Some people use credit cards strictly for convenience and making everyday purchases. Other people use a multiple credit card strategy to maximize rewards and squeeze every drop of earning power out of sign up bonus offers. If that describes you, there’s no shame. However, you should know that your moves haven’t gone unnoticed by the big banks. At least one of the card issuers — Chase — has set a limit on your ability to put some well-oiled, points-earning machinery in place. This speed bump on the road to rewards domination is the Chase 5/24 rule.
What is the Chase 5/24 rule?
First off, it’s important to note what the Chase 5/24 is not. It’s not actually a “rule.” That is, you won’t find it written down anywhere in Chase’s official documentation.
Instead, it’s a threshold you need to be under in order to be approved for a new Chase credit card. When the card you’re applying for is subject to the 5/24 rule — and all of Chase’s credit cards are — Chase will decline your credit card application if you’ve opened five or more new personal credit card accounts within the last 24 months. This determination has nothing to do with other factors that are used to approve people for credit, including credit score, income level and outstanding debt.
The 5/24 rule doesn’t just apply to cards you acquire from Chase, either. If you have opened five or more cards from any issuer in the last 24 months, your application for a new Chase credit card can be denied. For instance, suppose you acquire one Citibank, two Discover cards and two American Express cards in the last 24 months. You are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.
How the 5/24 rule may affect your card eligibility
When thinking about how many accounts you’ve opened in the past five months, it helps to better understand Chase’s definition of an account. Unfortunately, the issuer has a broad stance on what counts, including even department store cards that are part of a national payment system and cards you are an authorized user on.
Once you’ve been denied, you have two options. First, you can wait until you are under the 5/24 threshold and reapply for a Chase card then. The other option is to try and get a different type of Chase card under the Chase Ultimate Rewards family of reward cards, something you are eligible to do if you’ve held your current card for at least a year. If you go that route, though, you aren’t going to be eligible for the new card’s sign up bonus — which, let’s face it, is one of the main draws.
It’s worth noting that Chase doesn’t like customers whom it perceives as blatantly trying to game the rewards system, which is a type of “bust-out fraud.” It will not hesitate to shut down all of your Chase accounts if it believes you are engaged in this type of activity. If you want to remain a Chase customer, it’s best not to appear too eager.
Which credit cards are impacted by the 5/24 rule?
All reward cards that are exclusive to Chase appear to be affected by the 5/24 rule. The list includes these heavy-hitters:
- Chase Freedom®
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
- Chase Slate®
Cobranded reward cards are also now subject to the 5/24 rule, including the following popular favorites:
- AARP® Credit Card from Chase
- Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card
- Disney® Visa® Card and Disney® Premier Visa® Card
- IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
- United℠ Explorer Card
Exceptions to the 5/24 rule
It used to be rather easy to get around the Chase 5/24 rule. Prospective cardholders could apply through banner offers or prequalified offers on the online tool. There were also a number of co-branded cards that weren’t subject to the rule.
Since late 2018, however, Chase has tightened up its application process, and most ways of getting around the rule are no longer viable. You may still be able to bypass the 5/24 rule by responding to a targeted mailer or going into a physical Chase bank branch and applying for a card there.
Keep in mind that the 5/24 rule applies to personal credit cards only. If you are a business owner, you may still be eligible for a business credit card.
How to check your 5/24 standing
An easy way to check your standing is to order a copy of your credit report and look at the dates listed for all of the recent accounts you’ve opened. This is the same information Chase relies on, so you are seeing the same thing the company looks at.
You won’t be below the 5/24 threshold until the first day of the 25th month after you opened the fifth account. If that date was August 12, 2019, for instance, you can’t apply for a new Chase card until September 1, 2021.
The bottom line
Chase doesn’t want you to have too much of a good thing, and if you violate its norms, the issuer won’t hesitate to close all your accounts. The Chase 5/24 rule doesn’t have to ruin your ability to use multiple cards to maximize your rewards, though. A good strategy is to apply for the most valuable Chase cards first (since it is the only issuer to have this threshold) and then flesh out your system with reward cards from other issuers.