There are lots of aspects to maximizing your credit card rewards, including taking advantage of the best welcome bonuses, spending categories, and card perks.
Sometimes I think it’s interesting to break down credit card strategies by card issuer, so in this post I wanted to share my Chase card strategy for 2021. In separate posts I wrote about my Amex card strategy and Citi card strategy.
Chase has some of the best points earning credit cards out there, though Chase cards can be among the toughest to be approved for. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know to be approved for a Chase card, a summary of my strategy, and then a bit about how coronavirus is impacting my approach towards credit cards.
How Many Chase Cards Can You Have?
There’s no set limit to how many Chase cards you can have. For example, I have ten, though I know people who have more than that. With Chase the limiting factor is typically the total amount of credit the bank is willing to extend you.
This means that if you apply for a new card and are maxed out in terms of the credit Chase is willing to issue you, you may be asked to switch credit lines around.
The other big restrictions involve the application process, as I’ll explain below.
Restrictions On Applying For Chase Cards?
There are a few major restrictions to be aware of when applying for Chase cards:
The Chase 5/24 Rule
Chase has what’s known as the “5/24 rule,” whereby you typically won’t be approved for a new card if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months. For this reason it often makes sense to apply for as many Chase cards as possible early in your credit card journey, since these are cards you may not be able to pick up in the future.
Note that as a general rule of thumb, business credit cards won’t count towards that limit, whether issued by Chase or another card issuer. When you are applying for Chase cards, you’ll want to prioritize business applications ahead of personal applications.
Waiting Between Chase Applications
You typically won’t be approved for more than two Chase cards in a 30 day period. Some report only being able to get approved for one Chase card in that period.
Personally to be on the safe side I wouldn’t apply for more than one personal and one business card in a 30 day period.
Chase 24/48 Month Rule
The exact terms will vary by card, so you’ll always want to carefully check the terms of your credit card application. Usually Chase will only approve you for a card if you don’t currently have it, and if you haven’t received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 24 months.
However, for some cards (like the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve) that waiting period is even longer, up to 48 months.
“Family” Card Rules
For some cards, Chase has a “family card” rule. Essentially Chase won’t approve you for a card if you currently have a card in the family, or have received a new cardmember bonus on a card in the family in the past 24-48 months.
Which Chase Cards Do I Have?
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® (review)
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review)
- Chase Freedom FlexSM (review)
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review)
- Ink Business Cash® Credit Card (review)
- Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card (review)
- British Airways Visa Signature® Card (review)
- World of Hyatt Credit Card (review)
- IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (review)
- IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card
How Do I Use My Chase Cards?
There are different reasons that I have Chase credit cards:
- Some I have for the ongoing perks that they offer
- Others I have for the return on spending that they offer
- Others I have for a combination of the two factors
Let me break down the reasons I have each card:
Chase Cards I Have For The Perks
I have both the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card specifically for the anniversary free night certificates that the cards offer, each valid at a property costing up to 40,000 points per night.
That alone more than justifies the annual fees on both cards, and is also a reason to pick up an IHG Card.
That’s not even factoring in the other perks of the IHG Premier, including IHG Rewards Club Platinum status, a fourth night free on award redemptions, and more.
I get big value out of the IHG anniversary free night certificate
Then there’s the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, which offers all kinds of great perks, like up to $600 in reward flight statement credits per year, 10% off British Airways flights, and more. While the card hasn’t gotten me all that much value in the past year, it’s a card that has historically been more than worthwhile, and it’s one that I plan to hold onto.
Chase Cards I Have For The Perks & Spending Bonuses
The World of Hyatt Credit Card is also pretty compelling for the perks. It has a $95 annual fee, and I keep it because it offers an annual free night certificate valid at a Category 1-4 property, plus five elite nights towards status annually. That more than justifies the annual fee, in my opinion.
But I also end up putting $15,000 of spending on the card per year, as spending that amount gets me:
- A second Category 1-4 free night certificate
- An additional six elite nights towards status annually (two for every $5,000 spent)
I get two Hyatt free night certificates with the card annually
Chase Cards I Have For The Spending Bonuses
I have the other six Chase credit cards for the return on spending that they offer, though I’m not actively using all of them. These cards make up what I like to call the “Chase holy grail.”
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card has a $550 annual fee and offers 10x points on Lyft rides and 3x points on dining and travel, plus all kinds of perks, including a $300 annual travel credit, a Priority Pass membership, a $60 DoorDash credit, a one year Lyft Pink membership, and more
- The Chase Freedom FlexSM has no annual fee and offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 of spending per quarter, plus 3x points at drugstores and on dining
- The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has no annual fee and offers 1.5x points on all purchases, making this one of the best personal cards for everyday spending; the card also offers 3x points at drugstores and on dining
- The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card has a $95 annual fee and offers 3x points on the first $150,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
- The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card has no annual fee and offers 5x points on the first $25,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year on office supply stores, internet, cable TV, mobile phones, and landlines, and 2x points on the first $25,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year on restaurants and gas stations
- The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card has no annual fee and offers 1.5x points on all purchases
I don’t think there’s a more ideal combination of cards to be had with any issuer, as Chase cards get everything from much of my bonused spending, to much of my everyday, non-bonused spending.
Some of my favorite cards earning Ultimate Rewards points
The one thing that has changed is that the Freedom Unlimited used to be my go-to card for everyday personal spending, while now I’m using the Citi® Double Cash Card (review), as it allows me to earn the equivalent of 2x ThankYou points per dollar spent. Especially with the uncertainty nowadays, I think this is the most well-balanced card for everyday spending.
However, fortunately, some improvements were recently made to the Freedom Unlimited, as it now also offers 3x points at drugstores and on dining, which is awesome. Furthermore, there’s always value in holding onto no annual fee cards to help you improve your credit score. You also never know if the Citi Double Cash will be devalued in the future.
Is Coronavirus Changing My Chase Card Strategy?
There’s no denying that coronavirus is having a big impact on the value proposition of many credit cards, in particular those earning travel rewards. I absolutely wouldn’t hesitate to cancel any cards if the value proposition no longer made sense.
However, as of now all of my Chase cards are still “checking out” in terms of value, thanks partly to the limited time perks that have been added to some cards:
- Four of my cards earning Ultimate Rewards points have no annual fees, so there’s no cost to holding onto them
- Three of my cards earn hotel free night certificates every year with an annual fee of under $100, and I continue to get outsized value from those, even during these times (the expiration date of free night certificates has largely been extended)
- The British Airways Visa might be the toughest to justify at this point, though if I use the 10% rebate or award surcharge credit at least once, I’d get way more value than I’m paying with the annual fee
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve has offered great limited time benefits, like a $100 annual fee discount, the ability to redeem point for 1.5 cents each towards everyday expenses, a Peloton credit, and more
- The Ink Business Preferred continues to be the most well-rounded business credit card out there, and I have no plans to cancel it anytime soon
Which Chase Cards Do I Most Want?
At this point, I’m happy with my portfolio of Chase credit cards, and I have most of the cards I really want. The way I view it, there are a couple of Chase cards that would be nice to have:
- The Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card (review) is offering a welcome bonus of up to 100,000 Avios, plus some potentially valuable perks for travel on Aer Lingus
- The Iberia Visa Signature® Card (review) is offering a welcome bonus of up to 100,000 Avios, plus some potentially valuable perks for travel on Iberia
The Aer Lingus Visa has a great sign-up bonus
Chase Card Strategy Summary
I’d say Chase has the all-around most compelling portfolio of rewards cards at the moment. Between the excellent co-brand cards and the cards earning Ultimate Rewards points, there are so many great opportunities to maximize points.
The main thing to keep in mind is that Chase cards are also among the toughest to get approved for, so consider the timing of applying for Chase cards.
I’m really happy with my current ten Chase credit cards, and even the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t changed the value proposition of my Chase card portfolio much. There are a few more Chase cards I’d love to pick up, but even without them, I’m still very happy with my setup.
What does your Chase card strategy look like nowadays?