Credit Cards are the single biggest source of miles and points for me. When I apply for a card I want to make sure each credit inquiry is met with:
a) an approval
b) a full sign-up bonus
for each credit card. However major banks have been changing the way they hand out those expensive sign up bonuses.
Here is the current state of things with the major credit card issuers in the US.
American Express always had a policy of one sign-up bonus per lifetime. However it wasn’t enforced for the longest time. American Express also would ‘match’ the ‘best publicly available’ bonus which lead to many getting an outsized bonus many times over.
While it seems easy to track a sign up bonus history for a certain Social Security Number American Express lost track easily as there are too many credit card types and internal names.
However American Express has been changing the terms of each new offer and moved to track and enforce a one bonus per lifetime.
In my experience you can still get several bonuses for the same card if you give American Express ‘real business’. It seems the threshold is around $10,000 spend per month – at this level American Express MAY allow you to get another sign-up bonus if they have reasonable expectation to keep your business.
For example of you have $10,000 in real business spending and you are moving your spending to a new card (i.e. because a card earns a multiplier for your category spending) and even if you had this card before you can still negotiate a new sign up bonus.
Without that it is unlikely that you can get a sign-up bonus twice these days (though certainly not impossible). I have only been denied a sign up bonus once from American Express and I have had almost every American Express credit card product.
See all the American Express credit card products as featured by our partners.
Chase has introduced a rule called 5/24 which means 5 credit card approvals from ANY bank within the last 24 months are the maximum they’d like to see to give you an approval. This means Chase has severely restricted themselves from getting any new customers as they deny approvals right away.
The good news is that if you have a history with Chase where you put a significant amount of spending on Chase cards (i.e. $5,000 or more per month) Chase does give you the ability to be approved for a new card and you will likely also get the sign up bonus for that same card. In fact I have never been denied a sign up bonus from Chase and I have also not been denied credit approval ever from Chase.
I also have Chase as my main checking account for some time now – this may also play a role.
The third option to improve you chances is to get sign up for Chase Wealth management (I have not done that) that starts with much smaller balances (as little as $10,000) so make some friends at your local Chase bank. I have two in my neighborhood with one branch that has a lot of smart bankers (and another branch that seems to have not a single smart person around).
Citibank Credit Cards (changes coming August 28th)
Citibank has been reluctant to introduce major changes and just restricted applicants to the same card every 24 months. There were still plenty of loopholes just with the may different cards Citibank offers. Citibank is planning major changes starting August 28th, 2016 and restricts sign-up bonuses to applicants who did not have a card in the same category (i.e. AAdvantage cards) within the last 24 months.
So far the change will only apply to Personal cards and Business cards are not affected – however since the volume is usually smaller with Business cards they likely are just a bit behind.
If you are planning to apply for a new Citibank credit we recommend you do it before August 28th to improve your chances to get the full sign-up bonus.
Bank of America
Bank of America cards usually carry a much smaller sign-up bonus and the company plays a ‘different game’ than the major issuers. Lot’s of business is driven by loyalty to Bank of America and/or the Alaska Airlines brand. Currently the best offer is 30,000 Alaska miles for a sign-up (which is relatively low) and the bank has not (yet) made major restrictions.
U.S. Bank lost the Lifemiles card recently but continues to issue the Flexperks card (which can get you a $400 airfare ticket for the sign-up bonus). U.S. has not been as aggressive in marketing their credit cards since the introduction of the Club Carlson card a few years ago.
Barclaycard has a number of interesting cards including the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard and the Lufthansa Miles & More card or the JetBlue card. So far the sign-up bonus seems not restricted even if you did have the card before despite such language being added to the card offers.
What is your experience?