My Ranking and Strategy With the Current Chase Credit Cards

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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).

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