Credit Card Issuer Rules To Consider Before Applying For Your Next Credit Card

Isn’t applying for credit cards exciting? What’s even better is when you can get a nice bonus to go along with your new card as well! Before applying, you may want to look over the rules that each credit card issuer has to make sure your application gets approved without any hiccups. Here, we’ve broken it down for you:

American Express

  • 5 credit card limit (charge cards don’t count)
  • 2 credit cards within 90 days (charge cards do not count)
  • Generally only 1 hard inquiry for first application unless credit limit is very low
  • Popup if not eligible for a sign up bonus (can still get approved for card) Only way around is to put more spend on your existing Amex cards, if you cancel the application, no credit check is performed
  • Once in a lifetime rule on signup bonuses 
  • Financial Review: Amex asking for documentation on stated income. If you are telling truth and submit documents, you have nothing to worry about. If you lied and can’t prove it, then credit limits will either be decreased or cards completely closed.

You can only hold a total of 5 credit cards, however, charge cards like the Platinum, Gold, and Green cards do not count. If you want to go over that, you’ll have to product change one of your existing cards. 

You can only apply for 2 different credit cards within a 90 day time frame. It’s possible to get more than that if you apply for charge cards, as they do not count towards the total.

American Express is pretty generous with the way it applies hard inquiries. You’ll receive one the first time you apply for one of their cards. Unless you barley got approved (think $500 limits), you wont have to worry about another hard inquiry; only soft pulls for any other card!

Once in a lifetime language refers to the sign up bonuses on cards. American Express will approve you if you apply for a card again, however you can only get the sign up bonus one time. 

Related to the once in a lifetime rule, American Express tried to make it easy for you to know if you’re eligible for a sign up bonus or not. This is accomplished by a popup during the application if you are not eligible for the sign up bonus. If you don’t receive a popup, you are eligible. You can still get approved for the card without the sign up bonus. Additionally, if you back out of the application at that point, your credit will not be run. 

Based on a few factors, American Express may run a financial review on your. In these reviews, American Express is asking for documentation of your stated income (either because they want to double check you’re being honest, or if your spend is way too high/unusual). If you are being truthful, send in the documentation they are asking for, and you’ll be good to go. If you either lied or never sent in the documents, then there will be some adverse action on your account. Typically they will lower your credit limits and put a limit on your charge cards. In the worst case they will close out your account. 

Bank of America

  • 2/3/4 rule, no more than 2 cards in 2 months, 3 cards in 12 months, 4 cards in 24 months (BoA business cards don’t count)
  • Closure of excessive cards (4?)
  • Students limited to 2 BoA cards max
  • 24 month rule on sign up bonuses
  • Relationship bank

When it comes to the rate at which you can get approved for Bank of America cards, it works in a 2/3/4 fashion. You cannot get more than 2 BoA cards within 2 months, 3 cards within 12 months, and 4 cards within a 24 month period. The one exception to this rule are any BoA business credit cards

Students are limited to up to 2 student credit cards from Bank of America. They offer 3 total, so pick wisely! 

Some cards in Bank of America’s portfolio have a 24 month sign up bonus rule attached to them. There are two versions of it, one is that you will not be able to get approved for the card if you’’be had the card within the last 24 months. The other involves you having to hold the card for at least 24 months before getting the bonus again. 

Bank of America is a very relationship orientated bank. They will not approve you for certain cards (Alaska for instance) unless you have a prior relationship. Relationship can be from opening another credit card or a checking account. 

Finally, there is a rule that if you have too many cards with Bank of America, you could be risking them closing cards. While not a hard rule, we’ve heard of more than 4 being the number. 

Barclays

  • Denials for too many new inquiries and accounts 6-7/24, not a hard rule
  • Inquiry sensitive 
  • Reconsideration is powerful

The biggest part about Barclays is that they are a pretty conservative bank. They will not approve you for a credit card if you have too many inquiries or new accounts. While not a hard rule, the number we are seeing is 7 credit cards  within a 24 month period is too many for them.

However, something that’s actually unique to Barclays is that their reconsideration line is pretty powerful. The representative on the phone is actually able to make decisions and reverse things. Most other reconsideration reps wont be able to help or reverse a decision. 

Capital One

  • 1 card within 6 months. Any sooner will be auto rejected without a hard pull
  • Pulls all 3 credit bureaus 
  • Business cards show up on your credit report

With Capital One, you can only apply for one card within a 6 month period. If you do apply before that 6 months is up, you will be auto denied. Luckily, there they will not run your credit at that point

It’s good that they don’t run your credit in the rule above. Because Capital One is the only major issuer that consistently pulls from all 3 bureaus to when applying for anything credit related.

Capital One business cards will show up on your personal credit report, 

Chase

  • 5/24 rule
  • 2 card limit within 30 days (not hard rule)
  • Only 1 business card within 30 days
  • Denials for not being eligible for sign up bonus (24 month typical)
  • 1 Sapphire Rule (48 month language)
  • If you apply for for 2 cards within same day, second card will eventually be denied/closed
  • Closure for high number of inquiries or accounts (bust out?) 

In order to be approved for a Chase card, the first hurdle you have to go through is the 5/24 rule. This states that if you’ve been approved for 5 or more accounts within the last 24 months, you will be automatically denied for any Chase cards. If you try the application anyway, you will have a hard inquiry

At a maximum, you could get approved for 2 Chase cards within 30 days. 

You can only get 1 business card within a 30 day period

If you are not eligible for the sign up bonus on a card, you will not be approved for the card itself. Typically, there is a 24 month rule imposed on the sign up bonuses

You can only hold one of the Sapphire cards at a time. This includes the Sapphire Reserve, the Sapphire Preferred, and the no annual fee Sapphire card. 

In the past, you could apply for 2 different credit cards on the same day, and the hard inquiry would be combined for both. We are now seeing that if you do this, the second card will eventually be declined. 

Chase is one of the issuers out there that takes a look at your credit report a few months after getting one of their cards. If you were initially approved for one of their cards, but Chase sees a slew of new accounts or inquiries after the fact, they may close out your accounts. This is more so due to bust-out fraud. 

Citi

  • 1/24, one sign up bonus per brand per 24 months (new rules since?)
  • 1/8, 1 personal card within 8 days
  • 2/65, 2 Citi cards within 65 days
  • 1/95, 1 Citi Business card within 95 days
  • 6/6 Citi may deny for 6 inquiries within 6 months
  • Sharing/receiving points capped at 100k within a calendar year (shared points also expire within 90 days, and those points cannot be shared again)
  • Taxable points (bank account bonuses) cannot be shared

When you take a look at Citi’s credit card offerings, they have what they consider “families” of credit cards. These families are broken down into categories like their ThankYou Point earning cards, the American Airline Cards, and so on and so forth. The rule to keep in mind here is that you can only earn 1 sign up bonus per family within a 24 month period. 

Once you get approved for a personal card, you’ll have to wait 8 days to apply for another one

You can only apply for 2 different Citi cards within a 65 day span. 

You can only get a business card every 95 days

While not a hard rule, Citi may deny your credit card application if you have more than 6 inquiries within a 6 month span.

When it comes to either sending or receiving ThankYou Points, there is a cap of 100k per calendar year. The other thing to keep in mind is that shared points expire within 90 days, and cannot be shared again

Points that are given to you in the form of checking account bonuses or other taxable points cannot be shared

Discover

  • 2 cards max, 
  • 1/12, can only get a card every 12 months
  • Discover Business cards will show up on your credit report

Discover only allows you to apply for 1 card within a 12 month span

There is a limit of 2 cards that they will let you hold

The business cards from Discover will show up on your credit report

US Bank

  • Denial for freezing Sage Stream or ARS
  • Complete shutdown because too many inquiries (not hard rule)

Previously, you could freeze the minor credit bureaus, however if you freeze either when you apply, you will be denied

There is no hard rule here, however, if you have too many recent inquiries, US Bank will shut you down

Wells Fargo

  • 1 card every 15 months
  • Relationship bank
  • 12.5k cap on 5x Credit card categories 

You Can only get 1 Wells Fargo card every 15 months

Wells Fargo is a relationship oriented bank. While not absolutely required, sometimes they’ll deny your credit card applications unless you open up a checking account with them

A while back people really abused the 5x category on their credit card. Even if it were capped at 6 months, people found a way to really take advantage of that. Now, there is a $12,500 cap on the 5x categories. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, this is just a quick look into the different rules you’ll have to abide by if you want to get a credit card from a certain issuer. Some are hard rules like Chase’s 5/24 or American Express’ once in a lifetime, and others are merely recommendations that you could get around if you’re lucky. Either way, good luck on your next credit card application!

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