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Chase is a prominent brand in the credit card industry, with cards such as the Chase Freedom®, which offers 5% back in rotating categories, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which offers excellent rewards on travel and dining. But if you’re considering applying for a Chase card, you need to know what the “5/24 rule” is.
“Chase’s 5/24 rule basically says if you’ve opened five personal credit cards in the past 24 months, no matter what banks they’re from, you won’t be approved for most of Chase’s most popular cards,” said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst for CompareCards. “It’s important to understand that this isn’t a rule that you’ll find detailed on Chase’s website, but instead, it’s an unwritten rule that has come to light in recent years as credit card rewards gamers have tried to apply for some of these cards and been unsuccessful.”
In this article:
- What counts and what doesn’t
- How to know if you’re over or under 5/24
- Why Chase uses the 5/24 rule
- Best Chase card to apply for
- The bottom line
What counts and what doesn’t
Keep in mind that with an unwritten rule, there’s no official policy to refer to. However, here are some guidelines about which cards count toward the 5/24 limit and which cards don’t, according to various reports from card users across the web.
- Chase credit cards.
- Personal credit cards from other issuers.
- Charge cards.
- Open-loop store cards that can be used anywhere (co-branded with a major card network such as Visa or Mastercard).
- Closed-loop store cards that can only be used at the issuing store also seem to count, according to discussions on the myFICO credit cards forum.
- If you’re an authorized user on someone else’s credit card.
When the rule first became known, there were some Chase-issued cards that you had a chance to get approved for regardless of your 5/24 status, such as the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. However, the bank now seems to be including cards that previously didn’t fall under the rule.
“Just assume that all their cards are under their 5/24 rule now,” said Lee Huffman, a personal finance expert who blogs at BaldThoughts.com.
If you really want a card and you think you might be able to get it despite your 5/24 status, you can always take the chance and apply — but be aware that by doing so, you will get a hard inquiry on your credit report, and you may be rejected for the card.
What doesn’t count
- Inquiries for cards for which you weren’t approved.
- Small business cards that don’t appear on your personal credit report.
Know that just credit cards, not student loans, personal loans, mortgages and auto loans, are factored into the Chase 5/24 rule. Also, if you are below the 5/24 rule and are approved for a Chase small business card, that card will not count toward future 5/24 calculations.
“There were sometimes ways around [the 5/24 rule] in the old days, but a lot of those have since closed up,” Huffman said.
How to know if you’re over or under 5/24
The only way to know if you’re over or under 5/24 is to tally up how many credit cards were opened within the past two years. You can use a free service such as My LendingTree — offered by CompareCards.com’s parent company — to view your credit cards and see the open date for each.
Another way to check your accounts is to get a copy of your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com, which lists when you opened a new card account. Under federal law, you’re entitled to a free report from each of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) each year.
And if you are already a Chase cardholder, you can visit Chase Credit Journey, which lists recent card opening dates, as well as your credit score. Other personal finance apps may also list card open dates.
Why Chase uses the 5/24 rule
Even though 5/24 is an unwritten rule, there’s a pretty clear reason why it’s in the bank’s best interest to limit card approvals. Some card applicants are looking to make a quick profit from generous sign-up bonuses, which can lead to revenue losses.
“There are a lot of people who will apply, meet the minimum spend, get the bonus, then cancel the card,” Huffman said. “Banks obviously don’t like spending that money and not having a customer around for a while to at least break even.”
This practice is known as “churning,” and some practitioners may apply for dozens of cards over a short span of time. Chase is not alone in trying to limit this, Huffman said.
“Everybody has their version of these type of restrictions to make sure you’re an actual customer and not just a transaction,” he said. For example, American Express restricts sign-up bonuses per card to one per customer per lifetime.
Best Chase cards to apply for
Now that you know about the 5/24 rule, you can strategically plan which cards you may need and make sure you’re under the 5/24 limit before applying with Chase. Here are some recommendations on the best Chase cards for cash back, travel and balance transfers.
Best for cash back
Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
16.99% - 25.74% Variable
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
- Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – it’s automatic
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99-25.74%.
- 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
- No annual fee
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
- Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit JourneySM
See additional details for Chase Freedom®
If you’re willing to activate a different category each quarter, the Chase Freedom® can pay off handsomely. It offers the chance to Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. The annual fee is $0.
Best for travel
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers excellent value for cardholders who spend a significant amount on travel. With this card, you can get 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees. It does have a hefty annual fee of $450, but it also comes with a $300 annual travel credit that can help you recoup the cost of the fee if you travel regularly.
Perhaps most important, you can get 50% more value for your rewards points when you redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
$300 Annual Travel Credit, Airport Lounge Access, and Flexible Redemption Options
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
- 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
- Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
See additional details for Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Best for balance transfers
If you’re not worried about rewards and just want to focus on paying down credit card debt, the Chase Slate® can help you do that. It offers 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months.
Most important is the balance transfer fee — Intro $0 on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that: Either $5 or 5%, whichever is greater. There are plenty of credit cards that offer 0% intro APR — some for longer periods of time than the Chase Slate® — but many charge a balance transfer fee ranging from 3%-5% of the amount you transfer.
After the intro period ends, the APR for purchases is 17.24% - 25.99% variable, and APR for balance transfers is 17.24% - 25.99% variable. This card has an annual fee of $0.
The bottom line
If you’ve got your eye on a Chase credit card, you need to check your 5/24 standing. For those who have applied for multiple credit cards recently, the only thing to do is wait.
But if you’re thinking about applying for a new credit card or two for the first time in a while, you should create a strategic plan. Apply for the Chase card(s) you want, knowing it may be a couple years before you can get a new Chase card.
Finally, once approved for a Chase card, practice good financial behavior and be a responsible cardholder. Look at this as a chance to get long-term value out of your card and build a working relationship with the bank — not a quick churn with the goal of getting a sign-up bonus.
“There are people who cancel cards and just get the bonus,” Huffman said. “I have cards I’ve had for years and years and years.”
If you already have a Chase card and want a different one, you might be able to contact the bank and request a product change rather than apply for a new card, but know you’ll likely forfeit any sign-up bonus by doing so. For example, if you have the Chase Slate® and haven’t been using it after the introductory 0% APR period ended, it may make sense to see if you can request a product change to a cashback card, such as the Chase Freedom® or Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent.
16.99% - 25.74% Variable
- New Offer! Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99-25.74%. A Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- No minimum to redeem for cash back
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
- Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit JourneySM
- No annual fee
See additional details for Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Since a product change generally means keeping your same account even as you change from one card to another, it shouldn’t take a slot on your 5/24 count like getting a new card would.