My Ranking and Strategy With the Current Chase Credit Cards

by on July 19, 2011 · 52 comments

in Chase, Continental, Credit Cards, Hyatt, IHG Rewards, United

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: United Explorer, Sapphire Preferred, Southwest Premier

Chase announced a new United card, “The Explorer,” and the deal is a bit of a dud – with a 25,000 point sign-up bonus, 10,000 for spending $25,000 a year and 5,000 points for adding an additional user. There are some decent benefits for those who don’t have elite status on United, but want enhanced service like priority boarding and lounge passes, but overall it’s just an okay offer. I’m a little annoyed that you need to spend $25k in a calendar year and this offer is launching in late July. I just got home from Europe/Mauritius, so I’ll be writing a detailed review of the card later today, but I’ve been thinking about the current Chase offers and wanted to share my thoughts and strategy on the current offering. If you want to get multiple bonuses, you should put together a strategy before applying for a card.

Everyone’s situation is different, but let’s pretend I currently have no Chase credit cards. This is how I’d rank and go after each offer. These are my opinions, but please feel free to share your thoughts below.

The general rule is that you can only get one Chase card every 30 days. Even then you may get declined, but if you have good credit, you can always try calling their reconsideration line and more often than not, they will work with you to shift around credit lines to get your application approved.

1) The best offer is currently the 50,000 point bonus for the Sapphire Preferred card (Update: offer is now for 40,000 bonus points) for spending $3,000 within 3 months. The card has a 7% annual bonus on all points earned, so it’s actually a 53,500 point bonus and the points can be transferred 1:1 to Continental (and thus United), British Airways, Hyatt, Priority Club, Marriott and Amtrak. No foreign transaction fees and $95 fee waived for the first year. All around solid, flexible cards with a healthy sign-up bonus. I value 53,500 Continental/BA miles at around $1,070.

Timing: I have no idea when this offer will end. It launched May 16, so it’s been out there for a while. I’d get in on this now since I believe it’s much more lucrative than the other current offers.

2) If you are targeted with a Continental offer of 50,000 miles and first year free, I’d jump on it. As we all know, Continental (and it’s credit card products) will go away at some point, so might as well get those bonuses before it’s too late.  I value 50,000 Continental miles at about $1,000.

Timing: My understanding is that Chase will continue offering the Continental card through this fall, so I wouldn’t panic and sign-up for anything less than 50,000. My guess/hope is that they will run a 50,000 point sign-up bonus for all as a last time sign-up for the card. This is not based on anything I’ve heard from Chase, but merely my thoughts. (Update: This card is no longer available.)

3) Hyatt Card with 2 free nights at any Hyatt in the world (those free nights are in a suite if you are a Hyatt Diamond). No foreign transaction fees. $75 annual fee. 2 free nights at top Park Hyatt’s could easily be over $1,000, but since I generally never pay that much for a room, I’d value this deal at around $850, less the $75 annual fee = about $775 in value.

Timing: This has been the offer since the card launched in 2010. I don’t foresee it going away any time soon, though I have no confirmation of that – just my gut.

4) If you fly Southwest, Chase is offering 50,000 points for the Southwest Premier Visa. These points can be used towards $825 in Wanna Get Away fares. $99 annual fee, so real value is $726. Can also be transferred to $500 in gift cards ($401 in value after you take out the annual fee). Update: Deal expired 8/6/11

Timing: Good until August 6 at least and possibly extended. If you are a hardcore Southwest fan and plan to use this card as a primary points-earning vehicle, I’d get in on the card before August 6 to be safe.

5) 60,000 Priority Club points for Visa. Even better if you can get the 80,000 point targeted offer that they are sending to most Priority Club members. $49 annual fee, waived the first year. 80,000 point offer would be worth around $650 to me, 60,000 about $480. 

Timing: 60,000 is standard, but they’ve been offering 80,000 targeted for a while. I don’t see this offer changing anytime soon.

* I did not include the British Airways Visa 50,000 point deal because most of us got the 100k offer in April/May and I’d recommend waiting until the next 100k bonus to get this card.

So to sum up, I’d focus on getting the Sapphire Preferred, then Continental 50k then either Southwest/Hyatt then hope the United offer gets sweetened a little bit (that one will be around forever, so I wouldn’t rush to get it on it).

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Kay

    Great post. Really useful for me personally since I’m planning to apply for the Chase Continental Card next month (I got the 50,000K targeted offer). I was thinking of simultaneously applying for the Hyatt and Priority Club cards at the same using multiple browsers/computers. My hope is that Chase’s system won’t pick up on the fact that I’m applying for multiple cards if I hit “apply” simultaneously. Have you heard of this working, or am I getting to greedy?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t believe the multiple browser method will work with Chase, but someone else please feel free to chime in if I am wrong!

  • Megan

    Thanks for this! I was planning to apply for my first Chase card this week, so this is really helpful. However, since I was targeted for the Continental card (50K), I think it makes sense to go for that one first as there is no minimum spend. For folks like me who don’t spend much to begin with, it can be a real burden to hit those minimums.

  • Anonymous

    Makes sense to me!

  • Lantean

    Thanks for the summary Brian… My question is: do you know what one needs to do to be targeted for 100k Sapphire offer?
    Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Need some insight re credit score. In the past four months I applied and was accepted for an Airtran Visa Signature (Barclays, $5k limit) and Cap One Venture ($5k limit). I generally charge less than $1k per month on each card, and always pay balances to zero.

    I’m inclined to take advantage of the Chase Sapphire deal, but reluctant to put another inquiry on my credit report considering that I plan to apply for an auto lease in the next couple months. Any thoughts?

  • Anonymous

    100k Sapphire deal is dead as a doornail unfortunately. I don’t believe Chase is still targeting and if they were, I wouldn’t have any insight to their criteria unfortunately

  • Anonymous

    Is your FICO above a 720? If you pay your bills on time and don’t have balances, I think you should be fine. I’m not sure about auto leasing credit scores, but I don’t think it’s that complicated- will factor your score and income and as long as you are good across the board, I don’t see why you’d have any issues.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Brian.

  • Dan


    Just to be clear — you say “pay your bills on time and don’t have balances.” But that’s a false distinction. What matters for a vast majority of cards is the balance when your statement closes. The bureaus have no idea if you carry a balance and make minimum payments, or pay your statement balance in full and then charge it up again the next month.

    IOW, if I charge $1k this month, and my statement prints with a $1k balance due, there’s no difference in my FICO score if I pay that balance in full and then charge another $1k next month (generating another statement with a balance of $1k) or make the minimum payment (what, $20?) and have interest accrue, generating another statement with a $1k balance.

  • Anonymous

    Dan- you are correct, however I wasn’t referencing the credit utilization aspect of a credit score. I was simply noting that paying your bill (whether in full or minimum payment) is good for your score.

  • Addison

    No, you can not apply simultaneously with Chase. Their servers will pick you up regardless, presumably based on your social. (It does work for Citi, which is perfect for their dual AA card offer).

    BUT, after applying for the CO card and Sapphire card simultaneously back in January, the reconsideration line did hook me up :-)

    Mr. TPG, I believe your forgot to mention the lucrative 6000 point renewal bonus on the Southwest card. That is worth $100 in Wanna Getaway fares and pretty much cancels out the $99 annual fee moving forward. Another correction to your post would be that Chase only allows 1 application in SIX months, not three. So any second application within six months will automatically be declined due to too many applications for credit. (doesn’t mean it can’t be reversed with a phone call).

  • Addison

    With all that said, I’d like to say that I still strongly recommend applying for two Chase cards on the same day. Even though one will get declined, you still stand a good chance of getting that reversed. The main benefit is only one hit on your credit report.

    Pulls from the same bank on the same day will get consolidated (unless one if for business and one is for personal), so in future applications for credit, you will have fewer hits on your report.

    I successfully opened 5 rewards bearing accounts earlier this year with only 2 credit pulls. Converted AMEX Blue to AMEX Hilton, got the sign-up bonus. Signed up for Citi AA Amex and Visa simultaneously and got both bonuses. I also signed up for Chase CO and Sapphire simultaneously and got both bonuses.

  • Rajnish

    I got three cards from chase in a span of 30 days; BA(100,000 miles), CO(50,000 miles) and priority club (60,000 points). :)

  • Bellagio121

    Chase also has a new offer of a Marriott Premiere Visa card with 50K points, 1 free night upon approval, no foreign transaction fees and $85 annual fee waived the first year. However, in the text about getting approval, Chase is saying that they look at your previous spend pattern. If that spend pattern shows that an applicant for the card has only been spending to get the points, then that applicant for the card could get denied the card.

  • Jim

    I hope everyone uses the links from this blog. TPG does alot of hard work and this is the best way to say thanks.

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  • Dan


    I read the fine print that I think you are referring to. I could be wrong, but I don’t read what you read. I see the term “promotional pricing” mentioned several times, including the statement:

    “Chase cardmembers currently receiving promotional pricing, or Chase cardmembers with a history of only using their current or prior Chase card for promotional pricing offers, are not eligible for a second Chase credit card with promotional pricing.”

    I don’t read that as saying “churners beware.” For that to apply to points churn as you suggest, a very logical interpretation of that says “if you have any card with Chase where you are currently satisfying a minimum spend requirement, you be denied.” That’s pretty drastic.

    I think a much more accurate interpretation of the term “promotional pricing” refers to 0% APR balance transfers or some other introductory offer that directly relates to the APR. It’s much more believable for Chase to say, “If you’ve already got a fat balance on another card with a 0% offer, we sure aren’t going to approve you for another one.” That could be seen as too much risk for not enough reward for them.

  • Tara

    I got the 50k Continental card around 30 days ago and am considering applying for the Chase Sapphire (not sure I’d get approved for it though, since I also got the 2 Citi AA personal cards within the last month.. but it’s definitely worth trying)… In any case, I’m torn about whether to jump on the Sapphire with 50k. Since Chase doesn’t allow churning, it’s pretty tempting to hold out even longer and see if they come out with another 100k offer again in a few months. My understanding is that Citi’s personal cards can still be sloooow churned (~18 mo between applications) whereas you can attempt their business cards every 95 days. But with Chase, you cannot churn anything, ever. Is this a pretty accurate summation?

  • Tara

    I got the 50k Continental card around 30 days ago and am considering applying for the Chase Sapphire (not sure I’d get approved for it though, since I also got the 2 Citi AA personal cards within the last month.. but it’s definitely worth trying)… In any case, I’m torn about whether to jump on the Sapphire with 50k. Since Chase doesn’t allow churning, it’s pretty tempting to hold out even longer and see if they come out with another 100k offer again in a few months. My understanding is that Citi’s personal cards can still be sloooow churned (~18 mo between applications) whereas you can attempt their business cards every 95 days. But with Chase, you cannot churn anything, ever. Is this a pretty accurate summation?

  • Jeff

    Hi Brian,
    You forgot to mention that the Chase Priority Club visa also gives you one free night every year. Some decent IC hotel likes Le Grand Paris can easily go above $500 per night. In addition this card does not have foreign transaction fee. Just my random thoughts. :)

  • Derek

    If I have one of the “OLD” Continental OnePass MasterCards (not OnePass Plus) with the $65 annual fee, any idea what will happen to those cards with the Merger?

  • Bradley

    For the Priority Club card, wouldn’t you value their points at $0.006 each because you can essentially buy them for that cost. Hence, I would value the 60k offer at $360 and the 80k offer at $480. I guess you value the points at $0.008 each?

  • Ben

    Perhaps just my opinion, but I think you’ve undervalued the Priority Club card. You get one free night a year, 80K points (targeted) after 1st purchase (worth two nights at high-level IGH @ 40K/night), and no FT fees. Some IC hotels (Beijing, Paris, Amsterdam) are in the $400-$500 range.

    Just seems like it’s worth significantly more than your post suggests.

    Thanks for the detailed post analysis, always great insight from you!

  • 2B

    This Chase Sapphire card requires a $3,000 spend in the first three months. I’m not sure I could do that! Seriously, my bills aren’t that high, even if I paid all of them with the card. Do you have any suggestions on ways to get past this $3,000 limit without buying things I don’t need and/or going into debt?

  • Jen

    So I’m curious what the credit card Co think is an excellent score. And lets say you do have 5 credit pulls in 6 months? At what point does it actually ding your credit and by how much?

  • jen

    I’m curious what you think of the British Airways card right now… I know I missed the 100000 but they do have a 50000 bonus that also includes a travel together ticket after spending 30k. This seems better than the Sapphire but if the 100k came back I would hate to miss it.
    I’m looking for the best card I can get with no foreign trans fees.

  • Jimgotkp

    Can you actually spend $30K in a year? If not, the Sapphire is a better card… The 50K bonus can go to valuable programs such as CO/UA and Hyatt. There might not be a 2-4-1 ticket like the BA card but it might be more reasonable to have your spouse get a Sapphire also instead of reaching $30K in a year. This is just my opinion.

  • Jimgotkp

    The Sapphire card needs a good score and Brian mentioned that having a FICO score of 720 should be about right. If you have 5 credit pulls in the past 6 months, your chances might not look so good. Chase is pretty stingy when it comes to CC approvals especially if you have a good number of other Chase CC’s.

  • Jimgotkp

    Fatwallet and Flyertalk. Plenty of things to do which won’t put you into debt.

  • David

    My united homepage shows a 60K offer.

  • Anonymous

    Nice! I’m not elite so when I click on that link all I see is 40k

  • Anonymous

    Agree here. The BA card is decent, but it has the $85 annual fee vs the Sapphire which has the fee waived first year and techncially a larger signup (53,500 vs 50k). If you could spend the 30k to get the companion award ticket, then it could make sense

  • Anonymous

    Agree w/ Jim..

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    I agree that 60k points could be worth a lot more if used correctly, but I didn’t want to value it at the highest possible, but generally what they’d be worth with reason, if that makes any sense.

  • Anonymous

    I put a premium on not having to do the possibly unethical cash and miles trick and putting your account in jeopardy

  • Anonymous

    i think at some point they will want everyone to have United Explorer cards, but I think the CO cards will be around for a while before they strrongarm people into changing (like Chase has done with other cards they’ve discontinued)

  • Anonymous

    You are correct! I will update the language to add those benefits in… valuable indeed

  • Anonymous

    The 100k was taregeted to a small popular. I’d LOVE to see a 100k Sapphire offer, but I think its more likely the bonus goes from 50 to 25k than 50 to 100k. Just my opinion. Good luck either way!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Jim- I appreciate it!

  • Emevert

    How many credit cards is too many? I don’t want to hurt my credit score by applying for all the points cards, but I want to take advantage of the points… Do y’all cancel your cards after receiving the points so you don’t have to keep up with them all? Looking for any tips to maximize points, not hurt credit, and minimize the cards I use.

  • 2B

    Oh you are _good_. :) Thanks, I’ll check it out! And if I ever see someone with a sack of dollar coins, I’ll know where they came from… :)

  • Jim

    I was wondering the same thing!!

  • Fiona

    I applied for Chase Sapphire (not Preferred) and got the card around March this year. Then I saw a better offer with the Sapphire Preferred here, I sent a secure message to them asking to be upgraded, but the rep denied with reason that my account has been established more than 90 days. I’m thinking about sending another message, but how should I persuade them to match the offer? Do I have a chance?

  • Fiona

    Oh, and the original offer was 20k points after first purchase and 5k additional points after spending $5k within 6 months of account opening.

  • SP

    When are the 50k posted in your account? I have not applied for this card and am wondering about timing. I want to transfer to Continental but knowing that continental is winding down on 12/31, I wonder if I can make it for the transfer. If someone has gotten the points, please let me know how long did it take to post to your account. Thank you!

  • Btoll

    this is not a true statement. I applied for 2 chase card on the same day and got aproved for the sapphire preffered and decline for freedom. When call reconsideration line and changed the allocated balance around got aproved, but reps said it would be 2 credit pulls regardless same or not same day. I do not had any credit pull since March for amaerican Express and no any other chase cards with FIco over 720. 2 chase cards, 2 pulls. I am planning to apply for one citi aa and gold reward am ex this month, so I am not sure it is too many. I also want Chase Hyatt and in the future chase continental or BA when another big bonus will come to play, but am not sure how much is too much. I could not see to get another aa amex even for 75000, due to the another 5 pull in the month and hight spend of 4000. I do not think that trick of alpplying in the same day will work considering my expirience with Chase. Any ideas?

  • trans0816

    Hope it’s okay to ask a newbie question: My wife has about 3000 miles in AA and about the same in Continental that are set to expire soon….is there any way to transfer them to my accounts?

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  • gsant

    I just received an offer for the Chase Sapphire (not preferred) with 100,000 bonus points for $500 spending in the first three months. What do you think?

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