Maximizing Points & Miles in One Player Mode

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In the points & miles hobby, we often mention one player (P1) or two player (P2) mode. This refers to whether you do this hobby as a single player or with a significant other. One player mode and two player mode each require different strategies.  With two player mode, your second player can mimic your moves while benefiting from referrals.  In one player mode, you can't count on referrals or combining points with someone else.  So how do you do maximize points and miles in one player mode?

Two members of the ToP team operate in 1P mode and consistently earn plenty of points to travel every year.  When earning points and miles, it is always essential to know each bank’s application rules, but this is especially the case when you are in 1P mode.

As we recommend to almost all of our readers, it is important to start with an Ultimate Rewards earning card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve.  This allows you to combine all of your Chase earnings from point cards and cash back cards together so you can transfer it to transfer partners.  If you are unsure which to choose, check out our comparison of the two cards.

Common Pitfalls in One Player Mode

The biggest pitfall in 1P mode is chasing cards, benefits, elite status, or other strategies that are best for those in 2P mode. For example, the Southwest Companion Pass allows you to fly a companion with you for free on as many Southwest flights you wish for up to two full years. Despite the Companion Pass being one of the best perks in air travel, it might not work well in 1P mode. Once you register your companion with Southwest, you can only change that person on your Companion Pass up to three times per calendar year. Therefore, unless you have a close friend or relative that travels with you often, the Companion Pass might not be worth pursuing in 1P mode.

Those in one 1P should also consider whether opening a card to chase elite status is worth it. There are a lot of factors to consider in whether to chase elite status. Free breakfast and suite upgrades are common perks for elite members. The bigger your party, the more money free breakfast can save you. And suite upgrades are great for those with small children who wish to stay up after the kids go to sleep. But how important or valuable are those perks for someone in one player mode?

Chase's 5/24 Rule in One Player Mode

Chase's (in)famous 5/24 rule is that Chase will not approve you for a new card if you have opened 5 or more personal cards during the last 24 months. Those in two player mode have more flexibility with this rule. Each person can pursue a different strategy for Chase cards and together can approach the rule more as 10/24 while benefiting from each other's cards.

One of the best strategies for remaining under 5/24 and earning a lot of points is maximizing business cards.  Remember that most business cards do not count against your 5/24 count. If you are uncertain whether you are eligible for a business card, you aren't alone, and most likely, you are eligible!  That said, it's important to remember which banks report business cards to your personal credit. When you are trying to stay under 5/24, you do not want a business card to increase your count.  Of the major banks, Discover, Capital One, and TD Bank are known for reporting business cards to your personal credit report (though most banks reserve the right to report business cards where the accountholder is delinquent in payments).

The general pattern you can use while trying to remain under 5/24 is to apply for two Chase cards (a personal and a business) followed by a business card from another bank. While there many ways to do this, here is one example:

Chase Sapphire Preferred (or Reserve) → Chase Ink card (i.e., Chase Ink Preferred)Citi AA Business

Chase Ink card (Chase Ink Unlimited) →   Chase Freedom Flex →   American Express Business card (i.e., AmEx Business Gold) →

Chase Hotel/Airline card  (i.e., World of Hyatt) →   Chase Ink Card (i.e., Chase Ink Cash) →  Barclays AA Business →   

Chase Hotel/Airline card (i.e., United Quest) →  Chase Hotel/Airline card (i.e., IHG Premier)→   American Express Business (i.e., Bonvoy Business)→

Chase Hotel/Airline card (i.e., Southwest Plus/Premier/Priority) →   to any other card you want!

Remember, this is just an example and your order may look different than this based on your own travel goals.  We compile a ToP Credit Cards list each month to assist you in determining what the best current offers are at the time. At times, it can be ok to apply for a personal card that is not from Chase.  This usually happens when a card is no longer going to be available or has an incredible sign-up bonus. Examples of this would be to have opened an American Express Platinum before the recent changes to that card, or having opened an American Express Gold when it was an all-time high offer.

Meeting Minimum Spend

Meeting minimum spend can be particularly challenging  in 1P mode. Without having a second player with their own set of expenses for which you could swipe your credit card, those in one player mode should be especially cautious when opening multiple cards to make sure you can meet minimum spend on all cards.  One of the biggest things to consider in one player mode is timing your cards properly.  It is important to identify when you have larger expenses coming up that could help you meet a minimum spend.  For example, if you pay your auto insurance for the whole year in November, this is an excellent time to open a card and use that expense towards the minimum spend.

Other Methods

As a reminder, those in 1P mode can use plenty of non-credit card ways to earn points, miles, and cashback. As we discuss every week in our Facebook group on our Thrifty Thursday posts, you can add stacks as well as use apps to add to your points and cash totals. Some of these methods include adding on bank accounts throughout the year. Just one or two apps or portals can easily add hundreds or thousands of dollars every year to your travel bank. These funds can be used to offset taxes and fees or on whatever you wish during your trips.

Final Thoughts

Even if just in one player mode, there are plenty of methods and strategies to help you maximize your earnings. Keeping organized and planning your path will greatly help your points and miles earnings. What are your one player methods? Come over to our Facebook group to learn more and share your own experience.

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.