Anti-Churning Rules

last updated: 11/09/2017

This guide has also been shared on r/churning!

The goal of the article is to list most, if not all, hard and fast rules that will hinder your churning activity. Some of these rules, such as 1/24 from Citi, came as a direct response to growth of churning activity.

Now for the sake of keeping things basic I will, for most part**, avoid talking about churning activities that can lead to shut down of your card or perhaps even your entire portfolio. Such discussion is beyond the scope of this guide but nevertheless should you choose to learn more, I do feel the urge to point you in the right direction.

Supplementary Reading:
Chase closed my account (FT)
Citi closed my account (FT)
Summary of shutdown by various issuers by shutdowneveryday

*I’ll make an exception and talk about one reason why US Bank may shut you down. I feel the need to do this because this particular aspect isn’t as widely covered as shutdowns from Chase, Citi, BoA, Amex, etc is.

Table of Content

1. American Express
4-5 Credit Card Limit
2/90
Once in a Lifetime
Financial Review
2. Bank of America
Closure of “Excessive Cards” -4?
Card Limit for Students
2/3/4 Rule
3. Capital One
1/6
b. Pulls All Three Credit Bureau
4. Chase
5/24
2/30
5/24
2/30
Denial for Receiving Signup Bonus in Last 24 Months
1/24 on Sapphire Family
5. Citi
1/24
1/8
2/65
1/95
Sharing of ThankYou Points Capped to 100k
The Various Fine Prints of TYP
6. Discover
1-2 Maximum Cards
1/24
7. US Bank
Shutdown Due to High Number of Inquiries
Shutdown Due to Buying Giftcards on Altitude Reserve
8. Wells Fargo
Existing Relationship
12.5k Cap to the 5x Card

American Express (Amex)

Before I go any further it is important that you learn the difference between charge card and credit card. Generally speaking all Green, Gold, and Platinum cards from Amex is a charge card while everything else they offer is a credit card.

4-5 credit card limit

You may concurrently hold 5 credit cards from Amex. Some folks are unfortunately enough to still be stuck in 4 card limit. This rule does not apply to charge cards.

2/90

In 90 day interval you may obtain at a maximum of 2 credit cards from Amex. This rule also does not apply to charge cards.

Once in a Lifetime

You can only get signup bonus on an Amex card “once in a lifetime”. Once you hold a card (even if you didn’t get signup bonus or product changed to the card) you forfeit signup bonus for “lifetime”. Data points (DP) vaguely suggest that this “lifetime” lasts for 7 years. In other words, it is possible to churn Amex cards every 7 years.

Needless to say there are various ways to bypass it including but not limited to getting a targeted mailer w/o once in a lifetime language.

Because of this “once in a lifetime” rule it is highly recommended that you only apply for Amex cards during their all time highest offers. Additionally because Amex is (relatively) a lot easier to get a credit with, I generally recommend prioritizing other stricter (inquiry sensitive, hard pull sensitive) banks first.

Financial Review (FR)

Questions such as what triggers a FR, what happens during a FR, etc are beyond the scope of the guide but nevertheless I thought it was worth leaving links to some resources.

The only thing that I want to say is that rarely does anyone fail a FR but that isn’t to say nobody fails FR. On some rare occasions FR has lead to complete shutdown of an entire Amex portfolio. However, in most cases a FR leads to decreased credit limit and a charge limit being placed in charge cards.

Supplementary Reading:
The FAQs of FR by uscreditcardguide
The FAQs of FR by viewfromthewing
FR Discussion on Flyertalk [2013 and onward]

Bank of America (BoA)

Closure of “excessive cards” – 4?

BoA may close your individual cards if they deem you have “excessive number of cards” with them. The general consensus here seems to be that 4 is considered “excessive” however what is “excessive” may completely depend on whoever is reviewing your account. Also it is very possible that these review are triggered when they’ve extended “excessive” credit limit to you.

2 card limit for students

Students are limited to a maximum of 2 BoA cards.

2/3/4 Rule

Sometime around Sep, 2017 BoA enforced a new set of rules that was later coined 2/3/4 rule by the masses. The rule essentially puts a hard cap on how many BoA cards you can have in a time frame:

  • no more than 2 BoA cards in 2 months
  • no more than 3 BoA cards in 12 months
  • no more than 4 BoA cards in 24 months

Please note that BoA business cards are exempt from 2/3/4 rule and they do not contribute to your 2/3/4 count either.

Capital One (C1)

1/6

You can only apply for one credit card every 6 month. Any 2nd application within 6 month will be auto rejected and won’t lead in a hard pull. This 1/6 rule concurrently applies to both personal and business credit cards. In other words, if you apply for a C1 business credit card today then for next 6 months any new business or personal credit card application from you will not be considered. It seems that even targeted offers do not bypass the 1/6 rule.

Pulls all 3 credit bureau

Unlike most other banks, C1 pulls all 3 major credit bureau reports namely transunion, equifax, and experian. This can be a big deal if you’re trying to minimize the number of credit inquiries in your report.

DPs suggest that you can freeze experian and it won’t won’t affect your C1 approval chances.

Chase

5/24

  • Chase will deny you certain cards if you have opened 5 or more cards across any issuer. I constantly run into newbies who go “I thought this card (ex Marriott biz) was under 5/24” when in reality it isn’t…as such I suggest all newbies, particularly those under 5/24, make themselves fully aware of what card is under 5/24 and what isn’t.
  • Formally the rule is worded as follows “too many credit cards opened in the last two years associated with you”.
  • Authorized users (AU) will count against 5/24 but this can be overruled during recon. Some banks make it easy to remove AU while others make it near impossible. As such a newbie under 5/24 must take caution before adding himself as an AU. You can learn about removing AU in this DoC article.
  • Most business cards are not reported to your credit bureau and will not count against 5/24.
  • Chase does not count their business cards against 5/24. For example, while 5/24 applies to Ink products, Ink itself will not count towards 5/24.
  • There are few ways to bypass 5/24 rule such as getting a preapproval via mail or getting a preapproval in branch. You may want to read more in this DoC article.
  • Because of this 5/24 rule it is highly recommended that newbies start with cards that fall under 5/24. You may read my Chase Guide for Newbies under 5/24 for further detail.

2/30

  • Before I even explain 2/30, I want to make this crystal clear – this is NOT a hardcore rule like 5/24.
  • Very often Chase denies 3rd *personal* application within 30 days, however there are plenty churners (myself included) who have been bestowed with 3 personal cards from Chase within 30 day time period.

1/30

If you’ve submitted any personal or business Chase credit card application in last 30 days, then any newer business card application might get denied due to 1/30. However, do note that this is not a hard and fast rule like 5/24.

Denial for Receiving Signup Bonus in Last 24 Months

Around mid 2017, Chase updated terms and conditions (T&C) to “This product is available to you if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months”.

Previously T&C stated “This bonus is available to you if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months”. 

1/24 on Sapphire Family 

Late August 2017, Chase updated T&C to “The product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 24 months.” In other words, only 1 Sapphire product every 24 month.

But some folks have successfully been approved for both cards by applying on same day. This loophole may work similarly to why “two 5/24 cards at 4/24” loophole works.

Citi

1/24

  • You may only get “one signup bonus per brand per 24 month”. For example, TY Preferred, Premier, and Prestige fall under the same brand while AT&T Access More despite earning TYP falls under a different brand.
  • A key thing to remember is that 24 month clock starts ticking the moment you open a card and is reset when you close or product change a card.
  • For example, if you’ve opened (closed or product changed) Preferred, Premier, or Prestige in last 24 months then you will not be eligible to receive signup bonus for Preferred, Premier, or Prestige until your 24 time is up.
  • Business cards fall under a separate family than personal cards. For example, you can independently churn CitiBusiness ThankYou card falls under a category of its own and Prestige, Premier, and Preferred fall under a different category.
  • Here is a personal scenario of mine that might help you understand 1/24 better: I opened Prestige about a year ago, I’ve not had Premier or Preferred, and I certainly have not product changed within these three cards in last 24 months. Now, I wish to qualify for a signup bonus for Premier ASAP so I will choose to not close Prestige until my 24 month time is up. When my 24 month is up, I will be apply for Premier and at that moment I may decide if I should close or continue to keep my Prestige.
  • Because of this rule I personally would highly recommend prioritizing Citi right after Chase. You want your 1/24 clock to start ticking ASAP.

1/8

You may obtain at most 1 personal Citi credit card in a period of 8 days.

2/65

Only 2 Citi credit card (includes both personal and business) application are considered in a time period of 65 days. Note that the actual rule is 2/60 but to avoid mishaps stick with 2/65.

1/95

Only 1 Citi business credit card application is considered in a time period of 95 days. Note that the actual rule is 1/90 but to avoid mishaps stick with 1/95.

6/6

If Citi sees that you’ve more than 6 inquiries in last 6 months then they made deny you. This is not a hard and fast rule as there are plenty of folks who are beyond 6/6 and still get approved for Citi.

Sharing capped to 100k

The total number of points a member can share is 100,000 Points in a given calendar year and the total number of points a member can receive from other members is 100,000 Points in a given calendar year.

  • Sharing refers to transferring TYP from one account to another. If you have your points pooled together (by combining TY accounts) then this limit does not apply to you.
  • This largely effects families who’re invested into TY program. You will not be able to move large quantity of TYP across family member accounts.
  • An important thing to remember is that shared points expire within 90 days. Additionally, points that are within 90 days of expiring cannot be shared.

The various fine prints of TYP

  • Taxable TYP cannot be shared nor can they be transferred to a travel partner. For example, TYP acquired through bank account signup is taxable.

Discover

1-2 Maximum Cards

You may hold a maximum of 2 credit cards from Discover. You can only hold 1 student card.

1/24

You may only get 1 card every 24 month.

US Bank (USB)

Denial for Freezing Two Minor Bureaus

  • Freezing Sage Stream and ARS before applying for US Bank was the recommended thing to do. However, a recent policy within US Bank seems to be to deny individuals with frozen Sage or ARS. Yet it seems that some folks with Sage or ARS frozen are slipping through auto-approvals.
  • I believe it is (near) impossible to get through recon with frozen bureau.

Shutdown Due to High Number of Inquiries

  • Again, before anyone takes this out of proportion, this is a POSSIBILITY not a guarantee. Just because you have high number of inquiries not not mean you will get shutdown.
  • The essence of the matter is this – if you’ve too many recent inquiries and you apply for a USB credit card, not only could USB deny your application but also shutdown ALL your existing accounts with them.
  • Yours truly (that’s me) created a reddit thread  with some supporting data points. As it so happened, the thread received more data point and to my own surprise this has been a thing for a while. USB had shutdown a redditor almost two years ago for high number of inquiries, thankfully he was able to resolve it back then.
  • If you’re planning on getting USB card and have too many recent inquiries, then you need to ask yourself “is the signup bonus of this card worth risking your existing (if any) portfolio with USB?” If you get shutdown, I don’t think USB is going to be very lenient about undoing the shutdown.

Wells Fargo

I said I wouldn’t do this but I guess I can’t resist saying this – abusing their 5x category will meet you with a ban hammer. The days of putting millions of dollar on 5x Fargo card is over. You may read about WF warning abusers in this DoC article.

1/16

“If you opened a Wells Fargo credit card within the last 16 months, you will not qualify for the introductory rate(s), fees and bonus offers.”

In other words you can only get 1 credit card bonus from WF every 16 month.

But here is a DP on reddit of someone bypassed 1/16 rule.

Existing Relationship

WF often denies application based on lack of existing relationship with them. You can establish a relationship by opening a checking account which often comes with a signup bonus. However, do note that existing relationship is not mandatory and some folks have been approved for their credit cards without any previous relationship.

$12.5k Cap to the 5x Card

Once upon a time their card with 5x earning rate on gas, grocery, and drug store purchases for first 6 months did not have any limit. Naturally there were those who manufacture spend (MS) unforeseen limits (think millions). Not long ago Fargo started sending out warning letters to abusers but people soon realized that the letter simply meant they could keep abusing for few more months. Now on 8/12/2017 Fargo has simply put a $12.5k cap on the card and called it a day.

Credit: A huge thanks goes to DoC for putting out massive amount of wealth from which a decent chunk of this guide generated. Also much thanks to everyone who provided feedback on various drafts of this guide and those who continue to provide feedback after publication of this guide.

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