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Chase offers some of the most valuable sign-up bonus offers and bonus categories of the three major rewards card issuers. Unfortunately, these rewards come with some of the strictest sign-up and bonus limitations. Not anyone can open a Chase credit card, and, as a rewards collector, you’ll want to know what can stop you from opening a card.
The bank implements restrictions for both applications and sign-up bonuses, so it’s imperative to know the little details of when you should and shouldn’t apply for a Chase card.
The Chase 5/24 Rule
First and foremost, familiarize yourself with the Chase 5/24 rule. This is akin to the 10 Commandments of the credit-card rewards world, except it’s just one rule and hopefully easier to remember.
First and foremost, familiarize yourself with the Chase 5/24 rule. This is akin to the Ten Commandments of the credit card rewards world, except it’s just one rule and hopefully easier to remember.
You won’t find this rule written on any Chase website, but it’s common knowledge in the points-and-miles community.
If you’ve opened five or more consumer credit cards with any bank in the past 24 months, Chase won’t approve you for most of its own cards. You must wait for those old card approvals to drop off your credit report before you can apply for a Chase credit card.
For this reason, it’s important that you start your rewards journey with Chase cards. Your five credit card slots are valuable, and it’s imperative you don’t fill them with bush-league credit cards, such as cashback cards or store cards.
Check out our in depth guide to the Chase 5/24 rule.
Most Business Cards Don’t Add to the 5/24 Count
The most notable exception to the 5/24 rule is that some business cards don’t appear on your personal credit report and, as a result, don’t impact your 5/24 status.
This is true for the following banks:
- American Express
- Bank of America
- Citi business cards (unless you aren’t in good standing or have late payments).
Capital One and Discover do report business cards to credit bureaus, so be careful of applying for the Capital One Spark Miles for Business card before you max out all your 5/24 card slots.
Card Family Bonus Restrictions
Similar to Citi’s application rules, Chase implemented some restrictions when it comes to select “families” of credit cards. A family of credit cards earns the same type of rewards and can include bank points, airline miles or hotel points.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card all earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card earn Marriott Bonvoy points.
Once you get familiar with these card families, you’ll have an easier time understanding some more complicated rules.
The rules vary from family to family, so be sure you understand the restrictions on each family before applying.
For the Sapphire card, you can only have one version open at a time, and you can only earn the bonus on one every 48 months.
With Southwest card, you can only earn the bonus on a personal card every 24 months (but note, this doesn’t apply to the business cards which is important to know if you’re trying to earn the Southwest Companion Pass).
The Marriott cards aren’t as intuitive or easy to understand, we’d recommended reading more about all Marriott credit card restrictions before applying.
Sign-Up Bonus Restrictions
Most Chase cards (both bank and co-branded cards) restrict the ability to qualify for welcome bonus offers to once per 24 months. In other words, you can’t receive a welcome bonus, cancel the card shortly after, open the same card again and receive the bonus again. You must wait at least 24 months since you received your last bonus on a particular card to earn the offer again.
This rule is designed to prevent customers from applying for the same card many times over for the sole purpose of receiving points. Banks aren’t in the business of giving away rewards—they’re in the business of making money off swipe fees and annual fees. They want you to keep using their cards.
Chase Sapphire Card Restrictions
The Chase Sapphire Preferred and its premium counterpart, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, are in its own group of cards and have their own set of approval restrictions.
First of all, one person can’t hold both cards at the same time. The second rule is that you can’t receive a welcome bonus on either Sapphire card unless it’s been 48 months since you received the last bonus.
For example, say you open the Sapphire Reserve card, use it for a year, and decide that you don’t quite get $550 worth of benefits. You close the card after one year and apply for the Sapphire Preferred with its more manageable annual fee of $95. In this scenario, you won’t receive the bonus, and it will fill one of the 5/24 slots. Don’t do this.
The right move would be to call Chase and request a product change from your Sapphire Reserve card to another card, such as the Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Freedom Flex℠
or the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
Downgrading a card will keep your credit line active and won’t result in a credit pull. Keep in mind that you will not receive the sign-up bonus if you product-change a card, but at least you won’t lose your existing credit line or use another 5/24 slot.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Restrictions
Co-branded Southwest cards are another example of where different approval rules apply.
Chase issues three personal and two business Southwest credit cards. You’re not eligible to open a second or a third personal Southwest card if you already hold one of them. Furthermore, it’s not possible to earn a sign-up bonus unless it’s been at least 24 months since you received the bonus on any personal Southwest card.
However, these rules exclude small business credit cards. It IS possible to hold one personal and one business Southwest card at the same time and earn a bonus on both without having to wait for 24 months. Many people use this strategy to earn the coveted Southwest Companion Pass.
Marriott Bonvoy Card Restrictions
Co-branded Marriott credit cards have yet another set of approval rules because two banks issue these cards: American Express and Chase.
Not only do you have to follow Chase rules before opening either the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, you also have to see how holding a co-branded Amex Marriott card affects you.
For example, you’re not eligible for a welcome bonus on either Marriott Bonvoy credit card from Chase if you received a welcome offer on the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card in the last 24 months. Not only that, but you can’t receive a bonus on either Chase-issued Marriott card if you currently hold the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card or closed it in the last 30 days.
Additionally, welcome offers on both Marriott cards from Chase are also limited to once per 24 months, meaning you can’t get a bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card if you received a bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card in the last 24 months, so you have to watch out for that as well.
How Often Can You Apply for a Chase Card?
Applying for too many cards in a short period of time could raise some red flags for banks. Why are you seeking so much credit all of a sudden? Will you be able to pay it back? It’s a great way to attract unwanted attention to your accounts, which you want to avoid.
To ensure your approval for Chase credit cards, you don’t want to apply for more than two personal cards or one business card within a 30-day window. As long as you’re not machine-gunning applications, you should—keyword: should— be fine.
Come Up with a Strategy
It’s true that Chase makes it hard for all of us to get our hands on the most lucrative cards. Again, the banks aren’t looking to give away points for free and impose these drastic rules to limit card applications done solely for the purpose of earning points.
Because you can’t apply for all the Chase cards your heart desires, you might want to come up with a personalized strategy. Follow our Best Credit Cards list to determine the order in which to apply for cards. The list is ranked and updated every month to provide the best offers available at the time.
Additionally, look at your needs and make slight deviations based on that. Flexible rewards will be your best bet, but if you need specific hotel points for a specific stay, it could affect your personal application order.
With so many restrictions in place, it’s not easy to decide which Chase cards to put in your wallet before you have to move on to other banks. However, once you set travel goals and see a clear picture of what rewards you need to get you there, the choice will be made for you.
Follow the recommended card list but also make your own informed decisions based on your travel needs. Once you play by the rules, you won’t have much trouble getting approved.
New to the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best card to start with.
With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!
Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.