My Dad’s Extreme Makeover: Credit Card Edition

Filed Under: American Express, Chase
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Just under three weeks ago I shared how I had failed my dad when it came to his credit card strategy. As is probably the case for many of us, my family relies on me to tell them what credit cards to get, what cards to put their spend on, etc. While it can be annoying at times, I certainly prefer that to them applying for the wrong cards and not earning as many points as they can.

My dad was in a situation where he didn’t have a single new card application showing on his credit report in the past two years, which put him in an enviable situation (or perhaps unenviable, given all the opportunities he may have missed out on).

The credit cards my dad had when we started

At the beginning of March, my dad had the following cards:

The credit cards my dad has now

My goal with helping my dad optimize his credit card strategy was to get him some great new cards without overwhelming him. The last thing I want is for him to have so many cards that he can’t keep track of them, and forget which spend goes on which card. My dad is really old school and doesn’t use a computer, so he receives credit card statements by mail, and makes payments by phone.

Given the 5/24 restriction on some Chase cards, the first order of business was upgrading his Chase card portfolio.

When we started my dad had the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardInk Business Cash℠ Credit Card, and Chase Freedom® Card.

Now my dad has the Chase Sapphire Reserve®Chase Freedom Unlimited®Chase Freedom® CardInk Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, and Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card.

That’s a pretty enviable card portfolio, if you ask me. How did he go about this transition?

My dad applied for the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card on March 8, and got the “30 day” message, and then on March 12 the card came through with an automatic approval. Yay! He’ll earn the welcome bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points on the card.

Then on March 14 I had my dad call to downgrade his Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. This was an easy call, and the changeover happened instantly.

Then on March 18 I had him apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. There wasn’t necessarily any reason we waited on applying, but rather that’s just how things worked out. He once again got the “30 day” message.

However, later that day he logged into his Chase account and saw that he had been approved for the card. Yay! He’ll earn the welcome bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points on the card.

I think it’s worth specifically pointing out that a lot of people worry that the 30 day message leads to a denial, but that’s not my experience. My dad got that message both times, and both times got automatically approved.

With the combination of these five awesome cards (three personal and two business) my dad will earn:

  • 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 of spend per quarter (thanks to the Chase Freedom® Card)
  • 5x points at office supply stores, and on internet, cable, and phone services, on the first $25,000 in combined purchases per cardmember year (thanks to the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card)
  • 3x points on dining and travel (thanks to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®)
  • 3x points on shipping purchases, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines, on the first $150,000 in combined purchases per cardmember year (thanks to the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card)
  • 1.5x points on everyday purchases (thanks to the Chase Freedom Unlimited®)

That’s an incredible card combination, and he’ll be able to redeem all those points for a minimum of 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase, since he has the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Now what?

I feel like we’ve made the most important changes to my dad’s credit card portfolio, and like he’s now well equipped to maximize points on everyday spend. However, there are still some cards that he could get value out of, especially in terms fo the perks they offer. But I’m not 100% sure what to do now:

  • My dad has a fair bit of minimum spend to complete in the next few months
  • My dad only has one new card showing on his credit report in the past 24 months (Chase business cards don’t show up), so he could still apply for some more cards subjected to the 5/24 rule

Oddly I’m inclined to just tell him to chill for a bit, complete the spend, get used to his new cards, etc. On the other hand, I also feel like recommending that he get some of the following:

Bottom line

I’m happy that my dad has gotten his Chase cards in order, and is now really set up to maximize his points. However, now I’m not sure what he should do. He’s in the enviable position of having just had two card applications in the past 24 months, so should he hold off and apply for other cards usually restricted by 5/24 in the future, or apply for any of the above (or other) cards? What would you do in his situation?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees).

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
  1. Does downgrading the Preferred to the Unlimited count towards 5/24? I just did that as well & now want to apply for an Ink Cash.

  2. How did your dad go from 0/24 to 2/24 after applying for the CSR and CIP? The CIP is subject to 5/24 but doesn’t count towards it, correct?

  3. Will he be able to get much use out of the Southwest companion pass? The easy future goal is to leave two 5/24 slots open for the southwest cards in October, to pass the spending requirement in December and trigger the bonus with an early January statement. If he can get good use out of it, the 2 year Companion Pass is the best value in the credit card bonus world.

  4. Your dad is to be commended for ignoring the bloggers until now and preserving his 5/24 virginity.

    I think most people lost theirs coming under the sway of the bloggers and now will carry the warts that they got lifelong. Which is why bloggers should only do trip reports.

  5. @ DCJoe — There’s certainly huge value in the Companion Pass and being able to apply for those cards, though he doesn’t really have a companion that would allow him to get a lot of value out of it, and for that matter he doesn’t travel that much domestically.

  6. I don’t think he should be commended for ignoring the bloggers – that was very expensive. He has lost 100’s of thousands of miles by at least not doing the best deals every 3-6 months overall for the last 3 years.

  7. What happens to your pending points on the CSP (for example, 2x points on dining and travel that will post when the statement closes) when you downgrade to the Freedom Unlimited? Do you lose the 2x points and just get 1.5 on everything?

  8. @ Roger — That’s a great question. Just looked at my dad’s account — basically everything up until the change was made shows the double points on dining and travel, while everything after shows as 1.5x. So even though he made the switch halfway through his billing statement, it still records points correctly.

  9. @ nikdro — You should have no issues applying for both same day. Personally (and this is just my preference when applying for cards) I like to apply for one, wait for it to be approved, and then apply for the next one, but you should be able to do it either way. I’d probably go for the Ink Cash first given that it’s subject to 5/24 (and even below that, the fewer inquiries, the better the odds of getting a quick approval).

  10. “Then on March 18 I had him apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠. There wasn’t necessarily any reason we waited on applying, but rather that’s just how things worked out. He once again got the “30 day” message.”

    It’s good you waited, I didn’t and had a lot of problems… in the end it all worked out, but at least 6 phone calls and over 5hrs total on the phone with chase to fix it….

  11. If I have a Preferred and want a Reserve, should I apply for the Reserve first or first downgrade the Preferred. If I downgrade first, I’m concerned about losing the UR points in my Preferred account

  12. I recently got the CSR. If my wife apply for, and get, the CSP can we then transfer the 60K bonus UR and any other points she earns to my account to be redeemed at 1.5x, or possibly transfer them to airlines/hotels?

  13. @ Jesper — Yep, you can transfer them between the accounts of spouses, and then to an airline or hotel partner.

  14. One more note- you took exactly the right approach in responding to the Chase “30 day” message. Used to be advisable to call. No more- it seems keeping the application out of human eyes is the best chance to be approved by Chase.

    If you get the 30 days message after you apply, wait 5 minutes and call Chase’s automated line at 1-800-432-3117. Hit #, then 3, then 1, then your SSN. If you hear “approximately 2 weeks”, call back again in 48 hours. If you hear “approximately 2 weeks” again, you will almost certainly be approved and should continue to wait.

    The only time to call and speak to a person now is if you call after 2 days and hear “7 to 10 days”. That means you will be rejected.

    Lucky- after giving Chase a break I might go for the United card- will get the bonus and open up more United award availability. With a nice pool of UR points he can probably get a few nice international business class flights out of that.

  15. You are a good son. I am much closer to your dad’s age than to yours. I may even be older than he is. (I’m 60). We have generational role-reversal though. My kids (ages 27 to 31) ask me for advice about points and miles. Hubby and I have 30 open accounts. I track everything in Quicken.

    Since your dad is set for generating Chase points, does he want to look at other transferable points to supplement Chase? I choose to focus on just two programs – Amex and Chase. That’s what works for Hubby’s and my travel preferences. Your dad has Amex cards. Are there other cards he hasn’t gotten bonuses on? Also, make sure he watches for promotions in the mail. I’ve gotten several from Amex – both snail mail and email. I just got a personal Gold card via email promo for 50K MRs after $2K spend and AF waived the first year. I already had the Gold card bonus and have 5 Amex credit cards. Last year, they sent me a Delta deal that I already had, too.

    Or, he could wait. Maybe by the time he’s done with this minimum spend, the new Barclay premium card will be out.

  16. When I downgrade from CSP to Freedom will I loss rhe opportunity of getting the sign up bonus? Or should i get the Freedom with the sign up bonus first and then move my UR to Freedom and cancel my CSP? After that i will get the CSR. I need help to understand how my CSP UT can get moved to CSP.

  17. “5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 of spend per quarter (thanks to the Chase Freedom® Card)”

    What exactly does this mean???

  18. Lucky, can you write and recommend credit cards for the minimal to moderate traveler relative who doesn’t want to usually pay for an annual fee?

    My guess might be:
    IHG Rewards Club Select MasterCard/Chase – $49 but reasonable benefits for the moderate traveler

    Chase Freedom – 5% categories
    Discover It – 5% categories
    Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi – 3% travel/restaurants, 4% gas
    Chase MileagePlus Explorer Visa – 1st year, maybe apply every 3 years, keep 1 year
    Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard – 1 year, maybe apply every 3 years, keep 1 year

  19. @ Prissy — The issue you’ll face is that you can’t earn the bonus on the CSR if you have the CSP. So you have two options:
    — Apply for the FU, cancel the CSP, apply for the CSR
    — Downgrade the CSP to the FU, then apply for the CSR

  20. Great job for your dad!

    That’s a lot of spend the next 3 months though but I’ve stopped traveling for work unfortunately

  21. Hey guys!! Quick question, if you change your chase sapphire Preferred into a Freedom unlimited like lucky did for his dad does this effect your 5/24? Essentially you wouldn’t be getting a sign up bonus so I would assume it wouldn’t but I just wanted to double check with everyone and make sure. Thanks 🙂

  22. No apple Jax it definitely never counts as a new credit inquiry to downgrade an existing card. Won’t affect 5-24. I just did the same thing a few months ago and I can now redeem UR for 2.25 per dollar spent with my fu by redeeming with csr. 1.5 x 1.5 redeemed. Winning combo, will definitely be keeping these two for life!

  23. @Lucky -thats awesome! I didnt know about that little perk. So you recommend, for someone whos a beginner, to stick to CSR, Freedom Unlimited for everything else. and the Freedom just for these quarterly bonuses? Also, can I apply for all 3 cards at once? Im considering transferring all my accounts and funds from WF to Chase and get all new cards.

  24. Lucky you didn’t mention that if you have certain Chase cards (Sapphires, not IHG) you can electronically “refer a friend” online and get bonus points yourself once the other person is approved – 10,000 for the person referring on each Preferred card for example. I’ve also referred people to AmEx Delta cards and been rewarded with miles myself.

  25. Lucky, I’d have him wait to apply for the Barclays Arrival Premier Card this month(?). 3x (potential) miles on AA is better than his current Citi AA card (assuming AA is a transfer partner), since he obviously likes AA miles.

  26. so on march 8 after applying online for chase ink cash, you didn’t do anything and got approved on 12th? how did you find out? did the credit card arrive in the mail on the 12th or you got follow up email confirming you were approved? or did u log into chase account and see the new card?

    thanks for information!

  27. Love your articles!! great pointers! My family is the same, the rely on me for all of their credit card and loan info lol!

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