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Submitting serial credit card applications has turned into something of an American sport. Consumers apply for multiple credit cards each year in an attempt to take advantage of various credit card offers. Those include generous sign-up bonuses, rewards, and 0% APR introductory offers.
But did you know that many credit card issuers, including the most popular ones, place limits on how many cards you can apply for? One of the most common is the “5/24 Rule.” It’s a non-written rule imposed by Chase, which is the issuer of some of the top credit cards available.
Here's what you need to know about the Chase 5/24 rule and how it affects you.
What Is the Chase 5/24 Rule?
The 5/24 rule limits your ability to get a Chase credit card. In short, you will not be approved for a personal credit card with Chase if you have opened five or more credit cards with any bank in the past 24 months.
Note that the rule apples to cards you have with any bank. It isn’t limited to Chase cards you've opened in the last two years. The five-card limit includes credit cards issued by any credit card provider, including Chase.
If you’re applying for a credit card with Chase and think you may be approaching the five-card limit, you may want to think twice about applying at all. The rule applies even if you have excellent credit and can easily afford the additional payment based on your income.
Chase isn’t the only credit card issuer to place limits on how many cards you can apply for. Most card issuers do, even if they don’t publish the limits in their fine print.
The Chase 5/24 rule may be the best-known of the lot, but you won't find a word about it in Chase's credit card terms. A search of the “5/24 rule” on the Chase website produces no results. But it’s known to exist and has been chronicled by major media outlets and credit card enthusiasts on Reddit.
If you are in danger of reaching the five-card limit within 24 months of applying for a card with Chase, there are a few options for you. We'll mention a couple briefly here and expand on them further below. Here's what you can do if you've reached the 5/24 limit:
- Wait for enough time to pass that one or two of the previously obtained credit cards fall outside the 24-month limit, or
- Apply for a credit card with a different issuer.
But once again, be aware that other card issuers have their own rules. Five new credit cards within 24 months may very well exceed the limits of competing banks.
Exceptions to the Chase 5/24 Rule
Given that Chase doesn’t publish specific guidelines on the 5/24 rule, the possibility of exceptions is more speculation than fact.
But some of the possible exceptions may include:
1. Business credit cards
Some sites specifically indicate that business credit cards are not an exception to the rule. CNBC lists Chase’s own Ink Business Cash, Preferred, and Unlimited cards as counting as well as a laundry list of co-branded travel and business cards issued by Chase.
But one possible exception could be business credit cards not listed in your name. The exception may apply if the credit card is held in the name of your business, using your business taxpayer ID number, rather than your Social Security number. In that case, the card issuer is more likely to report the credit card status to commercial credit bureaus than to the major personal ones (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion).
2. Authorized user accounts
Though it seems logical these would be an exception to the rule, it doesn’t appear so. At least one source, Forbes, reports that authorized user status does count toward the 5/24 rule. Like all other exceptions on this list, it’s at best pure speculation since Chase doesn’t publish specific guidelines.
If you’ve been added as an authorized user on any credit cards within the past 24 months, you can request the removal of authorized status. You'll need to discuss this with the primary account holder, as well as the issuing bank. But you may also need to contact the three credit bureaus yourself to have the status changed immediately.
3. Pre-approved offers received in the mail
There are reports from users on Reddit that Chase will approve you for a preapproved offer sent to you in the mail, even if you have reached the 5/24 limit. But reports from other sources indicate this applies only if the credit card is offered at a fixed rate APR.
Of course, the major disadvantage here is that these offers must originate from Chase. There’s nothing you can do either to encourage such an offer or be certain it will include a fixed APR.
4. Pre-approved offers in your Chase account or Chase app
Here again, we have Reddit users coming to the rescue on this question. But be advised the entries are three years old and may no longer apply. However, Redditors report that the 5/24 rule could be bypassed if the offer in the app includes the wording “You’re Already Approved.” And once again, this may apply only to fixed-rate cards, not variable APRs.
5. In-branch pre-approval
We did find one applicant on Reddit reporting applying for a card in branch can help you get approved even if you're over 5/24. Another article mentions you must be told by a bank branch employee that you have been pre-approved for a credit card for this to work. This is the only source we were able to find making such a claim. Personal intervention may get rules bent even in complex financial organizations, like Chase. However, there's a lack of others confirming success with this method.
6. New to Chase
We're seeing posts on Reddit reporting some applicants being approved for a Chase card while also being above 5/24. From the information on this Reddit thread, applicants at 8/24 and 9/24 were recently approved. What's the catch? It seems if you don't already own a Chase-branded credit card, the 5/24 rule may not apply to you. Here's a list of those Chase-branded cards:
- Chase Freedom Flex(SM)
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
How To Find Out If the Chase 5/24 Rule Can Affect Your Application
If you’re going to apply for a credit card with Chase and you’re not sure if you’re bumping up against the 5/24 rule, it’s best not to wing it. While you may only count four new cards in the past 24 months, it could be five or more when you consider cards you may have obtained on-the-fly, like merchant cards, travel cards, or affinity cards, like AARP.
The best way to find out is to order your credit report from all three credit bureaus. You can do that from a website called AnnualCreditReport.com, which is the only source authorized to provide your official credit report from all three bureaus. It’s also free of charge if you order no more than one report from each bureau each year.
Once you receive the report, carefully examine entries for all credit cards. Look, especially at the “date opened” entry for each credit card and those that occurred within the past 24 months.
That’s the only way to know for sure if you will qualify for a Chase card without violating the rule.
What To Do If You’re Over the Chase 5/24 Rule
What should you do if you see an attractive card offer from Chase and you’re over the 5/24 rule?
Fortunately, there are options:
1. Apply for the Chase card you want after one of your accounts has been opened for more than 24 months.
This is the most obvious solution. You can simply wait until the first card you opened within the last 24 months goes over that timeframe, and you should be good to go.
2. Apply for a similar card with another card issuer.
This may not be as difficult as it seems at first glance. The credit card industry is extremely competitive, and card issuers frequently provide cards with features and benefits similar to those of major providers, like Chase.
3. Apply for a business credit card that won’t affect your personal credit.
This is a possibility if you can apply for a business credit card in the name of your business, and use your business taxpayer ID number, instead of your Social Security number. Unfortunately, most credit card issuers will require you to be personally liable for a business credit card for a small, closely-held business. That’s especially true if you are a sole proprietor.
Are there any penalties or consequences for applying for a Chase card even if you’re over 5/24?
Based on our research, we could find no monetary penalties put in place by Chase. (But then, they don’t acknowledge the existence of the 5/24 Rule in the first place.) But one potential issue to be aware of is adding another inquiry to your credit report for what will be a predictable application decline. It may only hurt your credit score by a few points, but it’s something to be aware of.
Are all Chase cards subject to the 5/24 rule?
This is a tough question to answer because we're trying to identify the cards that are subject to a rule that doesn’t officially exist. Given that reality, it’s best to assume all cards issued by Chase apply to the rule.
Will closing an account help with the 5/24 rule?
Once again, there’s no official answer to this question because there’s no official rule. But since the limit is five credit cards opened within the past 24 months, it’s likely that closing one of those cards won’t help your cause. In addition, it will reduce your overall credit limit, raising your credit utilization ratio and maybe even lowering your credit score.
What are the best Chase credit cards?
You can check out our guide, Chase Credit Cards, to help you make that determination. As a major credit card issuer, Chase has cards in all niches, including sign-on bonuses, rewards, travel cards, business cards, and 0% introductory APR offers.
How long should I wait to apply for another credit card after being approved?
Given that the rule penalizes you at five cards within 24 months, the best strategy is to limit that number to four. That being the case, you should look to open no more than two new credit cards per year, or one about every six months.
It might be convenient to simply ignore the 5/24 Rule as a “Chase thing.” But that overlooks the reality that Chase has some of the best credit cards available.
Just as important, another reality is that all credit card issuers have secondary rules, in addition to credit scores and income. They may not have the 5/24 Rule, but it’s likely each has something similar. By being careful to avoid violating the 5/24 Rule, you may also be sidestepping similar requirements with other credit card issuers.
Since it makes sense to apply for new credit cards with attractive offers, it’s important to keep your credit profile as clean as possible. That includes being on guard for rules that credit card issuers may not even acknowledge to exist. Like the Chase 5/24 rule.