Updated 8/16/16 with Citi’s new sign-up bonus rule.
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.
Let’s look at the rules for each issuing bank, which vary widely.
- 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.
- 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 5+ new credit cards in the last 24 months.
- You are limited to holding four 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 American Express charge cards. Both personal and business count toward this limit. (AMEX Platinum is a charge card.)
- 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.
- 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, the only cards worth getting, 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.
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.