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Credit card application rules are different for each bank. This makes it hard to keep track of things like how many days to wait in between applications, how many cards specific banks will allow, or whether or not you’re eligible to receive a card bonus.
You may have an amazing bucket list with destinations spread out across the globe. But if you’re hoping your points and miles will help make this possible, your credit card application strategy can’t be all over the map. You need to understand each bank’s rules and have an organized credit card plan.
So in this guide, you’ll find banks that offer travel rewards credit cards and their application rules to help you successfully map out your credit card application strategy.
Credit Card Application Rules by Bank
Before talking about each bank and their rules, I think it’s important to address the requirements and responsibility that comes with having credit cards.
First, you must pay off whatever you spend on your credit card at the end of each billing cycle. The idea is to shift your spending from cash and your debit card to your travel rewards credit card. By doing so, you’ll earn a return on your spending in the form of points and miles.
If you begin to carry a balance, your credit card’s high-interest fees will kick in. Every time this happens, you’re chipping away at the value of your points and miles.
So, if you’re someone who is too tempted by the spending potential of your credit cards, this isn’t the hobby for you. It’ll cost you less, in the long run, to set aside some money a little at a time to save for a trip you want to take.
Lastly, the travel rewards credit cards the banks below offer require a very good to excellent credit score. If you’re still working to improve yours, it’s best to wait before applying. Just be sure to check back because these rules will be updated regularly to keep up with the latest application rule changes.
Chase Credit Card Application Rules
Chase infamously put into place its 5/24 rule. It states that anyone who has 5 or more new credit cards in the last 24 months from ANY bank will be denied for their credit cards. The exception is that Chase won’t count business cards from most other banks. For Chase business cards, you need to be below 5/24, but once approved, the new card won’t add to your overall 5/24 count.
To be clear, this rule is for everyone, no matter if you have a perfect credit score and have never had a late payment. If you’re over 5/24, you’ll be denied. It’s also why if you’re a points and miles beginner, you need to start with Chase credit cards first.
Data shows it’s possible to apply for 2 Chase credit cards in 30 days. These can be personal credit cards or a combination of business and personal. However, don’t apply for more than 1 business card in a 30-day period.
My personal approach with Chase applications has been to go slowly. They have too many great travel rewards credit cards to risk getting shut down. I’ve never applied for 2 Chase credit cards in 30 days. I’m more comfortable with 2 Chase credit cards in 90 days.
Your goal should be to stay well within the boundaries of their rules and keep all unwanted eyes off a closer review of your accounts.
Chase doesn’t have a limit to the number of credit cards you can have. Instead, they calculate how much credit they’re willing to extend to you. For this reason, it’s wise to keep the credit limits low on your cards. You can easily request for them to be lowered. It’s also possible to ask for some credit to be shifted from an existing card to a new application to help get approved.
Welcome Bonus Eligibility
For most Chase credit cards, you can earn the bonus again as long as it’s been more than 24 months since earning your previous bonus for that card. The old card must also be already closed.
There are a few exceptions to note.
For the Sapphire family of cards, Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve, you aren’t eligible for another Sapphire welcome bonus until 48+ months have passed since earning the last bonus.
You can also only earn 1 Southwest personal credit card welcome bonus every 24 months. However, you can earn a welcome bonus for a Southwest personal and a Southwest business card in less than 24 months.
Lastly, both Chase and American Express offer co-branded Marriott cards. There are limitations the banks have mutually put in place to curb who can apply for these cards and in what time frame.
In 2020, Chase tightened its approval process for business credit card applications. If you’re a sole proprietor with low business revenue, lower all the credit limits on your Chase credit cards and consider opening a Chase business banking account BEFORE applying.
American Express Credit Card Application Rules
The most important thing to know about applying for American Express credit cards is that you can only get a welcome bonus once per lifetime. So, you always want to apply for a card when it’s offering its highest offer. A Delta Platinum card is much sweeter with a 70k-Skymile offer versus a 45k offer.
Of course, this comes with a couple of exceptions.
By lifetime, data suggests American Express means 7+ years. As always, though, your mileage may vary.
Also, American Express periodically offers applications with “no lifetime language.” This means they’re exempting the once per lifetime rule for that particular offer.
American Express offers both charge and credit cards. The difference is credit cards have a set credit limit and the balance can be paid off monthly. (Avoid interest! Pay in full.)
Charge cards, on the other hand, don’t have a set credit limit. However, the balance must be paid in full at the end of the billing cycle.
With that, American Express allows for 2 new credit cards in a 90 day period. You’d need to be past 90 days before attempting a 3rd new card. Charge cards are separate from this limit.
In the past, it’s been possible to have 5, even 6, American Express credit cards at one given time. This didn’t include charge cards.
In May of 2020, data confirmed the new American Express credit card limit is 4. As always, your mileage may vary, but it’s certainly something to factor into which cards are best suited to your travel goals.
Again, this new limit doesn’t include charge cards like the Platinum Card or the American Express Green or Gold.
And, if American Express wants to shift some of the credit they already have extended to you for a new account, they sometimes do this automatically. This happened to me when I got approved for a Hilton card. I received a letter in the mail stating that some credit had been shifted.
Welcome Bonus Eligibility
In addition to the once per lifetime rule, you have to watch out for the American Express application popup.
This popup message warns you if you’re not eligible for the welcome bonus. It could be because you earned the bonus before. But it could also show up as a result of too many accounts opening and closing or not enough spending on your existing American Express accounts.
The one positive here is that you don’t have to continue and no hard pull will appear on your credit report.
Although American Express might be easier when it comes to approvals, be sure to meet the minimum spending without any tricks and follow the rules when it comes to earning any bonus offers. Their RAT team is notorious for clawing back points they deemed to have been earned inappropriately.
Citibank Credit Card Application Rules
The trickiest part of Citi’s application rules is around their 24-month card family rule. Credit cards like the Citi Prestige, Citi Premier, and Citi Rewards+ earn ThankYou points and belong to the same card family.
Unlike other banks with a 24-month rule, Citi’s clock resets when you open or close a card in that family. So, for example, if you were approved for a Citi Premier card today the 24-month clock begins. However, if you close that card a year later, the 24-month clock resets.
The American Airlines family of cards is different, though. You can only earn a bonus for a particular AA card every 48 months. Luckily, each card bonus is considered separately (not as a family, like with ThankYou point cards) and the clock doesn’t reset when you close a Citi AA card.
Aside from their card family rules above, Citi will allow you to apply for 1 personal card in 8 days and 2 personal cards every 65 days.
If you apply for a Citi card and get denied, this 8/65 timing still applies. You’d still need to wait. So for example, if application #1 is approved on day 1 but application #2 is denied on day 9, you’d need to wait until at least day 66 to apply for another Citi card.
Business cards are limited to 1 every 95 days. Some reports have shown it’s possible to apply for a personal and business card within the same 8-day timeframe.
There’s additional information about Citi looking at how many overall new cards you have in the last 6 months and denying you if there are more than 6 new credit cards. However, this seems to be a situation where your mileage may vary.
Citibank doesn’t limit the number of cards you can have. Similar to Chase, they consider the amount of credit they want to extend to you given your credit history and financial picture.
They will move a piece of an existing credit line to approve you for another card.
Welcome Bonus Eligibility
Citi allows you to earn a card bonus more than once. It must follow the 24-month card family rule for ThankYou point cards and the 48-month restriction of the particular American Airlines card you want.
It’s important to stay organized and keep track of your timing. If you apply too soon, you could be approved but not eligible for the bonus.
Citi’s approval process can seem a bit arbitrary at times. As with all the rules regarding how many days to wait in between applications, I wait beyond the required number of days. I prefer to pace my applications strategically and stay well within the boundaries.
Capital One Credit Card Application Rules
Capital One has strict application rules that must be followed or else your applications will be denied. They also pull your credit from all 3 credit bureaus to determine whether or not they’ll approve your application.
This is important to understand especially if you’re trying to spread out the hard pulls that appear on your credit reports. Typically, most other banks pull your report from 1 or 2 credit bureaus.
Capital One allows just 1 card every 6 months, regardless of whether it’s a personal or business card. And keep in mind denied applications count. So, if you applied for a card and were denied, you’d still need to wait 6 months before applying for another (or the same) Capital One card.
If you mistakenly apply too soon, you’ll be automatically denied.
You can only have 2 personal Capital One cards at a time. You’d need to close a card before applying for a 3rd card. This restriction doesn’t apply to business cards.
Welcome Bonus Eligibility
You can earn the bonus on a card again. The application timing rules apply and must be followed.
All travel rewards credit cards require very good to excellent credit. But given that denials count toward your 1 application every 6 months, be sure to apply for the card best suited to you and your financial profile. If you’re trying for a second credit card with Capital One, be sure to spend money on your first card and have some space between applications from other banks before trying.
Barclays Credit Card Application Rules
There are no official statements about a 6/24 rule with Barclays. But, reports show that if you have 6 new credit cards in the last 24 months, you could be denied. I say could because this rule seems to be applied inconsistently depending on who’s applying.
Like Capital One, Barclays allows you to get 1 new card every 6 months. This rule is set and strict. Keep in mind your previous applications. They may or may not consider them when looking at your application.
Barclays doesn’t have a firm limit to the number of cards you can have with them. However, this doesn’t mean it’s easy to open a lot of cards, either. Barclays will look at your credit picture to determine how much they feel comfortable extending to you.
Anecdotally, though, 2 Barclays cards appear to be what most people can get before they run into challenges.
Welcome Bonus Eligibility
You can earn a bonus on a card again. However, that card must have been closed for at least 6 months.
Barclays will look at the spending you’ve put on your current card(s) with them and use it to determine approval for future card applications or not. No-fee cards with no spending are likely to be closed by the bank after a period of time.
Bank of America Credit Card Application Rules
Bank of America used to be an easier bank to get credit card approvals. Over the years, they’ve put rules into place to restrict how often you can apply for new cards and earn welcome bonuses.
Bank of America has several rules to know and understand
First, there’s a 2/3/4 rule. This means you can get 2 cards in 2 months, 3 cards in 12 months, and 4 cards in 24 months. This timing doesn’t apply to business credit cards.
Having an existing relationship with Bank of America like a bank account also helps. These existing customers can get approved for cards even when they’ve applied for credit cards with other issuers.
With no banking relationship, Bank of America won’t approve your application if you’ve gotten more than 3 new cards in the last 12 months from other banks.
However, those with a relationship to the bank can be approved, even with up to 7 new cards from other banks in 12 months.
Bank of America has cracked down on what it calls an “excessive” number of cards. Years ago, these rules didn’t exist and it was easier to get many Bank of America credit cards and their welcome bonuses.
Today, there is a 4 card limit. Having more accounts than this could get some of them shut down and additional applications denied.
Welcome Bonus Eligibility
On top of the timing rules above, Bank of America also has a 24 month rule for bonus eligibility. You can’t get the bonus on a card again if you have or had the card in the last 24 months.
When applying for Bank of America business cards, like the co-branded Alaska Airlines credit card, be prepared to show extensive documentation about your business. Business cards are more easily approved with an existing business relationship to the bank.
You always want to follow each bank’s rules about applying for credit cards, whether you’re applying for travel rewards, airline, hotel, or business credit card. Being strategic and smart, as well as pacing yourself equals the best path for success.
What’s your question about applying for credit cards?
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