Chasing a New Credit Card Strategy

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For the last week or two I’ve been seeing and receiving a growing number of emails, posts, and comments about an alleged shift in how Chase is handling credit card approvals for at least some of their products.  Now, before I go any further I want to emphasize that I have nothing from Chase stating that there has been any shift – nor would I expect any official word from them about a change in how they may approve credit card applicants as that is outside of the scope of our relationship.  So, nothing in this post is to be construed official at all, but I still think the issue is worth mentioning at this point given the growing number of reports and how integral Chase credit card products are to many of our miles and points earning strategies.

The best I can tell there are more reports on Flyertalk (and other locations) about people who otherwise report having good credit getting turned down for Chase credit cards than there have been in the past, especially for the Chase “flagship” Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, and Slate products (as opposed to the co-branded cards like the United, Southwest, Hyatt, etc).  Many of these reports include being told by Chase that the reason they were turned down is they have opened too many accounts in the last two years…not just with Chase, but with other banks, too.  Some are surmising that the “magic number” of new accounts in the last two years to get some of those Chase products is 4 or 5 new cards total from all banks, possibly not including department store cards and potentially business cards.  There are some reports that being an authorized user on a card may contribute somewhat to the maximum number of new accounts.

I haven’t really seen too many reports of people being surprised with denials for the co-branded Chase cards at this point, and it instead has been limited to the Chase branded products mentioned above.  Now, the internet is full of false information, just like it is also full of helpful information.  My gut is that there has been a change in the approval formula that is causing new problems for some folks to get approved for some of these products, but credit card application formulas aren’t as simple for approvals or denials as X cards in X months and you are 100% out, so I can’t tell you any magic limit.

I can tell you that you might want to read through the linked Flyertalk thread and look for trends in the stories, keeping in mind of course that sometimes the story being told isn’t always 100% complete or correct.  Still, trends can be very useful especially when enough recent reports are shared in one place.

So, what to do if you are in the market for a Chase rewards credit card – especially one like the Sapphire Preferred or Chase Freedom that seem to have more reports of approval issues?  First, I wouldn’t panic.  However, if a potential denial would be a big issue for you then I would consider your own credit profile after reading through some of the online reports with approvals or denials and make a decision you are most comfortable with.  This might also be a good time to check your own credit reports – remember you get one free each year from each of the three bureaus via AnnualCreditReport.com.

If you are newer to the rewards credit card game I would go ahead and make getting the Sapphire Preferred and/or Freedom cards a priority pretty early on to avoid any potential issues with getting them down the road.  These are very good rewards credit cards that my family personally has and uses regularly.  Truthfully, I would recommend getting those cards early on in your miles and points “career” even without any of the new recent reports, so not much has really changed in that regard.  I would also recommend thinking long and hard before cancelling one in case you may have trouble getting it again in the future if this reported shift holds for the long term.

I would guess that banks adjust formulas for how they manage credit approvals with some regularity.  Every now and then there may be a change a bank makes that stands out a bit more to those in our community, and this may be one of those times.

Have you had any experience applying for Chase cards in the last few weeks?

 

 

 

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

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  1. I recently applied for the United Explorer credit card, and got approved instantly (first time it’s ever happened to me). I opened 2 other cards in the 2 years prior: Sapphire Preferred and Hyatt. But the credit limit on my United card is much lower than my other Chase credit cards. YMMV.

  2. I have a 720 credit score (average) and I just got turned down for a Chase card. Although I have decent credit now, that wasn’t always the case. I have a default from 5 years ago on my credit report. Anyway, they denied credit based on the default that still shows on my record. I am guessing I will have to wait another 2 years before I can get a Chase card. 🙁

  3. Unfortunately, it looks like this is a trend that will catch on. I don’t have any insider information but common sense says that this policy makes sense for banks. VERY few people (that banks want as customers) honestly need more than the newly cited max five new credit cards in two years. Looks like the CC game is going to continue tightening until the next recession.

  4. Had the SO apply for a Chase Freedom Card for the better sign-up bonus. My account has all the churning/MSing/etc. She is not an AU on any of my cards or anything. In the past 2 years she has applied, and received, two credit cards. After applying for the Freedom was given a reference number and a number to call. They asked her why she was applying for the Freedom and some general info about her credit card spending/personal info. Waited on hold for a few minutes and was finally approved.

    I get Chase being more cautious nowadays, especially if it was someone like me who churns. But she is a “normal” credit card user and just wanted the cashback 5x amount.

    (also note: we are not married so she doesn’t share my name, but we do share an address, and also she isn’t linked to my UR profile in anyway). So maybe they worried about her because of me and found us through the address? No idea, complete guess on that.

  5. My wife was denied for the Chase Sapphire and had not applied for any cards for 6 months. Chase said the new accounts over the last 24 months were too high (about 14 I believe). When the last Chase card was approved, she had 16 and it was instantly approved with a high limit. We definitely noticed the change. Our plan is to continue our approach with Citi and Barclays until we are forced to reduce applications or the Chase offers become worth decreasing our applications.

  6. From what my most recent Chase representative told me when I applied and had to call about a pending Chase Ink Cash application, Chase is putting more weight on having banking accounts with Chase to better ascertain credit-worthiness for people with many credit card accounts. I already had the CSP, Chase Ink Bold & Plus, and United MileagePlus cards. I put a LOT of spend on all of them, since I own my own small business. (I also have a total of 16 credit cards between business and personal.)

    Turned out that the reason for the pending application for me wasn’t any of the above but the fact that they were considering me for a very large credit limit on the Ink Cash. I got WAY more credit than I wanted/needed/expected. Nice surprise, even if it’s a business card that doesn’t improve my personal total credit or utilization rating at all.

    So one newer factor that now may improve chances for approval from Chase (or perhaps any other bank) is having a good amount of money in checking/savings/investment accounts with that bank. It may not just be about credit score but also about being confirmed to having decent finances and available savings/cushion…to protect Chase a bit in the event of a future likely recession.

    There’s a reason that Citi gives lower annual fees (and higher bonuses) to in-branch applications for Citi Prestige when one has a Citigold checking account. Citi likely has a similarly minded approach but differently executed than Chase.

    • Got denied for Freedom, never had it. Only AU to my spouse’s Freedom.
      Went to my branch. Rep filed a “special reconsideration” on my behalf due to the fact that:
      1) We have had a solid, long-term relationship with branch, and substantial balances in our business and personal bank accounts.
      2) Also, when the rep checked on his system, he saw that I was showing as Pre-approved for the Freedom, CSP and Slate, so he couldn’t understand why I was declined

      Needless to say, our bank rep was shocked when the reconsideration was denied, due to this now cliched reason – “too many new accounts in the past 24 months.” Like many others, I was told that they cannot override the denial.
      My credit history is solid, FICO in the 800+

    • I should also add that, during the 3 separate reconsideration calls, that I had noticed a definite HARSHNESS/shortness (for lack of a better description) in the tone and demeanor of the phone calls, so VERY different from the helpful attitude we’ve received in the past.
      MP, I was ready to consolidate our bank accounts from other banks and bring them to Chase, so we could become Chase Private Clients. Obviously, I will not be doing that. I will probably go with Citi. Our branch rep was very disheartened and offered to try one more back number to call but I politely said NO MORE. If Chase does not want to invest in us, then we do not wish to invest in them.

      • I totally agreed! We made 3 phone calls re: retention bonus in the past a few weeks. We all noticed the rep’s attitude was not as friendly nor enthusiastic as before. I wonder if there was a flag on their screen screaming “Bad Customer” or what! Otherwise, why the change of the tone?

  7. I just recently denied for a Chase Freedom also and the representative told me because it was for too many new accounts opened in the past 2 years (I have 13 new accounts). I even offered closing both my Sapphire and my United but still no dice.

  8. Yeah, I was sorry to hear about this and have been trying to come up with a strategy. I have excellent credit (813) and I’m still not going to try to get the Freedom or Sapphire due to having opened more that 4 cards per year–I’ve read multiple accounts of people with high credit score And high income being turned down.

    I really wanted those two, so it looks like I’ll continue to do my best until other banks follow suit, then when I’ve had 4 or less apps in 2 years, then I will apply for those 2 Chase products. It is getting harder and harder Summer! I’m so grateful I got what I did already.

  9. I was denied a Chase Freedom within the last week or 2. I haven’t bothered trying the reconsideration line yet. I’ll have to read up on whether there is any success under the new reality in getting a reconsideration on one of the non-cobrand cards.

  10. I applied for the Chase Sapphire last week and was denied. My credit score is over 800 and I hadn’t applied for any credit cards within the last 6 months. When I applied I got a pending notice, and when I called the reconsideration line a few days later they said I had opened too many accounts in the last 2 years (6 cards). I’ve been a Chase customer for years with savings and checking accounts, so I was quite shocked. 🙁

  11. I too was declined for the Freedom card at the end of May – first time in 35 years – despite excellent credit but alas too many new credit card accounts in the last 2 years. Ironically, my last three successful applications were with Chase before the Freedom decline. Therefore, I cancelled my Chase checking account last Friday at my local branch. My long time Chase banker looked shocked because I’m not a churner – I use my cards for air travel and hotel upgrades and points.

  12. I am bummed that I will probably never be able to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred now, but of the Ink Plus, Freedom, and Sapphire, if I had to miss out on one, it would be the Sapphire. We use the 5x rewards categories on the Ink and Freedom extensively.

    I am glad that for now they are not applying this rule to their co-branded cards, because I have a few that I would still like to have. I am going to talk to my husband about applying for them sooner rather than later in case this policy changes.

    I’m so thankful for sites like yours and Flyertalk that keep us abreast of all of these changes!

    • I’ve been reading threads/articles about these Chase changes this afternoon and there have been reports of mixed success about people getting rejected for co-branded cards as well, not as bad as the UR cards, but it does seem to be tightening up.

      In light of that, we decided to go ahead and apply for the BA Visa today because we need Avios for a trip that we’re planning, and wanted to apply before it got any worse. We were approved, not instantly, but pretty easily after calling into Chase and moving some credit around.

      I still have a couple of co-branded cards that I want, but will need to wait on those, so I hope that it doesn’t get any harder to get the co-branded cards. I have really been loving the UR program so far, and I hate to see all of these changes with Chase.

  13. My wife just got shot down for the Freedom card. I would say the experience was *considerably* different from our other experiences with Chase over time, and leads me to conclude that there is definitely a new methodology. Whether it will be a short term one, or just is cyclical, I don’t know. In our family, I apply for the brunt of the credit cards. She has applied for 9 in the last 2 years, and 4 Chase cards. Very high credit score — in the 800s. Usually automatically approved. We got the pending message, and she called recon to ask if she could provide any additional information. The representative was brusque, said they would not reconsider, and said it didn’t matter if she wanted to move credit. She tried again, much more aggressive about our extensive relationship with Chase (she has a business account with them) and it receive extremely brusque treatment (including an admonition that they saw we had already called once and they weren’t going to change their minds).

    Not to be deterred, and mostly to see what would happen, a couple of days later she went into a Chase bank and talked to her banker, to see if he could intervene. He did some looking and saw that she was actually “pre-approved” on his system for the Freedom card and decided to use that to try to get Chase to reconsider. He called, and was shot down. He said she simply has opened too many accounts and they won’t reconsider. With respect to the “pre-approval,” they said that doesn’t mean actually approved — you still need to apply and they reserve the right to not let you open a new card.

    As a comparison, I’ve been waiting for my two years to pass to apply for a Hyatt Chase card, which I did a couple of days ago. No problems. And I have more applications than she does. So, thought I’m just a small sample size, from my perspective everything that’s being discussed on flyertalk looks correct. I can’t say that the 4 or 5 number is too many, but in my case, 9 is definitely too many and that 9 appears to include authorized user cards.

    • It would be very helpful if they would just be transparent about their policy. I don’t understand why it has to be such a game. Just state the rules up front so that people know if they should apply or not. It would save the consumer grief and also save them administrative funds and money they are paying folks on the recon line to say no.

  14. DW applied last Thursday for the Sapphire. Got a rejection letter in the mail today. Too many applications. FICO is 816 without a single denial in the last 10 years.

    Fortunately, we both have Freedom cards and I still have a Sapphire, so we can at least play the quarterly game and transfer the points to Sapphire (and then on to any of our travel accounts). But, it looks like the game is over to some extent.

    Oh well, I’m not complaining. We’re taking a $8,779 vacation for a grand total of $33 this July! And, I still have over 2 million points overall in various accounts. Probably time to take a break anyway.

  15. A data point for co-branded cards: I was denied three weeks ago for the Marriott personal card, given the reason that I had too many open accounts in the last 24 months. Three different calls to reconsideration, but the reps wouldn’t budge. Interestingly, after an initial denial for the Marriott business, I had immediate success with reconsideration. This is my first Chase denial ever. I’ve got about $30,000 personal credit line available on my Chase personal cards, so always been able to move credit to get a new card. FICO score 800+, CSP, IHG, Quicken (no value, but my oldest Chase account) and Ink Bold open and used frequently. I guess I’ll keep what I’ve got and resign myself to no more personal Chase applications.

    • @Rachel–wow. Thanks for the heads up on that one. I was under the impression it was the Sapphire and Freedom mainly. Maybe as word gets out and people stop applying for their cards, they’ll ease up on the policy?

  16. Both the wife and I applied on 5-13-15 for the Chase Freedom card and were denied. The reason was also the “too many cards in the past 24 months”. looks like a Citi, AMEX and Barclay strategy going forward

  17. I understand Chase’s decision to tighten up the credit card approval. But the reconsideration reps are very blunt and harsh.

  18. I just got denied the Chase Ink Business plus because I “had too many cards opened with Chase recently.” I’m usually pretty good with reconsideration calls but they would not budge even a little bit. I may be reading into the situation but it seemed to me that the representative was following some unbreakable new rule.

  19. Curious for more experienced opinions on my situation.
    In the last 2 years I have opened 4 credit cards (3 in the last few months) and was also added as an AU on 1 card.
    I have neither the CSP or the CF cards, but would like both. Would you recommend applying for both at the same time? or one after the other?

    • Stephanie, it is anyone’s guess at this point. I like applying for the Freedom first for the increased bonus, but the danger for the Freedom is that you get it, but can’t get the CSP, and then you can’t transfer to hotel and airline partners (assuming that was your goal, and assuming you or spouse don’t have the Ink Bold, Ink Plus, or spouse doesn’t have the CSP). Personally I would probably just go for one right now, but if you get it and then want to try for the other then go for it! Let us know how it goes!

      • Applied for the CSP and was approved! Trying to decide if I want to push my luck and apply for the freedom now too. Decided to go for the CSP first, since that was the only scenario where the Freedom really appealed to me

          • Went for both. 1 credit pull, whats the harm, right? and got instant approval for freedom too. what a rush!
            I’m guessing I was right on the line of Chase’s new rule. I’ve been a reader in the award travel world for a while, but waited a long time to get involved myself until I was a bit more confident that I knew what I was doing. Which I guess paid off this time, or I would have already had way too many apps under Chase’s new rules!

          • Stephanie, that is great news and thanks for sharing. While I do believe the tightening of approvals, there are still tons of folks out there who will get approved without issue, just as you showed. Enjoy and congrats!

  20. Yep, got denied for the Freedom. I was told I had five accounts opened in the last two years and the limit was four. The agent said it was a new policy. Really bummed because I’ve been wanting the Freedom since I started this in January but had been putting in off to apply for other cards with increased sign-up bonuses. Oh well, unless they change their policy again it is unlikely I’ll ever get it now.

  21. Is there any further news concerning Chase approving or denying co branded cards such as British Air ? I have recently been denied the United card but , my wife was approved . I was not surprised as I have less than 3 years history and 9 cards since May . I’m planning some more applications starting in February when I may apply for the Ink Plus and I’m thinking my wife should start applying for various Chase cards initially the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus so we can use Ultimate Rewards . Maybe later we will think about IHG , Hyatt , Marriott or another United card .
    If the Chase 5/24 doesn’t necessarily apply to co brand cards that would be helpful . Thanks for any suggestions .

    • Daryl, I’ve heard mixed reports for co-branded cards. I have heard that some Chase biz cards have been approved to those who exceed the 5/24 “rule” for sure. I would certainly secure the CSP early in her card career if possible. I wish I could give you hard and fast stats on the 5/24 for co-branded cards but I have just heard too much conflicting info to say with certainty.

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