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INSIDER SECRET: If you’re an authorized user on someone else’s account it can count toward your Chase 5/24 limit. But there are benefits to being an authorized user. And you can avoid any negative impact by only being added to accounts that are 2+ years old or to small business accounts that won’t show up on your personal credit report (which is the case with most major banks except Discover and Capital One).
Whether you are just starting out in the miles and points hobby or you’ve been booking award flights for years, there are rules and restrictions you’ll need to plan around. Some of these are well-known bank rules that have been around for a while (i.e. the Chase 5/24 rule) while others are recently-announced upcoming changes (i.e. Amex’s authorized user waiting period for transfers).
By being aware of these hurdles, you can increase the chances of getting your next card application approved or give yourself the flexibility to make the most of your next miles or points redemption.
5 Miles and Points Hurdles to Plan For
Limited-time offers and flash sales can come and go quickly, so being prepared can put in you a position to take advantage of great deals. Having the miles and points you need is only one part of getting a good deal. You’ll also need to have the flexibility to book a deal or apply for a card offer when a great one pops up — and some of these restrictions can severely limit your flexibility if you haven’t planned ahead.
1. The Banks’ Application Rules
It’s always important to wait for the best credit card deals before for you apply because each card you receive will impact which offers you’ll qualify for in the future.
The biggest rule to be aware of is the Chase 5/24 rule, which restricts you from being approved for any Chase credit card if you’ve opened five or more credit cards from any bank in the previous 24 months (not including business cards from some banks). So if you jump right into the miles and points hobby and apply for five-plus cards in the first six months, you won’t be able to get a Chase card for at least 18 months. That’s why I usually recommend getting the Chase credit cards you want first before looking at other banks.
Chase isn’t the only bank with specific application rules.
Amex limits you to earning a welcome bonus on a specific card to once per lifetime. And Citi only allows you to earn a welcome offer once every 24 months per “brand.” (This rule does have a bit more nuance; read this guide if you want to learn more about how it impacts the Citi American Airlines cards.)
Taking the time to be strategic with your card applications can save you from missing out on a great deal.
2. The 90-Day Wait on Iberia Avios Transfers
British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus all use Avios points as their airline miles. But each program has a different award chart and different rules. Having the flexibility to move Avios between accounts is valuable.
For example, on certain flights you’ll pay lower fees with Iberia compared to a similar British Airways award flight. Also, British Airways charges for award flights per segment, while Iberia charges based on the total distance regardless of connections. So if you’ve got a connecting flight Iberia can cost fewer miles. However, Iberia partner award flights can’t be changed or canceled.
There is a lot to consider, which is why it’s nice to be able to transfer Avios points between all three airlines.
What you need to plan ahead for is the fact that you can’t transfer Avios points to/from an Iberia account unless it has been open for at least 90 days. The account holder’s information (full name, email and date of birth) also must match exactly on both accounts.
3. The Upcoming Amex Authorized User Transfer 90-Day Waiting Period
American Express recently announced changes to the way it allows Amex Membership Rewards points transfers for authorized users. Currently, you can transfer your Amex points directly to the frequent flyer account of an authorized user. But beginning September 1, 2019, before you can transfer points to an authorized user’s airline or hotel loyalty program, they will need to have been an authorized user on your account for at least 90 days.
Amex frequently has transfer bonuses, which can be incredibly valuable. But when these bonuses appear they almost always expire much sooner than 90 days, so you’ll need to add authorized users well in advance if you want to move points into their accounts.
Keep in mind that if you’re an authorized user on a personal Amex card, that card will count toward your Chase 5/24 limit. Some people have had success in asking Chase to ignore authorized user accounts, but that’s not guaranteed to work. Also, for some cards you pay a fee to add authorized users. For example, if you want to add an authorized user to The Platinum Card® from American Express it costs $175 each year for up to three additional cardholders (see rates & fees).
I’ve gotten around these hurdles by adding my wife as an authorized user for free (see rates & fees) on The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. Because it’s an Amex small business card it won’t show up on her personal credit report and won’t add to her Chase 5/24 count.
Note that being an authorized user on an Amex card won’t limit you from personally earning an intro bonus with that specific Amex card in the future.
4. Your Next Barclays Credit Card Application
One of the top reasons I’ve had my Barclays applications denied in the past is because I wasn’t using my current Barclays credit cards.
There is no hard rule about how much you should spend on your card to improve your Barclays application approval chances. But I like to spend at least a few hundred dollars each month for three to six months before I apply. It’s also best to slow down on other bank applications before you apply for a new card with Barclays.
While these are strategies are useful when planning to apply for a Barclays credit card, they can be good ideas to implement with other banks too.
5. Your Credit Limit With Each Bank
Each bank will only extend you a certain amount of credit based on several factors like your income and credit score. This comes into play when you want to open another credit card with that bank.
In the past, I’ve had applications denied or sent into pending status because of this very issue. Sometimes, all it takes to reverse a decision (or get a pending application approved) is a simple call to the bank’s reconsideration line. The bank might let you move credit lines from an existing card to your new card; I’ve done this with Chase before.
For most banks, adjusting or moving around your credit limit is a quick and easy process that doesn’t take any planning ahead. But, some banks have specific quirks when it comes to extending credit.
For example, people have reported being told the credit limit of a canceled Bank of America credit card would count toward the total credit limit Bank of America would extend them for up to a year after canceling the card.
One way to get around this is to lower your credit limit before you cancel a card. As far as I know, this extra step only applies to Bank of America credit cards — but if you miss it, it could impact your opportunities with Bank of America for up to a year.
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