Can you have multiple credit accounts with the same issuer?
A reader recently wrote in to us with this question. The short answer is, yes. We could stop the piece right here and simply call it a day, but there is one thing that we all know about credit cards and credit history. It is rarely that simple. There is fine print. There are variable rates. There are multiple ways to calculate payments. Points expire. Rewards expire. Having multiple credit cards from the same issuer may not be to your benefit. Particularly when you are trying to earn rewards.
I have multiple credit cards with Citi
I can say this from personal experience. I personally have two different cards from Citi. Now, I got them at different times. In fact, one of them was a card from another bank that is very old. It took many turns to become a card from Citibank, but, nonetheless, it is another card from Citi. They let you set up multiple cards when you manage your account online, and that’s how it works in the business.
However, there are some things that you need to keep in mind when you have two different accounts from the same issuer.
Taking Advantage of Multiple Sign Up Bonuses
Let’s say you signed up for the Chase Freedom Card to get the current $200 cash back bonus. Then you read about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with the 50,000 bonus point sign-up offer, and signed up for it too.
It’s not that this is technically a bad thing. In fact, it’s a great thing if you can run the $500 in three months on the Chase Freedom card to score the $200 cash back, and also run the $3,000 in the first three months to qualify for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Bonus. At a minimum, signing up for both cards will net you mega bonuses. A possible con though, is that you will be paying two annual fees, and your cash back or points earnings may be diluted because you are trying to earn rewards on two cards, instead of just focusing on the benefits of one.
Credit card issuers may refuse to allow you to have multiple cards if you have recently signed up for a credit card with them. That depends on your credit score and their corporate policy (which varies from lender to lender). I have seen lenders arbitrarily deny an application just because someone had recently taken advantage of a different sign up offer with the same bank. Your mileage may vary.
What Happens to Your Credit Score?
Your credit score is affected each time you open or close a credit account. Make sure that the cards you sign up for are really ones that you want, and plan to keep. This will provide the most benefit to your credit score over time.
Your score takes a small hit each time you apply for a new account. Then, the first time you pay on that account, it usually recovers. As long as you do not carry much of a balance on your credit cards, something like that rarely matters. For those of you out there who may be carrying balances though, it is usually best to wait to apply for new credit until at least a month after you have paid off the balance on your existing accounts. This gives your lenders time to report that zero balance to the credit bureaus, and for your score to go up. At that point you are going to be more likely to qualify for additional cards.