Updated 9/6/18 with latest Chase Sapphire bonus rule and the Marriott-family card rules.
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 answers to these questions depend 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. I’ve included Capital One as well as they have some lucrative rewards cards.
Let’s look at the rules for each issuing bank, which vary widely. Note that many of these “rules” are not published, rather formed over time by people like us collaborating data points to establish patterns of bank behavior.
If you don’t feel like navigating this maze (understandable), I’m happy to do it for you. Fill out this form for a Free Credit Card Consultation and pay close attention to the section about your recent credit card history.
- 5/24: If you have 5+ new credit card accounts with any bank (not counting most business cards) in the last 24 months, you will be denied most Chase personal and business credit cards (with the exception of these).
- Specific rules for the Sapphire branded cards (i.e. the Sapphire, Sapphire Preferred, and Sapphire Reserve)
- New applicants will not be approved for another credit card in the Sapphire family if they already have one open. In other words, if you currently hold a Sapphire card, you’re not eligible for a Sapphire Preferred nor a Sapphire Reserve. If you currently hold a Sapphire Preferred, you’re not eligible for a Sapphire Reserve. If you currently hold a Sapphire Reserve, you’re not eligible for a Sapphire Preferred.
- You cannot earn the bonus on the Sapphire Reserve until 48 months past when you earned the bonus on the Sapphire Preferred, and vice versa.
- Specific rule for the Southwest co-branded cards: If you have the Personal Plus, Premier Plus, or the Priority Card open, you are not eligible for another Southwest consumer card. You are also ineligible for the bonus on a Southwest consumer card if you have earned a bonus on another consumer card in the last 24 months. The Business Southwest card is a separate product in regards to this rule. In other words, you can have both a consumer Southwest card and a business Southwest card open at the same time.
- Specific rules for the Marriott co-branded cards: there are various eligibility stipulations for all the Marriott-family credit cards–which includes all Marriott and SPG cards–that are too detailed to outline here. Read Eligibility Rules for New Marriott & SPG Cards before applying for one.
- 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). The exception to this rule is with the Sapphire Reserve and Preferred, as noted above, which you must wait 48 months between.
- 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.
- PRO TIP: A common reason for Chase denials is too much credit extended to you already by the bank. Consider lowering credit limits on existing cards, or if you end up with a denied response on an application and call the reconsideration line as a last stab effort, suggest the rep shift existing credit of yours from one card to the new one you want. How much credit is too much? Data points say 50 to 60% of your total annual income is the maximum.
- You can only get the bonus on an American Express card once per lifetime, a lifetime being roughly seven years. However if you were targeted for an American Express offer, you can still be approved even if you have had the card before (just make sure the terms of the offer does not include once in a lifetime language).
- You can be approved for two Amex charge cards on the same day, but applying for two Amex credit cards will likely result in a pending response for the second application. It doesn’t necessarily mean the second card will be declined, but it’s unlikely they will both be instantly approved. Amex won’t look at the second application until five days after the first.
- You can be approved for no more than two Amex cards in a 90 day period. If you want more than two Amex cards, apply for them on days 1, 6, and 91.
- 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.
- Specific rules for the Marriott co-branded cards: there are various eligibility stipulations for all the Marriott-family credit cards–including SPG cards issued by Amex as well as the Marriott cards issued by Chase–that are too detailed to outline here. Read Eligibility Rules for New Marriott & SPG Cards before applying for one.
- Amex recently added the following ambiguous language to many of their card applications: “We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility”. At this point, we don’t have enough reports from others to be able to spell out what this means exactly. One would assume if you follow the rules listed above, you would be ok.
- In case you forgot whether or not you’ve ever opened a specific Amex card, it looks like Amex is at least warning you before submission of the application (before a hard pull happens) if you’re eligible for the bonus or not.
- You can apply for no more than one consumer Citi card in an eight day period. If you want two Citi cards, get them on days 1 and 9.
- You can apply for no more than two consumer Citi cards in a 65 day period. If you want three Citi cards, get them on days 1, 9, and 66.
- You can apply for no more than one business Citi card in a 95 day period.
- *The numbers above are for the risk-averse. Technically, you should be able to get one consumer card in a seven day period (so applying on day 1 and 8 should be ok), two consumer cards in a 60 day period (so applying on day 1, 8, and 61 should be ok), and one business card in a day 90 day period (so applying on day 1 and 91 should be ok).
- 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 / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard seven months ago. That means for the next 17 months (a full 24 months after you opened it) you are not eligible for the same card, nor for the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard. If you close that Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard, the 24 month clock will start over again and you won’t be eligible for that same card nor the Executive version for 24 months past the date you closed it. Business cards are separate products in regards to this rule.
- Barclays is known for being the most inquiry-sensitive bank. Therefor if you’re on the verge of applying for multiple cards (from various banks), apply for card from Barclays first.
- While there’s not a specific rule regarding same-day approvals, it’s not recommendable to apply for multiple cards from Barclays on the same day.
- Applicants who apply for a repeat Barclaycard product will probably not be approved for another for at least six months since the last application, and you must cancel the existing card first.
- 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 cards, you are very likely to be denied for another unless you close the existing one first. The best practice is to wait at least 90 days between applications. Read Are the Alaska Cards Still Churnable? to learn all best practices for this card.
- For all Bank of America cards…
- Bank of America will not approve you for more than two new credit cards within a two month period
- Bank of America will not approve you for more than three new credit cards within a 12 month period
- Bank of America will not approve you for more than four new credit cards within a 24 month period
- All of that being said, I’ve also read the latest data points suggest no more than one approval every six months.If you’re conservative, stick to one every six months.
- You can only apply for a Capital One card once every six months.
- You can only hold two consumer Capital One-branded credit cards at once. This doesn’t apply to business cards or co-branded cards. Example of Capital One-branded credit card: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Example of a co-branded Capital One card: Capital One GM Rewards Credit Card.
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 and Reddit, or good, old-fashioned experimentation.
Bookmark this page if you haven’t already, and make sure you go over the rules for the appopriate issuing bank BEFORE applying for a new rewards card. Or request a Free Credit Card Consultation and I’ll lead you through the maze.