The best ways to use your Chase 5/24 slots
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The world of travel rewards can leave you inundated with acronyms and endless credit-card offers. Only you can decide what cards are right for you, but Chase’s restrictions on credit-card acquisitions might actually give you a helpful push in the right direction when you’re picking your first few cards. The restrictions are in Chase’s 5/24 rule, which says that you’ll automatically be rejected if you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the last 24 months. If you’re not familiar with the 5/24 rule, I strongly suggest starting with this guide to see which cards are counted and which cards it affects.
Related reading: How to Calculate Your 5/24 Standing
The consequence of this rule (coupled with the fact that Chase issues some of the best credit cards on the market) is that people who are new to travel rewards should start with Chase cards before moving on to other issuers. Once you go over 5/24 it’s hard to get back under, so you’re best off picking up the Chase cards you want before applying for others. Today we’re going to look at the best ways to use up your five slots with Chase.
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Which Sapphire card Is right for you?
The first thing you want to consider when building a multi-card strategy is which card is going to be your anchor. This is the one card you would keep if you had to discard the rest of what’s in your wallet. It needs to be a card that offers strong bonus categories, transferable points and a decent selection of perks and benefits. Chase offers two of the best anchor cards, though you’re only allowed to hold one of them at a time. I’m talking, of course, about the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
If you’re starting from scratch, in 99.9% of cases you should get a Chase Sapphire as your first card. You can check out this guide to help you pick between the cheaper Sapphire Preferred and the premium Sapphire Reserve, but here’s a concise overview:
|Card||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Chase Sapphire Reserve®|
|Earning rates||2x points on travel and dining, and 1x on everything else||3x points on travel and dining, and 1x on everything else|
|Sign-up bonus||60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.||50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months|
|Point value for Ultimate Rewards portal redemptions||1.25 cents||1.5 cents|
|Credits||N/A||$300 annual travel credit; Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application-fee credit, and $60 DoorDash credit|
|Lounge access||N/A||Priority Pass Select|
|Authorized user fee||$0||$75|
Related reading: Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card review
Related reading: Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card review
A taste of freedom
Sign-up bonuses come and go, so you’ll need another card that gives you bonuses in useful categories to keep those points rolling in for years to come. Chase offers two great cards in this category, and although they’re technically cash-back cards, you can convert your rewards into fully transferable Ultimate Rewards points if you also hold a Chase Sapphire or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
These cards — the Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants) and Chase Freedom Unlimited — come with relatively low sign-up bonuses, but because they don’t have annual fees, you can keep them open forever without paying anything out of pocket. The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a bonus of $200 bonus after spending $500 in their first three months. The Chase Freedom is offering a $200 bonus (or 20,000 points) after you spend $500 in the first three months. For the long term, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5x on your purchases, with no caps or bonus categories to worry about, while the Freedom offers 5% on your first $1,500 spent in rotating quarterly bonus categories. The categories so far this year have been gas stations/internet, cable and phone services/select streaming services for the first quarter and grocery stores/fitness clubs/select streaming services for the second quarter. You do need to register your card every quarter, but Chase (and TPG) will send you plenty of reminders.
The information for the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Between everyday spending on the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the 5% bonus categories on the Freedom, most people can fit one or both of these cards into their rewards plan. If you can’t decide which one you want, you can check out this head-to-head comparison to see how the math breaks down.
The incredible value of Ink business cards
Many people who are in the early stages of building a credit-card strategy with Chase make the assumption that they won’t be eligible for a business card. Although Chase has been known to ask for documentation of your business activity (including, but not limited to, a proof of Employee Identification Number or bills demonstrating business activity), you might be surprised to learn that you qualify for a business credit card if you have a part-time tutoring or babysitting job, sell products on Ebay or Etsy or a host of other activities.
Related reading: Reader question: Do I need a business to get a business credit card?
Don’t ignore Chase’s lineup of Ink business credit cards or you might not be able to get them later. If there’s any way you can get an Ink, you want one. You might see some similarities to personal Chase cards, but you’ll also see three of the largest sign-up bonuses Chase offers.
The largest bonus doesn’t come from the ultra-premium Sapphire Reserve, it comes from the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. New applicants can earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months, in addition to earning 3x points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on: travel; shipping purchases; internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. The Ink Preferred only has a $95 annual fee, and also comes with a 25% bonus when redeeming your points directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
Related reading: Business Credit Cards That Aren’t Under 5/24
You can also pick between the no-annual-fee Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card and Ink Business Cash Credit Card. Both cards offer a bonus of $750 (or 75,000 points) after spending $7,500 in the first three months of account opening. Like the Freedom/Chase Freedom Unlimited, you’ll need to also hold an Ultimate Rewards-earning card in order to transfer these rewards to airline and hotel partners. The Ink Business Unlimited is very similar to the Freedom Unlimited, offering 1.5x back on all purchases, while the Ink Cash earns 5x on up to $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year and 2x on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.
For a complete breakdown of the different Ink business credit cards, make sure to check out this guide.
Hyatt, Marriott, United or IHG?
Your first priority with your 5/24 slots absolutely needs to be Ultimate Rewards-earning cards, but Chase also offers a number of great cobranded airline and hotel cards for you to pick from. If you’ve gotten a Sapphire, a Chase Freedom Unlimited and an Ink or two and still have a spot left, you might want to consider these options:
- The World of Hyatt Credit Card: Earn up to 50,000 bonus points, 25,000 after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months and another 25,000 after spending $6,000 total in the first six months.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- United Explorer Card: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Earn 140,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Related reading: What to do after you reach 5/24
The 5/24 rule feels like an unfair restriction, but it can help you narrow the field of cards to pick from as you choose your first credit cards to maximize your travel rewards. You can mix and match the categories as you see fit, but remember that most people only get one shot at applying for Chase cards so you’ll want to do your best to pick long-term keepers and not waste these valuable slots on frivolous applications.
Related reading: How to calculate your 5/24 standing
Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point bonus.
Featured photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy
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TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
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- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.