Before applying to Chase credit cards, it’s important to understand the rules for applications (2/30 Rule), eligibility (5/24 Rule), and bonuses (once every two years).
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The 2/30 rule says that you can only have two applications every 30 days or else you’ll automatically be rejected.
A good strategy is to apply for two cards at the same time, that way you can combine hard pulls on the same day and minimize the credit inquiries on your credit report. If you apply for more than one card on the same day with the same issuer, they’ll only pull your credit once.
Something to consider is just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. If your credit profile doesn’t qualify for certain cards, you still won’t get approved. For example, if you’re someone who has a new credit history or doesn’t have a relationship with Chase, then Chase will most likely only grant you one card.
If you don’t have a high credit score, your chances of getting approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve is slim. Chase usually looks for a great credit score or a banking relationship. It’s a lot easier and less risky for Chase to give you a credit line of $1,000 with the Chase Freedom, as opposed to the minimum $10,000 credit limit with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
The most infamous rule is the Chase 5/24 rule. The idea is if you have more than five new credit cards in the past 24 months, from any issuer, you’ll automatically get rejected for certain Chase cards.
For example, if you received 4 Bank of America credit cards and 1 Citi credit card in the past 24 months, then your Chase application will be automatically rejected because of 5/24.
The main exception to this is Chase business cards because they don’t go on your credit report. Even though Chase can see them on your report, they don’t care.
Cards affected by Chase 5/24
- Grey boxes = Cards that can’t be applied for but are product change (downgrade) options
- Navy blue boxes = Affected by 5/24 BUT in-branch pre-approvals can circumvent 5/24
- Red boxes = Affected by 5/24 AND no pre-approvals
- Green boxes = Not affected by 5/24
A “loophole” around 5/24 is in-branch pre-approvals. Be wary if a banker says you’re pre-approved for everything. There are two scenarios:
1. You’re pre-approved for everything
2. They’re not sure and are just saying you’re pre-approved
In this case, ask them to print out the card terms for you. If the interest rate is a range like 19–22%, you’re not pre-approved. If the interest rate is an exact number like 19.35%, then you’re pre-approved.
Just because you’re pre-approved for a card doesn’t mean you’ll 100% be approved for the card. You still have to go through the application and underwriting process.
For our purpose, we’re looking at pre-approvals as a way to get around the 5/24 rule.
If you don’t want to go in-branch, you can check for pre-approvals online. Log into your Chase account and see if there are any special targeted offers with a green check mark. The other way is to wait for a mailer via snail mail.
The recommended way to get pre-approved for cards is to not apply for any Chase cards in 6 months. It’s not a science, so your experience may vary.
Sign up bonuses
Regarding sign up bonuses, you can qualify for a new bonus every 24 months. For example, if you received the Hyatt sign up bonus in 2013 and applied for the card again in 2017, you would be eligible to receive a new bonus.
If you’re currently an authorized user for a card you want to apply for, you should remove yourself to qualify for the sign-up bonus.
If you’re looking for the optimal strategy, go for the cards in the red boxes first, then the navy blue cards, followed by green. The main reason why you want the cards in the red boxes first is that they’re affected by 5/24, and there’s no way around that.
Keep in mind, just because it’s the optimal strategy doesn’t mean it makes sense for you. For example, the Southwest cards are in red boxes, but they don’t make sense for people who don’t live in a Southwest hub.
At the end of the day, we recommend applying for cards that make sense for you and add value based on what you’re trying to achieve.