Rules to Applying for Different Credit Cards

Using your credit card for every purchase is an easy way to meet minimum spend requirements
Different banks have different rules for approving credit card applications.

Every bank issuing credit cards has different rules on things such as who can get approved for their cards and how many cards a single cardholder can have.

Before applying for credit cards, which can trigger a hard credit pull, it’s important to know these rules.

We’re going to break down the rules for popular banks below. As a note of caution, a lot of these rules aren’t set in stone by the bank, rather they are inferred from many different reports.

American Express

American Express has a few rules that cut down the ways in which the points and miles crowd can game the system. They have been known to go as far as asking for their bonuses back or closing entire accounts if cards are closed within a year of opening. But, for normal, everyday people who aren’t interested in churning credit cards for bonuses, it shouldn’t matter too much.

  • Cardholders are limited to just five credit cards issued by American Express. It’s important to note that American Express does issue charge cards (Amex Platinum, Amex Gold Card, to name a few), so not all American Express cards count towards this total.
  • There is no explicit language similar to the Chase 5/24 rule, however, the following language does exist. It’s almost tougher than the 5/24 rule because it’s so vague.

“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.”

  • American Express typically only allows cardholders to get a welcome bonus for each card once per lifetime. They have started warning customers before applying for the card that they won’t be eligible for the upgrade.

Bank of America

Similar to American Express, Bank of America has started to crack down more on churners. This is mostly because people were churning the Alaska Air Visa Signature card for massive amounts of miles every three months.

  • There is no limit on the number of cards that a cardholder can have with Bank of America.
  • Bank of America does have the 2/3/4 rule. This means that cardholders, on a rolling basis, will only be approved for two cards within two months, three cards within 12 months, and four cards within 24 months.

Capital One

Capital One is stricter than the banks above. They restrict card applications on their Capital One managed cards, such as the Quicksilver, Venture, and Savor card.

  • Capital One limits a cardholder to two personal cards that are managed by Capital One (Savor, Quicksilver, etc.). This doesn’t include co-branded cards or business cards.
  • Cardholders will only be able to be approved for one card every six months. This is for both personal and business cards.

Chase

Chase, the home of the famous 5/24 rule, was one of the first banks to really cut down on the points and miles community that churns credit cards.

  • There is no limit on the number of cards that a cardholder can have with Chase.
  • The 5/24 rule is pretty simple to understand. You will not be approved for a credit card if you’ve opened five credit cards in the previous 24 months. This is five new credit cards across all banks, not just Chase credit cards. Almost every Chase card is subject to the Chase 5/24 rule including the co-branded cards like the World of Hyatt Credit Card and the IHG Premier Rewards Credit Card. The following will count against your 5/24 status:

All personal credit cards opened with any bank, all personal charge cards (i.e., American Express), business cards opened with Capital One and Discover, and authorized user cards.

Citi

Citi has been in the news lately for allowing cashback from their Double Cash Card to be transferred into ThankYou points, as well as pulling back back essentially all of their travel and purchase protections from their cards.

  • There is no limit on the number of cards that a cardholder can have with Chase.
  • Customers must wait 8 days before applying for a second Citi credit card.
  • Citi won’t approve two credit card applications within 65 days.
  • Cardholders must wait for 24 months to get the same bonus of a credit card. We recently wrote about the Citi Double Cash Card; however, we also noted the restriction of earning the bonus. The sign-up bonus restrictions stretch across a family of cards. For example:

Bonus ThankYou points are not available if you have had ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige cards opened or closed in the past 24 months.

  • The sign-up bonus restrictions also exist for the co-branded cards for American Airlines, etc.

Discover

Discover is another bank that has strict rules, but churning their cards typically isn’t for many. Discover has a great cashback card as well as cards that are good for building credit.

  • Cardholders are limited to just two credit cards issued by Discover. Although, a cardholder cannot open up their second card until they have had their first card open for one year.
  • Each cardholder can only have one student credit card, which counts toward the two-card limit.

Final Thoughts

There are people out there who will churn credit cards to the maximum – opening cards every month to continuously earn sign-up bonuses. The good news is that if you’re like the everyday person, the rules and limits mentioned above shouldn’t hold you back too much from earning points and miles.

As we talk about in our beginner’s guide, it’s important to be responsible when spending and using your credit cards. I don’t like to risk churning credit cards. Instead, I open them up strategically in order to space out minimum spend requirements and get the biggest sign-up bonuses.


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