Chase calls an end to the game. Should we seek quick wins or long term benefits?

Chase 5 24 RuleYesterday, Doctor of Credit reported that Chase will begin enforcing their dreaded “5/24” rule on cobranded cards “at some point in April.”  This means that those who regularly “churn” new credit cards for their signup bonuses may soon be cut off from Chase.  Suddenly it has become really important to decide which Chase cards to sign up for in the next two months.

What is the Chase 5/24 rule?

In the past year or so, Chase has frequently denied applications for certain cards (such as the Sapphire Preferred and Freedom) due to having opened 5 or more credit cards (with any bank) in the past 24 months.  That means that anyone who regularly signs up for credit cards in order to earn points & miles is likely to be denied when they try to sign up for these cards.

Which cards are affected by the 5/24 rule?

Currently, the 5/24 rule does not apply to co-branded cards (e.g. it does not apply to hotel or airline cards) and it does not apply to business cards.  According to Doctor of Credit, though, the 5/24 rule will be applied to business cards beginning sometime in March 2016 (as I previously reported), and to co-branded cards sometime in April 2016.

General advice

If you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the past 2 years, then:

  • Sign up for Chase business cards before March
  • Sign up for Chase co-branded cards before April

Quick Wins vs. Long Term Benefits

It’s time to make some tough decisions.  Chase has a slew of cards with great signup bonuses.  Plus, some have great long term benefits.  Following are my picks for the best signup bonuses (quick wins), followed by the cards with the best long term benefits.  The best overall picks are the cards that show up on both lists.

My Top 5 recommendations for Quick Wins

Here are the cards to consider if you want to get as much value as possible from the sign bonuses, even if you’re not interested in keeping the cards long term.

  1. Two Southwest Cards 100K: If you often fly Southwest with a companion, then go for two Southwest 50K offers.  Chase has three separate Southwest cards, each offering 50,000 points after $2K spend (the Plus card 50K offer in only available through referrals; the other 2 offers have direct links).  Get two of these cards and spend enough to bring your point total to 110,000 points.  That way, you’ll get a Southwest Companion Pass good for an unlimited number of flights for the rest of this year (after earning 110,000 points), and all of next year.
  2. Ink Plus 60K after $5K spend: With this offer, you’ll end up with at least 65,000 Ultimate Rewards points after meeting the spend requirements. However, thanks to the card’s 5X categories, it’s possible to end up with a total of 85,000 points after $5K spend!  And, while the points can be redeemed for a penny a piece, they can be much more valuable when used for travel.  See: Membership Rewards vs. Ultimate Rewards vs. ThankYou Rewards. Which is best?.
  3. Sapphire Preferred 55K: 50K after $4K spend plus 5K for adding an authorized userI’ll take 55,000 Ultimate Rewards points any day.  Unfortunately, this card is already subject to the 5/24 rule.
  4. Hyatt 2 Free Nights + 5K points for adding an authorized user: This one is best for those who know that they’ll be able to put the 2 free nights to good use within the next year.  Hyatt charges 25,000 points per night for their near top tier category 6 properties and 30,000 points per night at category 7 properties.  So, if you use the free nights at those properties, the signup bonus is roughly equivalent to 50,000 to 60,000 points.
  5. United MileagePlus Explorer 50K after $2K spend: The business card version of this offer is readily available to anyone with a business.  The 50K (+5K for adding an authorized user) personal card offer, though, is targeted.  If you’re lucky, you may find the offer by logging into your United account and going through the steps to book a flight (you don’t need to complete the purchase).

Runner Up: Combine the current personal Marriott 87.5K offer with the business Marriott 70K offer.  After meeting the $3K spend requirements, you’ll have over 163,500 Marriott points.  That will bring you substantially closer to a Marriott 5 Night vacation package (and, optionally, a Southwest Companion Pass).

My top 5 recommendations for long term benefits

Except where noted, the following cards have $95 annual fees, with the first year free.  Signup bonuses aren’t listed since the point here is to list cards that have great long term benefits.

  1. Ink Plus (first year fee waived when you sign up in-branch). With Chase closing the door on credit card churners, the Chase Ink and Chase Freedom 5X category bonuses will be the best go-forward option for earning valuable Ultimate Rewards points.  Ink Plus and Ink Cash cards offer 5 points per dollar in popular categories of spend: office supplies, phone services, internet, and cable.  Even better, there are many ways to earn 5 points per dollar when buying gift cards for other types of merchants.  In my opinion, the Ink Plus is one of the few “must have” cards for those serious about accumulating points and miles.  See: How to get approved for the Chase Ink 60K offer.
  2. Sapphire Preferred:  For anyone (or any couple) who does not have the Ink Plus card, the Sapphire Preferred card is the key to being able to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel programs.  For those with the Ink Plus card, the best long term benefit of the Sapphire Preferred card may actually be the ability to convert it to the no-fee Freedom card.  The Freedom card offers rotating categories of 5X earnings.  And, even though it is advertised as a cash back card, it earns Ultimate Rewards points which can be moved to a premium account (Ink Plus or Sapphire Preferred) and then to loyalty programs.  If you already have a Freedom card, downgrading the Sapphire Preferred card to the Freedom is the best way to get a second one.  Unfortunately, the Sapphire Preferred card is already subject to the 5/24 rule.
  3. IHG Rewards Club Select $49/year, waived first year: This card offers a free night every year at any IHG property, including some extremely expensive Intercontinental Hotels.  Cardholders also get automatic IHG Platinum status; and a 10% rebate on all point awards.
  4. United MileagePlus Explorer: In addition to the card’s standard airline benefits (free first checked bag, priority boarding, no foreign exchange fees), this card offers a few unique and sometimes very valuable benefits: More saver level award space; Ability to get upgraded on award tickets; Occasional better offers through MileagePlus Shopping; Primary auto rental collision damage waiver; and 2 United Club passes per year.
  5. Fairmont Visa Signature: In addition to the 2 Free night signup bonus, this card offers a free night every year after $12K spend.  Automatic Fairmont Premier status gives cardholders dining certificates and upgrade certificates.  A couple could get two cards: one per person and spend a luxurious weekend every year at any available Fairmont property.  Personally, this one isn’t for me because I can’t be sure I would actually use the free night each year.

Runner Up: Ritz Carlton Rewards Visa.  This card costs $395 per year (not waived 1st year), but it offers a few excellent perks for that fee.  You get Ritz/Marriott Gold status 1st year and then each year thereafter with $10K spend.  Plus, heavy spenders can get Platinum status with 75K spend.  $300 per year in airline incidental fee reimbursements can go a long way towards recovering the annual fee.  Other benefits include: 3 club level upgrades at Ritz properties. $100 hotel credit for each 2 night or longer stay at Ritz properties. Airport lounge access. 10% annual points premium.

So, which to choose?

My recommendation is to lean towards cards with the best long term benefits that fit your needs, even if it means getting a slightly less valuable signup bonus.  All of the listed Chase cards have good signup bonuses, so you won’t really be missing out on much.  One exception is with the options for getting the Southwest Companion Pass.  If you fly Southwest often, then the Companion Pass can be incredibly valuable and it will be a gift that will keep on giving for almost two full years (even if you don’t keep the credit cards that long).  In this game, 2 years is long term.

Of course, whatever you choose, keep in mind Chase’s other 24 month policy: you can’t get a bonus for a particular card again if you have received a bonus for that card within the past 24 months.

Breaking the 5/24 Rule

As I’ve written about before, the 5/24 rule isn’t set in stone.  I may be wrong, but it appears that getting pre-approved for a card may be a way around the rule.  I discussed this in the post, “Chase Private Client and Sapphire Preferred 65K.”

Which will I choose?

I currently have an Ink Plus card (but may try for a second one with a second business) and I recently got the Sapphire Preferred card.  I had cancelled my IHG card a while ago because I wanted its anniversary date to line up with my wife’s IHG card’s anniversary date (it simplifies planning the use of those free nights that way).  Unfortunately, her anniversary date just came and went in January.  I had decided to wait another year before signing up.  Now I might push it earlier.  If I signup now, the anniversary dates won’t be terribly far apart.

The United card is tempting too, but more for the signup bonus than the long term benefits.  I simply don’t fly United often.  So I’ll most likely let that one pass.  Maybe.  We’ll see.  If I was a frequent United flyer, I would seriously consider it.  As to the Ritz card, I think that its biggest benefit is the nearly free Marriott Gold status (which gives you free breakfast and/or lounge access at most Marriott properties) and the ability to manufacture Platinum status.  Once you have status, though, you don’t really need the card.  Marriott lets you buy back status with points each year.  See: How to manufacture Marriott elite status.  Thanks to the ability to buy back status, I have kept Platinum status now for several years.  And, since I never stay at Ritz properties, the other card perks don’t matter to me.  I’ll pass on that one too.

Southwest, like United, is an airline I rarely fly.  There’s nothing wrong with the airline, I simply prefer the ability to choose seats in advance and potentially score first class upgrades as I can with Delta and American.  So, despite the amazing potential value of the Companion Pass, it holds little value for me.  I’ll pass on the Southwest cards.  The Marriott cards, though, might be interesting.  Ever since I learned about 5 night travel packages, I’ve been intrigued by the possibilities.  I might just go for it.  In fact, maybe my wife will too.  If we each sign up for the business and personal cards, we’ll have a combined total of 327,000 points.  That’s enough to get us a really sweet package.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. For whatever reasons, Chase already applied the 5/24 rule to deny my recent 2 Chase applications — Sapphire & Ink Plus 🙁 No help to reduce my credit limits or cancel other Chase cards. BTW, I only got 7 cards (from all banks) in the last 2 years.

    • Sil, I’m in the same predicament. I don’t think I can do both so I need to choose between Hyatt and Marriott. I need Hyatt card since I became Hyatt Diamond this year.. but I also need Marriott card to top off for the Flight +hotel package.

    • Marriott has a few advantages:
      * Points can be kept indefinitely as long as you have activity in your account every 2 years; Hyatt’s certs expire after a year.
      * Unlike Hyatt’s free night certs, you can use points for decent value at low / mid tier properties. With Hyatt, you’ll only get good value from your 2 nights if you spend them somewhere very nice.
      * There are far more Marriott properties.
      Hyatt advantage:
      * Some of their top tier properties are really wonderful. If you’re planning to spend time at a place with a Park Hyatt (Sydney, Paris, Zurich, etc.), consider the Hyatt offer
      * The annual free night with the Hyatt card is, in my opinion, more useful than the annual free night from the Marriott card
      * If you have Diamond status with Hyatt, the perks are better than with Marriott Gold or Platinum status

      • Thank you for your response. Already planned my trips for this coming year so probably I should apply for the Marriot.
        I have not applied for any Chase since May 2015 which was the United Explorer. However, I have 6 inquiries since August 25th ( 2 on August 25th) for my Citi cards plus one amex biz card.
        do I have a good chance of being approved with 6 inquiries?

  2. I received bonus for csp on March 12 2014, and then later converted the card to Sapphire…I emailed chase and it seems I cant get the bonus even if I apply after 12th since I own the product…but I have got varied answers from chase in the process. ..any thoughts?

    • I’m 99% sure that the Sapphire is considered a different product than the Sapphire Preferred, so you should be fine. But, just to be sure, just call and ask to product change the Sapphire to the Freedom card. If they let you do that, great. If not, why not just cancel the card?

  3. Can you confirm that if you get approved for a second Ink card for a second business, that you will get the points even if the other sign up was less than 24 months ago?

    Secondly, what is the current Chase policy on applying for one business and one personal Chase card on the same day? Is one automatically declined, or is this a safe bet? Thanks so much.

    • 1) I can only confirm that I believe that to be the case (that you can get a second Ink card bonus in less than 24 months as long as its for a 2nd business). Make sure to use a different tax ID for the 2nd business.

      2) In my experience it is safe to apply for both a personal and business card the same day. I haven’t had either automatically denied.

      • follow up to #1.

        What if 2 different business are both sole props under your SSN? I opened 1 a year and a half ago and would like to do apply for a card now for a separate business but both use my SSN.

        thanks!

        • There’s no rule against it, but I’ve heard from people who were denied when they tried that. You can simply create an EIN for one of the businesses and use that.

    • Applying on the IRS website for an EIN is quick and easy. Years ago I had to create an EIN to appease a cellular phone carrier that I was a business.

      If you have separate EINs, your personal credit will be reviewed multiple times, but the EINs are separate. I was approved for the Ink Plus cards for both EINs that I operate on the same day.

  4. I qualified for the companion pass yesterday. No problems getting two Southwest cards though I had to move credit around. Between my husband and I we have the Ink, Sapphire, Freedom, Hyatt and Southwest – that’s enough for us. We definitely see Chase as more beneficial over the long haul and don’t churn their cards. Glad we got into this game a few years ago as the environment is pretty difficult these days!

  5. The Companion Pass trick is too lucrative and couldn’t work forever. The gap between earning one the old fashioned way (flying 100 times) and the easy way (sign up for 2 credit cards) has always been too big to be sustainable.

  6. Question about the chase rule requiring 24 months after receiving a bonus before getting another. I last received an Ink Plus bonus in June 2014, so I was planning on waiting until after that to sign up for another. That plan is out the window now.

    But if I sign up for the card in March, but then wait until the very end of my 3 months to actually complete the spend, so that the bonus wouldn’t hit until July, would I be okay? In other words, is 2 years from bonus to bonus good enough, or does it have to be 2 years from bonus until application?

    • I am in the same boat as my CSP application was in Jan 2014 with bonus posted on March 12,14. From what communication I have with chase SM, the 20 month is bonus to application. In short you can apply in March and get approved but wont be eligible for bonus. Apply in July after ur 24 month date and you will be eligible.. but chase has been inconsistent with replies. At one time they said I could apply and other time they said I have converted to sapphire(non preferred) and still wont be eligible..Try the secure message chase and see what they come back with..

      Thanks FM for the tip to convert mine to Freedom. I will do that soon!!

    • It’s not inquiries that they look at, it’s new accounts. They don’t look for the past 6 months, they look in the past 2 years. It’s 5 new accounts in 2 years, which is why it’s called the 5/24 rule.

  7. Same question as Dave re two personal cards (and one biz) on the same day. Would like to get the personal SW and biz SW along with a BA card. Thanks for explaining your thinking on which cards you will pursue.

    • Yes. Try it. As I wrote above, Chase does restrict some people to just one personal card per month. I don’t know how they decide who to apply that rule to. However, I don’t see any downside in trying. Apply first for the card you want more.

  8. If I have a business, and I’m a sole prop, does the 5/24 rule apply to both business and personal cards, or is it separate, one 5/24 rule for personal, and a separate 5/24 rule for business?

    • My understanding is that they look at all new credit card accounts that have been opened in the past 24 months: business & personal. So, it’s all together if I understand your question correctly.

    • It depends. If it was for a cobranded card like United, you should be able to log into your United account and look at your past history to see when exactly you got the signup bonus. If it was for an Ultimate Rewards card and you’ve since cancelled it, then the history is probably no longer available to you. If you kept a record of when you applied (which you should), then you almost certainly got the bonus within 4 months after applying. So you can assume date of application + 4 months as worst case.

  9. I already have the Chase Ink. If I seek the Southwest biz card, is Chase going to want it to be for a difference business, or is it okay to have two cards for the same business?

  10. I know this has been talked about before – but do authorized users count in the 5/24 rule if the card shows up on their credit report? I always add my spouse as an authorized user and vice-versa. So even though he may have only applied for 1 card in the last 2 years – it looks like 3 on his credit report since he is an authorized user on my new cards. Luckily we slowed down a lot the last couple of years so have wiggle room for probably 2-3 more cards each with Chase even after the rule kicks in. Thanks!

    • Yes, unfortunately Chase does look at authorized user cards too. I’ve started adding my son and niece as authorized users to my new cards for that reason (they’re not ready to churn cards yet).

      • I’m just getting into this . . .when you add an authorized user, do you need them to be of age (can you add your 10 year old son) or do they need to be involved in any way ( can I just add my husband without him participating?) Can you just add anyone as an authorized user to your business account or do you need to prove they are employed?

        • You can add your 10 year old. Yes, you can add people without them knowing, but I don’t recommend it. Also, some banks do require their SSN. They do not need to be employed

  11. I need to find a Southwest Plus card 50,000 referral for my husband to get the companion pass. Do you have a referral offer? He already has the premiere card and not eligible for a new one yet. He needs it to go with his new business card. Once the 5/24 rule hits we will be out of luck.

  12. I can understand this rule for the Chase cards, but for the co-branded cards, are these airlines and hotels ok with consumers not being able to get their cards? People will just start getting more American cards from Citi or Barclay, and Delta cards from AmEx, or Alaska and Virgin from BoA. How will this play out?

    • There is no way this is going to last on cobrands! By design, the numbers of applicants will go down. It’s okay if Chase says hey we’re okay as a business denying people with 5 cards in 24 months. But the cobrands won’t be okay with it as a business decision!!!

  13. With Alaska cards alone , much less many others , I am not eligible for Chase cards . So I feel like saying to Chase ” If you want to be that way , fine . Just take your toys and go home , I’ll find somebody else to play with . ”
    I wonder how long before they realize they are losing market share to other providers .

  14. How long do the Hyatt night certs usually take to send out? I want to do a trip in june 2017 but if I apply in March it would be cutting it close if I finish the spending in late May.

  15. Does the Chase rule of not getting a bonus twice in 24 months also still hold true? I don’t see this mentioned anywhere but I assume it must be.

    • Yes. It doesn’t seem to be a rule with the Ink card anymore (at least I and several readers have been unable to find the rule anywhere), but I believe it is on all of the personal card applications at least.

  16. I have recently canceled Plus and was curious if I could apply again. Here is what Pricing & Terms, https://applynow.chase.com/FlexAppWeb/pricing.do?card=FGPC , state:
    “Replying to this offer: If you omit any information on the form, we may deny your request for an account. Chase cardmembers who currently have or have had a Chase credit card in any Rewards Program associated with this offer, may not be eligible for a second Chase credit card in the same Rewards Program. Chase cardmembers currently receiving promotional pricing, or Chase cardmembers with a history of only using their current or prior Chase card for promotional pricing offers, are not eligible for a second Chase credit card with promotional pricing. “

  17. If I get both a Sapphire Pref and an Ink+ card, is there a good reason to also get the Freedom card if I already have an old Discover card with rotating 5% categories. Seems like a duplication – especially if I can later downgrade the Sapphire Pref to the Freedom.

    • Yes there is a reason. If you get a Freedom card before product changing your Sapphire Preferred to a Freedom, then you can end up with 2 Freedom cards instead of one (plus you’ll get the signup bonus for the first one). The reason you might want more than 1 is the $1500 per quarter cap on 5X earnings. With 2 cards, you can do up to $3,000 per quarter at 5X.

      Also Discover and Freedom often have different 5X categories in play at any given time, so it is actually good to have both if you don’t mind juggling a bunch of cards.

  18. How long should I wait between canceling a credit card (it is already over 24 months since I got the bonus) and reapplying for it again (in order to get the bonus again)?

      • I still hold the credit card. So in order to get the bonus again I have to cancel it first and then reapply. My question is how long I should wait between canceling and reapplying.

        • It’s possible to close the old card and then apply soon and get an instant approval. But, if there’s no instant approval, then someone will look at your history and could either deny you or if they’re nice they call you to discuss. However, the call can be uncomfortable when they ask why you closed the card and reapplied. Usually in my experience, they then deny the application. But, this can happen even if you wait 30 days before applying. You’ll be looking for the magical instant approval.

  19. I assume that a co-branded business card counts as a co-branded card here…i.e. they won’t put the 5/24 rule in place for the Southwest business or United business card until April?

    • DOC works in the banking industry and that’s why you don’t see his real name anywhere. Therefore he knows people at different institutions, but I suspect he works for Chase and knows people in departments who would get wind of things coming down the pike. Many bank employees are ms’rs too. I also believe that Chase will lighten up in the next few years in order to not lose too much market share like Amex has lost. Because the stock market and especially banks are taking a hit this year departments are under pressure to be seen as proactive. But, as with anything sometimes they overshoot in their cutbacks and that can hurt a company in the long term at which time they re-adjust to a middle ground. They are also hoping a new administration along with a more pro-growth congress will repeal Dodd-Frank or at least the worst baking regulations from it and that will relief the noose around their necks. Dodd-Frank regulations is the reason we don’t see those 0% interest + 0% fee convenience checks your credit card account used to receive. Banks were forced to charge something with convenience checks… either a fee with 0% interest or 0 fee and some interest.

  20. Just got the Fairmont card…….”but Sir you already have 6 cards with us” “Yes but I’ve started staying at Fairmont and I just HAVE TO HAVE this card” OK……..we’re moving credit line around right? “Of course”………….Ok no problem……….

  21. Hi Greg,

    I used your links on Sunday to apply for both a CSP and Ink Plus. Neither was automatically approved and I received only one email from Chase (with the 30 day notice). When I call the application status line, it says thanks for applying and gives me the 30 day notice. How can I tell if both applications went through without calling the reconsideration line? There doesn’t seem to be a # to check business card status. I’m concerned by the only one email. Thanks!

    • Try this number instead for checking app status: 888-245-0625.
      Please let me know if it works! If it doesn’t, just call the business reconsideration line. I’m sure they would be happy to tell you whether or not your application is in process even if you don’t ask for an instant decision.

  22. It’s not April and I just got 5/24ed on the Southwest Business card. Got the rejection letter from Chase and the reason I was declined was “Too many credit cards opened in the last 2 years.” Don’t know if I’m an anomaly or they have put this rule into place already.

    • It’s hard to say without more data points from others. My guess is that it is already a soft rule applied to some apps, but that it isn’t yet a hard rule applied everywhere.

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