The New York Fed's Survey of Consumer Expectations showed respondents who applied over the previous 12 months were granted credit 37.7 percent of the time, compared to 41.3 percent in October 2017.
Application rates among those surveyed fell to 47.8 percent from 49 percent a year ago, even as they ticked up from June's 43 percent rate.
The survey, done every four months, showed mortgage refinance application rejections "notably" rose, as did to a lesser extent rejection rates for credit card applications and for credit card limit extensions.
The increase in rejection rates was driven by respondents aged 40 and under, the survey showed.
Respondents who were too discouraged to apply for needed credit increased slightly to 5.9 percent in October from 5.7 percent a year before.
Last month, the Mortgage Bankers Association said U.S. borrowers filed the fewest weekly applications for home refinancing in almost 18 years.
The New York Fed also updated its gauge of so-called financial fragility, which measures expectations.
While the average probability of respondents needing $2,000 for an unexpected expense fell to 32.3 percent in October from 33.6 percent in June, the probability of being able to come up with that amount increased to 68.3 percent from 66.9 percent in June.
The Fed's Survey of Consumer Expectations collects data for auto loans, credit cards, credit card limit increases, mortgages and mortgage refinancing.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)