For many years, Bank of America didn’t have any set rules restricting credit card applications and sign-up bonuses. More often than not, you would be approved, as long as you had a reasonable application.

However, the bank has implemented some more defined restrictions beyond any common reasons for denials—poor credit score, too much new credit, etc.

Does this mean that you won’t be able to get approved for a new card from Bank of America? Absolutely not! It just means that you need to be aware of a few rules so you don’t waste your time applying when you have a low chance of approval.

Like with most banks, not all of these rules are written down and easy to find in the terms and conditions section. Some of them are based on countless data points. Once people report the same kind of answers enough times, it becomes sort of an unwritten rule.

Let’s take a look at the rules that you need to know, both written and unwritten, before applying for a new credit card from Bank of America.

Wallet with credit cards as decorative to help illustrate Bank of America application rules

The 2/3/4 Rule

Taking cues from other banks, Bank of America has a few limitations on the number of personal credit card applications you can submit based on certain time frames. Note that this information is not available on the bank’s website but rather based on data points collected from its customers.

You’re eligible to open:

  • Two new cards within two months
  • Three new cards within 12 months
  • Four new cards within 24 months

At first glance, this looks like a restrictive rule, but it’s not as bad as it seems because it applies only to credit cards issued by Bank of America. Cards from other issuers aren’t considered when determining your eligibility for a new card.

That’s way better than Chase’s 5/24 rule, which takes into account all new personal credit cards from any bank as well as business cards from Capital One and Discover. Note that it doesn’t guarantee approval. Even if your total number of Bank of America card applications falls below the threshold, you still might be denied.

There have been some reports of a manual override of these rules by Bank of America representatives, so if you mistakenly apply for a card that doesn’t qualify under these time limits, it may be worth asking for an exception. However, a representative might not acknowledge that this rule exists.


Many Rules Are Unwritten

Many of these rules are unwritten, but gathered through data of readers like you over time. Don't expect a bank representative to be familiar with these rules.

7/12 and 3/12 Card Maximum

The 7/12 and 3/12 card maximum is not a hard and fast rule, but it’s suggested to stay under that number of credit cards, based on reports from Bank of America cardholders and applicants. This rule applies to credit cards from any issuer, not just Bank of America.

Consumers with checking accounts at Bank of America have been limited to opening no more than seven cards in a 12-month period. Non-checking account holders have been limited to opening three cards in a 12-month period. This means that you may be denied if you apply for an eighth or a fourth credit card, depending on your situation.

If all your accounts are in good standing, there may be some flexibility, but consider the rule carefully. For example, business cards may not count as one of your recently opened accounts. But don’t count on approval if you already have more than three or seven personal Bank of America credit cards when you apply for another one.

To take this a bit further, Bank of America states in its card terms that the issuer withholds the right to transfer a credit line from an existing account with a lower APR to your newly approved account with a higher APR. This means an old credit card could be canceled or simply downgraded after getting approved for a new card.

24-Month Rule for Welcome Bonuses

Similar to Citi’s 24-month rule, Bank of America states in some card terms that you may not be eligible for a card if you hold or have held the same card within a 24-month period.

Keep in mind the 24-month rule means that you will likely not be eligible for any bonuses or introductory offers for the same card more than once per 24 months. However, you can receive a bonus for the same card twice (if you follow the rules).

Make sure you research the best offers available to you before biting the bullet and submitting a formal application. That way, you get the best bang for your buck right away without having to wait two years for a better offer.

Bottom Line

While Bank of America has some rules set up for new and existing cardholders, they’re pretty reasonable and shouldn’t cause you a headache.

Overall, Bank of America’s approval rules are fairly simple to follow. Mostly don’t try to get too many Bank of America credit cards too quickly. As long as you follow the aforementioned