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Some of the first questions new points & miles enthusiasts often have is “why is everyone talking about Chase?” and “are Chase points (Ultimate Rewards or “URs”) that much more valuable than all other points & miles?” These questions are understandable and are questions I dealt with back in 2015/2016. The points can't be THAT good, can they? Every single blog that covers award travel discusses Chase, the “5/24” rule, and steers newbies towards Chase cards first. Why? The “5/24” rule.
Chase has lots of rules for credit card applications, as do most banks. The main rules are:
1) the “2/30” rule: meaning that you cannot apply for more than 2 cards in a 30 day period.
2) “0/30” rule: meaning that you cannot have applied for any credit cards in a 30 day period before applying for a business card.
3) the “Sapphire Family” rule: meaning you can only receive one bonus every 48 months from any of the three Chase Sapphire cards.
4) the “5/24” Rule. This rule is so onerous, so cut-and-dried, and so black-and-white that it is THE rule for all points & miles enthusiasts. It is (or should be) the first response to any “what card should I get next?” question. I cannot stress enough the importance of this rule! Learn it. Know it. Think about it. When you meet someone new, introduce yourself and tell them your 5/24 status (okay, maybe not). But before you apply for ANY credit card, ask yourself: what is my current 5/24? How will this application affect my 5/24?
The 5/24 Rule Explained
Quite simply, the “5/24 Rule” is a count of how many personal credit card accounts were opened in the prior 24 months. Also, business cards from Capital One, Discover, and TD Bank count against your 5/24 count. If you are 5+/24, you will not be approved for any Chase personal or business credit cards, absent being a very high net worth Chase Private Client banking customer or receiving a targeted offer from Chase for one of its products (very, very rare). Absent a near miracle, if you are 5/24 (or higher), you can't obtain a Chase card until you fall back under the magic number.
Determining Your 5/24 Status
The easiest way to confirm your current 5/24 status (for free) is to download Credit Karma and/or Credit Sesame. You should ignore their credit score models, as they are notoriously inconsistent and attempt to draw you back to their apps with wild fluctuations in your score. What both apps are great for is looking at all the accounts on your credit report and confirming the date each account was opened. Before you begin your award travel journey, you must confirm your 5/24 status. Once known, I highly recommend creating a spreadsheet to track your 5/24 status. This spreadsheet can also track your annual fee due dates, sign-up bonus, opening/closing dates, etc. Here is a look at a sample chart that is similar to ours:
Under 5/24 Roadmap
If you're just learning about rewards travel and you are under 5/24, congratulations! You are eligible for Chase credit cards! The first step in the journey is obtaining a UR-earning card and you must decide between a Chase Sapphire Preferred and a Chase Sapphire Reserve, as you can no longer have both. Note: You also must wait 48 months since you last received a bonus on either the CSP or CSR. If you earned a bonus on either of these in the past 48 months, you must wait to sign up again.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for most beginners for several reasons. First, it has a 60,000 point sign-up bonus, whereas the CSR has a 50,000 signup bonus. Second, the annual fee is $95 versus the CSR annual fee of $550/year, although you get a $300 travel credit each year that offsets the AF down to $150, plus $120 in DoorDash credits and a 12 month membership to Lyft Pink. Third, the CSP allows for 15,000 point referrals, up to 75,000 points per year. If you are in two player mode, meaning there are two of you earning points for your family, you can earn 135,000 UR for two sign-up bonuses and Player 1 referring Player 2, plus the points from the money spent on the minimum spend!
Is the CSP perfect for everyone? Definitely not. If you are a high spender in restaurants and/or travel or you plan to use the Chase travel portal to buy economy flights, rental cars, hotel rooms, or excursions/tours with your URs, the CSR might make sense for you. Let me breakdown the math for you:
URs earned on a CSP are worth 1.25 cpp in the Chase portal. You earn 2x on all dining and travel purchases. URs earned on a CSR are worth 1.5 cpp in the Chase portal. You earn 3x on all dining and travel purchases. Assuming you only spend the minimum on each card to meet the signup bonus, and 50% of that spend is in the bonus categories, your point totals look like this: CSP (60,000 sign-up, 4,000 bonus spend, 2,000 regular spend= 66,000 total) CSR (50,000 sign-up, 6,000 bonus spend, 2,000 regular spend= 58,000 total) CSP is the clear winner, right? WRONG.
If you plan to spend the sign up bonus points in the Chase portal, as described above, CSR wins! 58,000 points @ 1.5 cpp =$870, while CSP's 66,000 points @ 1.25 cpp = $825. While I still think most beginners should consider the CSP for the reasons outlined above, the CSR makes sense for most people if you spend more than $5,000/year on dining and travel. Note: CSR and CSP offer many other perks. CSR is superior in every way: better car rental insurance, better trip delay/cancellation/interruption coverage, airport lounge access, Global Entry/TSA Precheck reimbursement, etc. I am not including these perks in the evaluation, for simplicity's sake. However, please know that there are many tangible benefits with the CSR that the CSP does not have.
Over 5/24 Roadmap
If you've learned about award travel for the first time, only to realize that you are over 5/24 (whomp, whomp, whomp!), do not fret! There are TONS of great options out there, as the only bank that unofficially-officially recognizes the “5/24 rule” is Chase. You can still earn many valuable sign-up bonuses and, eventually, get back under 5/24 to earn those valuable Chase cards, it's just that your journey is different than most others. Feel free to reach out to me via email on the Contact Us page or in our Facebook group for a personalized plan moving forward.
Good luck to all as you begin your award travel journey!