So you’re ready to travel again? Here are the Chase cards to consider if you’re below 5/24
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In 2020, the pandemic put a damper on travel rewards and credit card loyalty.
New card applications took a nosedive from early to mid-2020, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. For many cardholders, that meant strategizing around the cards they already had, and pressing pause on new card products until there was more clarity on a travel recovery.
Issuers also put the brakes on new cardholder acquisition and instead, upped the ante on pivoting card perks and benefits to align more closely with the new realities of staying closer to home. But that is all changing as we go deeper into 2021.
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For months now, issuers from Chase to Amex to Capital One have brought back generous sign-up bonuses and welcome offers. COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed at an accelerated pace, with the U.S. expected to have enough supply for all adults by the end of May.
In fact, with a travel outlook getting brighter by the day, now might be one of the best times to apply for a new card. Even better, for many of us that didn’t prioritize card applications over the past year, you may now be below Chase’s infamous 5/24 rule for the first time (in a very long time).
If that sounds like you, here are three potential scenarios for how you can leverage a new Chase card sign-up bonus for travels later in 2021.
A refresher on the Chase 5/24 rule
As a quick refresher, the Chase 5/24 rule is an unwritten policy in which to be approved for any Chase card, you cannot have opened five or more personal credit cards across all banks in the last 24 months.
That means you need to be under five cards within 24 months in order to be approved. While the rule only applies for new Chase card applications, your 5/24 count does, in fact, include cards from all banks.
As of this article’s publication, if you have been approved for fewer than five cards between February 2019 and today (data points show that you should typically wait until the first day of the next month), congrats — you fall outside of 5/24.
Extravagant post-pandemic vacations
For many travelers, the notion of staying at (or near) home for the past year has been a painful reality. The pandemic has deprived many of us of something that we truly love, and the result for later in 2021 may be planning bigger, longer and more luxurious trips than ever before.
For instance, TPG reader Beverly Santiago says that she’s “currently (at) 4/24 and saving that slot for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card.” Her plan is to save up enough Marriott Bonvoy points for the ultra-luxury Al Maha resort in Dubai.
Currently, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless is offering 125,000 bonus points + 1 free night (valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $5,000 in the first three months from account opening (total of up to 175,000 bonus points).
If premium hotel stays are what you’re after, the World of Hyatt Credit Card is another solid Chase-issued option, with a sign-up bonus of up to 60,000 bonus points. You’ll earn 30,000 World of Hyatt points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. You’ll get another 30,000 points by spending up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening.
Hyatt is opening two more highly anticipated Alila properties in California, including the Alila Napa Valley, set to open this March.
Of course, a card that earns transferable Ultimate Rewards points, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, is another fantastic option.
However, besides 5/24, Chase has a 48-month rule on receiving new cardmember bonuses within the Chase Sapphire family. So if you’ve earned a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus in the past four years, you’re out of luck to earn this bonus until you’ve passed the 48-month mark.
If you do qualify, Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to both Marriott and Hyatt (as well as 11 other travel partners).
Giving new airlines or hotels a try
This year may be a good time to hit the reset button on the hotels and airlines that you’re used to booking. It’s an ideal time to try something new, especially with reduced elite status requirements for many travel brands. And as COVID-19 vaccinations continue, travelers will have an ever-evolving travel game plan.
For my own purposes when I dropped below 5/24 last year, I applied for the World of Hyatt card — and haven’t looked back since. It’s especially easy this year to earn elite status with Hyatt, as requirements were cut in half versus previous years.
And as a first-time Globalist reaping the benefits of top-tier status, I’m glad I made the switch to give Hyatt a chance.
Continuing on the hotel theme, after dropping under 5/24 this month, TPG reader Peggy Stumler is considering a new IHG card, such as the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card or IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card. The information for the IHG Traveler 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 IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card currently offers a 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening and an annual fee of $89 (waived for the first year). With a diverse array of brands such as Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and InterContinental, the IHG portfolio can make sense for a wide swath of travel from domestic road trips (think: roadside Holiday Inn) or international escapes (think: luxurious InterContinental).
A shift from international travel to domestic getaways
Even as U.S. vaccine distribution accelerates, the opening of international borders will lag behind. For many of us, that means still prioritizing domestic getaways for the immediate future.
And if you’re taking domestic flights, odds are you might find yourself considering Southwest Airlines. That’s because Southwest is now the largest airline domestic travelers fly within the U.S. Thankfully, Southwest’s incredible lineup of Chase cards also caters to a diverse array of flyers — with great sign-up bonuses to boot.
For instance, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card are all offering the ability to earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.
Many travelers are ready to hit the road and take to the skies once again. If you’re below Chase’s 5/24 limit, now is the ideal time to apply for a card and use points and miles toward a 2021 (or beyond) getaway.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of Chase cards, this is meant to let your creative juices start flowing in helping plan a post-pandemic vacation that you’ve likely been thinking about for months on end.
Featured photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy.
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