UPDATED: 15 JANUARY 2020
Understanding the credit card application rules for each bank is critical for a successful strategy.
For example, what if I told you that if you apply for a credit card with [Bank A], you are INELIGIBLE for a credit card from [Bank B]. However, if you apply for a credit from [Bank B], you remain eligible for credit card from [Bank A]. This is great information to know and I hope hope that you would apply to [Bank B] before applying to [Bank A].
Fortunately, this hobby is not that intense, however, the rules are constantly changing as banks try to appeal to certain customers and optimize their own strategy.
Many of the rules (below) have been implemented over the last few years so I wanted to consolidate all of the information into one post. This will be a lengthy post that covers the basics if you want to be approved for a card by American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, and Citi. So let’s jump into it…
Before we get started, I have two rules that you will hear repeatedly on my site:
- Rule #1: Completely pay off your balance every month <–this is the most important sentence on my entire site!! BE RESPONSIBLE AND LIVE BY IT!
- Rule #2: Credit cards can be extremely rewarding so make sure you keep your credit score great.
You can obtain extreme value from credit cards rewards, however, the value of those rewards are easily negated if you have late fees and 20% interest on top of your purchases.
OK, NOW THE GOOD STUFF…
Here’s the run-down of bank rules:
Pro: Easiest to be approved for (in my experience)
Con: “Once in a Lifetime” and Amex can be strict when they want
Rule #1) Once In A Lifetime: The welcome bonus on all Amex cards are “once in a lifetime.” Even if you have closed the card and are attempting to apply again, don’t expect a bonus.
Rule #2) 5 Credit Card Limit: Amex limits you to having 5 of their credit cards at any given time. However, charge cards (The Platinum Card from American Express [Read More], The Business Platinum Card from American Express [Read More], The American Express Gold Card [Read More] etc.) are not included in your total of 5.
Rule #3) 2/90: Amex will not approve you for more than two cards in a 90 days. Again, this limit excludes charge cards.
Note: Generally, it’s okay to apply for two credit cards on the same day. Typically, one application will be delayed so you will not receive an instant approval. Recently, Amex has also implemented an “eligibility checker” on their website when you apply for a card. Be aware that you may receive a pop-up during the application process that, essentially, states that you are not eligible to receive the welcome offer however you are able to still apply for the card.
BANK OF AMERICA (BOA)
Pro: BOA offers a limited amount of cards, however, the cards that they do offer are favorites for those in the points and miles circle. For example, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card, Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card, and Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Credit Card are all phenomenal cards.
Con: 24-month language
Rule #1) 2/3/4 Rule: Typically, you will only be approved for 2 BOA cards in a 2-month period, 3 BOA cards in a 12-month period, and 4 BOA cards in a 24-month period.
Rule# 2) 24-month rule: The majority of BOA cards have a 24-month rule, where you will not be approved for a card if you’ve had that card in the past 24 months.
Pro: Capital One just recently stepped into the transferrable points arena last year so I expect new and good things to come from them.
Con: 6 months is a long time (details below)
Rule #1) 1/6: Capital One will only approve you for one card every six months. This restriction applies to, both, personal and business cards so pick wisely.
Note: Capital One pulls your credit score from all three credit bureaus. This isn’t a big deal but it’s good to know.
Pro: (Arguably) the best rewards cards
Con: Cards can be tough(er) to be approved for and have 24-48 month language
Rule #1) 5/24 rule: Typically, Chase will not approve you for one of their cards if you’ve opened five (or more) cards from ANY BANK in the past 24 months. This rule can be challenging to understand so READ THIS POST about the rule.
Rule #2) 2/30: Typically, Chase will approve you for, at most, two personal cards in a 30 day period, and, at most, one business card in a 30 day period.
Rule #3) No card limit: Chase doesn’t seem to focus on how many total cards they’ve approved you for but instead focus on how much total credit they’ve extend to you. Often, if Chase feels like you’ve “maxed out” the amount of credit they’ll give you, they will allow you to move around your credit lines on cards to be able to open a new card.
Rule #4) 24 & 48 month rule: Chase welcome bonuses are based on a 24 (and more recently a 48 month) cycle.
Rule #5) Family card rules: For most Chase cards, eligibility for a welcome bonus is based on whether you’ve had that specific card before. However, for applications for the Sapphire, Marriott, and Southwest cards, additional “family rules” apply.
For example, if you’ve received the welcome bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you are ineligible to receive the welcome bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve card or vice versa) because they are in the same “family.” In addition, you are also ineligible for the welcome bonus if you’ve received the welcome bonus on either of the Sapphire cards in the past 48 months.
PRO-TIP: Chase has A LOT of rules! Make sure you understand 5/24 before getting locked out from Chase cards.
Pro: Chances of approval are somewhere between Amex and Chase
Con: Citi can be quirky and is a 50/50 when it comes to approvals
Rule #1) 1/8, 2/65: Citi will approve you for at most one card every eight days, and at most two cards every 65 days.
Rule #2) 24-month rule: Similar to Chase, Citi has time restrictions and will deem you ineligible for a welcome bonus on a particular card if you’ve closed that card or have received a welcome bonus on the card in the past 24 months.
Rule #3) Family card rules: The Citi Premier℠ Card, Citi Prestige® Card, and Citi Rewards+℠ Card all have “family card” rules. In other words, you’re ineligible for the welcome bonus on any of those cards if 1) you’ve received a welcome bonus on any of them in the past 24 months or 2) you’ve closed any of them in the past 24 months.
Rule #4) 48-month AAdvantage rule: On the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® you’re ineligible for the welcome bonus if you’ve received the bonus in the past 48 months.
If your eyes glazed over, it’s ok…that’s A LOT of rules! However, it’s good to have the rules consolidated in one location. I recognize with all these rules that it’s easier NOT to have a plan but you may regret that decision. I encourage you to, at least, attempt to understand the rules and develop a strategy for what cards interest you as soon as possible.
For example, if you apply and are approved for 5 Amex cards, you are now “locked out” of obtaining a Chase card because of the 5/24 rule. That would be a costly mistake for not reading one blog.
Again, credit card issuers change their policies and strategies on a number of external factors. I will try to keep this updated, but often the best data comes from the individuals that are applying for the cards. So, if you have any experiences to share with credit card approvals, please do not hesitate to leave a message below or send me a message.
That was A LOT of information, so let’s go to the STEP 5 –>>