Will the Extension of the Chase 5/24 Rule Change the Way You Fly?

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Per Doctor of Credit, the Chase 5/24 rule has gotten extended to most of Chase cards, including co-branded products, as well.

The rule is ridiculous, no matter how you look at it. Counting authorized users is utterly counter-productive and a bit sleazy, too. You encourage your cardholders to add authorized users every step of the way, from the initial application, to points promotions, to never-ending junk mail, and then you turn around and penalize people for doing exactly what you urge your cardmembers to do? Nice job!

I used to love Chase more than other banks. “How can you not love Chase?” is a quote from one of my books. It’s been all downhill since then. Your application takes weeks to process even when there are no issues; the credit analysts are being micromanaged to death; and this ridiculous extension of this ridiculous rule is the last nail into their (once exemplary) customer service coffin!

As of yet, not all co-branded cards have been altered. Some, like IHG, Hyatt, Fairmont, and British Airways seem to be unaffected by the new rules. Read DoC’s post for more information, but I do agree with his notion that the rule will eventually spread to all Chase cards. So get whatever you can when you can, but don’t procrastinate. More opportunities will probably go away sometime soon.

Chase 5/24 Rule: A Bigger Picture

Chase is to other banks what Delta is to airlines. It’s huge, very successful, it makes obscene amount of money, and everyone wants to be them. Granted, it was AMEX that championed its own brand of draconian restrictions on new accounts, but Chase didn’t waste any time, either. Citi was the third major bank to follow the trend. True, the Citi restrictions are not as devastating as Amex’ or Chase’ yet, but as the saying goes, the night is young.

Imagine what happens if every bank out there follows in Amex’ or Chase’ footsteps. The Hobby (at least, in its current form) will cease to exist.

Chase 5/24 Rule: An Even Bigger Picture 

Now, like I’ve said many times before, I’m an optimist, so I don’t personally think this is where we’re going, but what if? When AMEX announced its once-per-lifetime policy 2 years ago, I was sure it wouldn’t hold. When the Chase 5/24 rule first came into effect I gave it a few months. Since they have persevered, I have to assume one of two things. Either they intend to ride it out no matter what, or their current data supports the move. But the question remains — if these restrictions are here to stay, if you are not going to be able to replenish your miles as fast as you burn them — will it make you change your behavior?

Since I don’t want to be a hypocrite, I keep asking myself the same question. I have gotten entangled in this first class “experience” game just like everyone else, wasting hundreds of thousands of miles on completely unnecessary and short-lived hedonism “experiences”. Cathay Pacific “experience,” Asiana “experience,” Emirates “experience,” Singapore “experience,” Etihad “experience,” even AA transcon “experience.” I’ve even adjusted some of my travel paths in order to get these “experiences.” Now, after all these profound blows to our dear hobby, I don’t think there are any excuses left.

Here is the thing. If you really love to travel (which is different from loving to travel in luxury), then this “earn it and burn it” mantra (of which I’ve always been skeptical anyway) makes no sense anymore. You might want to dust off your old “hoarding” box from the days when miles weren’t so easy to get, because if we are honest to ourselves, coach has devalued very little in the last two decades. If anything, international coach availability has considerably improved in the recent years across all airline programs.

I hereby declare my personal moratorium on booking first class award seats, unless there is an offer I would be stupid to refuse.

If we can’t earn miles with the same velocity (and ferocity :) ) as before, something’s gotta give. We might have to be more strategic stingy about using miles for business class seats instead. There is a huge difference between the quality of coach and international business class. There is very little difference in quality, however, between business and first.

Being strategic also means to stop wasting miles for no reason. To me, the cutoff time preference between flying in  economy and flying in business is around 6 hours. But I’m sure I could “survive” even more.

I’m thinking coach between the East Coast and Western Europe or north South America. Perhaps the same between Miami and southern South America. I don’t know about you, but I would still like to have a good night sleep en route to Asia, Australia, or the Middle East on that 12-15-hour flight, in other words — when it matters!

Going forward, I will not book business class seats for flights shorter than 8 hours unless the banks come to their senses. :)  Maybe premium economy here and there to ease the transition…

But We Still Have Manufactured Spending!

Do we? Really?

How many doors have already been shut and padlocked, and how many will be in the near future?

There are still regions in this country where Manufactured Spending works fine, where all kinds of malls and Walmarts stick out in every backyard, and where CVS’s, Krogers and 7/11’s have never gotten the memo. And there are people with secret knowledge who don’t share and keep things to themselves unless you know just the right handshake. Kudos to them, I say.

Everyone else should do a simple mental exercise. If you could (or do) sell all the miles and points you earn with manufactured spending, how much would (do) you make? And no, that first-class seat doesn’t count, because it isn’t really worth $10K. The real cost of your miles and points is how much you could get for them on an open market. Even if it’s a gray market, it works for this exercise.

If you spend one, two or whatever extra hours a day doing this thing, are your hourly earnings comparable to your real-life wages?

If the answer is no, you need to ask yourself why you’re wasting your life doing this instead of making more money. And if the answer is yes, why are you wasting your life instead of growing professionally, instead of trying to start a new business, or instead of playing ball with your kid?

Anyway, I’m a little cranky today, as you can tell, probably. :)

Cheers!

 

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