Well, you can’t exactly blame the credit card companies for wanting to crack down on the churners any more than you can blame casinos for wanting to throw out card counters. They just want you to be, you know, a normal person, who gets, you know, a card, and spends on that card, and then ideally carries their balance so they can spend the rest of their life in economic debtor’s prison.
But at the same time, they make the rules of the game, and we just play it. I think it’s bullshit when they then say “well, the rules are what we say they are, at any given moment.” So, here’s my roundup of rules designed to harsh our buzz, and whether I think they’re legit, or bullshit.
Chase 5/24 rule: This is a hateful, obnoxious rule that I can loathe them for having, but not blame them for having. If you have opened five cards with anyone (with the exception of most business cards), Chase is gonna say eff you if you apply for practically any of their cards (exceptions include Hyatt, IHG, Ritz Carlton, Marriott Business, and a couple of others). But from their point of view, if you’ve opened five cards in two years, you’re probably a deadbeat, or someone trying to beat the system, and they’re probably right. Mostly legit.
Amex once-per-lifetime rule: This is an even worse rule than Chase’s. No bonus if you’ve ever had the card before? Seriously? Even if you didn’t get the bonus the first time? I’d be happier if, at least, since they *know* when you apply that you had the card before, they’d warn you. I wastefully got a Blue for Business, completely having forgotten that I had one years ago. This rule is partially mitigated by the fact that Amex has many different co-branded flavors of the same card, and each can get its own bonus; and the fact that they often will target you for cards you’ve had previously, and allow you to get the bonus a second time. But at some point, you hit the Amex bonus wall. Half legit, half bullshit.
Amex language saying they can yank points, freeze account earning, or negate signup bonuses, whenever they feel like it, if, in their judgment, you’ve bought gift cards or engage in other forms of “manufactured spend” or wore the wrong clothes or have the wrong friends: Yeah, I get that Amex doesn’t want gamers to game, but this kind of subjective “whatever we judge” language is unfair to all kinds of consumers, not just points fiends. Total bullshit.
Citi one bonus per card family per 24 months and the clock restarts even when you close a card and possibly maybe even if you downgrade it but no one is sure: Come the fuck on. Then you’re stuck paying for one of their cards you might not even want or need in order to get another bonus on another card which you have to wait two years to do anyway. Plus, their ThankYou points suck (though their AA bonuses aren’t bad, even if AA redemptions these days are). And since different cards within the same family have different properties, it could easily make proper sense to have a bonus per card. Bullshit.
Chase no approval for a different Sapphire card if you’re already holding a Sapphire card, or you’ve received a Sapphire card bonus in the past 24 months: Super sucky — we really went to town with 2x Sapphire Reserve (in the 100K days!), and 2x Sapphire Preferred (50K), and damn if we don’t have a bunch of UR’s now. That party’s over — basically, this means you can get 50K from Sapphire cards every two years, and you first have to close one (or downgrade one to a different type of card). But…I can live with that, and I get it. The Sapphire Reserve is a nearly pure superset of the Preferred, so there’s really no normal reason to hold both. (Although we have one — we each have a Sapphire Reserve and Freedom Unlimited for individual spending, and we use a Preferred for our shared expenses.) What I don’t get is why Chase insists on denying you outright, as with 5/24, rather than just withholding a bonus. But I digress, and in any event, there are ways of getting around that (e.g. apply for a Freedom or Freedom Unlimited, and convert it to a Sapphire). Honestly, I’m surprised this rule hasn’t been in place all along, and I’m glad I got in while the getting was good. Legit.
If you’ve got any countervailing opinion, or if you want my take on some other dumb rule from some other dumb card issuer, post it below.