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For the last week or two I’ve been seeing and receiving a growing number of emails, posts, and comments about an alleged shift in how Chase is handling credit card approvals for at least some of their products.  Now, before I go any further I want to emphasize that I have nothing from Chase stating that there has been any shift – nor would I expect any official word from them about a change in how they may approve credit card applicants as that is outside of the scope of our relationship.  So, nothing in this post is to be construed official at all, but I still think the issue is worth mentioning at this point given the growing number of reports and how integral Chase credit card products are to many of our miles and points earning strategies.

The best I can tell there are more reports on Flyertalk (and other locations) about people who otherwise report having good credit getting turned down for Chase credit cards than there have been in the past, especially for the Chase “flagship” Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, and Slate products (as opposed to the co-branded cards like the United, Southwest, Hyatt, etc).  Many of these reports include being told by Chase that the reason they were turned down is they have opened too many accounts in the last two years…not just with Chase, but with other banks, too.  Some are surmising that the “magic number” of new accounts in the last two years to get some of those Chase products is 4 or 5 new cards total from all banks, possibly not including department store cards and potentially business cards.  There are some reports that being an authorized user on a card may contribute somewhat to the maximum number of new accounts.

I haven’t really seen too many reports of people being surprised with denials for the co-branded Chase cards at this point, and it instead has been limited to the Chase branded products mentioned above.  Now, the internet is full of false information, just like it is also full of helpful information.  My gut is that there has been a change in the approval formula that is causing new problems for some folks to get approved for some of these products, but credit card application formulas aren’t as simple for approvals or denials as X cards in X months and you are 100% out, so I can’t tell you any magic limit.

I can tell you that you might want to read through the linked Flyertalk thread and look for trends in the stories, keeping in mind of course that sometimes the story being told isn’t always 100% complete or correct.  Still, trends can be very useful especially when enough recent reports are shared in one place.

So, what to do if you are in the market for a Chase rewards credit card – especially one like the Sapphire Preferred or Chase Freedom that seem to have more reports of approval issues?  First, I wouldn’t panic.  However, if a potential denial would be a big issue for you then I would consider your own credit profile after reading through some of the online reports with approvals or denials and make a decision you are most comfortable with.  This might also be a good time to check your own credit reports – remember you get one free each year from each of the three bureaus via AnnualCreditReport.com.

If you are newer to the rewards credit card game I would go ahead and make getting the Sapphire Preferred and/or Freedom cards a priority pretty early on to avoid any potential issues with getting them down the road.  These are very good rewards credit cards that my family personally has and uses regularly.  Truthfully, I would recommend getting those cards early on in your miles and points “career” even without any of the new recent reports, so not much has really changed in that regard.  I would also recommend thinking long and hard before cancelling one in case you may have trouble getting it again in the future if this reported shift holds for the long term.

I would guess that banks adjust formulas for how they manage credit approvals with some regularity.  Every now and then there may be a change a bank makes that stands out a bit more to those in our community, and this may be one of those times.

Have you had any experience applying for Chase cards in the last few weeks?

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