Yes, you can have more than one card from a single issuer or bank; 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. In many cases, 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 first.
Benefits of having multiple credit cards from the same bank — rewards programs
One of the primary benefits of having multiple cards is that many issuers have several cards that all function on the same rewards platform, which means that you can have multiple cards all earning the same types of rewards, helping you to cash in on the benefits quicker. Let’s take a look at a few of these platforms...
Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Let's look at the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Chase Freedom Flex℠ credit cards as an example. Both of these cards are free to hold with no annual fees, but they each earn rewards a little differently. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card earns users 5% back on travel through the Ultimate Rewards® portal, 3% back at restaurants and drugstores and 1.5% back on everything else while the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card earns that same things with a couple of exceptions: it also earns cardholders 5% back up to $1,500 each quarter in combined purchases in bonus categories each time you activate, and only 1% back on all other purchases. Since those rotating categories are usually popular expenses like gas, groceries, or Amazon.com purchases, for instance, 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 Flex℠ credit card earns 5% cash back in more categories (those quarterly rotating ones, that is), we've got an answer: because the Chase Freedom Flex℠ 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 purchases outside the restaurant, drugstore and Chase travel purchases, instead of just 1% on those purchases or 5% on some things and then 1% on others. In situations like these, if you're willing to strategize a bit, holding two different credit cards from the same issuer can absolutely make sense.
Let’s take things one step further and throw a third card into the equation. Though the Chase Sapphire Preferred® 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 Flex℠ have a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars), and additionally, it offers 60,000 bonus points (worth $750 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; plus, you can earn up to $50 in statement credit toward grocery store purchases. It awards two points for all travel and dining purchases, and points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Because Chase lets you combine all of your points into the account of whichever card makes points the most valuable, if you hold the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and/or the Chase Freedom Flex℠ credit card alongside the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, all of your points could be worth 25% more.
Business owners could also consider having more than one card from the same bank. In particular, Chase offers several cards in its Ink family that work together on the Ultimate Rewards® system. The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card and the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card credit cards for example have no annual fees, and each offers a $750 cash back bonus to new cardholders who spend $7,500 with the card within the first three months of opening an account. The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card credit card earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases made, and the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card credit card earns 5% back in select business categories, and 1% on all other purchases. In the same way you could use the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Chase Freedom Flex℠ credit cards together to maximize cash back opportunities, business owners could benefit similarly with the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card and the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card credit cards.
And then again, frequent travelers might want to consider adding a third Chase card to their wallets, such as the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card credit card, which offers a whopping 100,000 bonus points to new members who spend $15,000 in the first three months of account membership, and 3 points on travel and select business category purchases (then 1 point on all other purchases). Like with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card credit card, there is a $95 annual fee, but it’s likely that frequent business travelers will quickly earn enough rewards points to cancel this out, and plus, Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card credit card rewards are also worth 25% more when redeemed for travel, again, meaning if you hold this card, all of your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are worth more (when transferred to your Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card account).
American Express Membership Rewards®
(American Express is a CardRatings.com advertiser)
Most American Express cards, including the American Express® Gold Card ($250 annual fee) and the The Platinum Card® from American Express ($550 annual fee) earn American Express Membership Rewards® points, which can be redeemed towards travel purchases, for gift cards, online shopping, and more. The biggest appeal of American Express Membership Rewards® points though is that they are a really solid value when transferred to partner hotels or airline loyalty programs. Rather than redeeming points at a fixed value (like when redeeming for gift cards or online shopping), by transferring points to a partner hotel or airline, they can be redeemed at set amounts for flights or hotel stays, regardless of the going market rate. With this said, the more American Express credit cards that you hold that earn American Express Membership Rewards®, the quicker you can redeem your points for “free” travel.
Bank of America
The Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, which earns 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase made with eligible cards, doesn’t necessarily function the same way as some other rewards programs, in that having multiple cards benefits you because you’re earning points towards the same rewards program, but instead, it offers the opportunity to have multiple cards that offer top rewards in different categories.
Two cards that pair well when used together, and that both qualify for Bank of America Preferred Rewards, 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 $200 cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of opening an account. Like the Chase Freedom Flex℠, 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 choice 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). And since this card is eligible for Bank of America Preferred Rewards, each purchase could be worth 25%-75% more cash back.
That means the 3% choice category could go up to 5.25% and the grocery store/wholesale club category up to 3.5%. There are no fees to join or participate in this program. All you need to qualify is an eligible Bank of America personal checking account, and a 3-month average of combined balances of $20,000 or more in qualifying Bank of America banking accounts and/or Merrill accounts.
Offering a bit stronger of a signup bonus, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card could earn 50,000 points for new cardholders who use the card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening an account. This bonus alone is worth $500.
There is an annual fee of $95, but this card also offers up to $200 in combined airline incidental and TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry statement credits to help offset this cost, as well as unlimited 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining, and 1.5 points for all other purchases.
Citi ThankYou® Rewards Points
(Citi is a CardRatings.com advertiser)
Similar to the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program, if you are a Citi Premier® Card card holder, points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through the ThankYou® Travel Center. And then like with American Express Membership Rewards® program, points can also be transferred to loyalty partner programs, which most often are where you’ll get the most bang for your buck when it comes to redeeming your points.
Additional benefits of having multiple credit cards from the same bank
While combining points is a nice benefit of having multiple credit cards from the same bank, keep in mind that it isn’t the only perk.
For example, 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 pay 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 and you'll decrease your credit utilization thanks to the new line of credit you now have.
Also, having a second card could entitle you to benefits you might not have had access too otherwise, such as airport lounge access, baggage insurance, trip delay reimbursement, etc. Keep in mind though that you can’t necessarily double up on perks when opening a second card from the same issuer. Take Wells Fargo for example. Some Wells Fargo credit cards offer cell phone insurance, but just because you hold two credit cards that offer this benefit, doesn’t mean that you have double the protection. This perk only applies once.
Drawbacks to having multiple credit cards from the same bank
Though there are many great benefits of a second account, there are a few drawbacks that should also be considered.
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 first, 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.
Another thing to keep in mind is how you’ll use your card. For example, Discover and American Express are two issuers who aren’t widely accepted internationally, so if you travel abroad often, you won’t be very well-off with just Discover or American Express credit cards in your wallet.
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.
Applying for multiple credit cards restrictions
Sometimes credit card bonus offers seem too good to be true, placing an ever-constant temptation on credit card users to apply for new credit cards left and right. An extra 50,000 points here, $500 there; we get it, it’s enticing. However, it’s not always quite as simple as that, and this “apply and drop” strategy isn’t foreign to banks.
More so than ever banks are cracking down on approvals and/or bonuses for people applying for multiple cards. Sometimes these crackdowns are obvious, but sometimes it takes a little research to find out what the stipulations are.
For example, though it’s not officially stated on Chase’s website, many people speculate that Chase bank has a “5/24 rule,” which makes it difficult to apply and get approved for a new Chase credit card if you’ve opened five or more personal credit cards, across all banks, within the past 24 months.
Things aren’t always this cryptic though. Most often you’ll see issuers state pretty clearly that bonus offers are not available to people who have had or applied for a particular card before, usually within the last 24 months. Sometimes it’s not just if you’ve applied for that particular card before though. On the application page for the Citi Premier® Card card for example, it states below the bonus offer (60,000 bonus points once spending $4,000 within three months of opening an account): “Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you received a new cardmember bonus for Citi Rewards+® Card, Citi ThankYou Preferred Card, Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige® Card, or if you have closed any of these cards, in the past 24 months.”
American Express is another issuer who makes things pretty transparent as they allow you to check your status before even applying for a card. Thanks to a handy tool featured on their website, you can find out whether you’re eligible for the bonus or not before a credit inquiry is performed.
With that said, just be sure to check the fine print when applying for a new credit card. Just because you have great credit doesn’t mean you’ll get approved.
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, or to take advantage of additional perks that might not be offered from your current card issuer.
To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Platinum Card® from American Express (See Rates and Fees); American Express® Gold Card (See Rates and Fees)