TravelSort reader Brian writes: "How many Chase cards can you have? I'm thinking of applying for the Ink Plus, now that the minimum spend is $5000 instead of $10,000 to get the 50,000 bonus points, but wondering if I'll get approved since I already have 6 Chase cards within the past 2 years. I have the Ink Bold, Sapphire Preferred, Hyatt Visa, United MileagePlus Explorer, Freedom and British Airways Visa, and my most recent approvals were in July for the MileagePlus Explorer and Hyatt Visa. Any advice?"
Great question, and one that many of us dearly want to know the answer to as it concerns us. The good news is that Chase doesn't limit how many Chase cards you can have per se. The bad news is that Chase DOES set a maximum limit on how much credit to extend to you.
The maximum credit limit Chase decides on is based on your credit history, income, how long you've been a customer of the bank, and what kind of customer you've been. Since I'm not Chase and I don't know the specifics of Brian's credit score, income, how profitable a customer he is to Chase, and the credit lines he has for his existing Chase cards, I can't say how close he is to the maximum credit Chase is willing to extend him, but I do have a few data points and some tips, since over time you can increase the maximum Chase is willing to lend to you.
There Are Chase Customers With 12 or More Chase Credit Cards
As we noted above, it makes sense that if the Chase limit is really about a maximum credit limit extended to you over all your cards, that you should be able to get more cards if you move credit from cards you don't use as much to cards you want to get approved for.
For example, Dan of Dan's Deals has 13 Chase cards, as of 11/9/12:
Chase Personal (8)
Chase Business (5)
There Are Those Who Have Gotten Approved for 3 Chase Cards at Once, Including 3 Chase Business Cards
While it's obviously easier to get approved for two Chase cards, and I usually advise folks to only apply for a couple Chase cards at one time (two personal or one personal and one business) there certainly are folks that have been approved for 3 Chase cards at once or over a few days. For example, on FT, someone by the handle of Daniel on the way wrote that he got 3 Chase credit cards in one day, apparently 2 personal and the Ink Bold Charge Card.
And Dan from Dan's Deals recently applied for and managed to get approved for 3 Chase business cards:
"I signed up myself for 3 Chase business cards...got all of them approved via Chase Business Reconsideration (800-453-9719) by shifting around credit lines, so I’ll update how that matching works for out for me. There was just 1 credit pull made."
Do the above data points mean that you can also get approved for 13 Chase cards or that you should apply for 3 Chase business cards in one day? No--everyone is different in their credit history, income, relationship with Chase, etc. so Chase's maximum credit limit likewise differs person to person. Rather, the above are simply meant to debunk some common myths that you can only have 5-7 Chase cards or that you can only get approved for 2 Chase cards at a time.
Tips for Increasing Your Chase Credit Card Limit
We covered much of this in our post Understand How Your Credit Score Works to Maximize Credit Card Rewards
, but it's worth emphasizing. We're assuming you're completely paying off all credit card bills every month, because if you're not, you shouldn't be in the miles and points game and should instead focus on repaying your credit card and any other high interest debt.
1. Keep Your Oldest Cards
Since 15% of your credit score is your credit history, you want to increase your average age of accounts by keeping open your oldest cards, which hopefully are no annual fee cards, or ones where the annual benefit or retention benefit compensates for the card's annual fee.
2. Lower Your Credit Utilization By Increasing Your Credit Limit
Credit utilization is worth really focusing on, since it comprises 30% of your score--much more than, say, inquiries from new credit card applications, which constitute 10%. One of the simplest ways to get a sense for your maximum credit limit with Chase is to request credit limit increases, if they make sense for you. Obviously you'll want to be able to justify why you need an increase, especially if it's for a card where you already have a generous credit limit and you've never spent more than a small fraction of it. But by increasing your overall credit limit across your cards, and given the same amount of spend, you'll be lowering your utilization.
3. Lower Your Credit Utilization By Paying Off Large Charges on Personal Credit Cards Right After They're Charged, Not Just When the Statement is Due
For personal credit cards, if you have significant spend, hence high credit utilization, you don't want to wait until the statement due date to pay it off. That's because your high utilization can get reported to credit agencies and hurt your constantly fluctuating credit score. Instead, after a purchase of several thousand dollars, make sure you pay it off after it hits your account. Many folks religiously maintain lower than 10% credit utilization, and I'd recommend at least aiming to keep it under 15%.
4. Lower Your Credit Utilization By Spending More Heavily on Business Cards
The reason I don't bother obsessing over my Ink Bold Charge Card charges is that business utilization is NOT reported to credit agencies. You still need to pay everything off in full of course, but you don't have to worry about paying off charges intra-statement. Another reason to put more spending on your business cards. My business card recommendations? The Ink Bold followed later by the Ink Plus, in that order. The Ink Bold is a charge card that must be paid off in full every month, so later when applying for the Ink Plus you can note that you'd also like the flexibility of being able to pay over time. And the nice thing is that both of these cards are back to a $5000 spend requirement to earn the 50,000 bonus points; previously, $10,000 spend was required to earn the full bonus.
Tips for Getting More Approvals
1. Be a Good Customer
Look at yourself from Chase's standpoint--are you a good customer? And by that I don't just mean a good credit risk, although that's part of it. Chase, as other banks, wants to be able to service as many of your financial needs as possible. So don't just be a credit card customer--also have a Chase checking account, and if it makes sense for your needs, consider a car loan, mortgage, or business account as well. The longer you've been a good customer helps, too.
2. Know Exactly Why You Need Each Card
Focus on the non signup bonus attributes that are important to you about the cards you're applying for, whether it's no foreign transaction fees and 2X points for all travel and dining for the Sapphire Preferred, the EMV Chip in the Hyatt Visa, the rotating 5X bonus categories of the Freedom, the fact that the Ink Plus is a credit card enabling you to pay over time, etc. Don't forget to mention any circumstances, such as a recent move, new job, etc. that help explain why you need certain new cards.
Also know which of your existing cards you definitely want to keep and why, in case the credit analyst pressures you to close a card. You can often keep all the cards that are important to you by shifting credit limits around, but if you are getting pressured to close a card then:
3. Transfer Your Credit Limit Before Closing a Card
Whatever you do, don't forget to transfer over your credit limit from a card you're about to close to a card that you'll keep open (or to a new card you're trying to get approved for). You don't want to lose some of your credit limit, especially as it can be used to help get you approved for new cards.
4. Stay at Home Parents: Use Half the Household Income If You Live In a Community Property State
Clearly your income has significant bearing on how much credit Chase will be willing to extend to you. By law, credit card companies are now required to ask for individual income when making a credit decision. Although the law was meant to reduce predatory lending, it's had the unintended effect of making it harder for a stay at home parent with no earned income to apply in his or her own name for a credit card. Very frustrating for these parents.
Fortunately, those who live in community property states such as Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington or Wisconsin (or you're an Alaskan couple that has opted-in to community property) can state half household income as their own; after all, that's what would be theirs in a divorce, taking into account adjustments due to child custody, etc.
5. Talk to a Credit Analyst
It's common not to be instantly approved, especially for business cards, where Chase almost always wants to talk with you about your business or plans for it, if it's a new business. So don't just wait for a decision--it's better to call to discuss your application and work together with the credit analyst to shift credit from those cards where you don't need such a high credit limit to the new cards you hope to open.