Posted by William Charles on April 5, 2017
Credit Cards

Published on April 5th, 2017 | by William Charles


Bank of America “Approved In Error” Issues


Before we get started, note that this page is a work in progress and I’m hoping readers will contribute their data points. Recently readers and people across the web have reported that Bank of America have either denied or approved their Merrill+ cards, that’s obviously nothing new but what is new is that some people who received approvals have been contacted and told their application was “approved in error”. Reader Darv was the first to mention this and Sirtheta put together a warning post found here.

The Rule

Shortly after this reddit user Kilifi posted the following “rule”:

Merrill+ cards will be denied (or approved and then denied) if:

  • You’ve had 4 or more Bank of America applications in the last 12 months
  • You’ve had 5 or more Bank of America applications in the last 24 months
  • Currently hold more than 8 existing Bank of America cards

I’m going to call this the approved in error (AiE rule). Seems to be affecting more cards than just Merrill+.

The Data Points

As everybody knows, it’s never a good idea to take everything at face value on the internet so let’s see if the data points back up this rule or not (please remember to share yours in the comments).

Confirms rule:

These data points show denials or approved in error for people in accordance with what the rule states.

Slightly confirms rule:

These data points show approvals for people that should be approved according to the rule.

Goes against rule:

These data points show people that were approved when they should have been denied according to the rule.

Other data points:

Our Verdict

Honestly I’m not 100% sure what’s going on here, I have a few random thoughts:

  • Approved in error seems to be more likely to happen when the Merrill+ application was done on the same day as other applications
  • Bank of America might not have finished processing all of the “approved in error” cancellations, thus causing some false negatives or similar.

As always, I know my readers will come through with some data points to help us work out what’s going. Please try to provide as much information as possible if you were “approved in error” at minimum the following would be great:

  • Bank of America cards in the last 12 months
  • Bank of America cards in the last 24 months
  • Current Bank of America cards
  • Did you apply for multiple cards at once?
  • Did you received the approved in error notification? If so, when?
  • When did you apply?

I’ll add to the above if I think of any other useful questions.



61 Responses to Bank of America “Approved In Error” Issues

  1. M says:

    Applied for 4 mlbs in September and merill+ in Jan. All eventually approved and not removed.

  2. Ender says:

    You’ve had 4 or more Bank of America applications in the last 12 months

    Does this count in the application for the merrill+ and other apps done in the same day of Merrill+?

  3. jordan says:

    I was snap denied for a new alaska yesterday. I wonder if this 4/12 5/24 rule is more widespread?

  4. David says:

    I applied for M+ and AS card on same day in that order. I later had the AS card revoked but not the M+. I wonder if it’s not a M+ specific issue, rather just that most people would choose the M+ over AS as a better card so most DPs are related to it.

  5. DSP says:

    Applied 03/29, Approved. No prior BoA relationship

  6. Frank says:

    Approved in early March along with AS personal card. First statement closed and card is still open.

  7. Kev says:

    Thanks for keeping track of this- hopefully Kilifi would be kind enough to take a look and let us know if we’re missing anything here.

    • Kev says:

      Bank of America cards in the last 12 months – 0
      Bank of America cards in the last 24 months – 0
      Current Bank of America cards – 1
      Did you apply for multiple cards at once? – Yes, Merrill+ & Alaska
      Did you received the approved in error notification? If so, when? – No
      When did you apply? – 3/30/17

  8. David G says:

    Applied for AS and M+ same day last week. 0/24 for BOA applications, had an Americard for about 4 years. Immediately denied for AS, waiting a week and called recon today. Was told that I had too many CC openings in general, not just with BOA, as he stated that the 5 opened in the past 10 months were too many for their M+ approvals. Thanked him for his time and hung up. Checked online and application had gone from under review to denied, now matching the AS. I could just be an outlier, but seemed to me that any accounts, not just BOA accounts, were the problem.

  9. Ruby says:

    Still under review. Should I call them to reconsider? I have a BoA savings & checking and have 2 cards with them right now

    • MarcoPolo says:

      @ Ruby
      You have a good chance of getting approved due to your prior relationship with them but I think calling them might lead to a denial since the recon reps are in that kind of mood.

  10. Andrew says:


    Had opened 10 MLB cards within the past 12 months, of which 6 were closed right after I received the cards.

  11. Erik says:

    Approved for M+ 11/29/16 r and approved again for the M+ on 3/31/17. Only 2 BOA cards I have at the moment. Application on 3/31 went to pending and called recon the following day and was approved. Both cards currently show up on my profile and received email stating my second card was sent out on 4/4.

  12. Matthew says:

    I was approved in November, had 4 cards before that, 3 open at time of approval, 2 opened within 3 months of Merrill app.
    Bank of America cards in the last 12 months: 2
    Bank of America cards in the last 24 months: 3
    Current Bank of America cards: 3 (including Merrill)
    Did you apply for multiple cards at once? Yes, but was not approved for those cards, just Merrill
    Did you received the approved in error notification? If so, when? No
    When did you apply? November

  13. Nick says:

    On April 2, 2017, I applied for Merrill+ over the phone and it went pending. Later that day, I was instantly approved for Alaska, BankAmericard Travel Rewards, & BankAmericard Cash Back. On the morning of April 4, All of the cards were shown in my BofA account with the exception of the Cash Back card presumably revoked since I already own the card (from 2013). I have applied for 0 BofA cards in the last 24 months prior to this Merrill+ application.

  14. Aieeeeeee says:

    Should we expect California residents to be immune to AiE, or at least to get 30 days notice (since California law prohibits issuers from closing credit card accounts without 30 days’ notice, except in certain cases like the customer defaulting on their debt)?

    Would be interesting to hear whether anybody in CA has gotten the AiE treatment.

    Credit to Reddit user sexy_kitten7 for the legal point:

    • Helen says:

      I live in CA. I already had 7 BoA cards when I applied for the Merrill +. Got pending so called the reconsideration line. Was told that I had enough credit with BoA so it would be a denial. SO I asked her to move credit around and then she approved it. I even got the card in the mail but when I went to activate it, was told that the account was closed. I then tried to call and argue with them. They told me they made a mistake in approving me as it wasn’t the number of credit but the number of accounts I had with BoA that was the issue.

  15. MarcoPolo says:

    I don’ think they are following any rule in this specific case.
    They are denying this card wherever they can as they probably did not expect such a high volume of applications.

    Look at this post :

  16. MarcoPolo says:

    As for me I applied over the phone before the last application link became public.
    I have received the card few days ago and maybe it’s too late for them to take it back (if they want to).
    I am also a long time BoA customer and hasn’t had any BoA credit card since 2008.
    Prior to 2008 I had four BoA credit cards which were “sock drawered” after getting the promotion.
    They recently canceled two of them citing non-use similar to Citi.

  17. Matt says:

    Applied on 3/29/17
    Approved on 4/3/17
    Card shown online 4/4/17 (morning)
    Card disappeared online 4/4/17 (evening)
    I have not been contacted to with “Approved in Error” notice, but I assume the card was cancelled.

    Currently Open:
    BoA Cash Rewards (2009)
    BoA Travel Rewards (12/2015)
    3x BoA MLB Mastercard (7/2016)

    FIA Fidelity Visa (12/2015)

    BoA Preferred Rewards Platinum Honors Status
    BoA customer since 1997

    Currently hold 5 BoA cards (not incl. Merrill+)
    4x in last 12 months (incl. Merrill+)
    5x in last 24 months (incl. Merrill+)
    5x in 12 and 6x in 24 if including FIA Fidelity

  18. Heavensbee says:

    Applied for Alaska and Merrill+ on Feb 11. Approved for Alaska instantly and Merrill+ after recon on Feb 17. Also applied for Alaska biz same day and approved after recon as well. Have met minimum spend and received bonuses on all cards, and all are still open.

  19. JP says:

    Back in Jan, My Merrill was approved with 3 existing cards, haven’t received any notifications about “approved in error” yet.
    Hubby applied a day later, was denied due to too many cards (also 4).
    I’ve since closed 2 (due to other unhappy experience with BoA), and hubby closed 2 since then.

    Hope this is enough DPs for you, Doc!

  20. Sam says:

    All I can say is this card has got to be crippling their bottom line. The card is so poorly advertised, it is probably almost exclusively churners who are getting approved, putting 3k spend on the card, and redeeming for $1k in flights. BOA is getting killed and they are just trying to stop the bleeding. This will get really interesting if they try to reclaim or deny rewards from people who have already earned the bonus or met spend.

  21. Darv says:

    It’s not just a Merrill+ issue. Other cards will be closed.

    Perhaps as strange as anything is clearly not all credit analysts have been trained on new guidelines. And for that matter, there are no new guidelines. Data points are all over the map.

    It’s always been clear BofA is disorganized. This is more evidence.

    What will be interesting is if people owe balances on these BofA closed accounts and if BofA is organized enough to send statements so the balances can be paid. I am guessing not, which could mean a significant backlash coming from BofA customers in the form of formal complaints. BofA’s behavior here seems desperate, poorly coordinated response, perhaps spurred by someone in upper management. How would you feel being one of their credit analysts right now?

    I’ve​ also seen data points of BofA saying the hard pulls would be removed on these approvals in error. I imagine some customers will hold them to that.

    • Superchurn says:

      I sure as hell would hold them to that, yes.

      And I’ll lodge a complaint with the CFPB and Comptroller of the Currency if they try and claw back my legitimately-earned points.

      Its not my fault if their credit analysts are poorly trained…They specifically advertised the card with the bonus, now they can deal with that decision.

      Or maybe I’ll use that same excuse when my CC payment comes due..”Sorry, I signed the contract for this card in error” or initiate disputes on every single transaction I put on the card…if it was approved in error, then i suppose all the subsequent charges are also in error, and their merchant fees were charged in error..

      gimme a break BoA

    • Darv out of interest what’s your association to Bofa? Can e-mail me if you want to keep it confidential

    • Kels says:

      I want this hard pill and account history removed from my credit history more than anything. If I’m not going to get my bonus I don’t want to lower my aaoa. Hope they can do the right thing since they clearly said it was “approved in error”. Funny because it was manually approved

  22. dasbos says:

    I was denied after calling recon and told by two desperate reps that they deemed that I had sufficient credit with them and they would not move anything around. I have an Amtrak card and an Alaska card but no other BoA products or accounts. One of the reps hinted that they were likely denying because I had not put much spend on my existing 2 cards after meeting the minimum spend.

    • Cinos says:

      This was my experience as well. Had applied for and received 3 MLB cards, but was denied for the Merrill+ and told to utilize my existing credit accounts with BofA.

  23. Bodiddely says:

    I have a DP that disproves the “You’ve had 4 or more Bank of America applications in the last 12 months” disqualifier – at least for Biz card apps. Applied for 2 AS biz cards in August, approved same day on recon. Month later, approved for Asiana biz card after a recon call plus 2nd level review. A few weeks later I applied for AS personal and it was a hard no on several recon calls – agents said I had opened too many accounts recently (didn’t specify with BofA or in general). The denial letter said something like “reference credit accounts lack sufficient history.” AAoA is like 1.7 years but my oldest account is a BofA card I opened in 2004. Anyways, fast forward to a few weeks ago – applied for Merrill+ via phone on a Saturday, went pending and approved on Monday — despite having had 4 BofA apps in the last year. I also have low 6 figures invested with Merrill Edge so possibly that could have made a difference.

    • Bodiddely says:

      And just to clarify — account has not been closed yet; I received it 10 days ago and earned 25k signup bonus (I’ve “opened a ticket” for the other 25k points and the agents tell me it was resolved in my favor and they will be posting any day now — as the phone agent had assured me it was the 50k/3k offer when I applied)…

  24. Jordan says:

    By saying “Bank of America applications,” does it mean application submitted or application approved?
    If it’s the latter I am at 3/12, 4/24, and might try to apply.

    In addition, it might be valuable to also ask about the relationship with BoA since they indeed value it.

  25. jf says:

    So what if we got our card approved back in december? Does this mean we need to hurry up and use our points? Only other boa card is Amtrak and a BBR all are well over a year old

  26. Rick I says:

    My wife received her card in the mail and could not activate. Received a letter several days later saying that she has had enough credit cards with B of A and their affiliates. Not too high of credit exposure but has had enough credit cards

  27. Ryan says:

    This feels a lot like BofA is scrambling to come up with a new hard rule for approvals, not just for Merrill.

    I was at our near 100% approval with them for years and have been denied 3 times in the last few months.

    I suspect that a whole new set of guidelines will be forthcoming soon. I just hope it’s not another 524 sotuation.

    • DCjoe says:

      Same feeling here- sounds like something that has been in the works since the beginning of the year and they are rushing to apply the new standards to the Merrill+ because of the leaked application leak at the end of March.

      My guess is that the outcome will be treating them like Barclays- much longer time period between applications, needing to maintain usage of existing cards to get approved for new cards, that sort of thing.

  28. Kyle says:

    Wife was approved for the card, and it showed up in her account about 2 days ago. I just checked again and it has disappeared, but no email has been sent.

    Are we going to have an recourse if they are posting an inquiry on our reports, and then denying the account after initial approval? What about people that are still pending?

    • Kevin says:

      You applied for the card….regardless of approval or not, the inquiry is legit, so more than likely it will stand.

  29. TomT says:

    Do the data points indicate if approved BofA business cards count towards the number of BofA cards within the last 12 and 24 months? Does it seem that the rule gets used as part of the approval process for new BofA business card applications?

  30. v says:

    What is the best way to liquidate Merrill+Visa pts quickly other than buying $1k in flight? does United travel bank work? Thanks.

  31. boomX says:

    Bank of America cards in the last 12 months..0
    Bank of America cards in the last 24 months..3
    Current Bank of America cards..At the time of applying, 2. Closed 1 on the day of applying Merill+. As of today 1.
    Did you apply for multiple cards at once?..Yes, M+ in the morning and Travel Rewards in the evening.
    Did you received the approved in error notification? If so, when?..No
    When did you apply?..3/29

    • boomX says:

      Btw, both M+ and Travel Rewards applied that day are gone now. I guess BofA called me am hour back but missed the call.

      • boomX says:

        Reached out to BofA, asking to look into the closed accounts. Was told accounts closed as there were too many accounts opened in the last 12 months. Accounts will not be reported to Credit bureaus but the hard inquiry stays. Guess BofA is in its rights to close accounts at anytime it desires as well. I did ask further research to be done and provide update.

  32. matt denny says:

    So finally got around to trying to activate my card today. Same as many here the card is now closed. What really is a disaster in my case is that I had moved the credit line from 5 other bofa cards and closed them bringing the credit line on the Merrill Lynch to around 25k. So not only is that card not approved, but 5 other accounts now closed losing 25k in credit line and a hard inquiry to boot. Devastating.

  33. V says:

    Bank of America cards in the last 12 months: 2 (MLB and 2nd Alaska opened 6/2016)
    Bank of America cards in the last 24 months: 4 (TR and 1st Alaska opened 11/2015)
    Current Bank of America cards: 3 (Closed 1st Alaska in 12/2016)
    Did you apply for multiple cards at once? Yes, ML+ and 3rd Alaska personal
    Did you received the approved in error notification? If so, when? No letter saying I was approved in error, just 10 days of no card being mailed until I called to find out they had been closed ‘by my request’
    When did you apply? Applied and approved on 3/29 for both with one recon call

    Shifted $5k from MLB to ML+ and $6k from 2nd Alaska to 3rd Alaska. ML+ appeared online for a few days but disappeared shortly after. MLB credit was returned. Called today to find out ML+ and 3rd Alaska were closed but 3rd Alaska’s credit line won’t be returned. This was due to a secondary review and ‘policymakers’ in the credit department. The credit analyst I was on the phone with wouldn’t disclose what this policy was despite me offering the ‘hypothetical’ rules outlined in DoC’s post.

    I’ll wait to make sure the accounts don’t appear on my CR (if it does, I’ll CFPB). If it doesn’t, I probably don’t have much recourse for my loss in $5k credit line unless someone can point me to some regulation where I might have standing…

    • V says:

      Correction: $6k loss in credit (from the 2nd AS to 3rd AS that was then closed)

      Also received two letters in the mail confirming approval, and a third explaining the MLB credit line shift had been made erroneously (no mention of the ML+ being opened)

      A phone rep suggested their was another letter sent, but I haven’t received it

    • V says:

      Other info:

      8 EX inquiries in last 12 (18 in last 24)
      6 new accounts in last 12 (13 in last 24)
      other inquiries went towards business accounts not on the CR

      Have a BofA checking account opened 3/2015 when there was a $300 bonus but kept it open and made it one of my more oft-used checking accounts. Been thinking about moving money for ML preferred rewards and may go in to talk to a banker and see what can be done wrt this recent mini fiasco

  34. WayUpNorth49 says:

    AS personal – opened in 2003

    TR, opened 17-March-17
    M+, opened 17-April-17; cancelled 1-July-17
    M+, opened 28-May-17

    July 3th:
    Applied for both CR and second AS. Denied both (“too many hard pulls”).
    July 6th:
    Called recon, CR approved (with minor reallocation of credit).
    Called recon, AS denied. Explanation: too many hard pulls.

    July 10th (ish):
    Called recon on AS again, denied again — “too many hard pulls”. Discussion of CR and the hard pull thing being over-comable there, why not for AS? Answer: you already have that card.

    July 20:
    Called to PC the AS to a no-fee card. “Not available”

    July 23:
    Called to PC the AS to a no-fee card. “Not available”.

  35. DanmakuLife says:

    I was “approved in error” and the reason cited was my 3 accounts opened in the last 12 months.

  36. George says:

    Dammit, I was able to squeeze app on 9/18 and approved on 9/19
    Today, 9/20, got a call from Boa that I was approved in error.

    so sad after I was excited to use the card today too!!!

  37. Jordan says:

    How long do you have to wait until you are “safe” from the approved in error call?

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