It’s exciting deciding what credit card to apply for next. It can be so exciting that you find yourself applying for a handful of cards in one day. To avoid denials and maximize your points, you’ll need to consider how many credit card applications a bank will allow within a certain timeframe and how often you can receive the sign-up bonus. Keep these bank-specific credit card application rules in mind when deciding what to apply for next.

American Express

American Express tends to be more lenient on approvals than other banks. You can usually apply for two credit cards within a three month period. This rule does not apply to charge cards like the American Express Platinum card. You can have four credit cards and four charge cards open at a time.

Looks like I have room for two more American Express credit cards in my wallet

It is possible to apply for two cards from Amex in a day. People usually will apply for one credit and one charge card since it is possible to receive instant approval on both, though more commonly one application will remain pending. It is possible that by applying for two cards in one day, you will only see one hard pull on your credit report. Also, for existing Amex account holders, if you apply for a credit card and are denied, it is likely that they will not do a hard pull unless you are approved. Instead, they use credit information they have on file from a previous soft pull (banks do these periodically to make sure everything still looks good).

American Express cards may be easier to get, but unfortunately sign-up bonuses are limited to once per lifetime. You can only get the bonus if you’ve never had the card previously.

Application frequency: 2 credit cards every 90 days, rule does not apply to charge cards

Maximum number of cards: 4 credit cards and 4 charge cards

Applications at one time: 2 applications

Sign-up bonus limit: Once per lifetime

Chase

The infamous 5/24 rule has severely limited approvals for a bulk of Chase’s credit cards like Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred. This means that you will not be approved if you applied for five or more credit cards from ANY bank in the past two years. Some Chase cards like Hyatt and IHG are luckily not under this restriction so save these applications for later.

Definitely over 5/24 at this point. No more Chase cards for a while.

Only apply for two Chase credit cards every 30 days. To minimize denials, you should only apply for three cards every six months and a total of four cards per year. Chase also doesn’t like to see too many new accounts (~7-8 cards) in the past year which further supports why you should apply for Chase cards first. If you are able to get approved for two cards in one day, you may only see one hard inquiry on your report.

Chase doesn’t have a cap on how many cards you can open but they do have a limit on how much credit they are willing to extend. This number may be about 50-60% of your total annual income. If you receive a pending application for this reason, you can try calling to transfer part of a credit line from another card.

You can receive a Chase sign-up bonus 24 months after last receiving the bonus. This 24 month clock starts after receiving the bonus, not after cancelling the card. However, you will need to cancel the card at some point before reapplying.

Application frequency: 2 credit cards every 30 days

Maximum number of cards: No maximum, limit based on amount of credit extended to you

Applications at one time: 2 applications

Sign-up bonus limit: Every 24 months

Citi
You can get the bonus from ONE of these cards every two years. Choose wisely!

Citi is kind of strict. You should only apply for one Citi credit card every 8 days and no more than two cards (personal or business) every 65 days. Also, you should only submit one business card application every 95 days. There are rumors that you may only be able to get one card every 60 days now. And even if you are denied, this still counts since Citi tracks applications rather than opened accounts. There doesn’t seem to be a limit on the number of cards you can keep at a time. You will have issues getting additional cards once you’ve hit the maximum amount of credit Citi is willing to extend to you. You can free up credit by offering to move part of your credit line from an existing card to the new one.

Citi is inquiry sensitive and you may not be approved if your credit report has 6 inquiries over the last 6 months. Citi’s 6/6 rule is not as clear cut as Chase’s 5/24, but it is something to be mindful of.

For sign-up bonuses, you can only get a bonus from a certain family of cards once every two years. For example, there are two different Citi Hilton products available. If you got the bonus from one card, you shouldn’t apply for the other until it’s been two years since you received the first bonus.

Application frequency: 2 credit cards every 65 days (possibly 1 card every 30 days now). Only apply if you have less than 6 inquiries on your credit report over the last 6 months.

Maximum number of cards: No maximum, limit based on amount of credit extended to you

Applications at one time: 1 application every 8 days

Sign-up bonus limit: One bonus per family of products every 24 months (e.g., one American Airlines miles bonus every 24 months)

Barclays

Barclays is sensitive to the number of new cards opened in the past six months so you should only apply for one Barclaycard every six months. While it can be difficult to get approved by Barclays, their credit cards are churnable. You need to close the card prior to reapplying and should generally wait six months or more before attempting this (though some people have had success with reopening after a few weeks). Note: if attempting to churn the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, downgrading to the regular Arrival card is not an option since Barclays considers Arrival/Arrival Plus to be the same product.

Application frequency: 1 credit card every 6 months

Maximum number of cards: No maximum

Applications at one time: 1 application

Sign-up bonus limit: Churnable

Capital One
It’s possible to get the Capital One Venture card 40,000 mile sign-up bonus more than once but this will result in three hard pulls for each application!

In general, you can only be approved from one Capital One credit card (personal or business) every six months. Some people seem to get around this while others had their applications deemed a duplicate and not processed. Results may vary if you try to get approved for more than one card in this time frame. You can only have two Capital One credit cards at a time. It is possible to receive the sign-up bonus more than once. When deciding to apply for a card with Capital One, keep in mind that they pull from all three credit bureaus which is not ideal!

Application frequency: 1 credit card every 6 months

Maximum number of cards: 2 credit cards

Applications at one time: 1 application

Sign-up bonus limit: Churnable

Bank of America

It can be hard to get approved for Bank of America credit cards if you have no prior relationship with the bank. You may get approved but have a small credit line which generally isn’t an issue. It can be a problem when the sign-up bonus you will receive is based on the size of the credit line. For example, the Alaska Airlines card has a 30,000 mile sign-up bonus if you are approved for the Signature card (credit line of $5,000+) but only a 5,000 mile bonus for the Platinum Plus card (credit line <$5,000).

You can apply for more than one Bank of America credit card on the same day in hopes of receiving only one hard pull on your report. If you are applying for a business and a personal card, the hard pull cannot be combined if Bank of America pulls from a different bureau for business card applications.

While there use to be no limit to the number of cards you can hold from Bank of America, some people have had accounts closed if they had more than four credit cards. Recently, some people have had new accounts closed since Bank of America claims they were “approved in error”. YMMV when it comes to Bank of America because some people are having no problems at all getting approved for and keeping multiple cards.

Bank of America credit cards are churnable. It is possible to have multiples of the same card at the same time. If you plan to churn a Bank of America card (i.e., Alaska Airlines), do it slowly with AT LEAST 90 days in between applications.

Application frequency: N/A

Maximum number of cards: Possibly 4 maximum

Applications at one time: 2+ applications

Sign-up bonus limit: Churnable

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Last updated: April 13, 2017

 

 

2 thoughts on “Credit Card Application Rules and Restrictions: How Often and How Many”

  1. I just got the Capital One Venture card and my report said they only pulled from TransUnion, but I guess that doesn’t mean they didn’t pull from all 3, just seems unlikely at this point.

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