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Middle Age Miles

Experiment Foiled! Denied for the Ebates Visa Card

ebates visa ebates-amex membership rewards MR points application denied Synchrony reconsideration recon data point
Ebates Visa card from Synchrony Bank

This article is Part 1 in our 3-part series on Middle Age Miles about our credit card applications in mid-March 2019. This mini App-O-Rama resulted in 2 denials and 1 approval. Our 3 articles in this series are:

* Article 1: Experiment Foiled! Denied for the Ebates Visa Card

* Article 2: Barclays Arrival Plus Application Data Points – MAM Denied at 13/24; Others Approved at >6/24

* Article 3: Citi AA Platinum – Approved Using Mailer with No 24-Month Language

I’ve hit a new all-time low in my credit card application career. I was denied for a card that has a $10 sign-up bonus.

Background

Recently, Ebates and Amex teamed up to allow you to earn Membership Rewards (MR) points when you use Ebates. Basically, instead of earning cash back through Ebates as we’ve done for years, we could earn MR points at the same rate. For example, if an Ebates deal was for 6% cash back, it would earn 6x MR points instead if your account was an Ebates MR-earning account. The Ebates-Amex program requires a separate account from the regular Ebates cashback accounts, and you had to set up a new Ebates account to participate in the Ebates-Amex program.

We were fascinated by the Ebates-Amex program, and we wrote about it in detail a few weeks ago here:

We set up a new Ebates MR-earning account. We’ve successfully earned the 1,500 MR point sign-up bonus, and we’ve made a handful of purchases in the program over the past few weeks, all of which have tracked correctly and promptly. We’ve been quite happy with the Ebates-Amex program so far.

In our earlier article, we identified a very interesting potential stacking opportunity to earn extra MR points through the Ebates-Amex program. The Ebates Visa card, issued by Synchrony, is a no-annual-fee card that includes a 3% bonus category for online purchases made through the Ebates portal, and it also earns 3% on purchases that qualify for Ebates In-Store Cash Back.

We took a close look at how the Ebates Visa card’s rewards work, and we believe that an Ebates Visa card that is associated with a MR-earning Ebates account will earn 3x MR points per dollar (instead of 3% cash back). We have also read one data point that seems to confirm this.

Assuming that we’re correct, this would be absolutely excellent. Stacking 3x MR earning with the card with Ebates portal and in-store deals would create a new combination that would provide outstanding best-in-class returns on a wide array of purchases. In addition, we suspect that there would also be some “inorganic spend” opportunities using this method that could prove valuable.

Thus, we decided to set up an experiment – we would apply for the Ebates Visa card in connection with our new Ebates-Amex MR-earning account. (Note: We have a lot of caveats and “be carefuls” about this application process in our earlier article – be sure to read it and follow them if you apply.) Then, we’d test the Ebates Visa by using it to make purchases through the Ebates shopping portal. We’d also register the card for Ebates In-Store Cash Back, link it to some offers, and make purchases at those stores.

If everything worked, we’d have a great new MR-earning avenue to earn more points to pay for fun travel!

Application and Denial

On Monday, March 18, I applied for the Ebates Visa card through my Ebates MR-earning account. The card had a sign-up bonus of a whopping $10, which certainly would have been an all-time low!

This application was the third application in a 3-card mini App-O-Rama I did on that day. The reason that I placed it third was that the other applications had bigger sign-up bonuses and I wanted to prioritize them.

At the time of application, my “new accounts” status on my personal credit report was 13/24, 9/12, and 6/6 (I actually had a spree of applications last fall that was very valuable – see A Case Study and Success Story of Strategic Card Applications – Approved for Chase World of Hyatt & Citi AA Platinum Cards). My Experian credit score (which Synchrony pulled) was 786. (It’s well over 800 on TransUnion and Equifax.) My Average Age of Accounts on Experian was over 5 years.

My credit score will qualify me for virtually anything. However, with these new-account stats, I knew that I was at some risk of denial for new cards. Frankly, though, I still thought I was a shoo-in for approval for the Ebates Visa.

When I applied for the Ebates Visa card, my application went pending. I was informed that I’d receive a decision by mail within 7-10 days.

5 days later, I received an email from Synchrony with a secure link to a letter. (The letter is dated March 22 but I first received it on Saturday, March 23.) Unfortunately, the letter was a *denial* of my Ebates Visa application:

WTH??? This was a shocker.

The sole reason that Synchrony gave for its denial was “Number of recent credit requests.”

My number of inquiries was indeed high, although not awful – 14/24, 8/12, and 3/6 going into the App-O-Rama. One of my other March 18 applications also pulled Experian, so technically I was probably 15/24, 9/12 and 4/6 at the time of the Experian pull.

Attempted Recon Call

I decided to go ahead and attempt a reconsideration call with Synchrony even though I wasn’t optimistic. At a minimum, I’d learn something that I could report back to Middle Age Miles readers.

The denial letter didn’t contain any invitation to call back for further information, and it didn’t even include a telephone number for Synchrony. I looked up the customer service number for the Synchrony Ebates Visa card, which is 855-697-4555, and I called that number.

My call was on Monday, March 25, the first business day after I received the denial letter. It was difficult to get through the automated system given that I didn’t have an account number, but I finally reached an agent.

The front-line agent didn’t provide any useful information. After speaking with him for a few minutes, I asked to speak with a manager. He transferred me, and to my surprise the manager picked up quickly. She was much more knowledgeable – ultimately not helpful, but at least she seemed to have a better idea what she was talking about.

The manager told me that Synchrony does not do manual reconsideration reviews. She says that all approval/denial decisions are made through their computer system. She says that this helps them comply with the Fair Credit Act (possibly just making this up; there are certainly plenty of card issuers that do manual recon). I talked to her about my good credit score, my perfect payment history, our income, and the fact that I’ve been a long-time good customer of Synchrony through a JCPenney store card that I got many years ago. I also told her that I recently became aware of Ebates and was very interested in it, and I wanted the card so that I could use the Ebates program more. I also offered to explain any questions they had about the number of inquiries. She listened to me patiently, but none of this mattered.

No manual recon – still denied.

After the call, I went ahead and submitted a Complaint form online, basically saying the same things I’d told the manager on the phone. That was just 1½ days ago, and I haven’t yet received any response. I don’t expect anything useful to come out of it. But I’ll update this article if I learn anything useful from that process.

UPDATE, 3/30/2019, 11:30 am Central time – Yesterday, I received a call from a Synchrony Bank top-level agent in response to my online complaint. The agent was quite professional; however, she couldn’t do a thing to change the denial decision or initiate any further review. C’est la vie.

Wrap-Up

So, I was denied for the Ebates Visa card by Synchrony based on “Number of recent credit requests” – presumably 15/24, 9/12 and 4/6.

I was denied despite a 786 Experian credit score, a perfect payment history, good income, and the fact that I’m a long-time good customer of Synchrony. None of that was sufficient to overcome the problem with inquiries.

So, yes, I was denied a card with a sign-up bonus of 10 bucks, and I have a hard pull on my Experian report to show for it.

And just to add insult to injury, on my regular Ebates cash-back account, I receive emails just about every week begging me to apply for the Ebates Visa card and telling me that I’m pre-approved. I actually had one of these offers that was active at the time I was denied! I received a pre-approval email on March 12 asking me to accept their pre-approval and apply by March 29. Here’s what it said:

How ironic is that? I was pre-approved on my “regular” Ebates account at the same time Synchrony denied me on my MR-earning account. Ouch.

By the way, I made a conscious decision to *not* mention my “regular” Ebates account or this pre-approval email during my call with Synchrony. I didn’t want to call attention to the fact that I have two Ebates accounts, as that’s not technically allowed. Going forward, I expect to only use the MR-earning account, but right now there’s some cash-back pending in the “regular” account that I didn’t want to jeopardize.

At this point, there’s nothing else to do besides wait. Perhaps I’ll start to receive pre-approval offers for the Ebates Visa card on my MR-earning account. If so, I can re-apply then. If not, perhaps I’ll apply again in a few months after some inquiries fall off. This will depend on my credit card priorities. As fun as it would be to experiment with the Ebates Visa card, it’s certainly not worth designing my application strategy around trying to get this card!

So, Middle Age Miles readers, I tried. Experiment foiled! Blame it on Synchrony.

Do you have an Ebates Visa card attached to a MR-earning Ebates account? Is it earning 3x MR points? Please share any relevant data points with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!


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11 thoughts on “Experiment Foiled! Denied for the Ebates Visa Card

  1. Brett Hamilton

    Craig,
    I’ve wanted to apply for this card too for the same reason. I suppose that it is possible that the card is not yet offered to the accounts earning MR?
    Brett

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Brett – Thanks for the question and comment. That’s a possibility, but I’m not sure. I accessed the Ebates Visa application through my MR-earning Ebates account, so it seems like the card should be available to the MR account. And my unceremonious rejection referenced the number of inquiries, as opposed to saying that I wasn’t “eligible” for the card, or something else that would have pointed more clearly to the card not being offered for MR accounts. And I’m pretty sure I saw at least one DP on Reddit Churning of a person who got the card for use on a MR-earning account. So, possible, but I’m thinking that wasn’t the issue.

      I definitely think there’s lots of opportunity here if you can get a card approved for a MR-earning account.

      If you apply through your MR account, would you please comment again here to let us know how it goes? Or if you don’t want to comment publicly, DM us on Twitter @middleagemiles1? Many thanks. ~Craig

      1. Brett Hamilton

        Yes. I will. I am just about under 5/24 and I want the Ritz card as I want to achieve Marriott platinum through the spend. My wife is under 5/24 so I am working on a United card for her and then possibly a few other Chase cards. It will be awhile until I go after that card…..unless I apply for the Ritz card through her account. hmmmm…….

        1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

          Many thanks, Brett. Definitely understand the strategy. We love the Ritz card and huge value from it. You may have read our article on the card and how we use all of its benefits, but here’s a link just in case: https://www.middleagemiles.com/2018/10/19/keep-or-cancel-chase-ritz-carlton-visa-card-plus-retention-call-results/

          $75k spend is a lot to bite off for Marriott Platinum. Is there another way to get there? 15 nights from the card, schedule a cheap meeting room to get 10 nights for a Rewarding Event (https://www.middleagemiles.com/2019/02/14/marriott-bonvoy-rewarding-events-earn-10-elite-nights-with-a-meeting-more-details-and-contract-language/), and 25 organic nights? Or manufacture a few nights if you don’t have 25 organically? I assume you have at least a decent number of organic nights if you’re wanting Platinum.

          I’ll confess that I don’t know the rules about how long you have to hold the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card before you can upgrade to Ritz. Can you do it right away after approval, or is there a waiting period?

          All very fun things to think about and plan for 🙂

  2. Gmoney

    Any one have any recent data points? I think I am going to try with my wifes account. She has a MR account (well its mine) but per Greg and others you have to make sure to use the SAME email address when applying. She is 1/24 and can’t get any chase cards until Jan 2020 due to bankruptcy, so I might as well do this one since I was just denied. Wish me luck…..

    1. Gmoney

      Also, is there any link between the name on the MR earning CC and the Ebates visa card? The MR card is mine but the Ebates would be hers.

    2. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Gmoney! Thanks for reading. That’s an interesting situation you have.

      I haven’t really seen new DPs on Ebates Visa for MR-earning accounts since the article, although in fairness I haven’t been actively searching. I just keep being on the receiving end of Synchrony/Ebates’ taunting as they send me emails and deliver pop-ups telling me that I’m pre-approved for a card with a $100 bonus offer … on my old cashback account! Ugh.

      I agree with Greg that you need to use the same email address when applying.

      In response to your follow-up question – Interesting situation. As I understand it, you were able to get a MR-earning account set up for your wife, even though the MR-earning card is in your name? I would think that you’ve passed the hard part, then. The Ebates Visa card will definitely have to be linked to the MR-earning Ebates account. But you seem to already have that covered. From that point, as long as you’re using the same email address to apply that’s on your MR-earning Ebates account (and again, you’re obviously aware of this since you mentioned it in your comment), my educated guess is that the Ebates Visa card will earn MR points for your MR-earning Ebates account, regardless of whose name is on the Visa card. That’s just an educated guess as I haven’t seen this situation. But it’s based on what we know about how the MR points earning on the Visa card works. Those points go to the associated Ebates account. Then, they’re paid from the Ebates account to the MR account that’s associated with (and used to set up) that same Ebates account. It seems like as long as you can get from Point 1 to Point 2 (Ebates Visa to Ebates MR-earning account), and then from Point 2 to Point 3 (Ebates MR-earning account to your Amex MR account), then it shouldn’t matter if the names on 1 and 3 are mismatched.

      All that said, I’m very interested to hear what happens. Please let us know. And also, I’m very interested to hear whether your wife can get approved for the Ebates Visa, linked to a MR-earning Ebates account. Wishing her luck!

      Thanks again for the comment and great question, and I hope you continue to enjoy Middle Age Miles! ~Craig

  3. Aaron

    Hi, I know it’s been a while, but I was wondering if you ever got around to applying for the credit card again. I am in the exact same situation as you were during the time of your article. I got rejected for too many credit requests and was even pre-approved on my regular ebates account (non-mr earning). I’m not sure if I should wait and reapply in the future.. Seeing if there are any new data points.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Aaron – Great timing on your question. I was thinking about this just yesterday. As of today, I’m 0/6 in personal cards but 6/12. If I wait until the beginning of next month I’ll drop to 2/12. I might have a much better shot at approval with those numbers than back in March when I originally applied. That said, though, I still haven’t seen many (if any) positive DPs of people getting approved for Rakuten Visa connected to a MR-earning account. And I’m also anxious about applying for personal cards at the moment because of my ongoing strategy to get back under 5/24 so I can rack up UR points with the Chase business cards. See https://www.middleagemiles.com/2019/07/22/case-study-should-i-execute-on-a-15-month-plan-to-get-under-5-24/.

      Anyway, that was a very long answer. I’ll continue to be on the lookout for new DPs. Please let us know if you re-apply and how it goes. Thanks! ~Craig

      1. Kevin

        Thanks for the update Craig, I have another DP, denied with an account tied to MR’s for the following reasons:

        – Distance between applicant’s address and area code of phone number
        – Length of time oldest bank revolving account has been established is too short
        – Number of inquiries in last 12 months
        – Days since most recent inquiry is too short

        The first two reasons make absolutely no sense what so ever. For the other two reasons, I am currently under 5/24 but had applied for 3 biz accounts in the last 6 months.

        I tried the recon line as well and they didn’t budge.

        1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

          Hi Kevin – Many thanks for the detailed DP. This is very helpful to know. Man, Synchrony *really* doesn’t want to approve people for this card on MR-earning accounts!

          I’m still considering whether to apply again next month when I’m 2/12 and 0/6. But your last 2 reasons for denial make me more hesitant. As of 11/1/19, I would have 3 inquiries in the past 12 months on my Experian report (one of which was from Synchrony on my prior denied application). My most recent Experian inquiry would be a little over 5 months old. I suppose that if I waited until 12/1/19 to apply, my most recent one would then be >6 months old, which might help.

          All this thought, for a card with no/minimal sign-up bonus on which they’d probably give me a limit of $2,000 even if I was approved! But it could be very valuable to have 🙂 ~Craig

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