What to do after you reach 5/24
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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.
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 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. 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.
Diversify Your Points
I’d argue that 5/24 is the main reason most people get Chase cards first, instead of collecting Amex Membership Rewards points. TPG values the two transferable points currencies equally, and after United’s recent 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.
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.
Chase has recently upped the ante by introducing its first-ever transfer bonus. Through June 16th, you’ll get an extra 30% when you transfer your points to British Airways. 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 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Terms apply.
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. Terms apply.
Transferable points like 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.
Top cards to consider:
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
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.
Top cards to consider:
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn 75,000 after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening. Terms apply.
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express: 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 60,000 miles after spending $2,500 in purchases in the first three months
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express: Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within your first 3 months and a $50 Statement Credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Terms apply.
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.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- 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 travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.