Bank of America has reportedly added new restrictions to credit card approvals

Sep 27, 2019

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Bank of America appears to be introducing new credit card application approval restrictions similar to Chase’s infamous 5/24 rule. According to a recent Doctor of Credit article, Bank of America is denying customers who have applied for too many credit cards (across all issuers, not just Bank of America) in the past 12 months.

If this reported rule is a reality, it could greatly decrease many applicants’ odds of being approved for Bank of America cards, including cobranded cards such as the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card and Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®.

The previous rule has been that you can only get approved for two new cards in a two-month period, three new cards in a 12-month period and four new cards in a 24-month period — but this 2/3/4 rule only applied to Bank of America credit cards. This new policy, on the other hand, appears to take into account card accounts opened across issuers.

When I reached out to Bank of America, they were only able to confirm that the bank does take into consideration the number of accounts open on an individual’s credit file when considering credit request. However, the public relations representative was unwilling to share the exact policy details on how many cards a customer can open over what amount of time to still be eligible for a new line of credit with Bank of America. From data points gathered through the TPG Lounge and from the original reports on Reddit and Doctor of Credit, it appears the exact threshold may vary person to person.

At least two TPG readers have been denied for a Bank of America card recently after having opened six new cards in the past year — one was denied for the Alaska Airlines Visa and the other was denied the Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard. The reports on Reddit and Doctor of Credit have cited seven new cards in the past 12 months as being the cutoff if you are a Bank of America customer and three new cards being the cutoff if you do not have an existing relationship with the bank. But there are a number of outliers that claim to have had no recent issues being approved even though they are well over that number of accounts in the past year.

One TPG reader who is a Bank of America Platinum Honors member had no issue being approved after opening 12 cards in the past 12 months, suggesting if you stash enough cash with Bank of America they’ll overlook the number of recently opened applications. A few Doctor of Credit commenters who have banking accounts with Bank of America also mentioned being approved for new cards even with high numbers of accounts opened in the past year. However, a Doctor of Credit commenter who has no relationship with the bank was approved for a Bank of America credit card with nine new cards having been opened in the past 12 months.

While there’s certainly a pattern forming here that’s corroborated by what the Bank of America representative told me, there are too many outlying data points to say definitively the exact details of the policy. Where Chase has been pretty strict in regards to 5/24, Bank of America seems to take it more on a case-by-case basis. Only two things are clear: Bank of America does look at how many cards you’ve opened across issuers and considers whether you are a banking customer when you apply for a card.

Bottom line

While the existence of a policy of some kind was all but confirmed by Bank of America, the details of the standards for approval are more speculative than anything. The threshold for how many cards you can have opened in the past 12 or 24 months is unclear, but there are enough data points out there to conclude that Bank of America is taking note of whether you are an existing Bank of America customer. Even TPG Editorial Director Scott Mayerowitz has been affected by this. He was denied for a Bank of America Amtrak card earlier this year, with the issuer citing opening too many card accounts in a recent period of time as the reason and noting his lack of a current relationship with Bank of America.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of your banking relationship being a determining factor in your approval odds. Reports of that being the case have been circulating since early 2018. However, if a more formalized policy takes shape throughout the end of this year and into 2020, it could throw a wrench in your plans to apply for Bank of America cards like the Alaska Airlines Visa. Considering the cobranded card is one of the easiest ways to earn valuable Alaskan miles, any potential applicants should definitely keep these reports in mind before applying.

Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy

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