In 2021 Go Chase or Go Home – The Ultimate Guide to the 5/24 State of Mind

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A few years ago, I predicted that Chase would pay dearly for the 5/24 assault on us miles and points enthusiasts. I also proclaimed (quite feistily) that I wasn’t going to live my life by cutting down on my churning routines to comply with those dumb and ridiculous Chase limitations. There are plenty of fish in the sea, I insisted.

That was five years ago. Today I’m conceding defeat.

If anything, things have only gotten tighter in the credit card universe. Not only have Chase, City and AmEx not relented a single bit, as I expected, but other issuers have added their own anti-gaming rules, too. At this point it’s clear as daylight that these restrictions are here to stay.

A good soldier miles and points junkie knows when the battle is lost. You simply can’t ignore Chase if you want to meaningfully collect these coveted travel currencies. That would be akin to cutting off your nose to spite your face as they say in Texas. You don’t want that. More importantly, I don’t want that.

But why Chase?

Because the Chase welcome bonuses are out of this world!

Because of easy transfers to Hyatt and United, and super-easy Southwest Companion Pass.

Because Chase cards have AWESOME benefits!

Every year I keep saying that there has never been a better time for newbies to join “the hobby.ˮ While you may find things – no, scratch that – will find things a bit tighter down the road, today’s credit card offerings are better and more spectacular than they’ve ever been.

Oh, and if it sounds like an ad copy for Chase, no harm done. They’re not paying me to write this (bastards!). 🙂

I now carry all three Chase Ultimate Rewards business cards

  • Ink Business Preferred (a long-standing card I’ve carried for years)
  • Ink Business Unlimited (approved on 03.18.21)
  • Ink Business Cash (approved on 06.20.21)

As you might’ve noticed, I applied for the last two cards 3 months apart. The old me would’ve made both of them just a small part of an app-o-rama, but the new, more mellow me doesn’t see a reason to rush. I haven’t used my miles or points for over a year anyway.

Chase 5/24 rule explained for the umpteenth time

As a reminder, Chase won’t approve you for a new card if you’ve gotten more than four personal cards (from any issuer, not just Chase) in the last 24 months. The rule even includes authorized users cards, which is aggravatingly dumb and insulting (seriously, they’re always pushing you to get the cards for authorized users and then penalize you for doing it!), but at least you can override it in a reconsideration call.

However, if you have more than four cards issued in your name in the last 24 months, that’s something only time will heal. You’ll have to wait until at least one card has passed the 24-month mark, so you can get one of your slots back. Frequent Miler has a great write-up on how to determine your Chase 5/24 status (hint: using Credit Karma is super-easy).

You can also wait for Chase’s targeted offers that bypass the 5/24 rule, but they’re far from guaranteed. I’ve never received any such offers since the 5/24 rule was implemented.

Here is how to stay in Chase’s good graces

Apply for business credit cards FIRST while you still have at least one 5/24 slot. And not just Chase business cards, other business cards, too.

The reason why you want to get business credit cards before personal cards is simple. Business credit cards don’t show in a credit inquiry! Chase can’t see them because most issuers (including Chase itself) don’t report them to the credit bureaus. There are three exceptions I know of, Discover, TD and Capital One although there are data points that Capital One doesn’t report new Spark Cash cards any longer.

If you’re applying for more than one credit card, spread them at least 30 days apart. There are no rules, official or otherwise, behind this recommendation, just common sense. Besides, you must complete a sizable spending for each card, so don’t make it hard on yourself.

Let me say this just once: do NOT apply for every good business card in the universe. Only deal with as many credit cards as you’re comfortable with, and if it’s only three or four, so be it. You have a lot of choices but also a lot of time. Spread out your applications according to your comfort levels.

One more thing to note is that, while Chase doesn’t consider business cards in its 5/24 count, you still won’t get a Chase business card if all your slots are taken. Basically, Chase doesn’t want you as a customer – business or otherwise – if you’ve had more than four cards in the last 24 months.

For those who don’t know – yes, you can apply for business credit cards even if you don’t own an official business.

In our gig economy it’s probably harder to find someone who doesn’t have any side gigs than those who do. Do you sell on Ebay or Amazon, or even Craigslist? It’s business. Do you babysit or pet-sit? It’s business. Do you drive an Uber or Lyft? It’s business. Do you tutor or freelance in any capacity? It’s business too. It’s perfectly fine to apply for a business credit card even if thinking of yourself as a CEO makes you giggle.

Pro tips for business card applications

If you don’t have an official business, use your own name in the application.

For your organizational structure use Sole Proprietorship.

If you don’t have an official business, use your SSN instead of a tax ID number.

If your business hasn’t made any money yet, or made very little, don’t stretch the truth. You can still be approved based on your other income.

So now you’re ready to apply for Chase business cards, but with one qualification.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card (personal) currently has a limited-time 100,000-point welcome bonus

It’s been available for a while, but we don’t know when it’s going to end. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe in six months. It makes sense to start your journey with this card if you have at least two free slots. You can fit quite a few business cards into the other slot. 🙂

If you do want to apply for the Sapphire Preferred, try applying in-branch for a chance to get your annual fee waived for the first year, as explained in my recent post.

However, if you have only one slot, I’d forgo the Sapphire Preferred for the time being and begin with business cards Chase business cards.

Here are the best Chase business credit cards you might want to consider. Note that bonuses and other terms are valid at the time of writing and can change anytime.

Best Chase business cards

  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card ($95 annual fee, 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points bonus, spend $15,000 in 3 months)
  • Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card (no AF, 75,000 UR points, spend $7,500 in 3 months)
  • Ink Business Cash Credit Card (no AF, 75,000 UR points, spend $7,500 in 3 months)
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card ($99 AF, 60,000 points, spend $3,000 in 3 months)
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card ($199 AF, 80,000 points, spend $5,000 in 3 months)
  • United Business Card (no AF first year, then $99, 75,000 points, spend $5,000 in 3 months)

Decisions, decisions

You’re probably not going to apply for all of the Chase business cards. So where to begin?

I would try to get all three Chase Ultimate Rewards cards first. If you can spend $15,000 in three months to get 100,000 points, start with the Ink Preferred. Having that card would allow you to transfer all your UR points to Chase travel partners or redeem them for travel with a 25% bonus. If having to spend $15,000 in only three months gives you pause, Ink Cash and Ink Unlimited require a $7,500 spend each, so go with them.

In order to maximize your points redemption potential (transfers to Chase partners and / or extra 25% redemption value on travel), you need to have at least one premium Chase card, such as:

  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve

As I said, you can solve this problem right away by applying for the Ink Business Preferred, but if you don’t want a burden of spending $15,000 in three months, just hold on to your points. You’ll receive the same benefits when you get the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve later on.

Chase Airline Partners:

  • Aer Lingus
  • British Airways
  • Emirates
  • Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue
  • Singapore
  • Southwest
  • United
  • Virgin Atlantic

Chase Hotel Partners:

  • Hyatt
  • IHG
  • Marriott
Southwest Companion Pass

I don’t care much for the Southwest Companion Pass because I usually fly solo. However, if you want it (and for most people it’s a game-changer), getting a Southwest business card and personal card is the best way to go. The welcome bonuses from these cards can put you very close or over the 125,000-point threshold needed to obtain this unique and quite frankly incredibly valuable benefit.

You can think of the Southwest Companion Pass as a buy-one-get-one-free promotion, only unlike store promotions, the Companion Pass is valid until the end of the next year. For example, if you become eligible for the Southwest Companion Pass in 2021, then your Pass is valid until December 31, 2022. It works whether you buy your tickets with cash or points. And certain Southwest features make it even more awesome.

  • Southwest allows you to cancel or change your ticket for free.
  • Your first two bags are included for free.
  • You can choose any seat onboard including the coveted exit seats (first boarding, first seated, though).

Like I said, amazing!

If you’re more interested in the Southwest Companion Pass than the UR cards, you might want to start with one of the Southwest business cards (you can’t have both).

So how many business cards can you have with Chase?

There is no hard limit. Most people can get up to three, although there have been reports from some folks who’ve gotten five. I seriously doubt, though, that side-giggers with limited business income can get that many Chase business cards, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

In any case, you should first apply for the cards you want the most. If the Southwest Companion Pass is important, you should apply for either Premier Business or Performance Business Card first. Then apply for Ink Cash and Ink Unlimited anyway. Leave a space of at least 30 days between your applications to be safe, and remember that you’ll only have 90 days to meet the spending requirements for each one.

So, after you’re done with Chase business cards – what’s next?

Best AmEx business cards

Gee, where to begin!

AmEx has a bunch of business credit cards with nice welcome bonuses, but it also has a one-in-a-lifetime policy, meaning you can’t have the same bonus again. However, it’s been reported that they will “forgetˮ you in about seven years, and AmEx usually warns you during the application if you’re not eligible. In any case, if you’re a newbie, the sky is the limit, but everyone else should tread lightly.

AmEx always plays games with welcome bonuses, offering different versions to different people. Take their flagship Platinum Card. You often need to apply via Incognito / Private mode or use a VPN to find the best offer (which is, at the time of writing, 150,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 in three months).

Other AmEx business cards worth mentioning

Once again, AmEx welcome bonuses vary and change all the time, so read blogs, Reddit, or Flyertalk to stay up to date. Do NOT go for a public AmEx card offer without checking other sources.

  • Amex Business Gold Card
  • AmEx Marriott Bonvoy Business Credit Card
  • AmEx Blue Business Plus Credit Card
  • AmEx Hilton Business Credit Card
  • Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card
  • AmEx Amazon Business Prime Credit Card
  • AmEx Blue Business Cash Credit Card
  • AmEx Business Green Card

Best Citi business cards

  • CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard (no AF first year, then $99, 65,000 miles, spend $4,000 in 3 months).
  • CitiBusiness ThankYou Card up to 40,000 points, so YMMV. Must apply in branch (read this post).

Barclaycard business cards

Barclaycard has positioned itself as a major travel award player in recent years, so you don’t want to miss out on what it can offer.

  • AAdvantage Aviator World Elite Business Mastercard. That’s an excellent card with a sizable bonus (an easy 75,000 AA miles at the time of writing). The $95 annual fee is never waived, though.
  • JetBlue Business Card (an easy 60,000 points at the time of writing). The annual fee is $99.
  • Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard (an easy 70,000 points at the time of writing). The annual fee is $99.
  • Wyndham Rewards Earner Business Card (90,000 points after spending $1,000 in 3 months and $3,000 total in 6 months at the time of writing). The annual fee is $95.

Bank of America business cards

UPDATED 8.6.21: Or you can get a new 60,000-mile bonus but no statement credit (direct link) after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days.

US Bank business cards

  • U.S. Bank Business Leverage Visa Signature Card ($750 after spending $7,500 within the first 4 months). No annual fee for the first year, $95 thereafter.
  • U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard ($500 after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days). No annual fee.

Capital One cards

They used to report business credit cards to consumer credit bureaus, but there are data points that they no longer do that with new Spark Cash applications. The Spark Miles card supposedly continues to report.

  • Capital One Spark Cash ($500 after spending $4,500 in the first 3 months). No annual fee for the first year, $95 thereafter.
  • Capital One Spark Miles ($50,000 miles after spending $4,500 in the first 3 months). No annual fee.

OK, so what’s next?

Next, let’s get the coveted Chase cards you really want. For the purposes of this exercise I’ll presume that you have all your slots open.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred (100,000 points after spending $4,000 in 3 months at the time of writing, $95 annual fee). And not just for the current whopping 100,000-point bonus, but for other benefits, like Pay Yourself Back (redeeming points for everyday purchases at 1.25 cents per point) and primary car rental insurance.

Now, I will admit, I’m conflicted about it. Should you get the Sapphire Reserve instead? The Reserve carries a whopping $550 annual fee, but that’s only a part of the story. The $300 annual travel credit quickly turns it into $250, and the Pay Yourself Back feature with a 1.5 cents per point redemption can quickly close the gap. The problem is, you can only get the welcome bonus for a card from the Sapphire family once in 48 months.

Still, the difference between the welcome bonuses is striking (60,000 points for the Reserve vs 100,000 points for the Preferred). You’ll need to use a calculator to figure out which card would work better for you and your family. For now, I’m sticking with my general recommendation for the Sapphire Preferred.

Now, after you’ve gotten (hopefully) the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you must supplement it with the Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited. Each of those has a comparatively small welcome offer ($200 at the time of writing), but either one can be extremely helpful in collecting and redeeming those awesome Ultimate Rewards points.

OK, next!

Are you interested in airlines?

If you fly Southwest, go for one of the Chase Southwest cards (especially if you’ve already applied for and received the business Southwest card). You’ll need it anyway to get the Southwest Companion Certificate, so it’s a no-brainer. Use a referral link for the 65,000 points bonus (at the time of writing).

Do you want an airline card, but not Southwest? Choose from the following (again, all bonuses are at the time of writing):

  • United Explorer Card for the 60,000 – 70,000 points bonus .
  • British Airways Visa Signature Card for the 100,000 points bonus.
  • Iberia Visa Signature Card for the 100,000 points bonus (for cheap flights to Madrid and beyond).

Are you more interested in hotels?

  • The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card currently offers 3 free night awards valued at up to 50,000 points each. This card also offers one annual free night award (up to 35,000 points).
  • The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card offers 150,000 points with the first year’s annual fee waived. This card also offers a free anniversary night (up to 40,000 points) and 4th reward night free.

These two hotel cards offers are the best, IMHO. There is also a Hyatt card, but I don’t like its current bonus structure at all (30,000 points after you spend $3,000 in 3 months and another 30,000 points after spending $15,000 in 6 months). I believe, that’s the weakest bonus ever for this card. Not recommended.

When you apply for any travel credit card, but especially the hotel card, it’s best to work in a spartner mode and work the same card. The more points you get in the same program, the more you can do with them. It’s a number game. 🙂

But Chase has many other cards…

Yeah, and you’d better leave them alone. Don’t waste your precious slots on lousy cards.

For example, even if you’re a huge Disney fan, do NOT apply for this card. Yes, I know, 11 awesome designs, hard to resist, but try. 🙂

chase 6/24 rule business cards Disney card

After getting all Chase cards you wanted, it’s time to forget the 5/24 rule for a while and apply for personal cards from other issuers. Just get in the habit of applying for the very best cards, so you can rinse and repeat every time you go under 5/24. And I’d forget store cards too, although there seems to be some confusion about them. My understanding is that as long as your store card has an AmEx, Visa or MasterCard logo on it and can be used outside the store, Chase will see it and count it against you, unless someone knows otherwise.

Let’s recap

Chase credit cards are extremely valuable and shouldn’t be ignored. Unfortunately if you apply for and receive more than four credit cards from any issuer in 24 months, Chase will deny your application for personal and business cards alike.

However, as a rule, business credit cards don’t report to credit bureaus, which is why Chase doesn’t see them and they don’t count against you. That’s true even for Chase’s own business cards.

So when you’re under 5/24, start applying for business cards first. If you’re interested in the Southwest Companion Certificate, start with one of the business Southwest cards. And you definitely want all Chase UR business cards, or at least Ink Business Cash and Ink Business Unlimited, if you don’t want to deal with the $15,000 spending requirement for the Ink Business Preferred.

After you get all business cards you wanted, apply for Chase personal cards to fill the slots you have. After that it’s time for personal cards from other issuers.

Whatever you do, don’t spend more money than you can quickly pay off. You’ll never win this game if you pay interest. Ever!

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Ryan del Mundo

I also thought these restrictions would backfire for the card issuers. Alas, like you said, they are here to stay and we can pray nightly more don’t come. Card bonuses are a marketing expense, so they come from a different budget. So you can imagine how for a long time, this was disconnected from reality. The MBA’s running the marketing department are graded on how many new cards they push, and (well from my outside opinion) they never cared what it cost. As long as it was in the marketing budget. Frankly, I think we are lucky now with 5/24,… Read more »

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