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TPG reader Aaron sent me a message on Facebook to ask about credit card applications:
“As someone new to the points game, would it make sense to target Chase cards first given the more stringent application restrictions?”
The major credit card issuers often limit how many accounts you can have open and how frequently you can apply for new ones. In order to maximize the rewards you earn as a cardholder, it’s important to consider these application restrictions when you’re deciding which cards to get. Applying haphazardly might prevent you from jumping on the most lucrative sign-up bonuses, so in addition to knowing the rules, it’s good to have a plan.
Since last fall, Chase has been denying many applications from people who opened five or more new accounts (with any card issuer) in the previous 24 months. At first this only applied to cards in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that applications for co-branded cards (like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card) are now also receiving greater scrutiny from Chase underwriters.
As a result, it does make sense for newer award travelers like Aaron to target Chase cards first, though how many and which ones you get are a matter of personal preference. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has long been one of my favorites, and I think it’s a great card to start with. After that, you might get one or two other Ultimate Rewards cards depending on your spending patterns, or some of the co-branded cards if you’re in a position to maximize those points and benefits.
I’d go with the Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom, and perhaps the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card and/or the Ink Plus Business Card to give yourself a wide range of opportunities to earn Ultimate Rewards points. The IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card is great for the long term, since it has a relatively low annual fee and you get a free night at any IHG property each year upon your account anniversary. The Southwest Premier card can also give you a lot of value, especially if the sign-up bonus can help you earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
There are lots of good options from Chase, but it’s also important to remember that the travel rewards landscape is always changing. You shouldn’t feel compelled to apply exclusively for Chase cards if they don’t fit with your travel plans and finances. Get the cards that give you the most value, and don’t worry too much about missing out on any one card or bonus. There will always be others.
For more information about Chase cards and application restrictions, check out these posts:
- Choosing the Best Chase Card for You
- Credit Card Application Restrictions for the Major Issuers
- My Credit Card Inventory: Which to Keep and Which to Cancel?
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards