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TPG reader David sent me a message on Facebook to ask about credit card sign-up bonuses:
“I was approved for the Sapphire Preferred card at a local branch a few weeks ago, and received it about a week later. I then received an invitation in the mail from Chase to apply for the same card with the same sign-up bonus. Should I go ahead and get a second card?”
Credit card sign-up bonuses are an easy way to rack up points and miles, with the top offers routinely netting rewards worth more than $500. Award travel would be even easier if you could earn the same bonuses over and over again, but unfortunately, many card issuers limit how often you can earn a bonus for a given card.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card just launched an increased sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. However, as usual, the offer details state that the bonus is not available to current Sapphire Preferred cardholders or previous cardholders who earned a bonus for that card within the past 24 months. That means David would be ineligible to earn a second bonus, despite receiving a specific invitation to apply.
Card issuers frequently send out pre-approval notices or invitations to apply, but their algorithms may not register if you’re a new or existing cardholder. David was probably identified as a potential cardholder before he opened his current Sapphire Preferred account, and the marketing material was scheduled for mailing without considering whether he would be eligible.
While you won’t earn a second bonus, it’s worth sending Chase a message through the Secure Message Center online to see if you can have the new 50,000-point offer applied to your account. There’s no guarantee, but if you applied recently (in the last 90 days), your chances of getting matched to the higher bonus are good.
Some cards are more flexible about offering multiple bonuses. For example, the language in many business card applications doesn’t have the same exclusions, making it easier to earn a second (or third or fourth) sign-up bonus, especially if you operate multiple businesses. Even some personal cards (like the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card) will let you have more than one account open at a time. Make sure to check the fine print of your card application if you’re unsure whether you’ll qualify.
Know before you go.
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