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

As travel rewards credit cards continue to gain popularity, card issuers are getting increasingly strict about who they’ll approve for new accounts (especially when there’s a large shiny bonus involved). As such, it’s important to consider each issuer’s specific rules before applying for a new credit card, as well as making sure your credit score is good enough to get approved. TPG reader Tiffany wants to know if she can get the personal and business version of the same card …

If I apply for the United Business card while currently holding a personal United card, will Chase automatically reject me? I am under 5/24, so that’s not a problem

TPG READER TIFFANY

First of all, good for Tiffany for paying attention to her 5/24 status with Chase, as both the United Explorer Card and the United Explorer Business Card are restricted by the 5/24 rule. This means that if you’ve opened five or more personal credit cards in the last 24 months across all issuers, Chase will automatically reject your application for most of its credit cards.

These so called “family restrictions” that Tiffany is asking about are a relatively recent invention, as card issuers realize that most people probably don’t need both a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and a Chase Sapphire Reserve. This rule doesn’t apply to every set of cards, and in fact Tiffany would be fine to apply for the United business card while holding a United personal card, but let’s take a look at a few popular examples of family restrictions to help you avoid wasting an application.

Chase Sapphire

Even though most people don’t need both versions of the popular Chase Sapphire, many points junkies were applying for both cards to collect the incredibly valuable welcome bonuses they offer. In 2018, Chase added language to the terms and conditions of both the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve to prevent people from double dipping on the bonuses. The terms of the Sapphire Preferred application now read as follows (with similar language on the Reserve):

“The product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 48 months. If you are an existing Sapphire customer and would like this product, please call the number on the back of your card to see if you are eligible for a product change. You will not receive the new cardmember bonus if you change products.”

This means if you currently hold the Sapphire Preferred you can’t apply for and receive a bonus on the Reserve. Even if you no longer hold the Preferred, you can’t receive a new bonus on the Preferred or the reserve within 48 months of your last bonus.

Southwest Rapid Rewards

Despite being a mostly domestic airline, Southwest has a more diverse credit card lineup than most major international carriers. Chase currently issues five cobranded Southwest Rapid Rewards cards: three personal and two business (all of which are restricted by the 5/24 rule).

The two business cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card do not have any family restrictions. You’re eligible to apply for them as long as you do not currently have that specific card and have not received a bonus on it in the last 24 months.

When it comes to the three personal Southwest credit cards (the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card) you’ll see a similar family restriction to the one on the Sapphire cards:

“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.”

Marriott Bonvoy (Chase+Amex)

Marriott’s credit card portfolio is one of the most confusing when it comes to application rules, as both Chase and Amex issue cards. Not only does each issuer have its own restrictions (Chase’s 5/24 rule and Amex’s once per lifetime rule), but the two banking giants have teamed up to implement family restrictions across the entire card portfolio. You should check out our guide to help determine your eligibility for Marriott Bonvoy cards, but let’s look at the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card as an example:

“Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product or the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.

Welcome offer not available to applicants who (i) have or have had The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card from JPMorgan or the J.P. Morgan Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card in the last 30 days, (ii) have acquired the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase or the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days, or (iii) received a new Card Member bonus or upgrade offer for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase, Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase or the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 24 months.”

In addition to rehashing Amex’s once per lifetime language at the top, you’ll see that having held certain Chase Bonvoy cards can also disqualify you from earning a new welcome bonus with Amex.

Citi ThankYou Rewards

Citi is the smallest of the “big three” card issuers, and with the exception of its American Airlines cobranded cards, it doesn’t really have many card families in its portfolio. Instead, it treats all of its ThankYou Points earning cards as being under one family. If you go to apply for the Citi Prestige® Card, you’ll see this warning clearly displayed on the main page before you even start your application:

“Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you received a new cardmember bonus for Citi Rewards+℠, Citi ThankYou® Preferred, Citi ThankYou® Premier/Citi Premier℠ or Citi Prestige®, or if you have closed any of these accounts, in the past 24 months.”

In this regard, Citi is much trickier than the other issuers. It’s not just about when you opened an account or when you earned a bonus, but closing your account also resets the 24-month eligibility clock.

Bottom Line

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and with rules like this changing all the time I strongly recommend reading the terms and conditions of any credit card you’re considering before submitting an application. You don’t need to dig through all the fine print to find the relevant information, as most issuers pin this discussion of bonus eligibility to the top of the page in bold text.

We’re certainly seeing family restrictions becoming more and more common, but they don’t apply to every card or even to every family of cards from a certain issuer. While Chase has family restrictions on its Sapphire cards and personal Southwest cards, it doesn’t have the same rules for Southwest business cards, United cards, or its family of Ink business credit cards.

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

Featured photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy

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