Updated February 2021
One or more of these credit card offers may no longer be available. See our Hot Deals page for the latest offers.
I’ve been meaning to put a post on new card approval restrictions for some time, and use it as a point of reference going forward. It’s no secret that during the last few years there have been many negative changes implemented by banks. The goal is very simple: to stop people from applying for cards with the sole purpose of collecting sign-up bonuses.
So, I wanted to compile what we know at this point so you don’t waste your credit inquiries needlessly. Keep in mind, things in this hobby can change overnight, so some of the info may no longer apply by the time the post goes live.
Without further ado:
The bank that started it all. They have what is called a 5/24 rule. What it means is if you got 5 or more new cards from any bank (not just Chase) in the last 24 months, you will be automatically denied. Usually, business cards don’t go on your personal credit report, but that’s not always the case. You can sometimes bypass the 5/24 rule if you are pre-approved in branch.
Here is an interesting comment from my reader Brad: “I was just able to get around 5/24 for the 80k Chase Ink Business Preferred offer when I used a $500 bonus coupon ($30 on ebay) to open a new biz checking. The business banker who did it for me pushed a paper app through a different group. They looked at how much I used my current Chase cards and I spread minor spend around on them to keep them active.” YMMV
It appears that as of now (November 2018), all Chase cards are subject to 5/24 restriction.
Chase will only approve you for at most two personal cards within 30 days and one business card.
Keep in mind that Chase-issued cards have a rule that states that you only qualify for the sign-up bonus if you haven’t received it in the last 24 months. Having a card still open won’t hurt your chances of getting the bonus, but you will have to cancel it before applying again.
You can only own one Southwest personal card at a time. You cannot get the bonus on a new Southwest card if you have received a bonus on any Southwest personal card in the past 24 months.
Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve have a separate rule in place. You won’t be eligible for the sign-up bonus if you’ve received it on either product within 48 months. You can not hold those cards simultaneously.
Amex cards have a one bonus/per lifetime rule.
As long as your credit score is high, you’ll have a good shot at approval. Edited to add: American Express now has a pop-up box warning if you are not qualified to receive a bonus due to the once per lifetime rule or due to number of recent inquiries/open cards. See this post.
Amex will only approve you for at most two new cards within a 90 day period.
In the past, you could only have 4 American Express credit cards at one time, not including charge cards. However, latest reports indicate that the rule is not written in stone, as some have been able to get their 5th Amex credit card. YMMV
Citi will only approve you for one new card every 8 days, or two new cards every rolling 65 days.
Citi doesn’t have a rule similar to Chase 5/24. You will qualify to receive the bonus as long as you haven’t opened or closed a card within the same “family” in the last 24 months. Update: As of January 2019, cards in the “ThankYou” family also have language that says you won’t get the bonus if you’ve earned the bonus within the past 24 months in addition to the language about having opened or closed within the last 24 months. What the term means: Citi issues different versions of AAdvantage and Thank You-earning products, and they belong to two separate “families.” Keep in mind, business versions don’t count.
For example, Citi Thank You Premier and Citi Prestige belong to the same “family.” If you got Citi Prestige in September of 2016 and closed it in September of 2017, you will not be eligible for sign-up bonus on Citi Thank You Premier till October of 2019. Reportedly, converting the card instead of canceling may circumvent this rule, but the data is mixed at this point.
The Citi/AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard has a 48 month rule. If you’ve received the bonus within the past 48 months, you are not eligible.
All the recent data suggests that Barclay has now implemented a 6/24 rule, but ONLY for their Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. It works the same way as Chase 5/24 rule. As of now, none of the other cards are affected, but that could change at some point in the future.
Reportedly, you can receive the sign-up bonus multiple times after you’ve closed the card for 6 months, but there are no guarantees. Barclay is usually pretty tough on approvals, especially for those who like to switch cards on a regular basis.
You can follow comments and see data points in this DoC post.
Bank of America
Update October 2019: BoA has a 7/12 rule and a 3/12 rule. If you don’t have a bank account with BoA, you won’t be approved for a card if you’ve opened 3 or more cards from anywhere in the past 12 months. If you do have an account with BoA, you won’t be approved if you’ve opened 7 or more. See this post on DoC.
BoA has a 2/3/4 rule. They’ll only approve you for two cards per rolling 2 months, three cards per rolling 12 months, and four cards per rolling 24 months. Keep in mind, only BoA cards count, not those with other issuers. That’s why it’s the least restrictive rule so far. Reportedly, you can receive the sign-up bonus multiple times without any additional restrictions.
You cannot get a BoA card if you’ve had it within the past 24 months.
You can follow comments and see data points in this DoC post.
Capital One only allows you to have two of its personal cards at a time. You can only be approved for one card every six months. Be aware, Capital One pulls all three credit agencies and they are VERY sensitive to new inquiries. Neither my husband or I can get a card with that bank. And we’ve tried.
There are other banks, of course, but the ones I’ve listed usually have the most lucrative sign-up offers. Miles and points game is getting tougher, no question about it. That said, opportunities are still there as long as you keep your expectations reasonable and understand these new card approval restrictions.
The new trend is getting targeted offers from banks that don’t contain any restrictive language. When the economy tanks (and it will), I suspect a lot of these rules will be reversed. Until then, we’ll adapt and make the most of what we have.
Click here to view various credit cards and available sign-up bonuses
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.
Thanks for putting this together – very helpful. Also, with Chase there are now restrictions which prevent you from getting more than one Sapphire card within a 24-month period since they are in the same family. I have been timing my recent SW Rapid Rewards Plus card for the minimum spend to be met in January, 2018, then hoping to get the SW Rapid Rewards Premier early next year when I fall to 4/24 – then qualify for the Companion Pass with the bonus and a little more spend. However, I now have concerns about these 2 cards being in the same family and not receiving the bonus for both (although I see nothing on the application pages). I read one travel blog comment where the bonus was denied for second card since they were in the same family; others (before Oct. 2017) have been successful in getting both. The last thing I want is to be approved for the card, meet the spend and not get the bonus – I don’t need another credit card! I have thought maybe about sending a secure message to Chase asking if the credit card is approved and min. spend met if I would receive the bonus – but then again, maybe I should not draw their attention to it. What do you think?
@Steve Thanks for the reminder on CSP and CSR having a separate “family” rule. Believe it or not, I forgot all about it. At times, it’s hard to keep everything straight in this hobby!
On SW cards, you could try messaging Chase, but they will probably claim it’s considered the same product. Very often the reps don’t really know all the technicalities themselves. If you do get approved, I think you will have an excellent chance at getting the bonus. I think it’s worth a shot. Lately, Chase started denying those who they don’t deem to be eligible for bonus. So, I think that’s what will happen if you don’t qualify. If you happen to have a business of some sort, you could apply for business version, which would be a safer bet.