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Being approved for a new card requires more than having a high credit score or proving a good source of income. Each of the major card-issuing banks has its own set of rules for approving credit card applications. If you do not meet the bank’s rules when applying for your next card, your application will likely be rejected even if you have a credit score over 800 and never missed a single bill payment. Therefore, knowledge of these different rules is crucial to earning points and miles successfully and efficiently.
Keep in mind that some of these rules are published by the particular bank, while others are not.
Chase has what’s known as the 5/24 rule, where you typically won’t be approved for a Chase credit card if you have opened five or more cards in the past 24 months. Keep in mind that this is not limited to Chase cards. Chase counts any credit card when assessing your 5/24 status.
Some business cards don’t count towards the five-card limit. However, all Chase cards–whether personal or business–are subject to 5/24. In other words, you must be under 5/24 to be approved for a Chase business credit card, just like their personal cards. Here are a couple of examples to help you better understand 5/24:
- If you have opened 4 credit cards in the last 24 months, you’re at 4/24, meaning you can open a new Chase credit card. Say you apply for a Chase Freedom Unlimited card and are approved. You are now at 5/24 and will not be approved for a new Chase card until you go back under 5/24.
- If you are at 4/24 and open a Chase business credit card, like the Chase Ink Business Preferred, you will remain at 4/24 because many business cards, including Chase business cards, do not count towards 5/24. However, you must be under 5/24 to be approved for a Chase business card.
Based on the information above, it is wise to focus on Chase credit cards when starting your journey into points and miles, because once you go over 5/24, you end up having to wait several months to be eligible for another Chase card. For more about how to track your 5/24 status, check out our in-depth post about the 5/24 rule.
Another Chase rule is known as 2/30: Chase typically will approve you for at most two personal cards within a 30-day period, and at most one business card in a 30-day period. However, don’t always count on being approved for two Chase cards within 30 days, since Chase has been known to make people wait more than 30 days in between applications.
Chase does not impose a limit on how many personal or business credit cards you may have. That said, Chase, like other banks, is only willing to extend so much credit to any individual.
When it comes to sign-up bonuses, you’re not eligible for a sign-up bonus on a card if you currently have that card, or if you received a bonus on that card in the past 24 or 48 months, depending on the card. For example, the Chase Freedom Flex has a 24-month sign-up bonus restriction, while the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve have a 48-month sign-up bonus restriction. The 24 or 48-month clock here starts from the date you received the sign-up bonus, not the date you applied for the card. Unsure, which Sapphire product is right for you? Check out this post for help navigating your choice.
Citi’s main rule for credit approval is known as 8/65. Citi will approve you for at most one card every eight days, and two cards every 65 days. This rule does not distinguish between personal or business credit cards.
Also, Citi is known for automatically rejecting applications for anyone who has had more than six hard inquiries on your credit in the past six months. Data points exist of folks sliding by, so we won't call this a rule necessarily. But if you see something about “Citi's 6/6 rule,” this is what it refer to.
Citi also has the 24-month rule for sign-up bonuses. Generally, you cannot receive a sign-up bonus for a credit card if you have received a sign-up bonus or closed a card that is the same card or a card in that card family in the last 24 months. Card families include cards earning the same type of currency, such as Citi ThankYou Points: the Citi Premier, Citi Prestige, and Citi Rewards+ are all part of the same card family. Here is an example of how this rule plays out:
- If you earned a sign-up bonus for a Citi Premier card in July 2019, you cannot earn a sign-up bonus for another card in that family (Premier, Prestige, or Rewards+) for 24 months.
- However, if you close that same Citi Premier card in July 2020, you cannot earn a sign-up bonus for another card in that family for 24 months from the date you closed the card, pushing you back all the way to July 2022!
It is very important to consider this rule when closing a Citi card. In addition to the above rules, Citi has a separate 48-month rule for its American Airlines credit cards. If you earned a sign-up bonus for a particular Citi AA card, you cannot earn a sign-up bonus for that same card for 48 months. However, you can still earn a sign-up bonus for another Citi AA card, since Citi does not consider AA cards to be part of the same family. For example: if you open a Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard and receive your sign-up bonus in January 2019, you cannot receive another sign-up bonus on that same until after January 2021. However, you can still earn a sign-up bonus on a different Citi AA card, whether personal or business, before January 2021.
Amex is known to be a much more generous issuer than Chase and its rules are quite simple. Amex has a four card limit, meaning you cannot have more than four Amex cards open at any one time. This limit includes both consumer and business cards. However, some consumer Amex cards do not count towards this limit because they have No Preset Spending Limit. Or, in the case of certain business cards, unlike typical credit cards, the card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all. No Preset Spending Limit means the spending limit is flexible. In fact, unlike a traditional credit card with a set limit, the amount you can spend adapts based on factors such as your purchase, payment, and credit history.
Amex cards that may not count against the four card limit include the Platinum and Business Platinum cards, the Gold and Business Gold cards, and the Green and Business Green cards. Note, however, that cards that would not otherwise against the four card limit may be counted if the “Plan It” or “Pay Over Time” benefits are activated on those cards.
Examples of cards that always count against the four card limit include the Amex EveryDay Preferred card, all of the Amex Hilton cards, all of the Amex Marriott cards, and all of the Amex Delta cards.
In addition, Amex has a 2/90 rule, where it will not approve you for more than two Amex cards during a 90-day period. Amex counts cards the same way as discussed above for purposes of this rule, also.
While Amex is not as restrictive with card approvals, it is much more stingy with sign-up bonuses. Amex has what’s known as the once per lifetime rule, where Amex will only grant you a sign-up bonus once for each of its cards. Therefore, if you open a card such as the Amex Platinum card with a 60,000 points sign-up bonus and later come across an offer for 100,000 points, Amex will not grant you those 100,000 points even if you are approved for the new card. This rule applies even if you close the earlier card with which you earned the earlier sign-up bonus.
In addition to the once per lifetime rule, Amex may deny applicants a sign-up bonus for other unknown reasons that may relate to the applicant’s particular history with Amex. Thankfully, Amex usually provides users with a helpful pop-up box during a credit card application warning that the user will not receive a sign-up bonus if they proceed with the application, allowing the option not to proceed with the application:
Based on your history with American Express welcome offers, introductory APR offers, or the number of cards you have opened and closed, you are not eligible to receive this welcome offer.
We have not yet performed a credit check. Would you still like to proceed?
Bank of America
Bank of America has what’s known as the 2/3/4 rule: generally, you can be approved for at most two BofA cards in a rolling two-month period, three BofA cards in a rolling 12-month period, and four BofA cards in a rolling 24-month period.
In addition, many BofA cards have a 24-month rule where you cannot open a card if you’ve had that card during the last 24 months.
Capital One generally will only approve you for one card every six months. This rule applies to both personal and business cards, meaning you cannot open a personal card and a business card within six months of each other.
Additionally, Capital One has a two card maximum, regardless if personal or business. It is virtually impossible to hold more than 2 Capital One cards at a time.
Navigating all these different rules requires patience and long-term planning. For example, having a good 5/24 roadmap is important to maximize your points earnings with Chase cards early on. Meanwhile, it’s important to keep track of when you close any Citi cards because eligibility for sign-up bonuses for Citi cards is based on when you last opened or closed a particular card. Whenever applying for an Amex card, you need to decide whether the sign-up bonus you’re going for is really the best you can get, because Amex will only award sign-up bonuses once per credit card product.
For help navigating all these different rules, Come join our Facebook group where we and the ToP community can answer any questions you may have.
Special thanks to Brian Soares for writing this post.