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Can I have more than one credit card from the same bank?

By , CardRatings contributor

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Yes, you can have more than one card from a single issuer. However, the extra account carries both pros and cons.

A few situations could warrant opening a second (or third) credit card with the same bank. For instance, you may have started a relationship with your bank at a time when you only qualified for a high APR, no-frills card. Years of on-time payments can earn you an invitation for a rewards credit card offer or for an account with a higher credit limit.

Likewise, your current bank may now offer an account with features and benefits that didn't exist when you signed up for your current card. Under federal rules, your bank can't just change the terms of your existing account — you'll need to get approved for an entirely new account.

Opening a second account with the same bank, especially if your issuer offers you a no annual fee card, can also help improve your credit score. Banks play close attention to your credit utilization — the percentage of your available credit that you actually use. If your bank offered you the account without requiring a "hard pull" of your credit report, you'll likely maintain your credit score instead of sustaining a short-term hit tied to a new credit application.

On the other hand, that additional account includes a few drawbacks. First, you generally won't be able to transfer a balance between credit cards from the same issuer. That could get frustrating if you're stuck with a balance on your original account that you can't surf to your lower APR credit card. If you're dealing with a large balance on an existing account, make it a priority to pay it off before you open a second card, or at least dwindle it down as low as possible, using a credit card payoff calculator to help keep you on track.

Also, a problem with one of your accounts could impact all of the accounts at the same institution. For instance, missing a payment with one account could trigger a penalty APR or a reduced credit line on the account in good standing. Likewise, cases of identity theft or card skimming could lock you out of all of your accounts while your bank investigates the issue.

Finally, the same credit limit increase that helps your overall credit score could scare off lenders concerned about your available unsecured credit. While you still may earn consideration for a mortgage or a home loan, you might want to wait a few months before responding to an instant approval credit card offer from a different bank.

Benefits of having multiple credit cards from the same bank

Now, with all of that said, let's focus on some of the benefits of holding two (or three) different cards from the same bank.

Let's look at the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Chase Freedom® credit cards as an example. Both of these cards are free to hold with no annual fees, but they each earn rewards differently. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card earns users unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made, while the Chase Freedom® card earns 5% back up to $1,500 each quarter in combined purchases in bonus categories each time you activate, and 1% back on all other purchases. Since those rotating categories are usually popular expenses like gas, groceries, and restaurant purchases, these two cards can go hand in hand as they allow you to maximize on the amount of cash back you can earn.

If you're wondering why you'd want to own the Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card while the Chase Freedom® credit card earns 5% cash back, we've got an answer: because the Chase Freedom® credit card only earns 1% back on "all other purchases" while the Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card earns a half a percent more — 1.5% on all purchases made. So, if you hold both — which why wouldn't you as neither has an annual fee — you could earn 5% back on quarterly bonus categories plus 1.5% on everything else, instead of just 1.5% on everything or 5% on some things and then 1% on others. In situations like these, if you're willing to strategize a little bit, holding two different credit cards from the same issuer can absolutely make sense. Plus, both of these cards offer a $150 bonus once spending $500 with the card within the first three months of opening an account. Though you can't earn this bonus twice (only with the new card you're opening, assuming you haven't had the card before within the last 24 months), $150 is a nice incentive to open a second account.

Let’s take things one step further and throw a third card into the equation. Though the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card credit card has a $95 annual fee, it is a great option to add to the mix for anyone who loves to travel. For starters, it has no foreign transaction fees (both the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Chase Freedom® have a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars), and additionally, it offers a whopping 50,000 bonus points (worth $625 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®) for new members who spend $4,000 with the card within the first three months of opening an account. It awards two points for all travel and dining purchases, and points are worth 25 percent more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Whether you pair it with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the Chase Freedom® (or both), again, it gives you the opportunity to make the most of your cash back opportunities depending on your spending habits.

Another set of cards from the same issuer that pair beautifully together are the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card and the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card . The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is free to hold with no annual fees, and if you've never had the card before, you could be eligible for a $150 cash rewards bonus after making at least $500 in purchases in the first 90 days of opening an account. Like the Chase Freedom®, it earns users cash back in rotating categories, but the great thing about the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is you get to choose which category you earn extra cash back in. Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card holders earn 3% cash back in one category (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishing), and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1% (and 1% on all other purchases).

If you already have this card, instead of a $150 cash back bonus, you could earn yourself a 50,000 point sign up bonus (earned once spending $3,000 within the first 90 days of account membership), worth $500, when signing up for the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card. There's an annual fee of $95, but it offers up to $200 in combined airline incidental and TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry statement credits, as well as unlimited 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining, and 1.5 points for all other purchases. Again, if paired with the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, this is another combo that could help you make the most of every purchase you make.

Overall, picking up a second account from the same bank can be useful if you're getting more value than the cost of maintaining the account, but you might also want to consider a secondary credit card from a competing lender as backup in case of an emergency.

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