I Have an 800 Credit Score, but I Can't Get a Chase Card. Here's Why

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Accounts from nearly two years ago are standing between me and a Chase card.

There are a lot of perks to having good credit. You'll get better terms when you borrow and can unlock better credit card perks. Put simply, it's easier to get approved for all kinds of products -- easier, but not guaranteed. A high credit score isn't some magical credit card skeleton key that unlocks any card you want. It's a bit more complicated than that.

Take me, for instance. Despite having an excellent credit score -- just over 800, last time I checked -- I'm persona non grata when it comes to Chase credit cards. The problem? A sign-up bonus binge in 2019 left me with a few too many new accounts. Now I've run afoul of Chase's 5/24 rule.

The notorious 5/24 rule

For every system, there's someone who's figured out how to game it. With rewards credit cards, that game is called churning. Churners get a new credit card, earn the sign-up bonus, then cancel the card and move onto the next.

As churning became more popular, credit card companies looked for ways to discourage it. For example, some issuers put restrictions on how often you can earn a sign-up bonus for a specific card (or family of cards). Chase took this a step further by instituting its 5/24 rule.

The 5/24 rule says you won't be approved for a Chase credit card if you've opened five or more credit card accounts in the last 24 months.

When it was first adopted in late 2016, only the top-tier Chase Sapphire Reserve® was subject to the rule. But it didn't take long for Chase to roll it out to all their in-house credit cards. And now, nearly all credit cards with a Chase logo, including many of their co-branded hotel and airline cards, come with their own 5/24 limitations

Little hope for a workaround

I wasn't exactly churning cards (I still have most of them), but Chase doesn't quite see the difference. And if you're over the 5/24 limit, that's all she wrote. You can call, you can email, you can send carrier pigeons -- no amount of negotiation will help.

Well, almost. If you're over the 5/24 limit because you're listed as an authorized user on someone else's card, you might be able to call customer service and explain the situation. But if you're legitimately in violation of the 5/24 rule, you'll only be wasting your time (and that of the customer service rep) by calling for a second opinion.

Your only other alternative is to make friends with Chase. Specifically, if you have another Chase account -- be it another credit card or a checking or savings account -- you could be targeted for a Chase credit card offer. Ask the teller in your local Chase branch, or check the "Just for You" offer section of your online account.

My post-5/24 card list

With 2020 being what it was, I wasn't doing much credit card shopping anyway. But I'll be eligible for Chase cards again soon. What will I go after first?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is always tempting, as it has many perks for its $550 annual fee. But with travel still uncertain, that one's on the backburner. However, its sibling card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, is another matter. Its smaller $95 annual fee is much more palatable, especially as the card has a big sign-up bonus.

Of course, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is also interesting. Not only are its rewards tempting -- it has both quarterly rotating rewards plus a number of static bonus categories -- but it also comes with a solid sign-up bonus and no annual fee.

In the end, I might have to double up and pair the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card with the Chase Freedom Flex℠. That way, I can turn my cash back into Ultimate Rewards points for maximum value potential. Whatever I choose, I'll want to be strategic with my applications. Signing up for a spate of new cards all at the same time is rarely a wise credit move.

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