What to do after you reach 5/24

May 24, 2020

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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 already had a few accounts before you found this incredible world, your first couple of moves are going to be highly scripted thanks to Chase’s 5/24 rule. The bank 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, because of this rule, you should open up your Chase cards first before moving on to other issuers.

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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.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

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.

Related reading: The Ultimate Guide to Chase’s 5/24 Rule

What NOT To Do

If you opened other credit cards before discovering travel rewards, you might not have all five spots to work with, and you might find that 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 for The Points Guy about why you should stop waiting to be under 5/24.

At any given time, there will be multiple welcome bonuses 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 a Chase Sapphire that you think would really up your rewards game that’s understandable, but consider applying for business cards that won’t count against your 5/24 status so you, at least, get some points while you’re waiting.

Related reading: How to Calculate Your 5/24 Standing

Diversify Your Points

I’d argue that 5/24 is the main reason most people get Chase cards first, instead of collecting American Express Membership Rewards points. TPG values the two transferable points currencies equally, and after United’s switch to dynamic award pricing, Amex might even have the better set of transfer partners between Delta (and its increasingly frequent flash sales), Aeroplan, Avianca LifeMiles and Etihad Guest.

Related reading: The Best Ways to Use Your 5/24 Slots

Chase and Amex 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.

(Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto / Getty Images)
Star Alliance has partnered with Chase and Amex to let you transfer to all major loyalty programs. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto / Getty Images)

Chase upped the ante by introducing its first-ever transfer bonus in April 2019. 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:

Fixed-Value Cards

Transferable points like Chase Ultimate Rewards get much of their value from the flexibility they offer, but 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 use the “purchase eraser” option. You can transfer to different partners including Avianca, Etihad, Qantas Aeroplan and more, or redeem your miles at a fixed rate of 1 cent each to erase the cost of eligible travel purchases on your card statement.

(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)

Top cards to consider:

Cobranded Cards

Chase issues a number of cobranded airline and hotel cards for Hyatt, United Marriott and IHG, but you might have passed up these options to get more valuable Ultimate Rewards earning cards. You won’t be able to get these specific 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.

Related reading: The surprising reasons why 2020 is the year of cobranded travel credit cards

The legacy of CF Frost continues to live on through cards like Marriott's Bonvoy Brilliant Amex.
The legacy of CF Frost continues to live on through cards like Marriott’s Bonvoy Brilliant Amex.

Top cards to consider:

The information for the 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.   

Bottom Line

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.

Related reading: Business Credit Cards That Aren’t Under 5/24

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

Featured photo by The Points Guy

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