First Cards to Get

First Cards to Get / Start Here:

To truly maximize your return on spending and your loyalty points/miles it’s best to have a strategy. What are your travel goals: solo, family, luxury, economy, domestic, close international, long haul, road trips, etc.? What are your current spending patterns (where do you spend your money): restaurants, grocery stores, gas, hotels, flights, Amazon, Starbucks, office supplies, etc.?

One important note is that Chase bank offers many of the best rewards cards out there, especially travel rewards cards. This is true both for their own cards and co-branded cards with travel partners. The problem challenge, though, is that Chase has what we in the rewards credit card hobby call the 5/24 rule. The 5/24 rule is this: Chase will only approve your credit card application (for most of its cards) if you have opened fewer than 5 new credit cards in the preceding 24-months. This is any and all new credit cards with/from any bank or store.

I personally am way over 5/24 and don’t have many of the best Chase cards either so I’m essentially locked out unless I go on a serious 2-year card application diet. My wife; however, was barely over the threshold when they implemented the rule so we held back her card applications and now she is below 5/24 or becomes below it a couple times a year.

As of now Chase is the only bank that has a limit like this so if you are new to this and haven’t gotten a new credit card in over two years or have fewer than 5 new cards then I recommend you focus on getting the big Chase cards first and only then move along to cards from other banks/issuers. To do this consider how many new credit cards you have opened in the past 24 months as well as what Chase cards will be most valuable to you based upon your existing spending, travel habits, and travel goals then map out a strategy of when to get each card.

As a result of the Chase 5/24 rule I cannot recommend strongly enough that you get the big Chase cards first before getting the other awesome cards. On top of ensuring you’re not locked out of the cards the one’s that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points earn some of the most valuable credit card points out there and the points are impossible to earn without these Chase cards so get the cards now if you can!

Here are what I consider to be the best Chase cards that are subject to the 5/24 rule, listed roughly in order of how I value them:  Below this article I have listed more detailed descriptions of why I value each of these cards and provided links to the card offers.

  • Chase Ink Business Preferred
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Chase Southwest (2 personal and the business versions)
  • Chase Marriott
  • Chase United (all versions incl. personal and business)
  • Chase Ink Cash
  • Chase Freedom & Freedom unlimited

You should definitely read further about the 5/24 rule as most business cards don’t count towards your 5/24 status (i.e. you can get a non-chase business card and it won’t count towards your total when Chase counts up how many new cards you’ve opened over the last 24 months). There are also some awesome Chase cards not subject to the 5/24 approval restriction (Hyatt, IHG, British Airways, Marriott Business, Ritz-Carlton). BUT the bottom line is that if you are currently below 5/24 then your first few new credit cards should be from the above bulleted list of best Chase cards subject to 5/24. Then after that you can move to cards issued by banks other than Chase and the Chase cards not subject to the rule.

I hope to publish a post soon with further details about 5/24 but until then please feel free to ask questions in the comment section of this post, send me a direct message, and/or do your own Google searches.

Chase Ink Business Preferred:

This is an awesome card that I wasn’t able to get but it’s the first card my wife got when she dropped below 5/24 in late summer. What drew us to this card was the 80,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $5,000 in the first three months, 3x points on travel, 3x points on social media advertising, 3x points on shipping, 3x points on internet/cable/phone services, cell phone insurance if you pay your monthly cell service bill with the card, primary rental car insurance, trip cancelation insurance, and more!

The sign-up bonus alone is worth at least $1,000 in value if redeemed through the Chase portal but I can get at least about $4,000 in value from those points if I use them for high value redemptions via the many Chase transfer partners such. That’s a crazy good deal for a $95 annual fee card but add in the $600 cell phone protection against theft or damage and it’s a no brainer to get this card if you can!

If you choose to apply for this card then we’d be super appreciative if you used our direct link to the offer. In the interest of full disclosure, like all current card holders, we’re eligible to earn 20,000 points for each (up to 5) of our referrals that get approved after using our link. Like I said, we’d certainly be appreciative if you click through using our link for the Chase Ink Business Preferred with an 80,000 point sign-up bonus.  

Chase Sapphire Preferred:

This is an awesome card that due to 5/24 I can’t get and my wife wasn’t able to get for the longest time even though we wanted to add it to our wallet for over 3 years!  FINALLY, in January 2018 she dipped below 5/24 again so she applied for the card and bingo she was approved with a solid spending limit. Our advice is to get it if you can! What draws us to the card is the 50,000 point sign-up bonus good for at least $625 in travel, (+5,000 more if you add an authorized user), 2x points at restaurants, 2x points on travel, low annual fee of $95 that’s waived the first year, and the primary rental car insurance it offers if you pay with the card and decline the rental company’s insurance.

Since getting the card and quickly meeting the $5,000 minimum spend threshold – thanks to a large reimbursable purchase we had to make – we have been very happy with how quickly the card earns valuable ultimate reward points via the 2x points earning at restaurants and on all travel.  The travel category is great because it includes all sorts of things like car services, airplane tickets, hotels, and more!  We also snagged the 5k points bonus by adding me as an authorized user on her account.

Heads up on the authorized user bonus: only add people you are authorized to add and with their permission/knowledge. I recommend not adding anyone near or below 5/24 as they’d be better off getting their own Chase cards BUT if one spouse is above 5/24 and the other is below then the spouse above 5/24 could be added as an authorized user earning another 5k bonus points. Also, you can add your kids as authorized users once they turn 13 and help build their credit in the process: you don’t even have to have them use the card! (After that first purchase to trigger the sign-on bonus, of course!)

If you are personal friend new to the credit card and travel rewards thing then this is the very first card I recommend you get. If you are a friend not new to rewards cards and travel but without this card and below 5/24 then this is next card I recommend you get.

If you choose to apply for this card then we’d be super appreciative if you used our direct link to the offer. In the interest of full disclosure, like all current card holders, we’re eligible to earn 10,000 points for each (up to 5) of our referrals that get approved after using our link. Like I said, we’d certainly be appreciative if you click through using our link for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card with a 50,000 point sign-up bonus and waived annual feee the first year.

Chase Sapphire Reserve:

This is an awesome card that I didn’t get when it was first released in 2016 with a 100,000-point sign-up bonus despite trying. (5/24 got me) My wife also didn’t get it (due to 5/24) despite a couple attempts and being right at the 5/24 threshold. Since then the sign-up bonus has dropped to 50,000 points, which has historically been good for a personal card earning Ultimate Rewards points but you never know, it could always go up again! Personally, we’re favoring the Preferred over the Reserve right now 1. Because the annual fee on the reserve is $450 and not waived the first year and we’re trying to save cash right now without any definitive travel plans in the next year in which we’d use the travel credit and 2. I’m hoping the bonus will increase again at some point since its fee is so much higher than the preferred but their bonuses are currently the same. That all being said this card is a great card and worth the $450 fee because it comes with all of the following: 50,000 point sign-up bonus (worth at least $750 but easily more like $1,000 or more in value), $300 per-year airline travel reimbursement credit, Global Entry fee reimbursement good once every 5-years, Priority Pass airline lounge membership, 3x points at restaurants, 3x points on travel, primary rental car insurance, and more.

We don’t have this card so we don’t have any referral links but here is a link to the publicly available offer from the Chase Bank website for the Sapphire Reserve.

Chase Southwest:

Chase has three co-branded cards with their co-brand partner Southwest Airlines: Southwest Plus Personal, Southwest Premier Personal, and Southwest Premier Business. These are great cards if you are in a Southwest market. They become even better if you can get two of them in the same year, especially early in the year, as the points earned from them count towards the Southwest Companion Pass, which is one of the most amazing deals in travel. I recommend going for the premier personal and the business, as they’ll have the larger sign-up bonuses. These bonuses fluctuate throughout the year with the standard bonus being in the 30,000 point range but historically the bonuses have been increased to 50,000 bonus points a couple times a year and last year it even hit 60,000 points for a time. The business card currently has a 60,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and paying the $99 annual fee. If under 5/24 and you want the companion pass you could get this one now and then get the personal one either a couple days later or in 3 months and you’d be well on your way to earning the companion pass. Just remember, since you can’t apply for all these Chase cards at once, even if you are currently at 0/24, I recommend applying for the Ultimate Rewards earning cards first but it depends on how much you value the companion pass.

When the sign-up offers change I’ll let y’all know via the website, Twitter, and Facebook.

We don’t have any of these cards any more but we used to: my wife had the personal and I got the personal and business in the same year (barely) helping me earn my first companion pass. We hope to utilize the same timing to help us earn our 3rd companion pass in a row once our current one expires.

We don’t have this card so we don’t have any personal referral links but here is a link to the publicly available offers from the Chase Bank website for the Southwest Credit Cards.

Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Card:

This is another co-brand partner card of Chase. Marriott is a great hotel rewards program with solid benefits for those with mid-tier status. It’s been made even better with the in-process merger with Starwood Hotels as the SPG loyalty program is highly regarded amongst the biggest frequent travelers and loyalty enthusiasts. Marriott and SPG offer instant point transfers between the two programs at a rate of 1 Marriott to 3 SPG points. You can transfer points between spouses or people at the same address. There are tons of properties all over the world, and there are plenty of both 1-night-stop-along-the-side-of-the-highway hotels as well as high end, super luxurious properties, which I love in a hotel loyalty program as I can earn points at places where I actually spend money chugging along on the road but redeem them at high-end properties where I couldn’t otherwise dream of being able to pay for the stay. THAT is a key aspect to rewarding loyalty in my mind.

The card is great and recommended to get before the end of 2018 because Marriott and Starwood have said they’ll merge the loyalty programs in 2019 and has already announced new credit card deals with both Chase and Amex so the product offerings are likely to change. As such you’ll probably be able to earn the bonus now on this card and then again with the new product they’re likely to release in late 2018 or, I think, in 2019. There is always the possibility that in preparation for these new product offerings they could pull these offers and stop accepting new applications at any time and without notice so if you really want this card you may not want to wait too long into 2018 before getting it.

This card is best for the sign-up bonus, which fluctuates but is currently 80,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months and an annual free night certificate good at any category 5 or below property received on account anniversary every year. It also earns 2 points per dollar at restaurants, car rental agencies, and on airline tickets bought from the airline. The card does earn 5 points for every dollar spent at Marriott or Starwood properties but you’d be better off using the Amex SPG card (if you have it) at those properties as it earns 2 SPG points per dollar, which is equivalent to 6 Marriott points after transferring from SPG to Marriott. You’ll also get Marriott Silver status as long as you have the card because you’ll get 15 elite credits annually just for having the card. This status will then match to SPG Preferred Plus as well. All this for an annual fee of just $85, which is more than off set by the annual free night certificate.

Both of us currently have this card and have had it for years, even before we began maximizing our loyalty program participation and credit card use. None-the-less we still got great value from the cards while barely thinking about them and just using them.

If you choose to apply for this card then we’d be super appreciative if you use our direct link to the offer. In the interest of full disclosure, like all current card holders, we’re eligible to earn 20,000 points for each (up to 5) of our referrals that get approved after using our link. Like I said, we’d certainly be appreciative if you click through using our link for the 80,000 points sign-up bonus Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Card.

Chase United:

Four offerings: Club Personal, Club Business, Explorer Personal, and Explorer Business.

Honestly, I don’t know much about these cards and haven’t had a ton of interest. We are based in DFW, which is hampered by being such a dominant American Airlines and Southwest market there are few options on Star Alliance airlines meaning it’s a bit more complicated redeeming the miles. If it weren’t for 5/24, though, I would definitely get these cards as Star Alliance is generally great for travel to, from, and within Europe and from what I can tell United has a good award chart for use on partners in Asia-Pacific. I know I’d love to get these cards to earn the miles for the United Island Hopper in the South Pacific!

For full details on these cards check out the relevant pages on the Chase Bank or United Airlines websites. Do be aware that these cards’ sign-up bonuses fluctuate throughout the year with the standard offers usually being in the 30,000 points range but they usually go up to 50k or 60,000 points 2-3 times per year so I suggest mapping out your application strategy and timing and holding off until one of those increased offers become available. When the sign-up offers increase I’ll let y’all know via the website, Twitter, and Facebook.

We don’t have this card so we don’t have any personal referral links but here is a link to the publicly available offers from the Chase Bank website for the various Southwest Credit Cards.

Chase Ink Cash:

Neither of us have this card but I’m considering it as part of our strategy as my wife bounces above and below 5/24. The advantages here are that it has a sign-up bonus of $300 after spending $3,000 in 3 months and it earns 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, cable, & phone services as well as 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants all with no annual fee. It’s also valuable as the cash back can be converted to Ultimate Rewards points at a rate of $1 to 100 UR points. Since UR points are widely regarded to be worth 1.8 – 2.2 cents and I’ve gotten as much as 5+ cents per point value out of them that $1 to 100 UR points can become worth as much as $1.80 to $2.20 or more. Obviously 5% cash back at those rotating categories can be so huge that it’s yuuuge.

We don’t have this card so we don’t have any personal referral links but here is a link to the publicly available offer from the Chase Bank website for the Chase Ink Cash Credit Card.

Chase Freedom, Freedom unlimited, and Slate:

Neither of us have these cards but I’m considering them as part of our strategy as my wife bounces above and below 5/24 over the next couple years. The Slate as I understand it is basically the entry level Chase credit card geared towards those with little to no credit history such as students, new adults, and those with poor or previously poor credit. With the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited the advantage is that in addition to having no annual fee they earn cash back on every purchase. The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases while the Freedom earns 5% cash back on select merchant categories that change every quarter with activation required and with a limit of $1,500 spent. The categories are often things like dining out, club stores, gas stations, etc. 5% cash back is great and is hard to beat but it can be if you also have one of the ultimate rewards earning cards as that opens up the possibility of transferring your cash back into Ultimate Rewards points at a ratio of $1 to 100 UR points. Since UR points are widely regarded to be worth 1.8 – 2.2 cents and I’ve gotten as much as 5+ cents per point value out of them that $1 to 100 UR points can become worth as much as $1.80 to $2.20 or more. Obviously 5% cash back at those rotating categories can be so huge that it’s yuuuge.

These cards come with seemingly low sign-up bonuses of $150 but remember that the real power comes in the rotating 5% categories and it can be supercharged by converting the cash back into Ultimate Rewards points.

We don’t have this card so we don’t have any personal referral links but here is a link to the publicly available offer from the Chase Bank website for their Chase cash back cards.

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