Each credit card issuer has its own set of rules to prevent rewards abuse aka credit card churning. To avoid getting denied for a credit card or missing out on the sign-up bonus, you’ll need to consider how many credit card applications are allowed within certain timeframe and how often you can receive the sign-up bonus. Here’s a breakdown of the credit card application rules and restrictions for the top credit card issuers.

American Express

The rules at American Express have been relatively stable over time. When deciding to open an Amex, keep in mind that you can only have 5 Amex credit cards at one time and you can only get approved for two credit cards every 90 days. Furthermore, you will only be approved for one credit card in a 5-day period. These rules do not apply to charge cards like the American Express Platinum card. For example, you can have five credit cards and four charge cards open at a time.

It is possible to apply for two cards from Amex in a day but it has to be one credit card and one charge card. Doing this will generally result in only one hard pull on your credit report. Also, for existing Amex account holders, if you apply for a credit card and are denied, it is likely that they will not do a hard pull.

American Express cards may be easier to get, but unfortunately sign-up bonuses are limited to once per lifetime. However, there are data points suggesting this “lifetime limit” may expire after seven years. Sometimes there are targeted offers that circumvent the lifetime limit, so it’s always worth checking the fine print. Also, you can only get the bonus if you’ve never had the card previously, even if you have never received a sign-up bonus on that card.

Amex Offer Terms

Application frequency: 2 credit cards every 90 days with only 1 credit card in a 5-day period. This rule does not apply to charge cards.

Maximum number of cards: 5 credit cards and 4 charge cards

Applications at one time: 2 applications, 1 credit and 1 charge card

Sign-up bonus limit: Once per lifetime (or possibly every 7 years)


Chase has been cracking down over the past few years. First was the 5/24 rule, which means that you will not be approved if you applied for five or more credit cards from ANY bank in the past two years.

It’s even worse for Chase Sapphire cards. You can no longer apply for both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve cards. If you already have one of these cards, Chase will not approve you for the other. If you close your Chase Sapphire card, you won’t be eligible for any Chase Sapphire card if you earned the sign-up bonus on a Chase Sapphire card in the past 48 months. The three Southwest personal credit cards have a similar rule, but with a 24 month time horizon.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Application

You can only apply for two Chase personal credit cards every 30 days. For business cards, the rule is one card every 30 days. To minimize denials, you should only apply for three cards every six months and a total of four cards per year. If you are able to get approved for two cards in one day, you may only see one hard inquiry on your report. However, applying for two cards on the same day when you are at 4/24 is unlikely to result in an approval for both.

Chase doesn’t have a cap on how many cards you can open but they do have a limit on how much credit they are willing to extend. This number may be about 50-60% of your total annual income. If you receive a pending application for this reason, you can try calling to transfer part of a credit line from another card. You may also consider lowering your credit limit on existing accounts before applying for a new card.

However, there are reports of Chase accounts being shut down after opening too many Chase cards too quickly so try to space out your Chase applications.

You can receive a Chase sign-up bonus 24 months after last receiving the bonus. This 24 month clock starts after receiving the bonus, not after cancelling the card. However, you will need to cancel the card at some point before reapplying.

Application frequency: 2 credit cards every 30 days but space it out due to potential shut down. Special restrictions on Chase Sapphire and Southwest cards.

Maximum number of cards: No maximum, but don’t exceed 5-6 because of recent shut downs

Applications at one time: 2 applications

Sign-up bonus limit: Every 24 months (48 months for Chase Sapphire)


Citi is a weird one. Some people can get approved for countless cards while others like me, have never been able to get approved for a personal card!

Citi American Airlines Denial

You should only apply for one Citi credit card every 8 days and no more than two cards (personal or business) every 65 days. Also, you should only submit one business card application every 95 days. There are rumors that you may only be able to get one card every 30 days now. And even if you are denied, this still counts since Citi tracks applications rather than opened accounts. There doesn’t seem to be a limit on the number of cards you can keep at a time. You will have issues getting additional cards once you’ve hit the maximum amount of credit Citi is willing to extend to you. You can free up credit by offering to move part of your credit line from an existing card to the new one.

Citi is inquiry sensitive and you may not be approved if your credit report has 6 inquiries over the last 6 months. Citi’s 6/6 rule is not as clear cut as Chase’s 5/24, but it is something to be mindful of.

For sign-up bonuses, you can only get a bonus from a certain family of cards once every two years. For example, there are several Citi American Airlines products available. If you got the bonus from one card, you shouldn’t apply for the other until it’s been two years since you received the first bonus. Regarding Citi AA cards specifically, you can receive the bonus again if you receive a targeted mailer without the sign-up bonus restriction language.

Application frequency: 2 credit cards every 65 days (possibly 1 card every 30 days now). Only apply if you have less than 6 inquiries on your credit report over the last 6 months.

Maximum number of cards: No maximum, limit based on amount of credit extended to you

Applications at one time: 1 application every 8 days

Sign-up bonus limit: One bonus per family of products every 24 months (e.g., one American Airlines miles bonus every 24 months)

Bank of America

It can be hard to get approved for Bank of America credit cards if you have no prior relationship with the bank. You may get approved but have a small credit line which generally isn’t an issue. It can be a problem when the sign-up bonus you will receive is based on the size of the credit line. For example, the Alaska Airlines card has a 30,000 mile sign-up bonus if you are approved for the Signature card (credit line of $5,000+) but only a 5,000 mile bonus for the Platinum Plus card (credit line <$5,000).

Bank of America implemented a rule limiting how fast you can apply for new cards. The new 2/3/4 rule is as follows: Bank of America will only approve you for a maximum of two cards every 2 months, three cards every 12 months, and four cards every 24 months. These time frames are rolling so the clock starts when you are approved for your first Bank of America card. Business cards do not count towards these limits. You can only have four Bank of America credit cards at one time.

Now, Bank of America has added a 24-month rule.

  • For Alaska Airlines and Premium Rewards cards: The card will not be available to you if you currently have or have had the card in the preceding 24 month period.
  • For Travel Rewards and Cash Rewards cards: The card will not be available to you if you currently have the card unless you have had that card for at least 24 months.

These rules are restricted to the specific card so if you had an Alaska Airlines card in the past 24 months, you would still be eligible for Premium Rewards and vice versa.

Like with the 2/3/4/ rule, this does not yet impact business cards.

Application frequency: 4 cards every 24 months with only 3 new cards per year and 2 new cards in a two month period

Maximum number of cards: 4

Applications at one time: 2 applications

Sign-up bonus limit: Once every 24 months for personal cards, churnable for business cards


Barclays is sensitive to the number of new cards opened in the past six months so you should only apply for one or two Barclaycards every six months. It’s possible to get approved for two cards in one day. While it can be difficult to get approved by Barclays, their credit cards are mostly churnable. However, Barclays implemented a rule for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus specifically. If you’ve opened five new cards from any bank in the past 24 months, you won’t be approved for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus.

Barlaycard Arrival Plus Fine Print

When churning a Barclays credit card, you need to close the card prior to reapplying and should generally wait six months or more before attempting this (though some people have had success with reopening after a few weeks).

Application frequency: 1-2 credit card every 6 months

Maximum number of cards: No maximum

Applications at one time: 2 applications

Sign-up bonus limit: Churnable

Capital One

In general, you can only be approved for one Capital One credit card (personal or business) every six months. Some people seem to get around this while others had their applications deemed a duplicate and not processed. Results may vary if you try to get approved for more than one card in this time frame. You can only have two Capital One credit cards at a time. It is possible to receive the sign-up bonus more than once. When deciding to apply for a card with Capital One, keep in mind that they pull from all three credit bureaus which is not ideal!

Application frequency: 1 credit card every 6 months

Maximum number of cards: 2 credit cards

Applications at one time: 1 application

Sign-up bonus limit: Churnable

Pin It!

Credit Card Application Rules and Restrictions Pinterest Image

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.