Chase is now denying applications for the Sapphire Preferred, Slate, and Freedom if you have five or more new credit card accounts total from any banks in the last two years.

This change does not affect your ability to be approved for other Chase personal cards that are co-branded with banks and hotels like the United, Marriott, Southwest, or British Airways cards or any Chase business cards.

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Starting last month, Chase began to deny applications for its proprietary personal cards–the best of which are the Sapphire Preferred and Freedom–by people who have recently opened too many credit card accounts. Presumably Chase is doing this because if you open a card for its bonus and then cancel the card without becoming a multi-year customer, you are an unprofitable customer. If you have opened several cards recently, you’re obviously more likely to be a person who just gets a bonus and then closes a card.

We know this because there are dozens of reports of denied applications for this stated reason since May on FlyerTalk, reddit, and a Doctor of Credit thread. Based on those reports, I’ll sketch out the rules as best as we can tell them, since Chase doesn’t post these rules anywhere. I’ll also suggest your new optimal credit card strategy based on whether you’re new to the frequent flyer milesphere or whether you’ve been around for a while.

New Rules to Be Approved for a Chase Credit Card

If you are applying for a Chase-branded personal credit card (ie Sapphire Preferred, Freedom, Slate), and you have 5+ new card accounts in the last two years, you will be denied. I’m using the more widely accepted 5+ number even though at least one person reports being denied with only 4 new accounts in the last two years.

If you are applying for a co-branded airline or hotel card from Chase (ie United, Southwest, Amtrak, British Airways) or business card, old rules for approval apply. A Chase rep told one redditor about this distinction explicitly.

  • There is no maximum number of new accounts you can have open and still be approved.
  • If you get a “pending” response to your application and call reconsideration, the agent may say you have too much credit from Chase or too many cards open in which case you can get the new card approved by moving credit lines or closing an old card.

You can only get the bonus on the same Chase card once every 24 months. This 24 month clock starts when you got the last bonus (which may be several months after you got the card). Do not apply for the new card again until 24 months from your last bonus on that card. Also, if you still have your old card, you are ineligible for the bonus, so cancel it before re-applying.

New Best Practices

Chase now has the strictest approval policy for some of its best cards.

Everyone should have a Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus for their big sign up bonuses, generous category bonuses, and transferability to top programs like United, Hyatt, British Airways, Southwest, Singapore, Virgin Atlantic, Korean, and more. If you’re new to earning frequent flyer miles, these should be the first cards you get even though they are not at the top of my Top Ten List because if you don’t get them early in your card-opening lifetime, you’ll never be able to get them.

But what if you’ve been in the miles world for a while?

I’ve gotten more than 20 cards in the last two years. I was planning on getting a Sapphire Preferred again soon because it has been long enough since I closed my last one that I could get the bonus again. But with the new rule, I’d be rejected, so I won’t apply. In fact, I won’t apply for a new Sapphire Preferred again because I can’t imagine a two-year period in which I have fewer than five new accounts. There are just way too many good card offers out there.

Since I can’t get new ones, I’ll hold onto my Freedom and Ink Plus. My Freedom has no annual fee, and I occasionally use it for its 5x categories. My Ink Plus has a $95 annual fee, but I occasionally use it for its 5x categories. Furthermore Freedom points are only worth a penny without an Ink Plus or Sapphire Preferred; with one, though, you can transfer Freedom’s points to the Ink Plus or Sapphire Preferred and from there to airline miles or hotel points.

I can and will continue to open co-branded cards offered by Chase. I just opened a United personal and business card for 50k miles each a few months ago. In the future, I’ll look at British Airways and Southwest cards.

Bottom Line

Terrible news from Chase: you will be denied for a new Chase card like the Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, or Slate if you have 5+ other new credit card accounts in the last two years.

This change doesn’t affect Chase co-branded airlines and hotel cards like the United or Marriott cards or business cards like Ink Plus.

This would be truly catastrophic if it spread to Chase co-branded cards, Chase business cards, or other banks.

Full Chase application rules (FlyerTalk wiki)

Hat Tip Doctor of Credit

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