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Credit Card Travel

One of the most common questions I’m asked is:

“Can I get a credit card sign-up bonus again for the same card?

There are lots of folks who have had a particular card for a long time and want to know if they can get the bonus again.

Given the variation in the credit card approval process and your relationship with the bank, I can’t predict with 100% certainty what will happen to your application.

But here’s what I know (as of August 8, 2011) about the credit card cycle (the minimum time needed to get a credit card sign-on bonus again) either through personal experience, from reading online, or from reader’s emails.

Credit card application  information is always changing, so please comment or email me if you have information to share!

As always, you should not apply for credit cards if you are applying for a mortgage or other large loan in the next 2 years.

In general, applying for credit cards reduces your  credit score by 3 to 8 points per application, but banks look at other factors such as how often you’ve applied for credit recently when they evaluate big loans.

Much better, in my opinion, to get that big loan first at a very competitive interest rate, and then apply for credit cards.  This will most likely save you money over the long run.

And if you do apply for credit cards, be sure to use them responsibly, because your credit score will suffer if you carry high balances or miss payments.  I use my credit cards like a charge card and pay off my balance in full each month.

1.   Citibank.

In general, you may have success getting another set of Citi AA personal cards if it has been at least 18 months or more since your last successful APPROVAL for Citi AA personal cards.

If you do decide to apply for AA personal cards, remember that the Citi AAdvantage American Express card is actually issued by Citi and NOT  American Express.

Citi AA Business cards: It used to be possible to get the business cards every 3 months, but it hasn’t worked for me recently (last 6 months).

2.   Chase.  Chase is very strict about NOT giving a sign-up bonus for a particular credit card if you have had the sign-up bonus in the past.

For example, if you apply for a Chase credit card (say the British Airways credit card), but have already received the sign-up bonus in the past, you may be approved for the credit card, but you will NOT get the sign-up bonus again.

Instead you will get a letter from Chase explaining that you are ineligible to get the sign-up bonus again since you previously received a sign-up bonus.

Because of this it is VERY important to NOT apply for a Chase credit card with a low sign-up bonus, since you will not be able to apply again for the higher bonus.

In the current environment with mega credit card bonuses, I do not sign up for any Chase credit cards with less than a 50,000 point sign-up bonus.

For example, Free Frequent Flyer Miles points out that the current Chase Southwest credit card sign-up bonus is only 25,000 miles (it used to be 50,000 miles).  I would never apply for such a low sign-up bonus, and would wait for a higher offer.

The only exception is if you apply for a different credit cards within the same loyalty program.  For example, Chase offers many co-branded United Airlines credit cards.  In general, you may get the sign-on bonus once for each of these different card types.

For example, you can get the sign-on bonus for the United Mileage Plus Explorer card with a 40,000 sign on bonus as well as the sign-on bonus for the to-be-announced top-end United Mileage Plus card which offers lounge access.

Chase is also very sensitive to the number of loyalty credit cards you apply for, so don’t go berserk with the Chase applications.

3.  American Express. In general, American Express will not let you have the sign-on bonus for a second time.  Instead, they will give you the difference between the current sign on bonus and the sign-on bonus which you received.

For example, if you applied for the American Express Delta SkyMiles credit card with a 25,000 mile bonus, but later applied for the Delta SkyMiles credit card with a 40,000 miles bonus you will not get the full 40,000 mile bonus.

Instead, you will get a 15,000 mile additional bonus (40,000 miles from the current sign-up bonus less the 25,000 miles which you already received when you applied for the card).

However, you may be able to get the sign-0n bonus for another American Express card if it has been at least 2 years since you CANCELLED a previous American Express credit card.

Update (May 28, 2012):  A reader was not able to get the bonus on the Starwood card for  a 2nd time so, as always, your miles may vary (ymmv).

For example, if you cancelled your American Express SPG card in May 2009, you may be able to successfully apply for the SPG card again and get the sign up bonus again.

4.  Bank of America. There are reports of folks getting a Bank of America personal Alaska Airline credit cards every 3 or 4 months.

I don’t have any personal experience with this, but I was approved for an Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines credit card 3 weeks ago.

Bottom Line:

The glory days are over (i.e. the getting the same bonus on a card again and again) are over.  This makes it very important to track when you applied for a credit card and when you cancelled it.  You can usually find this information on your credit report.

Don’t cancel your oldest credit card just so that you can apply for a card again.  The length of your credit history, to a large extent, depends on your oldest credit card and cancelling it may reduce your credit score.

Related Posts:


Disclosure:  You should know that I do have a banking relationship with Chase.  However, I don’t get any referral bonus or commission from Chase, Citibank, American Express, Bank of America or anyone else for this post or for the links to the credit cards in this post.


Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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How long do you have to wait for the Southwest 50,000 point credit card after cancelling to reapply for it?

B of A and Choice Hotels robbed my account of 54,000 points 4 years ago. I had purposely paid and stayed at Choice Hotels many times to earn points.

It is true that I earned Choice Hotel points from the credit card from a couple of credit card churns prior to earning many points from hotel stays. If it was a mistake on their part, they should not have punished me for when I paid for more hotel nights.

I have tried in the past to contact both Choice Hotels and B of A with no resolution on this issue. What do you suggest?

Thanks, Ed

Million Mile Secrets

@Ed – Points usually expire and Choice points expire in 2 years.

I understand the Citi AA personal Visa is churnable every 18 months. As I’m preparing for an upcoming app-o-rama I need to know if this 18 months is counted BY MONTH or BY DAY. For example, will I be eligible to reapply on September 1st (18 months after the application date) or on September 24th (18 months *exactly* from the application date)?

Any insights? The answer greatly affects my strategy.

Any update on whether the AS Visa is still churnable? I just got my first one and was hoping to go for another in 3-4 months to build up my store. Also, do you have to cancel your existing card before applying for another?

Oops, I see FrequentMiler has just posted his results on doing this. Nevermind.

Million Mile Secrets

@Paul – Not on the same day any more, but used to be able to do it on the same day.

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