Combining Hard Inquiries for Credit Cards FAQ

[ Update 9/13/2018 ] Combining hard inquiries to double dip and bypass Chase 5/24 no longer works. Doing so will put eyes on your account, and Chase will call you to close a card or choose for you.

Q1: I spoke to my banker, and they said applying for two cards will always result in 2 inquiries. Is this accurate?

Technically, yes. On the bank's end, they submit two inquiries for two applications. However, on the credit bureau side, when they see two inquiries on the same day from the same credit issuer, they think it must be a duplicate by mistake; therefore they only process one inquiry. 

The rationale is that most people won't apply for two cards on the same day.

Q2: What happens if you apply for a business and a personal card on the same day?

It depends on how the credit issuer is set up. If the business and personal cards are in different departments, it will be two inquiries. 

American Express usually combines the inquiries. For Chase, your mileage may vary. Some people have reported 1, and others, 2. 

Q3: It didn't work?!?

If you applied for two credit cards in the same day and combining pulls didn't work, the following are possibilities:

  1. You timed it incorrectly. We know that the inquiries have to happen on the same day, but it's not clear when the clock starts for the 24-hour window.

  2. The credit issuer pulled from 2 different credit bureaus.

To minimize the risks of it not working, apply for the two cards using the same application method. For example, if you apply online, apply for both cards online. If you apply in-person with a banker, then apply for both cards with the banker. Just don't apply for one online and another in-person.

I recommend applying online to save time, and some bankers won't let you apply for two cards on the same day.

How to apply for two cards online: 

  • Option 1: Clear cookies after the first app => close browser => reopen

  • Option 2: Use incognito (n + shift + ctrl/mac) for first app => close it all => 2nd incognito window

  • Option 3: Use different browsers for each app (Chrome, Firefox, IE, etc.)

Q4: Can I combine hard pulls if I have a thin credit file?

I don't recommend trying to combine hard pulls if you have thin credit profile. Applying for two cards on the same day from the same credit issuer can be seen as risky behavior. 

Q5: What if it doesn't work?

One common comment I receive is they're that worried combining hard inquiries won't work, and they'll be stuck with two. 

If you were going to apply for the two cards regardless, what's the downside of trying to combine the inquiries? 

  • No Attempt: Default = 2 inquiries for 2 cards

  • Combine Attempt: Works = 1 inquiry for 2 cards

OR

  • Doesn't work = 2 inquiries for 2 cards

  • Takeaway: The "bad" outcome is the default/normal outcome.

There's not really a downside in trying to combine inquiries if you were going to apply for the cards anyway. However, there is a risk if you have a thin credit file. I don't recommend using this method if you have less than a year of credit history.

Q6: Combining Chase Hard Inquiries? 

Given the current credit landscape, I don't recommend attempting to combine inquiries unless you're in the mid-game. Getting too many cards at once can be seen as risky behavior. 

  • 0-1 Chase cards = I wouldn't*

  • 2-5 Chase cards = worth considering^

  • 6+ Chase cards = I wouldn't*

* YMMV obviously; I wouldn't doesn't mean you shouldn't.

^ Carve out room

Chase (usually) wants to give you ~50% of your income as your total credit limit (CL) among Chase personal cards.

Example:

  • $60k income = $30k "ideal" Chase CL.

If you're already at $30k, and you want the Hyatt ($5k min starting limit)...

  • Carve out: $5k of room; decrease on one card by $5k or $1k x 5 cards.

Why?
Banks are afraid of bust out fraud. Per Experian white paper:

"U.S. card issuers estimate their losses from this type of
fraud to be more than $1.5 billion annually."

Source: https://www.experian.com/assets/decision-analytics/white-papers/bust-out-fraud-white-paper.pdf



Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, vendors or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. 

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