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The single best way to earn miles & points is with welcome bonuses and spending on rewards-earning credit cards. So it’s important to know when you can and can NOT earn those valuable welcome offers!
There are several factors that determine whether or not you’re eligible for a welcome bonus. Understanding which cards are “different products” is a tremendous help for getting you Big Travel with Small Money!
I’ll explain what this means, so you know which credit cards you should (and should NOT) apply for!
What’s a Different Credit Card Product?
Most banks have rules impacting whether or not you can earn a card’s welcome bonus if you’ve had it in the past. For example, American Express allows you to earn the bonus on each card just ONCE per lifetime.
However, you CAN usually earn a bonus on cards that are “different products“. That definition has changed slightly over the years. But I’ll give you some guidelines to help you decide if the card you’re applying for is a different product than a card you’ve already opened.
Even cards that look practically identical can be completely different cards. In general, 2 cards are treated as different products if:
1. They Are Issued by Different Banks
If 2 cards are issued by different banks, they are definitely different products. Even if they are co-branded with the same company, you are eligible for the bonus on both.
2. They Are for Different Airlines or Hotels
Cards that are issued by the same bank but co-branded with different companies are different products. If you open a Marriott card, you’re still eligible to receive the bonus for the Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.
3. They Are Personal and Small Business Versions of the Same Card
Two cards can have practically the exact same name, look, bonus, and co-branded travel partner, and still be different products! Banks offer a personal and a small business version of several cards. And if you qualify for small business cards, you can potentially earn the bonus for both.
4. One Is an Entry-Level Card and One Is a Premium Card
Even if 2 cards are co-branded with the same company, they are considered different products if they have different features and benefits. One card may be marketed toward a casual traveler, and one may be designed for someone who travels all the time.
The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card are both Delta cards issued by American Express. But one is a premium card and one is more entry level, so they are considered different products.
5. They Earn Different Rewards
If 2 credit cards earn different rewards, they are different products. If you just opened a card that earns AMEX Membership Rewards points, and want to open a card that earns Delta miles, you’re eligible to earn the bonus.
But even if a card earns rewards at a different rate, the cards are usually considered different products. For example, the Ink Business Cash Credit Card and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card are different card products.
6. One Card Is Issued By Visa and the Other By Mastercard
If cards are issued by different payment network operators (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, etc.), they are different card products.
Two Important Exceptions
Banks have added application rules on top of these bonus restrictions. Here’s a quick reminder of these rules!
If you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (NOT counting Chase small business cards and these other business cards) in the past 24 months, it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for many of their cards. And you are NOT eligible for the bonus on the same Chase card until 24 months after you’ve earned it.
Note: Chase now restricts earning the bonus on Sapphire cards if you’ve earned the bonus on any Sapphire card in the past 48 months.
And also, Chase will NOT allow you to hold more than 1 Sapphire card at a time.
For example, folks who already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card will no longer be approved for a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, or vice versa. So you’ll have to close your current Sapphire card to get another. And you won’t be eligible for another bonus on a Sapphire card until 48 months after you’ve earned the previous one.
Chase Sapphire cards used to be considered different products. But this new rule effectively makes them 1 product.
Banks have pretty similar rules about what is considered a “different card product“. For example, you can know that cards are different products if:
- They are issued by different banks
- They are co-branded with different airlines or hotels
- One card is for small business owners and one card is NOT
- They earn different rewards
But there are exceptions, most notably from Chase and Citi. It’s vitally important to know these rules before you apply! Or you could miss out on valuable welcome offers.