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While most of us don’t give our credit cards usage much of a second thought on a daily basis, there is an enormous community of travel enthusiasts who obsess over squeezing every possible cent of value out of the credit card rewards industry. Although it sounds crazy, it’s not uncommon for these fanatics to have over 20 credit cards open in their name at one time. While that may be shocking to the average consumer, these avid points-seekers frequently take extravagant trips around the world for close to free, without doing any damage to their credit along the way.
There are dozens of online message boards, blogs, and forums dedicated to maximizing credit card rewards programs to effectively “beat the system.” But over the past two weeks, this blogosphere has been aflame with rumors of some potentially devastating news that could undermine the plans of many credit card enthusiasts who have been spoiled by years of relatively easy approvals.
According to dozens of online sources, Chase Bank has implemented a new credit card policy that prohibits any new applicant from being approved for a Chase credit card if they have opened 5 or more credit cards within the past 24 months.
Is It True?
Chase hasn’t released any official statement regarding the matter, so the actual details of the situation are only coming from reports of individuals who have run into the new policy first hand, and many consumers have reportedly been told the exact same thing from Chase customer service reps. Not only that, but if you contact Chase preemptively (not even in response to a credit card application) and ask about the rule before you apply, they representative will likely give you the same information; if you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the past 24 months, you will be denied.
Chase will not just check to see if you’ve gotten five Chase cards in the past two years; the five or more rule applies to all recently opened credit card accounts, even if they were from separate banks. Furthermore, although there are mixed reports, the general consensus in the blogosphere is that the new restrictions DO NOT apply to co-branded Chase cards with airline or hotel partners. This means that only 5 cards are affected:
- Chase Freedom®
- Chase Slate®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Ink Cash® Business Credit Card
- Ink Plus® Business Credit Card
If you’re like me, you’re probably counting how many credit cards you’ve opened in the past 2 years to see which side of the line you fall on. But the number of cards you’ve opened may be higher than you think because getting added as an authorized user will also count towards your total number of card accounts opened.
If this is a permanent policy for Chase, it will be a monumental blow to travel enthusiasts who finance their adventures by strategically signing up for lucrative rewards credit cards. Chase credit cards - particularly those that earn Ultimate Rewards points- have long been the gold standard among point-seekers thanks to their fantastic flexibility in reward redemption. Big sign up bonuses and the ability to instantly transfer points between accounts makes it easy to rack up huge point balances, and if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer available), you can transfer your points one-for-one to various travel partners, and potentially earn a value much higher than the traditional 1 cent per point. Here are the current transfer partners for Chase Ultimate Rewards:
- United Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- British Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
- Korean Air
- IHG Club Select
- Marriott Rewards
- Hyatt Gold Passport
What Should I Do?
If you were planning on applying for one the Chase cards mentioned above in the very near future, you should definitely pull out your wallet and count how many credit card accounts you have opened in the past two years. If you count more than five, we would recommend saving yourself from a useless hard inquiry and either choose a different card, or wait until one (or more, if necessary) of your inquiries drops past the 24 month mark. If you’re still skeptical, and you want to try your luck anyways, at least give Chase card services a call and ask about the new policy for yourself before filling out an application.
If the world of credit card rewards is a new-found interest and you haven’t opened five accounts in the past two years, you should heavily consider looking into one (or two, or three…) of the Chase Ultimate Rewards earning credit cards.
The Final Word
The news is still relatively fresh, and some people are reporting that they are still getting approved for Chase cards regardless of having more than five new accounts in the last 24 months. If you apply for a new account and you receive a message that your account is under review, odds are they are checking to see how many recent credit accounts you have opened, or whether or not you’ve applied to new accounts in the same time period.
As time goes by, the true details of this transition will continue to come to the surface and we’ll be able to weed out the rumors from the facts. But if the new policy is here to stay, and it proves to be a profitable change for Chase, there’s always the chance that other credit card issuers will follow suit. Hopefully, we’re simply seeing something that Chase is temporarily testing; we’ll just have to wait and see.
*Editorial Note:This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.
*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.