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The Dreaded Chase Shutdown: How it Happened to Me and How to Avoid It

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By: John Tunningley

So, let me start by saying this: It’s not as bad as it seems.

For any of you who might get that awful shutdown letter from Chase, take a deep breath and remember that it’s possible to get the decision reversed.

Chase review

Easily one of the scariest piece of mail I’ve ever received

Before we get into how you can prevent this heartburn, I want to talk about how I ended up being shut down and some of the mistakes I made along the way.

The Backstory

A little over a year ago, I decided to take the leap and really dive into the points and miles world. I had been passively earning points for a while and taking maybe one trip per year on points. Until this point, I probably applied for one card per year.

All that changed when I started to pay a little more attention to the 10xTravel Insider’s Facebook group I had found a few years earlier. I signed up for, and received the 100,000-point bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve when the card was launched (that bonus is no longer available) and the rest is history.

I was applying for a card or two every 45-90 days and played the 5/24 game perfectly. After the Chase Sapphire Reserve, I applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred a little over a month later — this is no longer possible.

I then decided to open my first business cards and, less than two weeks after getting the Sapphire Preferred, I applied for the Chase Ink Preferred and the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Business card simultaneously, and then the Starwood Preferred Guest business card a week later.

Chase Business cards that denied me

I wasn’t shut down because I had a single suspicious activity. I was shut down because in the span of a year Chase had extended me well over 6 figures in credit– I was told this repeatedly when I called to fight my case.

I was approved for both the Ink Preferred (after a recon call) and the Starwood Preferred Guest business cards and on my way to even more points. Needless to say, I started out pretty recklessly but was lucky and was still being approved.

My credit score soared and I continued to apply for additional cards.

A great offer came up for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select card a couple of months later and I jumped on it to earn 75,000 American miles. I then waited another month before applying for the Chase United Explorer Card and the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier card on the same day (while on vacation in Florida) and was instantly approved for both cards.

This brought my Chase card count up to 7 including the Chase Hyatt card I had before I decided to really start collecting points and the Chase Freedom card that I opened at 18. Clearly, this is a lot of cards from one bank but Chase has many of the top recommended cards and I wanted to take advantage of what they had to offer and maximize my 5/24.

However, I started to realize how much credit Chase had extended to me and decided to close the Hyatt card since I had already had it for over 2 years.

Credit score report with keyboard

My credit score soared and I continued to apply for additional cards.

I waited two more months and decided to go back to the well and applied for the Chase Ink Business Cash. I knew I could utilize the 5X bonus categories and was excited for the opportunity to earn more Ultimate Rewards to pad my account.

I knew I was approaching the day when I’d hit 5 cards within 24 months and be restricted by the Chase 5/24 rule. This was all within 6 months of really getting into points.

This was incredibly reckless on my part and I was turned down for a couple of business cards along the way. But I brushed that off and kept applying anyway.

I stayed steady at 7 Chase cards and took a few months off for the holidays.

Then the new year hit and the Chase Southwest cards offered 50,000-point bonuses. I knew that this was my chance to fully maximize 5/24 and hopefully get the famed Southwest Companion Pass in the process. I was instantly approved for both Southwest personal cards, the Southwest Premier Card and the Southwest Plus card — getting two personal Southwest cards is no longer possible.

In celebration of finally being over 5/24, I got a little reckless yet again and applied for a couple more cards on that very same day. I chronicled all the cards I applied for in this post a few months ago.

I did all this and was still fine.

At this point, I thought I was bulletproof. I was playing the game and, in my mind, winning it.

Then, about a month later, I found out that the former Chase IHG Rewards Club card was coming to an end. Knowing it offered an annual free night certificate (and not knowing that they were going to dramatically change that benefit), I decided to apply for the Chase IHG Rewards card.

I was instantly approved.

I’m convinced that if I would have stopped there, I would have been fine. Instead, still thinking I was bulletproof, and only seeing people being shut down for missing payments, stopped payments, etc., I decided to apply for the Chase British Airways Visa Signature card to combine the two pulls.

Chase review

My last approval came with a decrease in one of my other accounts

I was not auto-approved but got an email a week after that stating that I had been approved. For those of you keeping count, that brought me up to 11 Chase cards total — 10 of which I had applied for in the span of about a year (and this doesn’t include a couple of Chase Business cards that denied me).

I was foolish and a week later when shopping at Staples my Chase Ink Cash was declined. I tried another Chase card to no avail.

I WAS SHUT DOWN.

Of course, as someone who relied on those cards for just about every trip I’d taken in the past 2-3 years, I had a minor (MAJOR!) freak out. I tried to remain calm knowing that these have been overturned but knew for me it was a longshot.

I wasn’t shut down because I had a single suspicious activity. I was shut down because in the span of a year Chase had extended me well over 6 figures in credit– I was told this repeatedly when I called to fight my case.

I had been reckless.

Although I had seen the fruits of my labor, earning tons of points from sign up bonuses alone within a year, I was also facing the consequences. Chase was finally on to me.

As I tried to fight it and get it overturned, I explained I traveled for work frequently, that I was super responsible, always paid my balances in full and that I was applying for specific cards as I encountered those programs while traveling.

Chase review

I tried everything I could but to no avail

None of it worked.

I fought it up and down the Chase corporate ladder going as far as reaching out the Chase’s CEO through email and pleading my case. I even got in touch with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I tried to get just certain cards reinstated, then eventually just my Chase Freedom reinstated to keep my credit history. Unfortunately, my pleas fell on deaf ears.

chase review

I was grasping at straws and reached out to Chase’s CEO

I was crushed and thought my life as a points and miles enthusiast was over. Luckily for me, it’s simply changed my outlook on how I approach this hobby. Now, instead of building up an infinite stash of Ultimate Rewards points, I am looking for other opportunities.

chase review

The response from the CEO office included every card member agreement

I spend more time combing through every program instead of just one and since I don’t have the benefits that many of the Chase cards offer, I am instead almost always putting my spending towards a different minimum spend. I’ve also changed my focus to creating an effective (not quite so reckless) long-term strategy for my girlfriend and am now taking advantage of a two-player mode.

Key Takeaways

Here are the lessons I learned going through this ordeal which can, hopefully, help you from experiencing my unfortunate fate.

  • Don’t be reckless. Use the team at 10xTravel to discuss a strategy and plan that will work for you.
  • Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.  Strategy is key. Yes, things are constantly changing but your plans can change as well and the biggest key is having a plan.
  • Avoid missed payments, stopped payments, anything out of the ordinary.
  • Pay attention to the number of Chase cards you have. While I don’t think there’s a hard limit, one of the reasons given for closing my accounts was that I was “currently over limit on Chase accounts”
  • Don’t apply for a bunch of cards every 30-45 days. This flags you as a higher risk and, while you may get away with it for a while, you won’t get away with it forever.
  • Don’t stockpile your credit line. Because your score is determined in part by utilization percentage not available credit don’t be afraid to call and lower your credit limits. I never did this so I became a bigger risk to Chase since my available credit was more than double my annual salary.
  • Lastly, if you do get shut down. Don’t think your life is over. We’ve helped several people in the 10xTravel Insider’s Facebook group through the process of appealing a shutdown. Even if you end up in my situation and aren’t able to get the decision reversed, there’s life after Chase.
chase review

Unfortunately, it seems like it’ll be a little while before I’m able to get another chase card.

Bottom Line

If you create a plan for opening new Chase cards — the 10xTravel Insiders Facebook group is a great place to get some help — you should be able to avoid this nonsense. I know there are plenty of these horror stories out there but there are thousands upon thousands of people in the points and miles community.

Making smart decisions can generally prevent this kind of issue, but if you do find yourself battling Chase to keep your accounts open, reach out to us. We’re happy to help.

Editor’s 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.

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17 Comments

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
  • Reply Hilde H October 3, 2018 at 11:23 am

    what happened to all you UR points?

    • Reply BryceConway October 4, 2018 at 12:52 pm

      Had 30 days to transfer them

  • Reply Jeepie October 3, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Thanks, good example for people to consider. One observation on this statement:

    “Because your score is determined in part by utilization percentage not available credit don’t be afraid to call and lower your credit limits.”

    Actually, lowering credit limits will increase utilization percentage. It still may be a good idea if one has extremely high credit limits in relation to income. A better way might be to put more spend on business cards. Ymmv. Cheers.

  • Reply Bill Deller October 3, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    I’m confused by this statement: “Don’t stockpile your credit line. Because your score is determined in part by utilization percentage not available credit don’t be afraid to call and lower your credit limits. I never did this so I became a bigger risk to Chase since my available credit was more than double my annual salary.”

    I’ve never heard of utilization % not available credit… how is that calculated as part of a FICO or other credit score? Isn’t it the general idea to have as low of utilization % as possible? I haven’t considered keeping my limits lower…

    • Reply BryceConway October 4, 2018 at 12:53 pm

      Lower is better but there comes a point of diminishing returns (credit score wise). Having way too much can lead to a shutdown with chase.

    • Reply BryceConway October 4, 2018 at 12:57 pm

      Utilization measures total outstanding balances divided by total credit limits. What John is saying is that whether you have $100 dollars of balance with $1,000 of available credit, or $1,000 of balance with $10,000 of credit, you still have 10%. Having more available credit does not help your score, assuming the utilization % is the same.

  • Reply Nobody October 3, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    Says right there: CURRENTLY OVER LIMIT ON CHASE ACCOUNTS. Was that incorrect?

  • Reply Joe October 4, 2018 at 2:04 am

    In order to get a credit limit double your annual income did you lie about your income or you business revenue/profits?

    I thought the unsecured credit chase extended me was insane and would have allowed me to buy the house we lived in, but it wasn’t even equal to my annual household income (6 chase cards in a year).

    • Reply BryceConway October 4, 2018 at 12:52 pm

      No. This is not a super uncommon thing.

  • Reply Andy October 4, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    > Don’t stockpile your credit line. Because your score is determined in part by utilization percentage not available credit don’t be afraid to call and lower your credit limits. I never did this so I became a bigger risk to Chase since my available credit was more than double my annual salary.

    Really, this is all that needed to be said. There is zero reason to have double your annual salary on your personal CL. Even with MS. That’s what Biz cards are for across other banks.

    This, almost single handedly, is why you were shut down. If I’m a bank, I’d have shut you down also.

    • Reply BryceConway October 9, 2018 at 10:42 am

      Understandable. While this is widely known now, it wasn’t at the time that John was completing these applications.

  • Reply Dan October 6, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    Wow, fascinating article. The one thing that stands out for me is “Currently over limit on Chase accounts.” Was this on just one card, several, or all Chase cards? Hope I’m not sounding judgmental but doesn’t this technically put you into default with the Cardholder’s Agreement? Also, was this because you lost track of your spending/available LOC for each of the 11 accounts? One of the things that Bryce teaches is to never carry a balance on any of these cards if not for the exorbitant interest rates these travel cards have. Just wondering how this could’ve happened. Also, did you have to payoff all the Chase accounts right away? What was the outcome to date regarding your balances with Chase? Sorry if it sounds like prying. Excellent article BTW.

    • Reply BryceConway October 9, 2018 at 10:41 am

      Thanks (on behalf of John). “Currently over limit” refers to the amount of Chase cards John had, not the spending on said cards. He did not miss payments on any of them. This happened because he opened many Chase cards in a short period of time. Note that this happened months ago, before most people were aware of the widespread shutdowns by Chase.

  • Reply Jeffrey October 11, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    There’s some information here that just isn’t correct, but beyond that I’m wondering is exactly how many cards he applied for in exactly how many days. And of the total applications, how many were Chase and how many Chase cards did he apply for an actually get approved for before being shut down. His timeline isn’t clear.

    • Reply BryceConway October 12, 2018 at 9:49 am

      Can you expand on what you believe is incorrect?

  • Reply Ingrid October 13, 2018 at 10:32 am

    What concerns me most about this is that it seems to me that behaviour like that may ruin “the game” for all of us who are more prudent in their applications.

  • Reply Inge von Roos October 20, 2018 at 11:31 am

    I would not have closed the Hyatt card. They have an annual free night award that pays the annual fee.

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