What Credit History Should I Have To Apply For Credit Cards? (2015.8 Updated)

We often see such kind of questions in comments or forum: How difficult is it to get XX credit card? What credit history do I need to get XX credit card? Well, the correct answer is always: It depends, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary). But there are still some statistics from the data points online. Here let’s summarize the (conservative) credit history needed to get credit cards for different banks.

AmEx

  • AmEx won’t approve credit cards to people with no credit history.
  • But as long as there is a certain amount of credit history, AmEx credit cards are almost the easiest ones to get, they do not have strict limitation on the number of Hard Pulls (HP). After having about three months credit history, people can consider to apply for the basic cards such as AmEx Everyday (ED), Blue Cash Everyday (BCE) or charge card, but make sure they can already got your credit report. If you have about six months credit history, you can even try to apply for any AmEx cards.
  • Only 1 AmEx credit card can be approved in one day. Charge cards (such as AmEx Premier Reward Gold (PRG), AmEx Platinum) do not follow this rule.
  • Only 2 AmEx credit cards can be approved within 90 days. Charge cards do not follow this rule.
  • You can only keep 4 AmEx credit cards at the same time. When applying for the 5th card, they may tell you to close one of your AmEx credit cards in order to get the new one when calling reconsideration. Charge cards do not follow this rule.
  • Before applying for your first AmEx credit card, remember to check target offer. See How To Get Best AmEx Sign-Up Offers for more details.

Chase

  • With no credit history, you can still get Chase Freedom Card by Special Consideration. (Having $10,000+ in Chase checking or saving, then ask banker in branch for special consideration)
  • Without Special Consideration, it is recommended to apply for Chase Freedom when you have at least nine months credit history.
  • When you have a Chase credit card for three months, it is not hard to get other Chase credit cards. Chase doesn’t have strict limitations on how many Hard Pulls you have, either.
  • Only 2 Chase credit cards can be approved within 30 days
  • If you’ve opened 5 or more new credit cards (not only Chase) in the past 2 years, you can’t be approved for Chase credit cards (including Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP)). Chase co-branded credit cards (like Chase UA, Chase Hyatt, Chase IHG) do not follow this rule. Note that if you are an authorized user, it will counts towards the 5 limit by default, but you can tell them that’s authorized user during reconsideration. So apply Chase Freedom and CSP first if you want to get them.

Citi

  • Students with no credit history can get Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students.
  • Citi credit cards are considered difficult to be approved. It is recommended to apply for Citi credit cards when you have more than one year credit history.
  • Many people have reported to be declined by Citi when they have 6 or more Hard Pulls in the past 6 months. Although it is not always true, it is still better to have fewer Hard Pulls.
  • Only 1 Citi credit card can be approved in 8 day.
  • Only 2 Citi credit cards can be approved in 65 day.

Discover

  • People with no credit history can get Discover it.
  • If you have some credit history, maybe you won’t get approved. I suggest wait until you have a credit history for at least half a year before applying.
  • It is difficult to get second Discover credit card. You must wait for at least one year from getting your first Discover card, and this bank is not generous about the credit limit, you may have to move credit limit from the existing account to get approved.

Bank of America (BoA)

  • With no credit history, you can still get BoA Cash Rewards Card by making BoA deposit and ask banker to apply for you.
  • We suggest you to apply for other BoA credit cards when you have one year credit history.
  • According to data points, students can keep only two BoA credit cards at the same time (including FIA).

Barclaycard

  • Barclaycard credit cards are considered to be hard to be approved. They don’t like having many Hard Pulls in past 6 months, so it’s better to have few recent Hard Pulls.
  • You can try to apply for Sallie Mae (SM) Credit Card with about six months credit history (but with few Hard Pulls and new accounts), while we recommend to apply for other Barclaycard credit cards when you have one year credit history.

US Bank

  • We don’t recommend U.S. Bank credit cards to you if you are new to credit cards. Even people with many years of good credit history still get automatically downgraded when applying for U.S Bank credit cards.

Capital One

  • They will pull all 3 major credit bureaus, but few of their credit cards worth 3 Hard Pulls.

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  • Denis

    You said: You can only keep 4 AmEx credit cards at the same time.

    This is not true, I just asked Amex and they said you can have up to 7 AMEX cards!

    • Apart from credit cards, Amex also have charge cards. You can only keep 4 credit cards at the same time, but you can also have multiple charge cards.

      • Denis

        Thanks for clarification, just saw on their website what’s the difference, never knew my 2 amex gold cards were charge cards I thought they are all credit cards:)

        Their support team should tell that, and not just 7 AMEX cards.