[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here — Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard, Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below. Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.]
There are several stages of thought that credit card users go through when they discover that issuers are willing to offer them large sign-up bonuses. The first is disbelief, since it doesn’t appear to make sense that a company would offer hundreds of dollars worth of points, miles or cash back, just for trying their product. Once cardholders realize these offers are legitimate, the next stage is acceptance, as applicants actively shop for the best offers available. Finally, the thought occurs to some people: I wonder how many times I can get the same sign-up bonus.
Can You Get the Same Card Twice?
It turns out the answer is yes and no. Although a bank might open multiple checking or savings accounts for the same customer, most card issuers will not allow you to have multiple accounts with the same exact credit card. Still, some do. For example, there are many reports of customers applying for and receiving multiple versions of the same cards offered by a particular issuer. So in some cases, it may be possible to receive the same card, at the same time, more than once.
Yet in most cases, cardholders will be denied when they apply for a card they already have. But there are still some ways to get the same card, and the sign-up bonus, more than once.
Plan A: Apply for a Nearly Identical Card
Most card issuers won’t approve the same customer for the same card a customer already holds, but they will typically approve a nearly identical card that is technically a different product. For example, Citi offers its American Airlines AAdvantage card as both a Visa and an American Express, in addition to its Visa version for business owners. Therefore, applicants can receive all three cards along with their generous sign-up bonuses. However, it is important to space your applications in order to maximize your chance of being approved for each card. (Also, be aware that the cards have a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year.)
Likewise, Chase offers four versions of its Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit card. There are both business and personal versions of the Premier and Plus varieties of this card. Typically, each is offered with similar terms and an identical sign-up bonus. Yet when you apply, it is almost as if the card issuer sees these cards as entirely different products. (Those cards have annual fees of $69 for Plus, and $99 for Premier, applied to the first billing cycle.)
Plan B: Wait It Out
If you previously had a specific credit card, canceled it, and would like apply again, your chances of being approved are pretty good. (Be aware, however, that canceling a card can lower your credit score slightly, as can multiple credit score inquiries.) Most card issuers will welcome you back, so long as enough time has passed since you last applied. How long is enough? Most card issuers won’t say, but some applicants report being approved after a year, while others have found that waiting 18-24 months is the most reliable way to ensure approval.
On the other hand, one card issuer clearly specifies its policies with regard to receiving multiple sign-up bonuses. American Express includes this language in the terms and conditions for the sign-up bonus of its Premier Rewards Gold card: “If you are identified as a current American Express® Card Member, you may not be eligible for this welcome bonus offer. This offer is also not available to applicants who have had this product within the last 12 months or any other Consumer ZYNC®, Green or Gold Card or Platinum Card® account within the last 90 days.”
So at least one card issuer appears to have caught on to those who repeatedly try to receive the same sign-up bonus more than once, a tactic some call “churning.”
Should you apply for the same card more than once?
Knowing that you can actually receive the same card twice, does it make sense to do so? Certainly not if you are already carrying credit card debt and a new card might tempt you to incur more. Also, cardholders should remember that applying for many new credit cards in a short period of time will result in a small, temporary drop in their credit scores. But for those who always pay their statement balances in full, and have their finances in order, it can occasionally make sense to take a second look at a really great credit card offer.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
More on Credit Cards:
- The Credit.com Credit Card Learning Center
- How to Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rates
- 6 Smart Credit Card Strategies
- How Secured Cards Can Help Build Credit
- Tips for Paying Off Credit Card Debt
- How to Get a Credit Card With Bad Credit
Image: Andy Dean