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Update: Some of the offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express
TPG reader Doug writes:
“I’ve gotten about 14 credit cards in the last year. I have gotten nearly all of the ones that I am especially interested in, and am starting to think about canceling some cards so that I can reapply for them down the line. I know the basics: keep your oldest cards to help your credit history, keep cards with good renewal benefits, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a consolidated chart of how long various cards need to be canceled before you can reapply and get a sign-up bonus. That would be really useful.”
You haven’t seen a chart on which credit cards are “churnable” because the list constantly changes and there are a lot of factors that come into play. Here is my understanding of each issuer, though please feel free to share your experiences with each so we can get a better understanding of what others have been able to accomplish:
American Express: Amex is very up-front with the rules around getting a bonus on their charge cards. On most applications, there will be a box that states the eligibility requirements for the bonus. For example, to get the The Platinum Card from American Express bonus: “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have had this product within the last 12 months or any Consumer ZYNC®, Green or Gold Card account within the last 90 days.” The “have had this product” is a little vague, but to be safe I always interpret that to mean “have had the product open,” so I always like to have closed the account before that time frame. Credit card applications (like the Starwood Amex and Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express) generally do not come with bonus disclaimers, but my understanding is that you can get the same card bonus about every two years. You can get both personal and business versions of the same card – I got both the Starwood Personal and Business cards on the same day this August.
Bank of America: No limit to how many times you can get a card. You can apply for a new one, even if you have one currently open.
Barclay’s: Pretty flexible, but the rule of thumb is to wait at least 90 days between applications. Barclay’s is known for approving people for cards and then actually giving them a lower/less lucrative bonus. If you are denied for a duplicate card (I know many people who have gotten US Airways cards several times), you can always call the reconsideration line at 1-866-369-1283.
Capital One: Pretty strict with getting multiple bonuses (though they rarely run lucrative promotions, so it generally isn’t an issue). When they ran the 100,000 points on the Venture card again this year, some people tried getting it again and were denied.
Chase:Technically one bonus offer per customer, per lifetime. However, you can have multiple products within the same line of cards. For example, I had the old Ink “Business Exclusives” card that was discontinued last November. When they launched the Ink Bold, I was approved and then I also got the Ink Plus credit card this year when it was launched. Same goes for the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Preferred MasterCard. Same goes for the old United and Continental cards – if you had one before they launched the new United MileagePlus Explorer Card, you can still get the Explorer card sign-up bonus. You may need to call the reconsideration line to get approved (and give them a good reason why you’d need the new card), but many of us have had success with convincing reps or shifting around existing credit lines if needed.
Citi: 18+ months in between applications for the same card and at least 61 days between rounds of applications.
US Bank: US Bank is probably one of the strictest credit card companies and they will reject you even if you have stellar credit, but have too many recent inquiries. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.