Credit Card Application Rules You MUST Know About Before Applying

In the world of travel hacking, credit card application rules may be the most important thing you need to understand in order to be successful. If you do not follow the rules set forth by the major banks when applying for their credit cards, you will not be approved and will miss out on earning credit card sign-up bonuses.

Major banks also limit the number of times you are able to earn the sign-up bonus on a particular credit card. Each bank and the credit cards they offer are unique and we will cover everything you need to know about them in this blog post.

Let’s dive deep into each major bank’s credit card application rules to gain a better understanding of what it takes to be approved for a new card and how you can earn as many sign-up bonuses as possible.



The Chase 5/24 rule is the strictest and most important rule to understand when it comes to travel hacking. If you have applied, and were approved, for 5 or more credit cards (any credit card, not just Chase credit cards) in the past 24 months, you will be automatically denied on Chase credit card applications.

For example, if you have opened four new cards (from any bank) in the past 24 months, you still have one more slot open for a Chase card. But if you open an American Express card next instead of a Chase card, you will now be automatically denied if you try to apply for a Chase card if it has been at least 24 months since you lasted signed up for a new credit card.

Regarding Chase business cards, they do not fill one of the 5 slots available, but you must be under 5/24 in order to be approved. For example, If you are 4/24 (four new cards in the last 24 months) and apply for the Chase Ink Business Preferred (CIP), you will be approved for the card and will still be at 4/24 status. But if you are 5/24, you will NOT be approved for the CIP.

Chase also has a 48 month rule on sign-up bonuses. If you have earned a sign-up bonus on a Chase credit card in the past 48 months, you will not be eligible for another sign-up bonus for that particular card.

For example, if you signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and received the sign-up bonus in January of 2019, you will need to wait until January 2023 to be eligible for the sign-up bonus again. It is important to note that the 48 month period begins when you receive the sign-up bonus, not when you cancel the card.


When it comes to American Express credit cards, you are able to hold up to 5 open cards at once. Some people have reported only being able to hold 4, but generally it is a 5 card limit. This only applies to AMEX credit cards, not charge cards or cards from other banks. You can have 5 AMEX cards and still be approved for a charge card. The list of AMEX charge cards include:

The 5 card limit also only applies to personal cards, not business cards. There is no limit to the number of business cards and charge cards you can have active at one time.

Another important rule to note is the 2/90 rule. Within a 90 day interval, you may open no more than 2 new AMEX credit cards. Again, this only applies to credit cards, not charge cards.

Regarding sign-up bonuses, AMEX is one of the more strict banks out there. AMEX has a one sign-up bonus per card per lifetime rule, meaning you can only receive a sign-up bonus on a credit card once no matter how many times you cancel and re-apply for a card. Data points suggest that AMEX defines a “lifetime” as 7 years, meaning you need to wait 7 years before you are once again eligible for a sign-up bonus.



,Citi has a 8/65 Rule for credit card approvals. This rule allows you to be approved for only 1 card in an 8 day period, and 2 cards in a 65 day period.

You can also only be approved for a Citi Business card once every 90 days.

There is currently no limit to the number of Citi cards you can have at one time, but Citi does tend to limit the total amount of credit they will extend to you across Citi cards, meaning eventually you will hit a card limit depending on how high your credit limit is on each card.

Citi also offers a 1/24 Rule for sign-up bonuses, similar to Chase. This rules states you are limited to “one signup bonus per brand per 24 months”. This essentially means that if you are approved for a Citi credit card and earn the signup bonus you will not be eligible to earn that bonus again within a 24 month period of the original approval date.


Capital One offers a pretty straight forward rule in terms of credit card approvals. Capital One only allows you to apply for one of their credit cards every six months. A second application within the 6 month time period will be auto rejected without a hard pull of your credit score.

Capital One also limits the number of cards you can have at one time to two. It is important to use those two slots wisely, with cards such as the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card and the Venture Rewards card. Business cards, such as the Spark Cash card, are excluded from the two card limit.

In terms of sign-up bonuses, Capital One’s terms and conditions states that a “bonus may not be available for existing or previous account holders” but that is very vague and not strictly enforced. You will more than likely be able to earn multiple sign-up bonuses from a single card.


Barclays has an unofficial 6/24 rule, similar to Chase’s 5/24 rule. While it is not as concrete as Chase, Barclays seems to deny new applications if you have more than 6 new accounts open in the past 24 months, including all credit card accounts from any bank.

Barclays also allows you to earn multiple sign-up bonuses on a single card, as long as you close the card and re-apply each time. You are not able to open multiple accounts of the same Barclays credit card while that card is active.


Each bank offers their own unique rules and guidelines regarding credit card applications and sign-up bonuses. It is so important to have a firm grasp on the rules a bank has in place before applying for a new credit card. The last thing you want is to apply for a new credit card, receive a hard pull on your credit report, and get denied because of one of these rules.

I hope you learned something from this post and found it helpful! Comment down below and let me know any tips/tricks you know of regarding credit card applications and sign-up bonuses.

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