Issuing Banks Rules for Approvals and New Bonuses

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Updated 2/9/17 with information regarding maximum number of American Express cards you can hold at one time.

Will you be approved for a new card? Will you get its bonus?

What if you’ve already had that card and gotten its bonus before?

The answer to these questions depends on the issuing bank of the credit card. The issuing bank is not the payment network like Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. The issuing bank is the bank that gives you the card, collects interest, and provides customer service. For rewards cards, the main issuing banks are Chase, Citi, American Express, Barclaycard, and Bank of America.

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Let’s look at the rules for each issuing bank, which vary widely.

Chase

  • If you have 5+ new credit card accounts with any bank in the last 24 months, you will be denied all Chase personal and business credit cards. However if you were targeted for a Chase offer, you can still be approved even if you have 5+ new credit cards in the last 24 months.
  • You can only get the bonus on the same Chase card once every 24 months. This 24 month clock starts when you got the last bonus (which may be several months after you got the card).
  • You probably shouldn’t apply for more than two cards in a 30 day period. Chase is known for denying people who apply for more than that. That being said, I know people who have been approved for two personal and one business card from Chase on their first ever credit card applications. It is likely however that for any applications past the second in a 30 day period, you’ll have to make a reconsideration call for a pending application response if you want it approved. Reconsideration calls with Chase aren’t known for going as smoothly as they often do with other banks.

American Express

  • You can only get the bonus on an American Express card once per lifetime. However if you were targeted for an American Express offer, you can still be approved even if you have had the card before.
  • You are limited to holding four to five American Express credit cards. Both personal and business count toward this limit. (AMEX Everyday, Delta, and SPG are credit cards.)
    • Separately, you are limited to holding four to five American Express charge cards. Both personal and business count toward this limit. (AMEX Platinum is a charge card.)
    • If you’re on the verge and contemplating a fifth credit or charge card, read this post–you can apply basically risk-free.

Citi

  • You can be approved for no more than one Citi card in an eight day period. If you want two Citi cards, get them on days 1 and 9.
  • You can be approved for no more than two Citi cards in a 65 day period. If you want three Citi cards, get them on days 1, 9, and 66.
  • You are only eligible to earn a sign up bonus if you haven’t opened or closed a card from the same type (brand or co-brand) within the last 24 months. For example, Let’s say you opened a Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card seven months ago. That means for the next 17 months (a full 24 months after you opened it) you are not eligible for the sign up bonus from the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card, the other Hilton co-branded card issued by Citi. If you close that Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card, the 24 month clock will start over again and you won’t be eligible for any other Citi Hilton cards for 24 months past the date you closed it.

Barclaycard

  • Applicants with zero Barclaycards may be able to get several at once.
  • Applicants who have a Barclaycard will not be approved for another for at least six months since the last application.
  • Barclaycard denies people for having too many Barclaycards, not enough spending on existing Barclaycards, too much credit with Barclaycard, or too many accounts with other banks.

Bank of America

  • At least for the Alaska Airlines personal and business cards, you can get as many as you’d like at one time. I get one of each every 91 days, but people have gotten multiple at once or waited less time between applications. The best practice is probably to wait at least 90 days.

Bottom Line

Every issuing bank has different rules on how often you can apply for its cards and how often you can get a new bonus on a card you’ve had previously. The rules are changing, and the general trend is toward a tightening of the rules. The rules are sometimes written down and sometimes figured out by aggregating data points on FlyerTalk or good, old-fashioned experimentation.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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52 COMMENTS

  1. I had 1 or 2 existing cards from barclays and got approved for 2 new ones 3.5 months apart last year after an easy recon call. So it is possible, although maybe not likely.
    Some recent developments regarding the Alaska cards, not so easy to get approved for multiple cards now and multiple reports of people getting there alaska mileageplan accounts closed and losing all their points after applying for multiple cards. Be careful with that.

  2. I think you’re missing a couple of key points in this update… the CIti Executive cards now all have the 18 month language. Alaska cards issued by B of A are in the process of being severely monitored for multiple apps. Both of your statements to the contrary are outdated.

  3. On the Amex SPG personal card, if you got a low bonus (say 4,000 miles) many years ago, are you totally precluded from getting the current bonus (25,000 miles) now? Or can you get the difference if you re-apply?

  4. You do a top notch job compared to other deal killers so I’ll comment.

    Churning is dead for citi. You must wait 18 mos now.

    Only way around it is if you find a zombie link or some one makes one from spydering.

    AFAIK this is not possible for time being. So for now citi is at the 18 mo minimum time frame between successive bonuses on same card pdc

  5. I applied for 2 Alaska Air cards on the same day. One was approved right away 16K limit, however the 2nd one was approved after 3-weeks with 16K limit.

  6. Citi Bank Rules:
    Different cards have different rules for repeating the bonus. The Platinum and Gold AA cards require 18 months from closure of the identical card while the AA Executive card and Citi Prestige® Card allow you to get the bonus over and over without waiting (beyond the limit listed in the first two bullet points) or closing your other AA Executives.
    Just finished calling Citi Bank re repeat bonus for AA Executives card. Citi denied bonus due to having had the card less than 18 months ago. The agent said they are strictly re-enforcing the 18months rule.

  7. Scott, do you know how often, or even if, you can get the sign-up bonus on the Citi Premier card? I can’t seem to find any info in their Terms and Conditions. Thanks!

  8. Scott, got denied 2x yesterday by Citi. I was inside the 8 day and 66 day limits. Will I be able to reapply once the 8 day limit is up, or does my denial put a kink in this? I had just gotten the Prestige card and was after the AA business card.

    Considering the changes with Chase, you might want to update this post.

  9. Scott,
    I think I read somewhere where you said you can reapply for the citi platinum card bonus after 18 months, without cancelling your existing citi platinum card. Did I get that right????

  10. […] You can pursue both of the strategies outlined above simultaneously, the points strategy for a lot of free nights and the Hilton Reserve strategy for a few unforgettable nights at one of the best hotels in the world. Just make sure that if you get both the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card and the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card, you get them at least eight days apart. (They are both Citi cards, and Citi will not approve two cards in a week.) […]

  11. What if you apply for the Chase Ink card in a branch? Does the 5/24 rule still apply. I heard a rumor that applying in person was a way around the 5/24 rule.

  12. Does Amex have some sort of 5 cards in 24 months rule? The wording/content seems to belong only in the Chase restrictions, yes?

  13. Scott,
    Re the B of A Alaska cards, are you (and others) cancelling the already opened account before and/or after applying for a new one?
    Thanks

  14. Does Citi consider downgrading an account the same as closing? I downgraded a Citi AA Executive to a Bronze less than 2 years ago. Can I get the 50k bonus on the AA Platinum? Thanks.

  15. RE: Citi…..if you have an AA card that you opened over 2 years ago, should you leave it open and apply for another…can you? If I close it I have to wait 24 more months before applying again?

  16. I’ve heard of people churning Alaska cards but is that still possible? I have a personal and business card. My wife has personal but we’d get more and keep them if possible? Can you get as many as you want as long as you wait 90 days? Thanks as we’d love to use more buddy passes

  17. I had the arrival plus and then downgraded to the no-fee version of the card. Can i apply for the arrival plus and get the sign-up bonus with the no-fee version card open or must cancel it?

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