This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Today is 5/24 (May 24), which is the perfect time for TPG to review the Chase 5/24 rules which affect who is eligible for Chase credit cards. In honor of 5/24, TPG will be sharing related tips and stories throughout the day.

Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point bonus.

Taking the plunge into the world of travel rewards can leave you inundated with new acronyms and endless credit-card offers. Only you can decide what cards are right for you, but you might find that Chase’s restrictions on credit-card acquisitions will actually give you a helpful push 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.

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 first 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 cards with other issuers. In honor of May 24 (5/24), we’re going to look at the best ways to use up your five slots with Chase.

Which Sapphire 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 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 high level overview:

Card Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Annual fee $95 $450
Earning rates 2x points on travel and dining, 1x on everything else 3x points on travel and dining, 1x on everything else
Sign-up bonus 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months
Point value for UR portal redemptions 1.25 cents 1.5 cents
Credits N/A $300 annual travel credit, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit
Lounge access N/A Priority Pass Select
Authorized user fee $0 $75

A Taste of Freedom

Sign-up bonuses come and go, so you’ll also need a 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 while 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 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 at no cost. The Freedom offers a bonus of $150 (or 15,000 points) after spending $500 in the first three months, while the Freedom Unlimited offers 3x on your first $20,000 of purchases during your first year for a maximum bonus value of 60,000 points. For the long term, the Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5x on all your purchases, with no caps or bonus categories to worry about, while the Freedom offers 5x on your first $1,500 spent in rotating quarterly bonus categories. The categories so far this year have been gas stations/tolls/drugstores for the first quarter and grocery stores/home improvement stores for the second quarter. You do need to register your card every quarter, but Chase (and TPG) will send you plenty of reminders to do so.

Between everyday spending on the Freedom Unlimited and the 5x bonus categories on the Freedom, there’s room for most people to 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.

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. While you might see some similarities to personal Chase cards, 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 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 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 travel portal.

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 $500 (or 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Like the Freedom/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?

(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)

While your first priority with your 5/24 slots absolutely needs to be Ultimate Rewards-earning cards, Chase offers a number of great cobranded airline and hotel cards for you to pick from. If you’ve gotten a Sapphire, a Freedom Unlimited and an Ink or two and still have a spot left, you might want to consider these options:

Bottom Line

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.

For more on Chase’s 5/24 rule, see these related articles:

Know before you go.

News and deals straight to your inbox every day.

2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED 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.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • 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
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.