News of the Year? Chase Fights Churners with Denials

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Chase is now denying applications for the Sapphire Preferred, Slate, and Freedom if you have five or more new credit card accounts total from any banks in the last two years.

This change does not affect your ability to be approved for other Chase personal cards that are co-branded with banks and hotels like the United, Marriott, Southwest, or British Airways cards or any Chase business cards.

  • What do we know about Chase’s new churning rules?
  • How do we know it?
  • What’s the new best strategy to open Chase cards?

Starting last month, Chase began to deny applications for its proprietary personal cards–the best of which are the Sapphire Preferred and Freedom–by people who have recently opened too many credit card accounts. Presumably Chase is doing this because if you open a card for its bonus and then cancel the card without becoming a multi-year customer, you are an unprofitable customer. If you have opened several cards recently, you’re obviously more likely to be a person who just gets a bonus and then closes a card.

We know this because there are dozens of reports of denied applications for this stated reason since May on FlyerTalk, reddit, and a Doctor of Credit thread. Based on those reports, I’ll sketch out the rules as best as we can tell them, since Chase doesn’t post these rules anywhere. I’ll also suggest your new optimal credit card strategy based on whether you’re new to the frequent flyer milesphere or whether you’ve been around for a while.

New Rules to Be Approved for a Chase Credit Card

If you are applying for a Chase-branded personal credit card (ie Sapphire Preferred, Freedom, Slate), and you have 5+ new card accounts in the last two years, you will be denied. I’m using the more widely accepted 5+ number even though at least one person reports being denied with only 4 new accounts in the last two years.

If you are applying for a co-branded airline or hotel card from Chase (ie United, Southwest, Amtrak, British Airways) or business card, old rules for approval apply. A Chase rep told one redditor about this distinction explicitly.

  • There is no maximum number of new accounts you can have open and still be approved.
  • If you get a “pending” response to your application and call reconsideration, the agent may say you have too much credit from Chase or too many cards open in which case you can get the new card approved by moving credit lines or closing an old card.

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). Do not apply for the new card again until 24 months from your last bonus on that card. Also, if you still have your old card, you are ineligible for the bonus, so cancel it before re-applying.

New Best Practices

Chase now has the strictest approval policy for some of its best cards.

Everyone should have a Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus for their big sign up bonuses, generous category bonuses, and transferability to top programs like United, Hyatt, British Airways, Southwest, Singapore, Virgin Atlantic, Korean, and more. If you’re new to earning frequent flyer miles, these should be the first cards you get even though they are not at the top of my Top Ten List because if you don’t get them early in your card-opening lifetime, you’ll never be able to get them.

But what if you’ve been in the miles world for a while?

I’ve gotten more than 20 cards in the last two years. I was planning on getting a Sapphire Preferred again soon because it has been long enough since I closed my last one that I could get the bonus again. But with the new rule, I’d be rejected, so I won’t apply. In fact, I won’t apply for a new Sapphire Preferred again because I can’t imagine a two-year period in which I have fewer than five new accounts. There are just way too many good card offers out there.

Since I can’t get new ones, I’ll hold onto my Freedom and Ink Plus. My Freedom has no annual fee, and I occasionally use it for its 5x categories. My Ink Plus has a $95 annual fee, but I occasionally use it for its 5x categories. Furthermore Freedom points are only worth a penny without an Ink Plus or Sapphire Preferred; with one, though, you can transfer Freedom’s points to the Ink Plus or Sapphire Preferred and from there to airline miles or hotel points.

I can and will continue to open co-branded cards offered by Chase. I just opened a United personal and business card for 50k miles each a few months ago. In the future, I’ll look at British Airways and Southwest cards.

Bottom Line

Terrible news from Chase: you will be denied for a new Chase card like the Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, or Slate if you have 5+ other new credit card accounts in the last two years.

This change doesn’t affect Chase co-branded airlines and hotel cards like the United or Marriott cards or business cards like Ink Plus.

This would be truly catastrophic if it spread to Chase co-branded cards, Chase business cards, or other banks.

Full Chase application rules (FlyerTalk wiki)

Hat Tip Doctor of Credit


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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39 COMMENTS

  1. You mean they got smart after having 11 chase cards then down to 6 in the last 3 years .
    Don’t worry there’s away around most things……..

  2. Thank you for covering this unfortunate development. I wish this had been given more publicity a couple weeks ago when I cancelled my ink plus and just applied last week for ink cash. You have covered it more in depth than the other higher profile blogs.

  3. Unfortunate circumstance for sure. I just opened a LLC and was going to apply for an Ink cash. Have an ink plus with existing business plus a CSP personal. I have nearly 700K in deposit and investments with Chase so I might leverage that relationship if I get denied. Can’t apply until I close on a business mortgage in a month. I’ll report back once I am free to apply, hopefully I can get some love as a long time customer with legit spend on existing cards.

  4. I believe the new changes also apply to the co-branded credit cards, though maybe not at the same level. My husband and I have each opened 15-20 credit cards in the past two years, and we were both denied on two Chase applications each in the past week. I applied for the Sapphire Preferred but was also denied on the Hyatt; he was denied for the Hyatt and the United Explorer Business card. In the cases of the Sapphire Preferred and Hyatts, we were both told it was solely the number of cards we have opened in the past two years that was the reason for denial. We were both told we have stellar credit; my husband was told his credit was the best the rep had ever seen! No matter what we offered though – including moving lines of credit and closing existing cards – the reps would not budge. I HUCA’d three times; the third time the rep read the notes and knew I was calling asking for the same thing again, and sounded very annoyed (though she remained professionally polite in the words she used).

    For the United Business card, my husband was told the open cards in the past two years was a problem, but a bigger problem was that his company needs to have a revenue of $5000 or more to open any Chase Business card. I open 4-6 cards for each of us every quarter, and have done so for several years. I’ve had success for each of us, many times in the past, opening two Chase cards on the same day, as well as opening business cards for our start-up businesses of teaching dance, cross-stitch design, reselling office supplies, and reselling (music) cds (all of which had $0-500 income per year).

    This response from Chase was shocking, absolutely new and different from the past. Unless I hear that their policy changes, we will not be applying for Chase cards going forward, since like you said, there are just too many other good cards out there to stop applying for 5+ cards over a two year period! Unfortunately, we just closed his two Inks (Bold and Plus) before this churn, assuming I would get a Sapphire Preferred. Now we currently have no way to transfer our UR points to airlines and I guess they are just going to sit on our Freedom cards for a while.

    • you can call and reopen the Ink card you have closed… I believe you have up to a month do to that… maybe more.

  5. I got the same response as MileHighBug when I tried applying for the Marriott Premier a few weeks ago. Too many cards opened in the last 24 months. Excellent credit, never before denied for a Chase card. Spoke with three reps, and none of them would budge or consider moving credit from an existing card. I really hope this won’t always affect co-branded cards, but at least the three reps I spoke with seemed to believe that the Marriott card is included in this new rule.

  6. I was able to get an additional business card after initially being turned down for having too many personal and business cards in one year. It took a lot of sweet talk, an offer to decrease my credit line on another business card and a request to talk to a manager before the CSR approved me. An 820 credit score wasn’t enough to get approved right off the bat.

  7. Chase is now denying co-branded card applications as well. Last week, I got a call from Chase rep questioning info and then denying 2 Southwest card( business and personal) applications because I have 5+ cards already.

  8. Bad timing on my part. Right before I started hearing these developments, I downgraded my CSP to CS in hopes of avoid the annual fee and churning in 2016 to get the bonus a 2nd time. Then the news started breaking…at least I have my Ink+, I’ll be holding on to this for a while. As Scott mentioned, there are too many good offers out there to limit to 4 cards in 2 yrs (unless I’m getting ready for a mortgage or something similar). Getting ready to receive my Amex PRG and Citi TY Premier bonuses in the meantime…

  9. I was just plain lucky. In Jan. I closed my CSP and IHG accounts, and in March I opened new ones – with bonuses – with Chase (since it had been more that 2 years since I got first bonuses). And in late May I was approved with bonus (I hope!) for United Explorer. I have opened 21 cards, and closed 10, in the past 2 years. Chase is targeting people like me. Like others, I now will go elsewhere. (Just got Citi Prestige in May too.)

  10. I had 4 new cards in the last year when I applied for Chase Ink in May. I received a “pending.”
    So I went to my local Chase bank where I have my mortgage and asked my banker to call about the card. The rep on the phone spent half an hour checking everything out, and then she approved me for the card.

  11. I was just targeted for the Sapphire Preferred by mail the other day so with this news in mind I’m thinking I should act on the offer before I lose the opportunity. I’ve opened three personal cards and one business card in the past year, which should be under the limit. Assuming that at this point opening either the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus might preclude the ability to open the other, which of those two would be more advantageous to have in one’s wallet? In terms of category bonuses, I estimate I would earn roughly the same amount of points with either card (through normal spending, not manufactured).

    • And zero in the year before that? Remember it’s a two-year clock.

      If you’d earn the same points, go for the Ink Plus for the higher sign up bonus.

        • I applied for the Ink Plus yesterday and the result was pending further review, as expected. I decided to try going in person to a Chase branch since there’s one a block away. The rep called their credit department and was told that my application was still under review and to expect a decision in a couple of weeks. Later, I called the number myself and was told the same thing. However, the agent asked if I’d like to be transferred to someone who could make the decision manually, so I agreed. I then spoke with another agent who asked very specific questions about my business, such as the nature of it as well as total revenue and expenses for past years. She also noted that there was a “gap in cards,” meaning I had not applied for business credit in the previous years, which was a concern. By the end of the call, the application status remained the same–wait a couple weeks for a decision. Perhaps I should have pursued the Sapphire Preferred, since I was targeted for that one. If the Ink Plus application falls through, will I need to wait a period of time before attempting the Sapphire Preferred?

          • The one INK card I called then it showed up 5 weeks later so keep an eye on your mail then came the email !!!!!!!!!!!

          • No, I don’t think you’ll need to wait between those applications if it comes to that.

          • I received a call from Chase earlier this week. They asked me more questions about a Washington Mutual account I closed almost a decade ago (Chase acquired Washington Mutual, if I recall). After answering all the questions, the application status remained unchanged–pending further review. Yesterday, I called Chase and checked my status using the IVR and it said I was approved. Finally! It kind of sucks that this waiting period counts as part of the three months I have to meet the spending requirement but I’ll make it happen.

  12. Wasn’t all this blind ‘easy credit’ a big part of America’s (and then the rest of the world) Great Financial Crisis in 2008 and onwards? The banks add up all your CC LIMITS and assume this is the amount of your debt, irrespective of how much/little you have actually spent. This churn thing seems pretty much a US thing, and to see a few sensible restrictions appear can only be a good thing despite the bleatings above.

    • If they want to focus on credit limit, they can target that directly instead of targeting number of cards, an indirect proxy at best.

      • Lower credit limits on individual cards would surely mean lower bonus miles offered? I’m just amazed the banks throw away miles when they statistically know there may be very little spend on their card and it may be dumped after a year or less! Or maybe they count on 1% being held onto for longer than that.

        • Banks are not getting bilked. They are making money on these cards. They are not making money on every customer, and Chase has taken a step toward firing some unprofitable customers.

          • The Banks are making lots of money on the normal people not the Bloggers . They Suck in the people with award points (dreams of travel) then charge them $35 late charge and 25% interest and they can make even more my getting rid of the Bloggers . I bet your photo is used for the dart board and I’m sure they read your post and adjust the rules by your advise just like WE do. I pay 15% total cost for my air trips and I’m sure you can do better .
            Quick question if a bank pays the saver 1% on his saving and charges 4% on a loan how many % profit does the bank make ??? Money 101

    • GT
      This has nothing to do about CCL it’s about the Banks money going to people who know how to get it (as in Bloggers) and their slowing their pain down .
      I live in a Cave and I had $250K CCL. who’s the FOOL not me the Bankers.

  13. So just to be clear, in the next year I plan to get the following cards.

    1. Chase Marriot (me and my wife)
    2. Chase Southwest Premier (me and my wife)
    3. Chase Southwest Premier Business (me and my wife)
    3. Chase Ink (me and my wife)
    4. Chase Saphire (me and my wife)
    5. AMEX SPG (my wife, as i already have one)

    It sounds like I should get the Ink and Sapphire cards before anything else. is this correct.

  14. I have applied (and been approved) for 3 cards in the last two years. Should I apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Freedom? Is it worthwhile to have both (for the 5x categories on the Freedom)? If so, should I apply for both on the same day?

  15. Has anyone had bad/frustrating experiences or been blacklisted with Chase? I have been banking with Chase since 2011 and had 3 credit cards back in 2013. I have never had a late payment on any of my credit cards and have always paid off the full balance. End of 2013 (after a gap of several months), I applied for the Chase Southwest card and the decision was pending. I called the reconsideration line and they said that there was nothing they could do to change the decision and I was declined. A few days later all of my other Chase credit cards were closed by the bank. When I called to check why, they could not give me a reason and never even refunded the annual fee to me which I had paid on 2 of those cards. I let it rest and thought after more than 2 years I should not have any problems. But I was mistaken! I applied for the Marriott card yesterday and the decision was pending. When calling the reconsideration line today, I was told that nothing can be done – the reason I was given was “declined due to an unsatisfactory relationship with the bank”. I asked what they consider an unsatisfactory relationship when I pay off my full balance every month? The representative could not give me an answer and told me to write a letter. This is very frustrating! Has anyone else had a similar experience? Thanks

  16. Thanks for posting I’m surprised they don’t do that to me Chase has never made any money on me .BUT I have 5 cards which I will keep with them . This thread started in June and the only cards I got was the 2 SPG cards which was 2 good to pass up . My Fico is 779 after the 2 cards maybe apply IF U need them then lay low . I’ve one statement post a balance in 4 years because I pay off 3 days before the statement .Then I lowered ALL cards to $5K limit .Take a good look @ this if you need a bank loan in the next 2 years or have a HELOC which they can call at anytime . I have like 5 RT’s to the EU so I really don’t need anymore .
    Keep posting on your treatment .

    CHEERs

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