Which Banks Are Toughest When it Comes to Credit Card Approvals?

This is an actual question for readers, so I’m hoping that you’ll take a few minutes to chime in on the topic. This short post was inspired by my yesterday’s interaction in the comments section:

banks rated

I thought it would be a good idea to ask about your recent experiences with various banks. As I’ve mentioned in my comment, I don’t believe there is a universal pattern. That said, there are clear trends when it comes to ways banks handle their approval process. So, let’s see if I’m right on the money, so to speak.

There is no question that times are changing and we need to adapt. Banks are getting smarter and better at recognizing “churning” pattern when they see it. Chase has gotten tough when it comes to reconsideration calls, Amex has implemented one bonus/per lifetime rule. And the list goes on.

It doesn’t mean that the hobby is dead, not at all. Miles and points industry is constantly evolving and I believe the best thing we can do is adjust our expectations. I just signed up for a $200 credit card bonus, the lowest amount I’ve ever gone after. That said, free is free. It’s still a windfall no matter how you look at it.

Readers,  how did your recent application spree go? Was it a success or a bust? Maybe we can establish a pattern.

P.S. Speaking of banks, credit cards etc, check out this “mother of all posts” on Doctor of Credit   that lists the most useful articles dealing with intricacies of our little hobby. Definitely a keeper and something you should bookmark.

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4 thoughts on “Which Banks Are Toughest When it Comes to Credit Card Approvals?

  1. The wife and I have had nothing but approval e-mails and pages from Barclays (5/5), Amex (5/5), Citi (2/2), and Cap 1 (1/1). Approvals for Chase (6/8) and US Bank (0/1) have been harder to come by. I am not willing to undergo the mental and logistical gymnastics to understand and successfully undertake being approved for US Bank products.

    In contrast, I believe Chase now has a consistent and comprehensible albeit frustrating approach to decision making. And I believe personal trial and error and the collective wisdom of the community has established a few hard and fast concepts to consider with Chase.

    My last experience with Chase highlighted a key mindset applicants should adopt with Chase: DBI, or, Don’t Be Interesting.

    When I was denied by Chase I had 3 cards open with them, ample credit lines, and was at the absolute height of my 18 month application spree. I applied for both a personal (pending) and business (denied) at the same time, as well as one card from another issuer. I called in for the business, and after 3 conversations across 2 phone calls, learned I would be denied for both. Too many apps in too short a time. This was 1.5 years ago. I’ve applied for a card once since then.

    I determined the below personal principles for when applying for Chase cards.

    1. 5/24: Max 4 new accounts in 24 months.
    2. Minimize Chase Exposure: Max 2 cards open with Chase; minimize credit lines; 4-6 month gap between apps.
    3. No AU: Do not add spouse as AU. 5k bonus points not worth no new chase cards for 24 months.
    4. Chase First; Chase Only: Apply for Chase cards first, and do not apply for any other cards in an AOR before learning your Chase fate.
    5. Have a Relationship: Have a consistent, profitable relationship with Chase via regular Chase CC spend, a few paid AFs, cards that remain open 2+ years, and a banking relationship.
    6. Avoid the Phone: It’s not over until the fat lady sings, or, in this case, until the denial letter gets to your house.
    7. Chill: I will not take 4 trips a year. I do not need that many CCs. Minimize amount of cards I apply for.


    • @Cheapblackdad I concur on everything except paying an annual fee. Well, unless it’s Chase IHG card. That one I don’t mind, but I’m too cheap to pay $95 on CSP Actually, come to think of it, maybe consistently renewing my IHG card does help with Chase apps. Never thought about it that way… I have been trying to use Freedom a bit more. I’m also quite picky when it comes to Chase apps. The bonus has to be substantial or I’ll pass.

      I actually had a targeted offer on Chase Disney Visa that would give me $250 gift card. I decided to pass even though I could have sold it on Ebay. If it was another bank, I probably would pull the trigger. On US Bank cards, you might want to research freezing ARS (I think that’s what it’s called). It’s a separate agency US Bank uses to check your credit profile. I never had to do it and we got approved for US bank cards without issues. Well, the apps did go into pending status first.
      On your DBI (don’t be interesting), that’s the opposite of what they tell you when you start a blog. 🙂


  2. Citi are really negative about a short credit history, and 2 years is considered short with them. Does not matter how high your credit score is.


    • @Uri Interesting. I never had any issues with them, but I think my credit file had a few years in it by the time I applied for Citi cards. I know Chase is similar and it can be hard for a young person to get approved. That’s why it’s usually better to start with non-premium product like Chase Freedom.


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