Complete Guide to Credit Card Application Rules by Bank

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Is there anything better than a credit card card welcome offer? You get approved, a shiny, new card arrives in the mail and then, after a proscribed amount of minimum spend, an untold points fortune is yours. Why wouldn’t we want to do it again? And again. And again.

Well, banks know how fun all of this is as well, which is why they often put “speed limits” on their cards. These rules, often unwritten, govern how fast we’re able to get new cards, how many we can have and when we can get another welcome offer on a card that we’ve had before. It can be tricky to understand all the various restrictions that each issuer has in place for new applicants, especially since they change constantly and can sometimes be inconsistently applied.

This post serves as a guide to the general application rules of American Express, Bank of America, Barclays, Capital One, Citi, Chase, Discover, US Bank and Wells Fargo. We’ve also compiled phone numbers and links to check your application status and call for reconsideration if/when you have an application denied. Hopefully, perusing this before a prospective application can help you navigate the stormy waters between “approved” and “denied.”

hands holding a tablet with a application on the screen

General Credit Card Application Tips

Please consider these tips before applying for a credit card…

  1. Be prepared to pay off your bill every month: The way to “win” this game is to pay your bill in full each month so that you never have any fees (other than mandatory annual fees).
  2. Make sure you can meet the minimum spend requirement: Most cards have high spend requirements in order to earn the signup bonus. Can you realistically put that much spend on the card? Click here for tips on increasing spend.
  3. Keep track of all of your cards (and applications): We recommend using a spreadsheet, or a free app like Travel Freely, to keep track of every credit card you apply for. Greg created a sample Google Docs Spreadsheet that you’re welcome to use.  If you’d like to use it, open the spreadsheet, then make your own copy by clicking “File,” then “Make a Copy.”

Application Rules by Bank

American Express

a wallet with credit cards inside

  • Safe to Apply: Amex is usually the safest bank for trying your luck at earning a new welcome offer. Most of the time, they won’t issue a hard pull when denying your application or when approving you if you already have at least one Amex card. Plus, they’ll warn you during the application process if you’re not eligible for the bonus.
  • Once in a Lifetime Rule: If you've ever had a card before, you are most likely prohibited from earning a welcome offer for that same card if you apply now. Fortunately you'll be warned during the application process if this is the case. Amex is known to "forget" that you've had a card after about 5-7 years. Note that there are frequently offers with no lifetime language (NLL) that aren't bound by this restriction.
  • "Family" Rules: In addition to the "once in a lifetime" rule, Amex now applies additional "family" rules to several groups of consumer cards. These rules don't apply to business cards.
  • 2 per 90 days: You can get at most two credit cards within 90 days. This rule usually does not apply to Pay Over Time (charge) cards.
  • Marriott cards: Approval for any Marriott card is governed by a labyrinthine set of unintuitive rules. You can see the full eligibility chart here.
  • Card Limits: Amex normally only allows customers to have five credit cards and ten charge cards at one time. Both personal and business cards count towards the respective five and ten card limits. There are some instances where certain customers have been allowed to go above those limits.
  • Application Status: Call (877) 239-3491 to check your application status or use this link.
  • Reconsideration: If denied, you can call (800) 567-1083 and ask for your application to be reconsidered.

Bank of America

a credit card in a wallet
Bank of America Premium Rewards, one of Greg’s favorite “everywhere” cards.
  • 3/12 or 7/12 Rule: Similar to Chase's 5/24 rule, you won't be approved for a card if you have opened 3 or more accounts, with any bank, within the past 12 months. For those with Bank of America deposit accounts, the rule changes to 7 accounts in the past 12 months.
  • 24 Month Rule: With some BOA cards, you may have to wait 24 months after either opening or cancelling a card to be eligible for approval on that same card. This language varies from card to card and sometimes, applicant to applicant. Some business cards have language stating that you may be declined for additional credit card accounts if your business currently has, or has had, another business card with BOA in the preceding 24 months. Again, enforcement seems to vary.
  • Velocity Limits: BOA will approve a maximum of two consumer cards per rolling 2 months, three per rolling 12 months, and four per rolling 24 months.
  • Application Status: Call (866) 422-8089 to check your application status or use this link.
  • Reconsideration: If denied, call (800) 732-9194 for reconsideration.

Barclays

a wallet with credit cards inside

  • 6/24 Rule: Similar to Chase, Barclays has a rule that you may not be approved for a new card if you have opened 6 or more cards (with any bank) within the past 24 months. However, this rule is inconsistently applied and there are data points of people being approved despite being over 6/24.
  • 24 Month Rule: Barclays also has a rule that you can only get a welcome offer on a card for a second time if it's been more than 24 months since you last received a welcome offer on the same card. Like the 6/24 rule, this seems to be inconsistently applied.
  • No Duplicate Cards: Barclays won't let you have two of the same card. In order to reapply, you'll need to cancel the card first. It's generally thought that you need to wait at least six months after cancelling before attempting to reapply.
  • Card Limits: Barclays doesn't have a strict limit on the amount of cards that you can have, but it does place limits on the total amount of credit that they will issue you across all cards. It's also thought that the bank will use your spending on other Barclays cards as one of its approval considerations.
  • Application Status: Call (888) 232-0780 to check your application status or use this link for personal cards and this link for business cards.
  • Reconsideration: If denied, call (866) 408-4064 and ask for your application to be reconsidered.

Capital One

a close up of a credit card

  • 48 Month Rule: Existing or previous cardholders are not eligible for the same personal card if they have received a new cardmember bonus for the same product within the last 48 months. This doesn't apply to business cards.
  • 2 card limit? Conventional wisdom and user experience used to be that you can have at most 2 Capital One cards. However, there are now frequent data points of some people having many more.
  • 1 Charge Card Limit: Capital One only allows cardholders to be have one business charge card, so it's not possible to be the primary cardholders on both the Venture X Business and Spark Cash Plus. This doesn't apply to authorized users.
  • Hard inquiries usually get issued through all 3 credit bureaus.
  • Velocity Limits? It used to be thought that Capital One will only approve you for one card every six months. While this is still many people's experience, we've now frequently seen data points of approvals for a second card within that timeframe.
  • Application Status: Call (800) 903-9177 to check your application status.
  • Reconsideration: If denied, call (800) 625-7866 for reconsideration.

Citi

a group of credit cards in a wallet
A great combination of Citi cards
  • 48 Month Rule: With most Citi cards, you can only receive a welcome offer every 48 months. This applies to the same exact card, not families of cards.
  • Velocity Limits: Citi allows a maximum of one personal card per 8 days and a maximum of two personal cards per 65 days. Business cards are limited to one per 90 days.
  • Card Limits: Citi doesn't have a strict limit on the amount of cards that you can have, but it does place limits on the total amount of credit that they will issue you across all cards. Because of this, reconsideration can sometimes be successful by moving credit from one existing card to the new card that you want.
  • Application Status: Call (866) 606-2787 or go here to check your application status. For Costco cards, call (877) 343-4118.
  • Reconsideration: If denied, call (800) 695-5171 for personal cards or (866) 541-7657 for business cards.

Chase

Image of Greg choosing between many Chase credit cards

  • 5/24 Rule: You most likely will not get approved for a new card if you have opened 5 or more cards (with any bank) within the past 24 months. Most business cards do not count towards that five card total.
  • 24 Month Rule: If you’ve previously had a card before, you can only get a welcome offer on that card again if you no longer have the card AND if it has been more than 24 months since you last received a welcome offer for that card. This rule does not apply to the Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards (see below). There can be exceptions with some business cards.
  • 48 Month Rule: If you’ve previously had either the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve cards, you can get the welcome offer for another Sapphire card only if you no longer have either card AND if it has been more than 48 months since you last received a welcome offer for the card.
  • "Family" Rules: In addition to Sapphire cards' 48-month rule, Chase applies additional "family" rules to the Southwest cards. You're not eligible for the welcome offer on a personal Southwest card if you currently have one, or if you've received a welcome offer on any personal Southwest card within the last 24 months. This doesn't apply to business cards.
  • 2 per month Rule: Most applicants are limited to 2 new cards per month.
  • Marriott cards: Approval for any Marriott card is governed by a labyrinthine set of unintuitive rules. You can see the full eligibility chart here.
  • Card Limits: Chase doesn't have a strict limit on the amount of cards that you can have, but it does place limits on the total amount of credit that they will issue you across all cards. Because of this, reconsideration can sometimes be successful by moving credit from one existing card to the new card that you want.
  • Application Status: Call (888) 338-2586 to check your application status.
  • Reconsideration: If denied, call (888) 270-2127 for personal cards, or (800) 453-9719 for business cards, and ask for your application to be reconsidered.

Discover

Discover It Miles

  • 12 month rule: You must wait just over 12 months after your first card was opened before applying for a second Discover card.
  • 2 card limit: You can have a maximum of 2 Discover cards.
  • Application Status: Call (800) 347-2683 to check your application status or use this link.
  • Reconsideration: If denied, call (888) 676-3695 and ask for your application to be reconsidered.

US Bank

a wallet with a card in it
The US Bank Altitude Reserve card provides 3x everywhere when you use it for mobile wallet payments.
  • Welcome Offers: You can't get a welcome offer on a card if you have that exact card open at the time of application.
  • Velocity Limits: None that we know of.
  • Application Status: Call (800) 947-1444 and press "1."
  • Reconsideration: If denied, call (800) 947-1444 for reconsideration.

Wells Fargo

a red and yellow carriage

  • Velocity Limits: Officially, Wells Fargo states that it may not approve you for a new credit card if you've opened one with the bank within the last six months, and you're only eligible for one welcome offer per 15 months. In practice, both seem inconsistently applied, especially for those with a Wells Fargo bank account. Business and consumer cards operate on separate tracks regarding those velocity limits.
  • Card Limits: Wells Fargo doesn't have a limit on the amount of cards that you can have, but it does place limits on the total amount of credit that they will issue you across all cards. Because of this, reconsideration can sometimes be successful by moving credit from one existing card to the new card that you want.
  • Application Status: Call (800) 967-9521 to check your application status
  • Reconsideration: If denied, call (800) 967-9521 and ask for your application to be reconsidered.
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19 Comments
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anthonyjh21

Does anyone know if for BoA the 7 cards in 12 months applies to business checking accounts or is it just personal checking?

Last edited 4 months ago by anthonyjh21

[…] I am going to add this post soon to the RESOURCES page: Complete Guide to Credit Card Application Rules by Bank. […]

bilo34

Got the citi premier but didn’t get bonus since they kept locking my card, I’m guessing I can reapply and get the bonus

Caleb K

Hey guys, I just got the Aviator Red Barclays card, and I’ve seen several times in passing that Barclays might not approve future applications if it looks like you get the card for the SUB and don’t spend much on the card otherwise. Is there a good rule of thumb here? I don’t know how much spend to dedicate to the card and for how long. I don’t want to ruin my relationship with Barclays on my first card with them.

Arthur Fonzarelli

This Post is exactly why I have given all my CC applications through FM. It is a keeper! Thanks for your work Tim.

One dumb question, please….Bank of America deposit account you mentioned above, is a Checking Account considered a deposit account in BA’s eyes or just a savings vehicle?

Thanks Tim

Arthur Fonzarelli

CORRECTION…….”or just a savings vehicle needed to qualify as a deposit account”

STEPHEN PEPPER FAN CLUB PRESIDENT

Arty, Tim is too busy to answer questions, ask Stephen, as he is a great dude. He takes the time to answer questions on his postings all the time…….Tim?…MEH

Greg the FM (really I am!)

Stephen. Get back to work.

Hans Mast

Great post, thanks!

Could you add rules on moving around CLs either during the approval/reconsideration process or after having active accounts?

Pam

I just applied for the new 2x URs first year CFU. I first had to PC my existing CFU I got in 2018 (also 2x unltd then!) to a Slate since the Freedom Flex is a MC not a Visa. I waited 5 business days for my old CFU to drop before I applied but then forgot I had frozen Experian. I unfroze then had to call Chase to resubmit the app. They required me shifting my larger lines from my more “inactive cards” to this before they would approve a $20k credit line.

actualmichael

Since most non-amex cards either use Visa or Mastercard as their processor, it’s fairly easy to look up the minimum credit limit you have to maintain on each card (you can’t transfer 100% of your credit limit from one card to another) based on the type of Visa or Mastercard it is. For instance, a basic Visa like the Freedom cards usually has a minimum limit of about $500-$1K. A Visa Signature card like the CSP are usually a $5K minimum. Visa Infinite cards like the CSR are usually a $10K minimum.

AmEx is kind of a crapshoot when moving around credit since they seem much more liberal about issuing credit than any other bank. There are no hard and fast rules with them, although speaking from experience, it seems like you need to maintain at least a $500 limit on their more basic cards, and a $1K minimum limit on their more premium cards.

Biggie F

Really appreciate this – great to have in one place.

Speaking of which, would this be a good place – maybe up at the front, not sure how easy or useful it would be to be card-specific – to say something about unfreezing credit reports? More than once I have researched everything and set us in motion only to have a “D’oh!” moment upon realizing that I forgot to unfreeze one or more credit reports.

Lee

You forgot Capital One’s “no particular reason” rule for denying an application.

Billy

Good one

klsd

With regard to – pay in full every month- Chase Ink Cash offers 0% interest for 12 mos when opening a card (why not – as I’m using Staples Visa cards to pay for a cruise). Will running a balance hurt my chances for an IHG Premier Business card? Should I pay off the Ink balance + skip the 0% interest?

And I received a mailer for the IHG Business card apply by 12/3, does it give me an advantage for approval? Thanks

actualmichael

no, mailers do not usually increase your chances of approval with Chase. It seems that they’ve done away with their pre-approvals in the last five years or so.

Yes, running a balance will hurt your chances of approval for the IHG biz card if you are applying under the same business as your business credit utilization will be high. Unless there is something significantly better you can be doing with that money for the next 12 months such as investing it, I’d just pay for your cruise.

The 0% financing should really only be leveraged when you are investing and are either arbitraging or you need the 12 month runway to get your investment plan up and running.

Lynn

Nice! Thanks!