Can you have more than one credit card from the same ‘family?’

May 26, 2020

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Reader Questions are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

As credit card rewards continue to gain in popularity, issuers are forced to come up with new rules and restrictions to attract valuable, long-term customers and not just people who want a quick sign-up bonus. TPG reader Shane wants to know if it’s possible to get more than one credit card from the same family …

I wanted to know which credit cards are part of a “family” and which are separate products. For example, I specifically wanted to know if it’s possible to hold the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit card (as an option later) as well as the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card and Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card for similar reasons. Thanks!

TPG READER SHANE

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While early application restriction rules focused more on your total number of credit cards (either from one issuer or overall), we’ve seen a trend in recent years towards more “family” limitations. What do I mean when I say card family? The easiest way to think about it is cards that earn the same type of points. For example, American Express issues four different cobranded Hilton credit cards, all of which would be considered part of the same family. This terminology can also apply to transferable points earning cards, like the various Chase Ink cards, all of which would be counted as one family.

Unfortunately there is no universal answer to this question. A number of issuers and card families now have application restrictions while many still don’t. If you’re ever unsure, you should start by double-checking TPG’s guide to credit card application restrictions and the fine print on the card you’re interested in. For now, here are a few of the most popular credit card families that include application restrictions (note that this is not a complete list).

Marriott Bonvoy credit cards

After its acquisition of SPG, Marriott is one of the only major travel brands to have cards issued by two different banks, Chase and American Express. Each issuer has its own application restrictions (such as Chase’s 5/24 rule and Amex’s once per lifetime bonus policy), but there are additional, specific rules regarding eligibility for Marriott credit cards. Specifically, you’ll see bonus restrictions that take into account your activity with the other issuer. For example, here’s part of the terms and conditions for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card:

The bonus is not available to you if you:

    • (1)are a current cardmember, or were a previous cardmember within the last 30 days, of Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express);
    • (2)are a current or previous cardmember of either Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card), and received a new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months; or
    • (3)applied and were approved for Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card) within the last 90 days.

This means that even if you’re under 5/24 and have never had a Bonvoy Boundless card before, you may not be eligible for the welcome bonus based on your history with various Amex Bonvoy credit cards.

Related: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card is right for you?

Southwest personal versus business cards

For an airline with no premium cabins or airport lounges and a very limited international route network, Southwest has quite a diverse credit card portfolio, with three personal and two business cards to pick from. In fact, these credit cards are the fastest route for most people to obtain the coveted Companion Pass, so there’s plenty of reason to pay attention to the eligibility rules. The terms of all three Southwest personal credit cards have the following exclusion:

“The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.”

This means that regardless of your 5/24 status, you can’t get approved for more than one personal Southwest card every 24 months. There’s no equivalent restriction on the business cards.

Related: The best airline credit cards

Bottom line

Card family restrictions are becoming much more popular, but they’re by no means universal. It always pays to double-check the fine print before you apply, especially if it can save you from wasting an application on a card you can’t get approved for.

Thanks for the question, Shane, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured photo by Subbotina Anna/Shutterstock.

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