Credit card sign-up bonus points are one of the easiest ways to earn large quantities of frequent flyer points for relatively minimal outlay. During special promotions, many banks offer tens or even hundreds of thousands of bonus points to new customers that sign up for credit cards.
With so many points on offer, it’s easy to see why many take credit card churning (the art of applying for a card, collecting the bonus points and then cancelling) seriously. But there are a few catches. Not only can applying for too many credit cards harm your credit rating, but most banks also only offer the sign-up bonus points to new customers. This means that if you already have a credit card with that bank, you won’t earn any bonus points by applying for a second card.
Most banks also won’t award sign-up bonus points to customers that have recently cancelled their card/s with that bank. This is fair enough, as the offers are there to entice new customers to the bank – and not to encourage credit card churning. The amount of time that you need to wait after cancelling the card, before you’re eligible for another sign-up bonus, is known as the exclusion period.
Credit card exclusion periods
When banks run promotions offering bonus points to new credit card applicants, the exclusion period for previous customers is usually stated in the offer terms & conditions. It’s typically 12-18 months, but this varies by bank. Previous customers can still apply for a credit card during their “exclusion period” – they just won’t earn the bonus points.
Customers will generally be excluded from earning bonus points on a new credit card if they’ve been a previous customer with that bank – even if the credit card previously held is different to the one being applied for. This also means that customers upgrading to a higher-value credit card with the same bank will almost never earn bonus points as they’re an existing customer.
Amex exclusion period
There are a few exceptions, of course. With American Express, for example, David Jones Amex cards are considered to be a different category than other Amex cards. So if you already have a David Jones Amex card, you can apply for another type of Amex card and still earn bonus points (and vice versa). In addition, holding a bank-issued Amex card (such as the Westpac Amex product) does not exclude you from earning bonus points on a new Amex-issued card.
If you already have an Amex card, you can still earn bonus points if a new cardholder signs up using your referral link. In addition, there is nothing stopping your partner or spouse from applying for their own Amex card, even if they’re listed as an additional cardholder on an existing Amex card.
Citibank credit cards
Credit cards issued by Citibank (including Citibank, Qantas Premier and Virgin Money products) don’t always have advertised exclusion periods. However, Citibank is known to reject applications from customers that already have (or recently applied for) another credit card issued by Citibank. There is some discussion about Citibank applications and exclusion periods in this AFF thread.
What are the exclusion periods for each bank?
Here are the current credit card exclusion periods for the major Australian banks:
- American Express – 18 months
- ANZ – 12 months
- CommBank – 12 months
- HSBC – no current information but previously 18 months
- NAB – 12 months
- St George/Bank of Melbourne/Bank SA – 12 months
- Westpac – 12 months
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: How long until you are a “new” customer?