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Is the Wall Closing in at Chase for Credit Card Bonuses?

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Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Links in this post may provide us with a commission.

chase credit card bonus rules

New Chase Credit Card Bonus Rules

This morning Doctor of Credit wrote an interesting article about some recent data points regarding Chase being more restrictive with their bonuses. Specifically, they are denying people who have opened five or more credit card accounts across all banks over the past two years are being denied by Chase for Ultimate Rewards cards.

The New Rules?

As was mentioned in the intro, there seems to be some new rules in effect for Chase cards. Many applicants are reporting being denied by Chase with the reason being they have opened 5 or more credit card accounts over the past two years.

Before I go into this any further, let me break down some of the data points:

  • The 5 cards across all banks rule generally applies to authorized user accounts as well.
  • This only applies to Chase branded cards such as the Freedom, Sapphire Preferred and Ink cards.
  • Cobranded cards appear not to be effected as there are many data points showing approvals. (Including my wife just the other day.)

chase credit card bonus rules

The Flyertalk Thread

A lot of the information about this is coming from Flyertalk. Flyertalk members are well known for giving misinformation and trying to discourage newcomers. I have read through the thread and believe most of the information is honest, but I’m not sure I believe 100% of what is being posted there.

With that said, I do believe the overall premise that Chase is tightening their rules is true. I have heard a lot of the same things being mentioned on Flyertalk from readers who were denied for cards, especially during the recent increased bonus on the Ink cards.

Chase Has Been Tweaking Their Products

Before we jump to conclusions for what this means ultimately, Chase has been tweaking their cards for the past year or so. They simplified their lineups by removing cards like the Ink Bold, Ink Classic and Sapphire.

They also changed benefits like removing the 10% checking bonus for the Freedom, the 7% dividend for the Sapphire Preferred and lounge access for the Ink Plus. All of these changes were designed to help the profitability of the product lines.

chase credit card bonus rules
The Ink Plus used to have a Bold brother!

Market Share

After the “Great Recession”, Chase really went all out at grabbing market share. They were very successful in the marketplace and now have a more mature platform of products. As part of that maturity, they can now go back and see what has worked and what hasn’t. My guess is that certain customers are costing them more money than they would like.

That doesn’t mean that those customers are unprofitable, it just means that someone determined that people who get 5 or more cards are not as profitable as they would like. The banks have a ton of data to analyze, so I’m sure this isn’t just a rash decision. Most of their moves over the past couple of years seem to have been calculated.

Being a Good Customer

chase credit card bonus rules
Keeping cards long term like the IHG card can be good for you and your relationship with Chase.

Some people in that Flyertalk thread say it doesn’t matter if you are a good customer to Chase, since this new rule applies to everyone. That is incredibly shortsighted, since they have an entire portfolio of cobranded cards which can still be applied for and we never know if/when Chase will change their rules again after studying the impact of this new policy.

I absolutely believe it is imperative to use your Chase cards. I generally put small recurring charges on all of my cards and occasionally use them in non-bonused categories. Be a good customer to Chase and ultimately they will make it worth your while. (Or at least that strategy has worked incredible well for me over the years.)

My Strategy Going Forward

As someone who has been around awhile, I already have all three of the major Ultimate Rewards earning cards and thus don’t feel this will impact me greatly. Sure I may not be able to cancel a card and get the bonus again, but there are so many opportunities to earn Ultimate Rewards points outside of sign up bonuses.

I do not feel hurt by Chase and neither should you. Things change constantly in this realm and I for one am glad that these changes only apply to the Chase branded cards. It would be a much sadder day if they blocked access to their entire card portfolio. (Something I don’t see as likely since approvals are important to making those partnerships profitable.)


A Note About Ultimate Rewards

chase credit card bonus rules

I love Ultimate Rewards, but it is no secret that they aren’t as valuable as they used to be. Just in the past two years United and Hyatt devaluaed and other than Singapore Airlines, Chase hasn’t added transfer partners or had transfer bonuses.

On the flip side, American Express has been giving out Membership Rewards points like crazy and continues to have decent transfer bonuses. Citi has also stepped up their game with ThankYou points by adding transfer partners and even their first transfer bonus as well. There is simply so much opportunity.


I am not freaking out and neither should you. Perhaps it is time to change your strategy a bit, but this is far from the end of the line. Yes Chase is changing the way they do business, but that doesn’t mean they won’t change again at some point. Change is the key word in this hobby and that continues to be the only truth across banks/companies/years.

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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  1. Did a round of applications on 6/26, including a Chase Hyatt. All 3 other cards were quickly approved. I didn’t call Chase recon line, since I had anecdotally heard that some existing accounts were being closed when someone called for reconsideration. I’d rather just be declined. Anyway, just today logged into my account and was approved. My credit score is mid 700’s, so that shouldn’t have been much of a factor. I’m guessing that newer, more restrictive policies are at the heart of the delay. Whew!

  2. So I have a few question then, I’ve opened 5 accounts in the last 24 months:
    Discover IT: 09/2013
    Chase Freedom: 2014
    Capital One Venture: early 2015
    Chase Slate: 06/2015
    Amex EveryDay Preferred: 06/2015

    The Slate has reported to the credit agencies already but the Amex EDP hasn’t shown up yet because my first cycle doesn’t close until the July 19th (only the inquiry has shown up)- so should I try to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred before the 19th so they only see 4 accounts opened in the last 24 months? Or should I wait a little? If, I wait let’s say until October when the Discover card is no longer considered part of the last 24 months do you think that will increase my chances or decrease them? (Because my report will show that I’ve opened 5 cards in the last 25 months but their new “policy” seems to be randomly enforced)

    • It is hard to say either way. I would say it is probably best to wait only because you have several recent inquiries. Based on your activity you aren’t a churner, so waiting until Discover has dropped may be alright. With that said, you seem to be on the edge of their policy and you already have Freedom and Slate, so it may be a tough approval. Hard to tell how it is going to turn out either way.

  3. Jeff,
    The denials with the 5 cards/24 month rule were mixed in May 2015 with some getting approvals and others denials. Since June 2015, I have seen no reports of approvals for a freedom sapphire, slate or ink on individuals that have opened 5 or more cards in the last 24 months. I think your last approval for a chase card in May had more to do with the timing of your application, but look forward to hearing from you on the results of your next application for a freedom this month.

  4. I’m not buying this, there have to be other factors at play that go along with the 5 new accounts. I have opened 8 new personal credit card accounts in the last 2 years, including 3 Chase cards. I was approved for the Ink Cash last month when the bonus was increased.

    To add some data points, all the accounts I opened in the last 2 years are still open. My AAoA even with all those new accounts is over 4 years. I also don’t call the recon line (or the Spanish language recon line like another blogger was promoting) to whine & cry as soon as I don’t get an auto-approval. I guess I’ll find out more when I apply for the Freedom later this month.

  5. Chase turned me down for every card I’ve applied for. I managed to talk them into the INK for my 3 yr old business and the Sapphire but they cut me off now. I only had 3 other credit cards from other banks (no churning). So they are really serious about the limit. Since then I’ve gotten 2 more cards from other banks just fine. I am an authorized user on 11 other cards if that is part of the problem.

  6. Really kicking myself for not getting the INK card. I have the no AF version which led me to get the sapphire preferred with no intention of keeping it after the first year.

    My plan was to get the INK before downgrading/closing the sapphire to keep UR transfer to Hyatt possible.

    I haven’t been declined by Chase but this bit of information will have me looking closely at related news/data points between now and the end of the year. I really don’t want to get stuck with the CSP beyond year 1 as it has no value to me (other than as a conduit for xfer). I know it’s a cost of doing business but I’d rather pay the INK AF.

    • You may be able to trade-in your Ink Cash for the Ink Plus with no application, you won’t get any bonus and the fee will not be waived, but hey what can you do.

      I traded in a Flexible Reward card to a Freedom giving me 2 Freedom cards, he offered to trade-in one of them towards a CSP, no app but no bonus, and AF not waived.

      I then applied for and got the CSP and Ink Plus, now have 2 Inks

      • Thanks for the information. I think I’ll hold off on any Chase accounts until the beginning of next year and re-evaluate the landscape. My CSP AF isn’t due until March so I have some time. I want the Ink Plus, but I’m not ready to pull the trigger on upgrading the Cash card and lose out on any sign-up bonus.

  7. I’ve gotten 5 Chase cards since November including the United Card last week before the bonus points offer ended.

  8. I’m in a somewhat familiar boat but i downgraded my Preferred to the standard Sapphire in hopes of getting the upgrade bonus next year. I guess i’m out of luck on UR transfers now.

    • CJ, I was about to write that exact same thing up until I saw your comment! That was my strategy as well. At least I can still get double points on domestic dining with the Unpreferred Sapphire , and I will hold on to my Ink+ for the forseeable future.

  9. I think this is a huge deal. I recently cancelled my Chase Sapphire Preferred and was going to reapply in a few months. I have applied for way more than 5 cards every 2 years. I don’t see how I will ever get approved for one if that is a hard and fast rule.

    • You’re absolutely right. Chase really pulled a Delta on this one. As a result, a lot of people are caught in the middle. What’s kind of weird, though, is I seem to remember reading a blog entry (maybe from the Freddy’s) with a panel of credit card execs, where the Chase exec said that they basically know and don’t care that some people churn.

      • They advertise on sites that teach people how to churn. So they definitely know. And their new “policy” to discourage churning seems hypocritical as long as they continue to pay websites to teach people how to churn.

  10. I’ve been itching to get the Hyatt card with the new bonuses, so had planned an AOR at the end of the month. Now I’m wondering if my approval is in the cards (no pun intended). Anybody else either been approved or denied the Hyatt card when they would have gotten it previously?

  11. Just got denied for the Freedom (referral from my wife) ;). Called today to “cancel” my Bold card and got a “statement credit” aka waived AF. You win some, you lose some is the way I look at it.

  12. Got denied for the Freedom (referred from my wife) ;). But called Chase today to “cancel” my Ink Bold card and got a “statement credit” aka waived AF! You win some, you lose some is the way I look at it.

      • I can vouch this, I was denied for Ink Cash last week too with same reasons stated above (too many credit inquiries, HUCA about 3 times everyday for a week but every rep told me the same …. tired now and won’t bother call again, instead will focus on which Chase card that I need to close. If they don’t want our business, that let’s be it…..will close some and keep only UR earning cards.

  13. I got Sapphire last year when my FICO score was 556. I am an International student. I have 23 credit cards in total and 13 of them from Chase. Am I too lucky?

  14. I’m not convinced that this only affects Chase UR cards. I got my first ever Chase denial two weeks ago, for a Marriott card. I called reconsideration four times and got the same answer each time, that I had opened too many accounts (not just with them) in the last two years. Credit score over 800, put charges on every card every few months, long history with Chase. I have been churning for four years and have never had a problem with Chase–it usually just requires shifting around some credit. I hope you’re right and that my denial is just a fluke.

  15. I just recently applied for the Chase Freedom with the increased signup bonus. I’ve had Sapphire Preferred since the day it started as I had an older product that converted to it. I haven’t opened a lot of cards over the last few years except Citi AA and Barclays US Air since I was chasing those point before they combined. (It worked too, 350k and I haven’t flown AA in years). 800 level credit.

    I was just informed by the reconsideration agent that I was declined due to too many credit applications. He was very clear and emphasized that this was only in regards to the Chase line of products, Freedom, Ink and Sapphire and that I was free to apply for any other products.

    I think the real key here is for anyone new in the hobby, you need to get the Sapphire or Ink 1st and plan on keeping it forever. For those who don’t have it right now & are already churners, I fear you may be locked out of the UR ecosystem.


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