How long should you wait to apply again for an airline card you closed?

Some issuers have no restrictions for double-dipping on sign-up bonuses – but you might want to look for other options

Cashing In with Tony Mecia

Tony Mecia is a business journalist who writes for a number of trade and general-interest publications. Every week, he answers readers’ questions about credit card rewards programs in his “Cashing In” column.

Ask Tony a question, or see if your question has already been answered in the Cashing In answer archive.


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If I close my airline card now, how long should I wait to apply again and be eligible for the sign-up bonus?

Some credit card issuers offer no restrictions for double-dipping on sign-up bonuses – although some may limit the number of cards you can be approved for.

However, you might want to consider your options before applying.

Expert Q&A

Check out all the answers from our credit card experts.

Dear Cashing In,

I have four airline rewards cards I have used for several years. I am thinking of canceling these cards and switching to different rewards cards (most likely cash back rewards due to hassle of redeeming miles).

At a future date, if I decide to reapply for these same cards that I will be canceling, how long is the wait period to reap the sign-up benefits being offered at that time? My credit score is 824. Thanks. – Dan 

Dear Dan,

For starters, congratulations on having such a high credit score. With excellent credit, you should be able to have your choice of reward cards. 

One of the helpful pieces of advice on reward cards is to monitor your cards continually and replace them if they no longer meet your needs.

This is especially true nowadays, with card issuers creating new cards regularly – ones that often are superior to what you are probably carrying in your wallet.

See related: Can I sign up for the same card twice and get the sign-up bonus?

Reasons to hang on to rewards card after sign-up bonus

In addition, once you receive the sign-up bonus, it sometimes makes little sense to continue using the same card.

That’s why we are seeing a move toward cards that reward you for hanging on for another year by giving you a free hotel night, for example, like The World Hyatt Credit Card or Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express.

Even airline cards, such as the new Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, have started giving out miles on anniversary dates to entice you to keep your account open.

You’re also seeing reward cards beef up their category bonuses to encourage you to continue using the card once you’ve received the sign-up bonus.

See related: Best airline credit cards

Exploring options to update your airline cards game

Chances are that if you are holding airline cards that you have had for a number of years, it’s time to look around at other possibilities.

In your case, it sounds as though you are tiring of having to play the frequent flyer mile redemption game and would prefer cash back – which is completely understandable.

But even if you wanted to continue with airline cards, you should explore possibilities other than the cards you currently have.

That’s because there are probably newer cards that would suit your needs better and give you sign-up bonuses of loads of airline miles.

  • If you have, for instance, a Delta Air Lines credit card you have relied on for years, you might be surprised to know that there are now four different personal cards affiliated with Delta offered by American Express.
  • The perks and annual fees and sign-up bonuses vary, but you could consider one of the other options.
  • There are three business-card versions, too – which gives you plenty of options even if the only reward currency you like is Delta SkyMiles
  • If you have an American Airlines credit card with Citi, check out its other American cards but also examine American cards from Barclaycard.
  • Most airlines have several different versions and allow you to receive separate sign-up bonuses for each card.

See related: Best cash back credit cards

Tip

Tip: If you're considering applying for an airline credit card for the first time, there are questions you should consider first. These include whether you are loyal to one airline or prefer flexibility, how hard it is to earn and redeem miles, and whether you're looking for VIP treatment. See "Ready for your first airline card? Ask yourself these questions first" to learn more.

Earning sign-up bonuses on same card twice

But should you choose to cancel a card and apply for it again later, that’s usually also an option.

However, different card issuers have different policies, so make sure you confirm ahead of time that you will receive the bonus.

Sometimes you will receive offers in the mail promising large sign-up bonuses, but you might not always be eligible for those if you have had the exact same card too recently.

There is some variation, but generally the guidelines for sign-up bonuses tend to be:

  • American Express: One bonus per card per lifetime.
  • Bank of America: No restrictions.
  • Barclaycard: No restrictions.
  • Capital One: No restrictions.
  • Chase: One bonus per card every 24 months – or 48 months for Chase Sapphire cards, as reported by Doctor of Credit.
  • Citi: Card must have been closed for 24 months.

Card issuers may, however, restrict the number of cards you may be approved for regardless of sign-up bonus limitations.

  • Chase, for example, has what is known as the 5/24 rule: If you’ve opened five or more credit cards with any issuer over the previous 24 months, you might not be approved for a new Chase credit card.
  • With Bank of America, you can only get approved for two new cards in a two-month period, three new cards in a 12-month period, or four new cards in a 24-month period.

Considering a new airline credit card

For the major airlines, Chase offers cards with Southwest Airlines and United. American Express offers cards with Delta. Barclaycard and Citi offer cards for American Airlines.

The good news is, as you can see, even if you just stick to airline cards, you have plenty of options for earning miles.

And if you’re taking a break and considering cash back, the number of choices you have can be staggering.

It is worth your time and money to shop around, see what aligns with your spending, and make an informed choice.


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Updated: 09-18-2018