The best cards to get after you hit 5/24
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit card information.
Whether you opened your first-ever credit card in the pursuit of free travel, or you’ve already had a few accounts before you found this incredible world of points and miles, your first couple of moves are going to be highly scripted, thanks to Chase’s 5/24 rule. The issuer uses this rule to automatically reject applicants who’ve opened five or more cards in the last 24 months.
Some business cards don’t count, so be sure to check out this guide to 5/24 if you’re not familiar with the rule. In general, you should open up your Chase cards first before moving on to other issuers because of this rule.
You might go with a tested card combination like the Chase trifecta, composed of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited, or you might build your own strategy after deciding which Sapphire card to anchor your strategy. Although there are plenty of great Chase card choices, there are only so many ways to use up those first five slots.
If you exceed five cards in 24 months, you’ll find yourself in the Wild Wild West of credit cards, where anything goes. After 5/24, there’s no uniform path for you to follow. It’s time to evaluate the cards in your wallet, figure out what you want from new credit cards and chart a course. Today, we’ll take a look at some of your best options for building a post-5/24 strategy.
What NOT to do
If you’ve opened other credit cards before discovering travel rewards, you may not have all five spots to work with, meaning you can’t get every Chase card that you want. One of the biggest mistakes is waiting on the sidelines to fall under 5/24 again while letting valuable bonuses go by. TPG’s Loyalty and Engagement Editor Richard Kerr summed it up very well in his post about why you should stop waiting to be under 5/24.
At any given time, there will be multiple welcome bonuses from other cards worth $1,000 or more that you are eligible for (even if you’re over the 5/24 rule). You can earn and redeem today instead of waiting for months or years to be eligible for a Chase card. If there’s a specific card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred that you think would really up your rewards game, that’s understandable, but consider applying for a business card that won’t count against your 5/24 status in the meantime so you, at least, get some points while you’re waiting.
Related: How to calculate your 5/24 standing
Diversify your points
I’d argue that the 5/24 restriction is the main reason most people get Chase cards first rather than collecting American Express Membership Rewards points. TPG values the two transferable points currencies equally (at 2 cents each). However, Amex has more loyalty partners than Chase and even includes valuable programs such as Delta (and its frequent flash sales), Aeroplan, Avianca LifeMiles and Etihad Guest.
Related: The best ways to use your 5/24 slots
Chase and Amex also have a number of transfer partners in common (including British Airways, Singapore, Air France, KLM Flying Blue and Virgin Atlantic), but their differences are incredibly complementary. Star Alliance is a great example because Chase and Amex combine to let you transfer to all the major loyalty programs in the largest airline alliance. This lets you pit United, Avianca, Aeroplan and Singapore against each other and pick the absolute lowest cost for any award you want to book.
Furthermore, Amex frequently runs transfer bonuses to British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and more, meaning that the best transfer option might vary month to month. By having access to both types of points, you can make sure you’re always ready to jump when the right redemption option presents itself.
Top cards to consider:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first six months of account opening. Terms apply.
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. Terms apply.
Transferable points like Chase Ultimate Rewards get much of their value from the flexibility they offer. Still, sometimes you need to travel on a specific flight on a specific date and you can’t afford to hunt for award space. This is where fixed-value cards can make a great addition to your wallet. Simply book the ticket you need and use your points to erase the charge from your statement. You won’t get the same outsized redemption value that you would if you transferred Chase points to book Lufthansa first class, but this is one way to make sure your credit card strategy is always working to meet your specific needs.
If you recently opened five credit cards with the sole purpose of earning transferable points, this strategy might be a bit much. Enter the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, which lets you decide on a case-by-case basis whether to transfer your miles or redeem them directly towards travel purchases. With Capital One’s recent addition of four new transfer partners (for a total of 19 airline and hotel programs), you can transfer to partners including Avianca, British Airways Etihad, Qantas, Aeroplan and more, or redeem your miles at a fixed rate of 1 cent each towards eligible travel purchases on your card statement.
Top cards to consider:
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Chase issues several cobranded airline and hotel cards for Hyatt, United, Marriott and IHG. Still, you might have passed up these options to get more valuable Ultimate Rewards-earning cards. You also won’t be able to get these Chase credit cards if you’re over the 5/24 limit, but there are plenty of other options to pick from and a little less pressure when you’re making your decision.
If you’re loyal to Marriott, you can pick up one of the Amex Bonvoy cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. Hilton loyalists also have a number of Amex cards to choose from, and American Airlines and Delta flyers can pick up cobranded credit cards for those airlines without worrying about 5/24. This can be a great way to get a free hotel night each year, save on checked bag fees or simply earn a welcome bonus that can help jumpstart your next trip.
Top cards to consider:
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn 125,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership. Offer ends 5/12/2021.
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Earn 150,000 points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first three months. Terms apply.
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 in purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on and up to $50 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within your first 3 months of account opening.
The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card and Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The 5/24 rule is the beginning, not the end, of your credit card rewards journey. Hitting that mark is a rite of passage to serious award travelers, and once you do, it’s time to look forward not backward. Figure out which of your Chase cards are keepers, either with low or no annual fee or strong bonus categories and decide what benefits matter most in your next credit cards.
Whether you’re looking to diversify into a new points currency, change the focus of your earning to incorporate fixed-value cards, or possibly both, you have plenty of options to consider. The important thing is that you continue to go out and take action if you want to keep earning points.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson and Stella Shon
Featured photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy
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