app – instant approval

  28. Joe says:

    DP: Froze Experian before CitiBusiness AA Platinum App. Citi always pulls EX and EQ for me. Immediately approved. Assuming a HP from EQ but I haven’t checked yet.

  29. Yanky says:

    Hi , does anyone know what the status is with Wells Fargo and HSBC? Thank you.

  30. JF says:

    DP: I froze Experian before applying for a Chase AA Platinum card and a Prestige card. Both were instant approvals and only pulled EQ. These were my first Citi cards, but most data suggests Citi pulls EX and EQ for my state (Florida).

  31. Anup says:

    DP 9/22/2017: BofA, Applied for Premium, Alaska and Amtrak cards in that order with Experian frozen. Premium approved, Alaska pending, Amtrak approved. I have 2 other open cards with BofA

  32. tinytavosa says:

    DP 9/23/2017

    Applied for Chase IHG with Experian frozen, they attempted to pull Experian and TU and only successfully pulled TU.

    Indiana resident, Instant approval, 2k limit.

    Chase has pulled two reports very often for my and my GF, so excited to see an approval on our first time freezing a report.

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