There were some major waves in the credit card churning circles when the Chase ‘5/24 rule’ started being implemented last year. It has been Chase’s way of cracking down on those of us who use credit card signup bonuses as a means of banking lots of miles and points while minimizing fees and interest paid on our accounts. And it makes complete sense to me, from a financial perspective. People who churn cards are almost always a net loss for the bank.
What I don’t understand is how hard and fast the 5/24 rule is. The rule was supposedly going into effect for Chase’s co-branded credit cards in April, but that didn’t seem to happen. Many people applied for cards through May and were approved, even with many new accounts on their credit report in the last two years. Note that Chase won’t even confirm that the 5/24 Rule even exists, but that having lots of new applications doesn’t look great. A few people have reported getting approved for cards, even if they have more than 5 new accounts within 24 months, so we know the rule isn’t 100% strict, but it has seemed to be at least a solid guideline.
My own experience has been mixed. My wife and I each applied for a Chase card last month, and while I was approved, my wife was denied. Each of us have opened in excess of a dozen new accounts in the past two years, and I had been reading that the 5/24 Rule had been going into effect for co-branded Chase cards in April, so this was very puzzling. Other factors related to credit card approvals couldn’t even explain it (my wife has both fewer new accounts and a better credit score than I do).
After poking around, I finally found a source (the good ol’ Doctor of Credit that everyone seems to look to) that concluded that May 22/23, 2016 was a possible mile marker for the implementation of 5/24 Rule on co-branded Chase cards. This does in fact jive with our experience. I applied for a United Explorer Visa on May 17, while my wife applied for a Southwest Plus Visa on May 24. She was denied, but I was approved. Kinda annoying that we missed it by a day, but I decided to let it rest and not call into reconsideration (bye bye, easy street to the Southwest Companion Pass).
On the whole, credit card issuers are tightening things for consumers. Maybe it is the churners’ fault, maybe it is not. At the end of the day, the banks make the rules. They are the ones who buy the miles from the airlines, and they are the ones that offer the products. There are always people who will use the system to their advantage, and Chase, Amex, Citi, and all the other issuers have to account for the loss those consumers bring them. Right now, it seems to be in their best interest to limit new credit card accounts, but it likely won’t remain that way forever.