The most valuable issuer of mile and point cards has to be Chase. They have one of the best transferable programs – Ultimate Rewards – and they also play host to several co-branded credit cards of various airlines and banks. Anyone that has any desire for free travel at all has at least one of the Chase cards in their wallet.
The great thing is that many of the Chase cards are not just cards people get for the bonuses, but they also use them for spending on a regular basis. They offer enough incentive through various category bonuses and the value of the points that it just makes sense.
The biggest problem with Chase is that there are just too many cards to choose from! While some people are able to have many, many Chase cards open at once (my wife has 8 and that is nothing compared to some), other people will often have a hard time getting Chase to give them more cards than they have at any given time. Thankfully, they are not tied to some ridiculous policy like American Express (Amex only allows you to have 4 credit cards open at one time), but it can still be difficult to take advantage of everything Chase has to offer if they are not giving you more than what you have.
Rotating Chase Cards
Chase has actually implemented a new policy last year that allows you to receive the sign-up bonus again on cards – as long as you do not hold the card at the time of the new application and it has been at least 24 months since you received the bonus before. While many people were able to constantly churn (getting a bonus from a card again and again) Chase’s Ultimate Reward earning cards on a regular basis, that was something that Chase officially said did not happen. So, it is nice to see that they have officially allowed the bonus to be earned again after 24 months.
So, what do you do to take advantage of all the great bonuses that Chase has to offer?
Form A Strategy
Chase has co-branded airline credit cards for British Airways, Southwest, and United. If you have a preference of travel right now, concentrate on that particular card at this time. Within the Southwest and United brands, they each have multiple cards available as well – Southwest has 3 total (2 personal and 1 business) and United has 4 total (2 personal and 2 business). That further expands the bonus and earning potentials and also complicates which card to choose!
Pick an airline that you want to earn miles with right now and start with the cards for that airline. This allows you to focus on a single airline and start with those cards.
Go For Business As Well
Chase does allow you to apply for a personal and business card on the same day – but you will most likely need to call about the second card and speak to a representative about the application (no big deal). Let’s say you want to collect United miles, you could apply for the MileagePlus Explorer card (personal), which has a public offer of 30,000 miles and a targeted of 50,000, and you could also apply for the business version which has an offer of 50,000 miles. Now, you will have 80,000 United miles from bonuses.
Be Prepared To Trade
Once you get to a certain number of Chase cards, they may start to deny you based on the number of open accounts you have with them. All it takes (normally) is a phone call and a request to either close or transfer a line of credit from an existing card to the new one and you are all set.
The best strategy is to apply for a new Chase card within a month or so of a current Chase card’s annual fee (even after the fee posts as you have 60 days from the time the fee posts to close the account and get the fee back). This way, if they do deny based on the number of Chase cards, you can offer to close that card with the fee and transfer the line of credit to the new card. You have just killed two birds with one stone – traded a card with an annual fee (that you would likely close anyway) and got a new card and bonus. I am speaking of separate products here – not the same Chase card with a new application.
Rotate Your Cards And Applications
Back to our example above – you start with the United cards. One year after applying for them, you apply for Southwest cards and close out the United cards. You can receive the bonus again on the United cards 24 months after you received the initial bonus – not from the closure of the card. That means you could, technically, go ahead and do the same thing when the Southwest cards come up for renewal – close them in favor of the United cards that you apply for again.
This will work best if you are waiting until after the annual fee has posted. This way, you know it will have been at least 24 months since your previous bonus on the card you are applying for again (say, like a United card). For instance, you apply for and receive the United card in April. You do the spending and receive the bonus after the statement closes in May. That month starts the clock of your 24 month cycle. So, you can apply again in May of 2017 for the United card to receive the sign-up bonus, according to their current terms. That means in May/June of 2016 (when the annual fee will have posted but is still within the 60 days to receive a refund), you apply for the Southwest or British Airway card and close down the United card. Fast forward one year and you are at May/June of 2017 and you can apply again for the United card and bonus!
Mark The Keepers
Chase does have some cards that you will want to keep and use/hold forever. For me, one of those cards is the Chase Hyatt card. I like the anniversary night I receive each year from it. For many people, the same is true for the IHG card – one free night at any IHG card on an annual basis for the simple $49 annual fee.
Of course, you could always close out those cards and apply again the month after you have closed to get the new sign-up bonus (providing it has been at least 24 months since you received the sign-up bonus). The best way to do that would be to close it out right after you have received/used your anniversary night. Applying again would keep you on a fairly similar anniversary schedule so you would receive the free night the next year.
But, maybe you don’t like to trade those cards. Just keep track of which cards you value as keepers and do not plan on rotating out. If you keep them for the value they present on an annual basis, you can still trade away the credit line on those cards, if needed. A minimum of $500 is needed on the card but you can shift the rest of it over to open a new card.
Keep Track Of Everything
Make sure you keep track of whatever rotation/schedule you decide to use! It will make it much simpler and also ensure you are not missing some bonus because you are off by a month.
It is very easy to want to go for everything at once, but just pace yourself so that you get the cards that are important to you now. You always have time for the other ones at different application times.
Remember – the all important starting date for the 24 months is from when you receive the bonus, not when you signed up for the card!
Which Cards Change?
Another thing to remember are which cards have a change in bonuses. For instance, the United MileagePlus Explorer card has an increase to the 50K mile amount every year or so. That means you do not want to apply for it at the 30K level because it will increase by 20,000 at some point in a year.
The Marriott cards fluctuate constantly between the 50K and 70K amounts. Put off applying for the Marriott card when it is at 50,000 points in favor of the higher bonus. The same holds true for the Ritz-Carlton bonus. Each year, it goes up to the 140,000 point level and is worth waiting for that.
The Chase Ink Plus also upgrades the bonus to 60,000 or 70,000 points throughout the year. That card is easier to use again as long as you are applying under a different business name.
The IHG card has dropped from 80,000 to 70,000 for now (with a new regular bonus of 60,000) so that is a card to keep an eye on. However, IHG points are easy enough/cheap enough to come by that it may not be that big of a deal for you. For instance, you can purchase IHG points using the method outlined here for $7 per 1,000 points if you really need the difference.
The Southwest cards are other cards that increase throughout the year. About 4 times a year, they go from the standard 25,000 points to 50,000 points.
Sample Application Strategy
Here is a sample strategy for conservatively rationing out your Chase cards and getting the bonuses. This is just an example – if you are interested in the Southwest cards, make sure you apply for them when the bonus is at 50,000 points, not 25,000.
|Card||June 2015||January 2016||June 2016||January 2017||June 2017|
|United MileagePlus Explorer||Open||Close||Open|
|United MileagePlus Explorer Business||Open||Close||Open|
|British Airways Visa||Open||Close|
|Southwest Premier Business||Open||Close|
Of course, you could alternate with whatever Chase cards you are after but by doing something similar, you should never a denial based on having too many Chase accounts open. This also allows you to keep spending/business going with Chase – which is always good.
List Of Chase Cards
Here is a list of the mile and point Chase cards that you may want to consider.
- Chase Freedom – 10,000 points (increases to 20,000 points once per year) – Application
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – 40,000 points – Application
- Chase Ink Plus – 50,000 points (70,000 if you go into a branch) – Application
- Chase Marriott – 50,000 points (increases to 70,000 several times in a year) – Application
- Chase IHG – 70,000 points – Application
- Chase United Explorer – 30,000 miles (but you may get 50,000 miles in branch) – Application
- Chase United Business – 50,000 miles – Application
- Chase Southwest Premier – 50,000 points – Application
- Chase Southwest Plus – 25,000 points (but you can receive 50,000 by referral – here)
- Chase Southwest Business Premier – 25,000 points (but it goes up to 50,000 quite often)
- Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards – 2 Free Nights at Ritz-Carlton hotels (changes to 140,000 points) – Application
- Chase Hyatt Card – 2 Free Nights at any Hyatt hotel – Application
- Chase Fairmont Card – 2 Free Nights at any Fairmont hotel – Application
While this may seem very basic for some, it should help many of you who are new to the miles and points game so that you can take advantage of all that Chase has to offer without having too many Chase cards at any one time. Using rotational strategies such as these will help you enjoy a large amount of miles and points every year.
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