Difference between revisions of "Bonuses to Get First"

From Travel Strategies
Jump to: navigation, search
(Right after hitting 5/24)
Line 72: Line 72:
  
 
{{Box|Determine the total number of Chase cards you are comfortable getting}}
 
{{Box|Determine the total number of Chase cards you are comfortable getting}}
'''There is some risk of getting too many Chase cards'''. Each time you apply, Chase reevaluates your entire relationship. If they decide that you are a potential risk, they can shut down all your accounts. Some people can get them reinstated, and some can't. Unfortunately, there isn't really a clearly identifiable pattern, so there are no hard and fast rules to follow.  We wouldn't get more than a total of 8 Chase cards, including small business cards. This won't guarantee that you avoid a shutdown, but seems feels like a reasonable trade-off between risk and reward. You might be able to get more and you could conceivably get shut down from less.
+
'''There is some risk of getting too many Chase cards'''. Each time you apply, Chase reevaluates your entire relationship. If they decide that you are a potential risk, they can shut down all your accounts. Some people can get them reinstated, and some can't. Unfortunately, there isn't really a clearly identifiable pattern, so there are no hard and fast rules to follow.  We wouldn't get more than a total of 8 Chase cards, including small business cards. This won't guarantee that you avoid a shutdown but feels like a reasonable trade-off between risk and reward. You might be able to get more, and you could conceivably get shut down from less.
  
 
It is also worthwhile to start reducing the credit limits on your existing Chase cards, before you apply for more.
 
It is also worthwhile to start reducing the credit limits on your existing Chase cards, before you apply for more.
Line 102: Line 102:
 
{{/List|Card}}
 
{{/List|Card}}
  
<li>'''If you DON'T have a Bank of America account, you'll need to prioritize their cards along with the Chase (and other) cards below'''. Bank of America's limit of 3 total cards in 12 months is pretty severe. If you want any BOA cards, you'll need to get them before you get other personal cards. If you really need an extra BOA slot, you could focus primarily on business cards for the first year and wait until another one opens up. Keep in mind that Bank of America also has a separate limit of 3 of their own cards in any 12-month period (and 4 in any two year period). </li>
+
<li>'''If you DON'T have a Bank of America account, you'll need to prioritize their cards along with the Chase (and other) cards below'''. Bank of America's limit of 3 total cards in 12 months is pretty severe. If you want any BOA cards, you'll need to get them before you get other personal cards. If you really need an extra BOA slot, you could focus primarily on business cards for the first year and wait until another one opens up. Keep in mind that Bank of America also has a separate limit of 3 of their own cards in any 12-month period (and 4 in any two-year period). </li>
  
 
If you have a Bank of America account, you can probably wait to get their cards. After you hit the Chase 5/24 limit, you will have room for at least two more cards before you hit Bank of America's 7/12 limit.
 
If you have a Bank of America account, you can probably wait to get their cards. After you hit the Chase 5/24 limit, you will have room for at least two more cards before you hit Bank of America's 7/12 limit.
Line 121: Line 121:
 
{{List|Card}}
 
{{List|Card}}
 
{{CardItem|SWAPriority}}
 
{{CardItem|SWAPriority}}
If you can get good value from the Southwest Companion Pass, your top priority is usually to get two Southwest Airlines cards. You'll need one personal card, the Priority card is the best option. You'll also need to get the '''{{Card|SWAPerformBiz|only}}''', but that won't take up one of your 5/24 slots. Ideally, you would time your applications for near the beginning of the year to maximize the amount of time you can take advantage of your pass.  
+
If you can get good value from the Southwest Companion Pass, your top priority is usually to get two Southwest Airlines cards. You'll need one personal card; the Priority card is the best option. You'll also need to get the '''{{Card|SWAPerformBiz|only}}''', but that won't take up one of your 5/24 slots. Ideally, you would time your applications for near the beginning of the year to maximize the amount of time you can take advantage of your pass.  
  
 
{{CardItem|SapphirePreferred}}
 
{{CardItem|SapphirePreferred}}
Line 141: Line 141:
 
{{List|Card}}
 
{{List|Card}}
 
{{CardItem|InkPreferred}}
 
{{CardItem|InkPreferred}}
The most valuable Chase signup offer is from the '''{{Card|InkPreferred|only}}''' (80,000 Ultimate Reward points)—and you can might be able to get more than one. You can keep signing up for this card, until you either hit the maximum number of Chase cards or until you are denied. Use an EIN for your first application and a SSN for the second application. To maximize the chances you'll get approved, lower your credit limits on your existing Chase cards before applying for each new card.  You can convert the Ink Preferred to no-annual-fee Ink Unlimited and Ink Cash cards after the first year.
+
The most valuable Chase signup offer is from the '''{{Card|InkPreferred|only}}''' (80,000 Ultimate Reward points)—and you can might be able to get more than one. You can keep signing up for this card, until you either hit the maximum number of Chase cards or until you are denied. Use an EIN for your first application and an SSN for the second application. To maximize the chances you'll get approved, lower your credit limits on your existing Chase cards before applying for each new card.  You can convert the Ink Preferred to no-annual-fee Ink Unlimited and Ink Cash cards after the first year.
  
 
{{CardItem|SapphirePreferred}}
 
{{CardItem|SapphirePreferred}}
Line 210: Line 210:
  
 
{{CardItem|SPGLuxury}}
 
{{CardItem|SPGLuxury}}
If you didn't get the Chase Marriott card when you you were under 5/24 and you really want the 15 elite night credits and free night certificate, you probably want to get the '''{{Card|SPGluxury|only}}'''.  Like the Hilton Aspire, it has a high annual fee, but the $300 Marriott hotel credit is extremely easy to use to use. Also, like the Hilton Aspire, it will take up one of your 4 available Amex slots.  
+
If you didn't get the Chase Marriott card when you were under 5/24 and you really want the 15 elite night credits and free night certificate, you probably want to get the '''{{Card|SPGluxury|only}}'''.  Like the Hilton Aspire, it has a high annual fee, but the $300 Marriott hotel credit is extremely easy to use to use. Also, like the Hilton Aspire, it will take up one of your 4 available Amex slots.  
 
{{/List|Card}}
 
{{/List|Card}}
  
Line 234: Line 234:
 
<li>'''Continue to take advantage of any particularly good promotional offers'''—they may not be available later.</li>
 
<li>'''Continue to take advantage of any particularly good promotional offers'''—they may not be available later.</li>
  
<li>'''Replace your Amex Platinum card every year'''. As you work your way through the signup bonuses, you'll maintain access to the Platinum card's valuable unique benefits. Unless you find a better than normal offer for the regular version, you should ideally start with the Morgan Stanley version. Unfortunately, you'll need to temporarily set up an Access investment account to qualify (and keep it open for the year you have the card). But getting the Morgan Stanley version gives you more time to find a better offer for the regular version and the card could go away at any time. Save the Schwab version for last, in case you decide you want to use it to cash out your Membership Reward points. </li>  
+
<li>'''Replace your Amex Platinum card every year'''. As you work your way through the signup bonuses, you'll maintain access to the Platinum card's valuable unique benefits. Unless you find a better than normal offer for the regular version, you should ideally start with the Morgan Stanley version. Unfortunately, you'll need to temporarily set up an Access investment account to qualify (and keep it open for the year you have the card). But getting the Morgan Stanley version gives you more time to find a better offer for the regular version and the card could go away at any time. Save the Schwab version for last in case you decide you want to use it to cash out your Membership Reward points. </li>  
  
 
<li>'''Keep working your way through the offerings of the major banks'''.</li>  
 
<li>'''Keep working your way through the offerings of the major banks'''.</li>  
Line 287: Line 287:
 
If you want to preserve the option to follow our standard advice for everyday spending (once you move on from focusing most of energy on collecting lots of signup bonuses), make sure to get both the '''{{Card|SapphireReserve|only}}''' and the '''{{Card|FreedomUnlimited|only}}''' (or the Freedom card if it has a better signup bonus at the time). The Sapphire Preferred may have a slightly better signup bonus, but it is nice to have access to airport lounges and the Sapphire Reserve's other benefits, and you might not get another card with these benefits for many months.</li>  
 
If you want to preserve the option to follow our standard advice for everyday spending (once you move on from focusing most of energy on collecting lots of signup bonuses), make sure to get both the '''{{Card|SapphireReserve|only}}''' and the '''{{Card|FreedomUnlimited|only}}''' (or the Freedom card if it has a better signup bonus at the time). The Sapphire Preferred may have a slightly better signup bonus, but it is nice to have access to airport lounges and the Sapphire Reserve's other benefits, and you might not get another card with these benefits for many months.</li>  
  
If you are confident that you will be concentrating on signup bonuses for the next few years, these cards can be a lower priority, as most of your credit card spending will be focused on meeting minimum spending requirements. At the point where you stop collecting new signup bonuses, you can take advantage of other everyday spending options (or wait until you fall under the 5/24 limit). But if you have enough slots we strongly recommend getting them both.  
+
If you are confident that you will be concentrating on signup bonuses for the next few years, these cards can be a lower priority, as most of your credit card spending will be focused on meeting minimum spending requirements. At the point where you stop collecting new signup bonuses, you can take advantage of other everyday spending options (or wait until you fall under the 5/24 limit). But if you have enough slots, we strongly recommend getting them both.  
  
 
{{CardItem|SWAPriority}}
 
{{CardItem|SWAPriority}}
Line 310: Line 310:
 
If you occasionally fly Southwest, the '''[[Southwest Credit Cards|Southwest credit cards]]''' provide a solid signup bonus. With Southwest, you don't need to find award space, you can use their points, at a value of about 1.5 cents each, to pay for any ticket. As a result, it is easy to cash out your points. The signup bonuses fluctuate between 40,0000 and 60,000 points. Signing up at the high end of the range makes this card particularly worthwhile.
 
If you occasionally fly Southwest, the '''[[Southwest Credit Cards|Southwest credit cards]]''' provide a solid signup bonus. With Southwest, you don't need to find award space, you can use their points, at a value of about 1.5 cents each, to pay for any ticket. As a result, it is easy to cash out your points. The signup bonuses fluctuate between 40,0000 and 60,000 points. Signing up at the high end of the range makes this card particularly worthwhile.
  
There are three different versions, but you can only earn the signup bonus on one (in any 24 month period). If all the signup bonuses are the same and you don't fly Southwest frequently, we recommend the Plus version. It has the lowest annual fee. If you fly Southwest more frequently, the extra benefits from the Priority version are worth the higher annual fee.  
+
There are three different versions, but you can only earn the signup bonus on one (in any 24-month period). If all the signup bonuses are the same and you don't fly Southwest frequently, we recommend the Plus version. It has the lowest annual fee. If you fly Southwest more frequently, the extra benefits from the Priority version are worth the higher annual fee.  
  
 
{{CardItem|BA}}
 
{{CardItem|BA}}
Line 330: Line 330:
 
If you decide to squeeze in the Altitude Reserve, get that as one of your first cards. We'd sign up for a Chase card first and get the Altitude Reserve as your next card. This lets you spread out your Chase applications a little, while still letting you apply for the Altitude Reserve before you get too many other cards. It also gives you a little time to open a U.S. Bank checking account (if necessary) to qualify for the card.
 
If you decide to squeeze in the Altitude Reserve, get that as one of your first cards. We'd sign up for a Chase card first and get the Altitude Reserve as your next card. This lets you spread out your Chase applications a little, while still letting you apply for the Altitude Reserve before you get too many other cards. It also gives you a little time to open a U.S. Bank checking account (if necessary) to qualify for the card.
  
<li>'''We recommend limiting yourself to only one new Chase card every 1.5 to 2 months'''. At this rate, signing up for four cards would take a total of five or six months. If you are getting cards from Bank of America, you can mix those in. The official Chase limit is two personal cards in any 30 day period. But even if you can generate enough spending to signup for the cards this quickly, there is some risk that Chase may get nervous and shut down your accounts.</li>  
+
<li>'''We recommend limiting yourself to only one new Chase card every 1.5 to 2 months'''. At this rate, signing up for four cards would take a total of five or six months. If you are getting cards from Bank of America, you can mix those in. The official Chase limit is two personal cards in any 30-day period. But even if you can generate enough spending to sign up for the cards this quickly, there is some risk that Chase may get nervous and shut down your accounts.</li>  
  
 
</ul>
 
</ul>
Line 352: Line 352:
 
<li>'''Get any remaining cards that you want for their ongoing travel benefits'''. If you held up getting these cards while you were under 5/24 (so that you could get fit in more Chase cards), you don't need to wait any longer. However, you may want to postpone getting some Amex cards you want or at least start by getting the less attractive versions of the cards in the same family. Amex limits you to a total of 4 credit cards at any time. To keep a good relationship with Amex, you'll need to keep each new card for at least year. Therefore, each card you hold onto uses up a slot you could have used to collect an additional Amex signup bonus per year. </li>  
 
<li>'''Get any remaining cards that you want for their ongoing travel benefits'''. If you held up getting these cards while you were under 5/24 (so that you could get fit in more Chase cards), you don't need to wait any longer. However, you may want to postpone getting some Amex cards you want or at least start by getting the less attractive versions of the cards in the same family. Amex limits you to a total of 4 credit cards at any time. To keep a good relationship with Amex, you'll need to keep each new card for at least year. Therefore, each card you hold onto uses up a slot you could have used to collect an additional Amex signup bonus per year. </li>  
  
Fortunately, many of Amex's most lucrative signup bonuses are part of families. So you can gradually collect the bonuses from each one, while maintaining access to their desirable benefits. {{Link|Amex Limits}}.  
+
Fortunately, many of Amex's most lucrative signup bonuses are part of families. So, you can gradually collect the bonuses from each one, while maintaining access to their desirable benefits. {{Link|Amex Limits}}.  
  
  
Line 362: Line 362:
 
You probably want to get started with your first '''{{Card|PlatinumCard|only}}''' to start enjoying access to additional airport lounges, the Hilton Gold breakfast benefit, and the Fine Hotels and Resorts program.  By signing up for a different version of the Amex Platinum card each year, you can maintain continuous access to these benefits, while offsetting the high annual fees with signup bonuses.  
 
You probably want to get started with your first '''{{Card|PlatinumCard|only}}''' to start enjoying access to additional airport lounges, the Hilton Gold breakfast benefit, and the Fine Hotels and Resorts program.  By signing up for a different version of the Amex Platinum card each year, you can maintain continuous access to these benefits, while offsetting the high annual fees with signup bonuses.  
  
Unless you find a better than normal offer for the regular version, you should ideally start with the Morgan Stanley version. Unfortunately, you'll need to temporarily set up an small Access investment account to qualify (and keep it open for the year you have the card). But this gives you more time to find a better offer for the regular version and the Morgan Stanley version could go away at any time. Save the Schwab version for last in case you decide you want to use it to cash out your Membership Reward points.
+
Unless you find a better than normal offer for the regular version, you should ideally start with the Morgan Stanley version. Unfortunately, you'll need to temporarily set up a small Access investment account to qualify (and keep it open for the year you have the card). But this gives you more time to find a better offer for the regular version and the Morgan Stanley version could go away at any time. Save the Schwab version for last in case you decide you want to use it to cash out your Membership Reward points.
  
 
{{CardItem|HiltonAspire}}
 
{{CardItem|HiltonAspire}}
Line 370: Line 370:
  
 
{{CardItem|SPGLuxury}}
 
{{CardItem|SPGLuxury}}
If you didn't get the Chase Marriott card when you you were under 5/24, and you want the 15 elite night credits and free night certificate, you probably want to get the '''{{Card|SPGluxury|only}}'''.  Like the Hilton Aspire, it has a high annual fee, but the $300 Marriott hotel credit is extremely easy to use to use. Like the Hilton Aspire, it will take up one of your available slots.  
+
If you didn't get the Chase Marriott card when you were under 5/24, and you want the 15 elite night credits and free night certificate, you probably want to get the '''{{Card|SPGluxury|only}}'''.  Like the Hilton Aspire, it has a high annual fee, but the $300 Marriott hotel credit is extremely easy to use to use. Like the Hilton Aspire, it will take up one of your available slots.  
 
{{/List|Card}}
 
{{/List|Card}}
  
Line 376: Line 376:
  
 
<ul>
 
<ul>
<li>You can only get the signup bonus for one Citibank ThankYou card every 24 months. Get whichever of the '''[[Citi Prestige and Premier Cards|ThankYou rewards cards]]''' that currently has the best signup bonus, ans start the clock until you can pick up your next bonus.</li>  
+
<li>You can only get the signup bonus for one Citibank ThankYou card every 24 months. Get whichever of the '''[[Citi Prestige and Premier Cards|ThankYou rewards cards]]''' that currently has the best signup bonus and start the clock until you can pick up your next bonus.</li>  
  
 
<li>'''American Express''' will only allow you to have a total of four credit cards at a time and wants you to keep each card for at least of year. That effectively limits you to a maximum of four Amex signup bonuses per year. The Amex Platinum, Gold, and Green cards are "charge" cards and don't count against the five-card limit. If you want to hold onto a few Amex credit cards for the long run, you'll be limited to even fewer signup bonuses per year. You'll need to spread your Amex credit card applications out over a few years. Now is a good time to get a couple of one-year-only Amex cards. {{Link|Amex Limits}}.</li>  
 
<li>'''American Express''' will only allow you to have a total of four credit cards at a time and wants you to keep each card for at least of year. That effectively limits you to a maximum of four Amex signup bonuses per year. The Amex Platinum, Gold, and Green cards are "charge" cards and don't count against the five-card limit. If you want to hold onto a few Amex credit cards for the long run, you'll be limited to even fewer signup bonuses per year. You'll need to spread your Amex credit card applications out over a few years. Now is a good time to get a couple of one-year-only Amex cards. {{Link|Amex Limits}}.</li>  

Revision as of 15:46, 21 May 2020

  HomeCredit Card Signup Bonuses: The Easiest Path to Free Airplane Tickets and Hotel Nights

CardCloseup.jpg

There are dozens of cards that have valuable signup bonuses. Which ones should you get first?

Unfortunately, there isn't a single exact answer that works for everyone. It depends on what promotional offers are available, the types of points you're likely to find most valuable, how easily you can meet spending requirements, and which cards you want to quickly obtain so you can start to take advantage of their unique travel benefits. Your priorities may also change based on a specific type of points you want for an upcoming trip.

But even though there isn't a fixed order to follow, there are useful guidelines to help you optimize your signup bonus activity.



Guidelines

If you want to optimize the signup bonuses and credit card benefits you get, you'll need to carefully plan the first set of cards you sign up for. Once you get a handful of new credit cards, some banks won't approve you for any more. If you don't get cards from these banks earlier, you won't be able to get them until you've stopped signing up for new cards for a year or more.

  • Chase has a hard rule—you can't get ANY new Chase credit cards once you've gotten 5 new credit cards in the last 2 years. This counts the cards you get from any credit card company, not just the cards you get from Chase, and is called the "Chase 5/24" rule. Dealing with the Chase 5/24 Rule.
  • Since Chase offers some of the best available travel and rewards credit cards, you want to make sure you get as many Chase cards as possible before you hit the limit and need to move onto cards from other banks.

  • Bank of America has a similar rule. You can't get any new Bank of America personal credit cards once you've gotten either 3 or 7 credit cards in the last 12 months. If you don't have a Bank of America bank account, the limit is just 3 cards in the previous year. Most people who are collecting credit cards will quickly exceed that limit. If you have a Bank of America bank account, the limit is 7 cards. If you are going slowly, you might occasionally dip underneath that limit. But if you are collecting bonuses more quickly, you are likely to stay above that limit as well. As with Chase, Bank of America counts all the cards you get, not just the ones from Bank of America.
  • Most business cards aren't counted, but authorized user cards usually are. Since most business cards don't show up on your personal credit report, they aren't counted when Chase and Bank of America determine the number of new cards you've gotten. So, if you've gotten 4 personal credit cards and 10 business cards in the past 2 years, you'll still be under the Chase 5/24 limit. Be careful, Capital One and Discover business cards and some business cards from smaller banks do show up on your personal report and will be counted.
  • Since authorized user cards show up on your personal credit report, they are usually counted as well. If you apply and are denied, there is some chance that you can call in and get them to ignore these cards, but it is easier to avoid become an authorized cardholder in the first place.

  • While Chase's small business cards don't count against their limit, once you've hit 5/24, you won't be able to get them. This can be confusing. Chase's business cards aren't counted as part of Chase's 5 card limit or Bank of America's 3 or 7 card limit, but once you've hit Chase's limit, they won't approve you for ANY cards, not even their small business cards. With Bank of America, you can still apply for business cards regardless of how many cards you've gotten.
  • Many other banks don't have firm rules, but often won't approve you if you've recently gotten "too many" cards. Usually they are focused on the number of cards you've gotten in the last 6 or 12 months. For example, once you've started collecting cards, it gets harder to get approved for Barclays, Capital One, and Wells Fargo cards and the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve.
  • American Express and Citibank are much more lenient, as are many smaller credit card companies. While they still care about your credit worthiness, they generally don't care if you've been getting a lot of other cards.
  • While you are still under the limits, any card you get from another bank reduces the number of Chase and Bank of America cards you can get. For example, if you sign up early for the American Express Delta Gold card for its free baggage benefit, that will count as one card against Chase's 5/24 limit. That means you'll have one less "slot" for getting a Chase card. Even if you have enough slots to get the Chase cards that are most important to you, you could have used the extra slot to apply for one of the other Chase cards (simply for its signup bonus).

So, what should you do to maximize your benefits? We've included more detailed plans below, but they follow the same basic approach:

  1. Consider opening Bank of America and U.S. Bank Account accounts. A Bank of America account will increase BOA's credit card limit from 3 to 7 total cards in the last 12 months; a U.S. Bank account will qualify you to get the Altitude Reserve card. You can avoid fees on these savings accounts by maintaining a balance of $500 at Bank of America or $300 at U.S. Bank.
  2. Figure out how many remaining "slots" you have. You may need to look at your credit report, but try to figure out how many personal credit cards you've signed up for in the last 12 and 24 months, including cards where you are only an "authorized cardholder". For example, if you've signed up for a single personal card in the last year and another in the year before that, you have room for three more personal credit cards before you hit the Chase 5/24 limit, but only two more cards before hit the Bank of America 3/12 limit. Monitor Your Credit Score to Make Sure Everything is On Track.
  3. Depending on the timing of your previous cards, new slots might be opening up soon, and you may get more room to open additional cards before you hit the limits.

  4. Prioritize which affected cards to get. You need to decide the best use of your remaining slots. You usually want to focus on getting the most important Chase and Bank of America cards before you hit their limits. You'll also want to prioritize any absolutely critical cards (if any) from Barclays, Capital One, Wells Fargo, and U.S. Bank. You may be able to get those cards after you've hit the Chase 5/24 limit, but you may not.
  5. Feel free to "waste" a slot on an important card from another bank. Because you can only sign up for cards so quickly, it may take many months before you hit Chase's 5/24 or Bank of America's 7/12 limit. If you don't want to wait that long to start taking advantage of a card's benefits or if you really need a certain type of points for an upcoming trip, you don't absolutely need to wait. It just means getting some other potentially slightly less valuable signup offer instead of one from Chase or Bank of America.

  6. If you have any leftover slots available, use them to get the Chase and Bank of America cards with the best possible signup offers. You won't be able to get these cards later, but you will still be able to get cards from most other banks.
  7. Once you know how you are going to use your slots, you can apply for the cards in any order.
  8. If you are willing and able to get business cards, you can mix these in at any time. Feel free to prioritize signing up for any business cards that have useful benefits. If your credit utilization is high, consider using a few of your slots for personal cards first, in order to raise your credit score.
  9. But make absolute sure to get any Chase business cards before you hit the 5/24 limit. You don't need to get them right away, but you do need to get them before you apply for your 5th personal card in the last 24 months.

A detailed plan (that includes business cards)

It is much easier to maximize your signup bonuses if you can take advantage of business cards. Unlock Extra Reward Points with Business Credit Cards

If you aren't able or willing to get business cards, you should jump down to the our personal card only guide below. There's still plenty of opportunity to easily collect hundreds of thousands of rewards points for free travel, just not as much as if you can also incorporate business cards into your plans.

Before you hit the Chase 5/24 limit

Determine the total number of Chase cards you are comfortable getting

There is some risk of getting too many Chase cards. Each time you apply, Chase reevaluates your entire relationship. If they decide that you are a potential risk, they can shut down all your accounts. Some people can get them reinstated, and some can't. Unfortunately, there isn't really a clearly identifiable pattern, so there are no hard and fast rules to follow. We wouldn't get more than a total of 8 Chase cards, including small business cards. This won't guarantee that you avoid a shutdown but feels like a reasonable trade-off between risk and reward. You might be able to get more, and you could conceivably get shut down from less.

It is also worthwhile to start reducing the credit limits on your existing Chase cards, before you apply for more.

This isn't as much of an issue for people who are sticking to personal cards, because they are already limited to a relatively small number of total Chase cards by the 5/24 rule.

  • Apply for any particularly useful business cards at any time, so you can start taking advantage of their travel benefits. Business cards from Amex, Citibank, Bank of America, and Barclays won't count towards your 5/24 limit.
  • If you frequently fly on an airline and value free checked bags (or the Alaska and Delta companion certificates), prioritize getting business version of their credit card, such as the Delta Business Gold Card or Delta Business Platinum Card, American Airlines Business Card or Aviator Business Card, Alaska Airlines Business Card, United Explorer Business Card or JetBlue Business Credit Card. You don't need to rush to get any airline cards that are primarily interesting only for their signup bonuses.

    You should probably get the Amex Platinum Business Card to start taking advantage of the Hilton Gold breakfast benefit, extended airport lounge benefits, and Fine Hotels and Resorts program. The annual fee is huge, but so is the signup bonus. At the end of the first year, you can cancel it and sign up for one of the personal cards. Ideally, put off applying for a while to see if you can get an offer higher than the normal 75,000 membership rewards points.

    If you don't already have the discontinued Chase Marriott business card and you need the extra 15 Marriott elite night credits each year, you should get Amex's Marriott Bonvoy Business Card. This also starts the clock towards getting a Marriott free night certificate each year. Getting this card will block you from getting the regular Chase Marriott card for two years (and vice versa), but you can still eventually get the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card to get a total of 30 elite night credits per year.

    If you aren't going to get benefit from the extra elite night credits, you should probably postpone getting this card. Amex only allows you to have a total of 4 credit cards at any one time and requires you to keep each new card for at least a year. You want to leave slots open to collect signup bonuses or get more valuable cards. Dealing with the Amex 4 Credit Card Limit.

  • Get at least one of the Chase Ink cards. Not only do they have great signup bonuses, you'll lock-in access to the Ink Unlimited card to use as part of the "Chase Unlimited Combo". Chase Unlimited Combo.
  • Either directly apply for the Ink Unlimited Card and its 50,000 Ultimate Rewards signup bonus, or apply for the Ink Preferred Card and its 80,000-point bonus and convert to the Ink Unlimited card after the initial year.

  • If you DON'T have a Bank of America account, you'll need to prioritize their cards along with the Chase (and other) cards below. Bank of America's limit of 3 total cards in 12 months is pretty severe. If you want any BOA cards, you'll need to get them before you get other personal cards. If you really need an extra BOA slot, you could focus primarily on business cards for the first year and wait until another one opens up. Keep in mind that Bank of America also has a separate limit of 3 of their own cards in any 12-month period (and 4 in any two-year period).
  • If you have a Bank of America account, you can probably wait to get their cards. After you hit the Chase 5/24 limit, you will have room for at least two more cards before you hit Bank of America's 7/12 limit.

    If you frequently use Amtrak, you definitely want the Amtrak Credit Card. It offers incredible reward rates for anyone who can use their reward points on Amtrak tickets. Plus, you'll get some nice Amtrak-related perks.

    If there is a chance you want to eventually use the BOA Premium Rewards Card or BOA Travel Rewards Card as your general purpose card (to earn up to 2.625% cashback on every purchase through the Premium Rewards program), you'll want to make sure to maintain that option by getting the Premium Rewards Card while you still can. It has a much more attractive signup bonus than the other BOA cards. After the first year, you can downgrade the card to the no-annual-fee Cash Rewards or Travel Rewards. You'll always have the option of converting back again.

    If you want an additional companion certificate every year, you might want to use a slot on the Alaska Airlines Credit Card. However, an even better option is to try to get one or more extra copies of the business version. If you can get as many copies of the business card as you want, there is no reason to use a valuable slot on the personal version. But, if BOA rejects you for the business cards, you can probably still get the personal version.

  • Prioritize which Chase (and other) cards to get with your personal slots. Most people should have enough slots to get all the cards they want to add to their core credit card collection, assuming they haven't already gotten more than a couple cards in the past two years and are also signing up for business cards. Remember there is a maximum limit of personal cards based on your available 5/24 slots and a separate maximum limit of total Chase cards based on the number you are comfortable with (plus the Bank of America limits).
  • If you can get good value from the Southwest Companion Pass, your top priority is usually to get two Southwest Airlines cards. You'll need one personal card; the Priority card is the best option. You'll also need to get the Southwest Performance Business Card, but that won't take up one of your 5/24 slots. Ideally, you would time your applications for near the beginning of the year to maximize the amount of time you can take advantage of your pass.

    Most people should use a slot for one of the Chase Sapphire cards (you can't receive the signup bonus on both). Even if you aren't 100% sure you want to use the Chase Unlimited Combo, it is nice to be able to keep open the option to do so. And it's well worth getting a Sapphire card just for its signup bonus.

    If you don't think you'll need the Sapphire Reserve's lounge access over the next year (because you'll have it from other cards), get the Sapphire Preferred—it has a better signup bonus. After the initial year, you'll have the option to downgrade the card to a no-annual-fee Freedom Card. If you ever decide you want a Sapphire Reserve or Preferred card, you can convert back again, regardless of your 5/24 status.

    The Hyatt Credit Card gives you 5 elite night credits each year, plus 2 more credits for every $5,000 you spend. If you stay at Hyatt frequently enough that these extra credits might get you to the next status level (at least in some years), you'll want to make sure to get the Hyatt Card while you still can. Even if not, it is still a pretty good choice because of its annual free night certificate and valuable signup bonus. It is only available as a personal card.

    If you have room, we recommend getting the Altitude Reserve Card with one of your slots. It offers a valuable 4.5% reward rate on purchases made with mobile wallets (such as Apple Pay). With a Samsung phone or watch, you can earn this mobile wallet reward rate at any location where you would "swipe" your card, even if they don't explicitly accept mobile wallet payments.

    The Altitude Reserve is difficult to get once you start collecting other cards. So, if you would have remaining 5/24 slots available after reserving space for the critical personal cards you want from Chase and Bank of America, it is probably worthwhile using one of these slots for the Altitude Reserve. You'll give up the option to use that slot for one of the Chase personal cards, but you'll probably get to sign up for an additional Chase business card instead (since your total number of Chase cards is limited).

  • Keep signing up for Chase cards until you have the maximum number you are comfortable with—the Ink cards usually have the most valuable signup bonuses. Once you've figured out how many cards you need to reserve for you most important cards, you can use any remaining slots to collect the cards with the most valuable signup bonuses or travel benefits. For example, if you determined that you could get 4 new personal cards before hitting the Chase 5/24 limit, decided that you were comfortable with a total of 8 new Chase cards, and prioritized 2 personal cards from Chase, 1 other personal card, and 2 Chase business cards, you have room for 1 more personal card and up to total of 4 Chase cards.
  • The most valuable Chase signup offer is from the Ink Preferred Card (80,000 Ultimate Reward points)—and you can might be able to get more than one. You can keep signing up for this card, until you either hit the maximum number of Chase cards or until you are denied. Use an EIN for your first application and an SSN for the second application. To maximize the chances you'll get approved, lower your credit limits on your existing Chase cards before applying for each new card. You can convert the Ink Preferred to no-annual-fee Ink Unlimited and Ink Cash cards after the first year.

    If you can't get approved for another Ink Preferred Card and haven't already gotten a Sapphire card, your next most valuable signup offer is from the Sapphire Preferred Card.

    After that, your next most valuable offers are probably from the Ink Cash Card or Ink Unlimited Card, which both have signup offers of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points. You may be able to get multiple versions of each of these cards, so feel free to try for additional copies.

    If you occasionally fly on Southwest and aren't likely to use your points for premium-cabin frequent flyer tickets, earning 70,000 Southwest Airlines points with the Southwest Performance Business Card is probably more valuable than earning 50,000 Ultimate Reward points.

    If you will have a personal slot leftover, another way to optimize your signup bonuses is to get one of the ThankYou rewards cards early in the process. You can only receive one bonus from these cards every 24 months and applying early starts the clock to qualifying for another bonus. You may be giving up the opportunity to get an additional Chase signup bonus, but you might squeeze in an extra ThankYou points bonus.

  • Instead of using your remaining slots to simply collect the most valuable Chase signup bonuses, you may want to get some Chase cards that have valuable ongoing benefits. You'll receive a less valuable bonus when you first sign up, but the other benefits will pay dividends over time. Depending on how many 5/24 slots you started with and how many personal cards you have already prioritized, you may not have room to substitute many of these cards. With our ongoing example, if you started with room for 4 new personal cards and are reserving space for a Sapphire card, the Hyatt card, and the Altitude Reserve, you only have room to substitute one of these cards instead of just getting another Chase business card.
  • If it wasn't already part of your plan, consider getting the Hyatt Credit Card. The signup bonus is almost as good as the bonus on the Ink Cash and Ink Unlimited cards, and you'll get a free hotel night certificate each year and some elite status benefits.

    The British Airways Credit Card is another intriguing option. Its base 50,000-Avios signup bonus is less valuable than the signup offers on the Southwest Business, Ink, and Sapphire cards, but it comes with credits to offset British Airlines award surcharges, which can make it worthwhile for people who might fly British Airways (or other Oneworld airlines) to or within Europe on a frequent basis. You also have the option of spending a bunch of extra money on it and earning an extra 50,000-point bonus. However, if you aren't a big spender or a frequent flyer program master, we'd stick to one of the other options.

    The Iberia Credit Card and Aer Lingus Card would be excellent options if you know you'll have the opportunity to use their companion benefits during your initial year. The value of these benefits would easily outweigh the value of the extra points you could earn with other cards.

    Some people might want to consider using one of their slots for the IHG Select Card to receive its annual free night certificates and high-level status. IHG Platinum status doesn't provide much in the way of benefits, but it can sometimes be useful for matching to high level status in other hotel programs.

  • You can get the cards from this phase in whatever order you want. Just be sure to get all the Chase cards before you get the final personal card that will make you hit the 5/24 limit and all the Bank of America personal cards before you hit the 3/12 limit (if that applies to you).
    • If you want the Altitude Reserve, get that as one of your first cards. We'd sign up for a Chase card first and get the Altitude Reserve as your next card. This lets you spread out your Chase applications a little, while still letting you apply for the Altitude Reserve before you get too many other cards. It also gives you a little time to open a U.S. Bank checking account (if necessary) to qualify for the card.
    • Get the cards that have the most valuable ongoing benefits early, so you can start taking advantage of those benefits. If you are planning to use one of your slots on a Citi ThankYou card, try to get that early to start Citibank's 24-month clock.
    • Get the Chase cards that are most important to you, before you focus on the ones with the best signup offers. If you start out just focusing on collecting the most valuable bonuses, there is a small risk that Chase will stop approving new applications before you get all the Chase cards that you really want. You should be able to lower credit limits or close some existing cards, but there really isn't a reason not to just prioritize your highest-priority cards first.
    • Evenly mix in the business cards from other banks. You can technically signup for two Chase cards every month, but we recommend spacing your Chase applications, leaving at least 1.5 to 2 months between applications. This lower velocity might reduce the chance of a Chase shut down. By switching between Chase and non-Chase cards, you'll naturally spread out your Chase applications over time.

Right after you hit 5/24

  • If you have a Bank of America account and postponed getting their cards, you'll need to get them before you hit 7/12.
  • Sign up for a few other cards that are hard to get later. Capital One and Wells Fargo are stingy about approving anyone who is collecting credit cards. In addition, Capital One doesn't like customers who have good credit and pay their bills every month. So, there is a good chance you can't get approved for their cards. But now is the most likely time (at least till you eventually start slowing down). The longer you wait, the harder it will get.
  • The Capital One Venture Card has a valuable signup bonus, the ability to transfer your points to airline partners, and is hard to get approved for once you've started signing up for credit cards.

    Some of the Spark business cards often have the most valuable signup bonuses of any of the Capital One and Wells Fargo cards. Even though they are business cards, they will show up on your personal credit report, so don't get them until after you've hit the Chase and BOA limits. The "miles" version is better than the "cash" version, but if you get approved, you can try to apply for the other one about six months later.

    This is the most likely time to get approved for a Wells Fargo card. We suggest starting with the Wells Fargo Propel Card. The normal signup bonus of 30,000 points isn't that great. But, if you can also get approved for the Wells Fargo Visa Signature card, the points are worth 1.5 cents each. You'll need to wait 15 months between applying for different Wells Fargo cards.

  • Consider any remaining cards that you want for their ongoing travel benefits. The two likeliest candidates are both Amex cards. Since you are limited to a total of 4 Amex credit cards at a time, getting these cards will reduce the number of slots you have for collecting Amex signup bonuses. You may want to postpone getting them until later or getting them for a year, cancelling them, and then getting them again once you've collected most of the other signup bonuses. Dealing with the Amex 4 Credit Card Limit.
  • If you feel you can get good use of hotel certificates, you should prioritize getting the Hilton Aspire Credit Card, so you can start earning free night certificates (which can be used at very expensive hotels). The card has a high annual fee, but also includes several valuable statement credits. The Hilton Surpass card requires you to spend $15,000 per year to get your certificate. Since you want to use your spending to qualify for signup bonuses, if you are going to get one of these cards early, the Aspire card is your better bet.

    If you didn't get the Chase Marriott card when you were under 5/24 and you really want the 15 elite night credits and free night certificate, you probably want to get the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card. Like the Hilton Aspire, it has a high annual fee, but the $300 Marriott hotel credit is extremely easy to use to use. Also, like the Hilton Aspire, it will take up one of your 4 available Amex slots.

  • Get the clock started with the major credit card companies. Most credit card companies have rules that require you to spread out your applications over time. If you want to collect signup bonuses at a quick pace, you'll want to "get the clock going" with each of these companies.
  • You can only get the signup bonus for one Citibank ThankYou card every 24 months. If you didn't already get one while you were under 5/24, get whichever of the ThankYou rewards cards that currently has the best signup bonus and start the clock until you can pick up your next bonus.

    American Express will only allow you to have a total of four credit cards at a time and wants you to keep each card for at least of year. That effectively limits you to four credit cards a year. The Amex Platinum, Gold, and Green cards are "charge" cards and don't count against the four-card limit. If you want to hold onto a few Amex credit cards for the long run, you'll be limited to even fewer signup bonuses per year. You'll need to spread your Amex credit card applications out over a few years. Now is a good time to get a couple of one-year-only Amex cards and start the process. Dealing with the Amex 4 Credit Card Limit.

  • Prioritize earning the points you need. Despite any other advice, if you need a certain type of points for an upcoming trip, prioritize any associated signup bonuses. Don't forget that you may be able to covert Membership Rewards or other transferable points to the points you need.
  • Take advantage of good promotional offers when they are available. We will try to keep you updated on our best offers page.

Then...

  • Continue to take advantage of any particularly good promotional offers—they may not be available later.
  • Replace your Amex Platinum card every year. As you work your way through the signup bonuses, you'll maintain access to the Platinum card's valuable unique benefits. Unless you find a better than normal offer for the regular version, you should ideally start with the Morgan Stanley version. Unfortunately, you'll need to temporarily set up an Access investment account to qualify (and keep it open for the year you have the card). But getting the Morgan Stanley version gives you more time to find a better offer for the regular version and the card could go away at any time. Save the Schwab version for last in case you decide you want to use it to cash out your Membership Reward points.
  • Keep working your way through the offerings of the major banks.
    • Get a new Citi Thankyou card every two years. You can convert older unwanted versions of these cards to the Rewards+ card, rather than cancelling them, so they won't reset your clock.
    • Get the American Airlines Platinum Card. You are only eligible for the bonus on the personal once every four years. Unlike the ThankYou cards, cancelling this card won't reset the clock for earning another bonus. The American Airlines Business Card version is on its own four year clock. If you want the checked bag benefit, spread out your applications. If you just want the miles, you can sign up for both at around the same time.
    • Sign up for the Aviator Red Card and consider some of the other Barclays cards, such as the JetBlue Plus Credit Card.
  • You can still apply for Bank of America business cards even if you are over their 3/12 or 7/12 limits.
  • Slowly work through the many different Amex cards. Amex is relatively indifferent to the total number of cards you have or applied for. Since you can only receive each American Express bonus once per lifetime, there is no rush to work your way through all their different offers. But if a great promotional offer is available or one of their cards is being discontinued, you'll want to fit it into your plans, rather than waiting. On the other hand, because the speed at which you can collect signup bonuses is affected by Amex's 4 credit card limit (discussed above), it can be helpful to start working your way their signup bonuses. Dealing with the Amex 4 Credit Card Limit.
  • Don't forget about the valuable cards that come from the smaller companies, like the Avianca Vuela Card and Cathay Pacific Credit Card.

A detailed plan (with only personal cards)

If you aren't willing or able to get business cards, you'll miss out on some opportunities, but there are can still collect dozens of valuable signup offers.

Before you hit the Chase 5/24 limit

  • If you DON'T have a Bank of America account, you'll need to prioritize their cards along with the Chase (and other) cards below. Bank of America's limit of 3 total cards in 12 months is pretty severe. If you want any BOA cards, you'll need to get them before you get other personal cards.
  • If you have a Bank of America account, you can probably wait to get their cards. After you hit the Chase 5/24 limit, you will have room for at least two more cards before you hit Bank of America's 7/12 limit.

    If you often fly on Alaska as part of a couple or family, you definitely want the Alaska Airlines Credit Card. You can usually get great value from its companion certificate and other benefits.

    If you frequently use Amtrak, you definitely want the Amtrak Credit Card. It offers incredible reward rates for anyone who can use their reward points on Amtrak tickets. Plus, you'll get some nice Amtrak-related perks.

    If there is a chance you want to eventually use the BOA Premium Rewards Card or BOA Travel Rewards Card as your general purpose card (to earn up to 2.625% cashback on every purchase through the Premium Rewards program), you'll want to make sure to maintain that option by getting the Premium Rewards Card while you still can. It has a much more attractive signup bonus than the other BOA cards. After the first year, you can downgrade the card to the no-annual-fee Cash Rewards or Travel Rewards. You'll always have the option of converting back again.

  • Prioritize which Chase (and other) cards to get with your personal slots. If you are collecting signup bonuses, it will be a long time till you will be under the 5/24 limit and will have another opportunity to get them. Depending on how many cards you've already gotten in the past couple of years, how many slots you need to use for Bank of America cards, and how many of these other cards are important to you, you may not have enough slots to get them all.
  • If you frequently fly on United, make sure to get the United Explorer Credit Card for its free checked bag benefit, ability to access additional award inventory, and other United Airlines benefits.

    The Hyatt Credit Card gives you 5 elite night credits each year, plus 2 more credits for every $5,000 you spend. If you stay at Hyatt frequently enough that these extra credits might get you to the next status level (at least in some years), you'll want to make sure to get the Hyatt Card while you still can. Even if not, it is still a pretty good choice because of its annual free night certificate and valuable signup bonus. It is only available as a personal card.

    If you want to preserve the option to follow our standard advice for everyday spending (once you move on from focusing most of energy on collecting lots of signup bonuses), make sure to get both the Sapphire Reserve Card and the Freedom Unlimited Card (or the Freedom card if it has a better signup bonus at the time). The Sapphire Preferred may have a slightly better signup bonus, but it is nice to have access to airport lounges and the Sapphire Reserve's other benefits, and you might not get another card with these benefits for many months.

    If you are confident that you will be concentrating on signup bonuses for the next few years, these cards can be a lower priority, as most of your credit card spending will be focused on meeting minimum spending requirements. At the point where you stop collecting new signup bonuses, you can take advantage of other everyday spending options (or wait until you fall under the 5/24 limit). But if you have enough slots, we strongly recommend getting them both.

    If you value the Southwest Companion Pass and believe you can earn the large number of extra points you would need to qualify with only a single Southwest signup bonus, make sure to get the Southwest Priority Card.

    If you have room, we recommend getting the Altitude Reserve Card with one of your slots. It offers a valuable 4.5% reward rate on purchases made with mobile wallets (such as Apple Pay). With a Samsung phone or watch, you can earn this mobile wallet reward rate at any location where you would "swipe" your card, even if they don't explicitly accept mobile wallet payments.

    The Altitude Reserve is difficult to get once you start collecting other cards. So, if you would have remaining 5/24 slots available after reserving space for the critical personal cards you want from Chase and Bank of America, it is probably worthwhile using one of these slots for the Altitude Reserve. You'll give up the option to use that slot for one of the Chase personal cards, but you'll probably get to sign up for an additional Chase business card instead (since your total number of Chase cards is limited).

  • Fill in any remaining slots with the best of the remaining Chase cards. After prioritizing the cards you definitely want to get, you should use any remaining slots to collect the best most valuable signup bonuses or best benefits. You might have already prioritized some of these cards.
  • The signup bonuses on the Sapphire cards are generally the most valuable of all the Chase cards, but you can only get one of them (during any 48 month period). If you want immediate access to airport lounges, get the Sapphire Reserve Card. Otherwise, the Sapphire Preferred Card has a more value signup offer.

    Another good option for most everyone is the Hyatt Credit Card. Not only do you get the signup bonus, you get a valuable free night certificate each year (and the ability to earn another one with $15,000 in spending) plus some elite status benefits.

    If you occasionally fly Southwest, the Southwest credit cards provide a solid signup bonus. With Southwest, you don't need to find award space, you can use their points, at a value of about 1.5 cents each, to pay for any ticket. As a result, it is easy to cash out your points. The signup bonuses fluctuate between 40,0000 and 60,000 points. Signing up at the high end of the range makes this card particularly worthwhile.

    There are three different versions, but you can only earn the signup bonus on one (in any 24-month period). If all the signup bonuses are the same and you don't fly Southwest frequently, we recommend the Plus version. It has the lowest annual fee. If you fly Southwest more frequently, the extra benefits from the Priority version are worth the higher annual fee.

    The British Airways Credit Card is another intriguing option. Its base 50,000-Avios signup bonus is less valuable than the signup offers on the Southwest Business, Ink, and Sapphire cards, but it comes with credits to offset British Airlines award surcharges, which can make it worthwhile for people who might fly British Airways (or other Oneworld airlines) to or within Europe on a frequent basis. You also have the option of spending a bunch of extra money on it and earning an extra 50,000-point bonus. However, if you aren't a big spender or a frequent flyer program master, we'd stick to one of the other options.

    The Iberia Credit Card and Aer Lingus Card would be excellent options if you know you'll have the opportunity to use their companion benefits during your initial year. The value of these benefits would easily outweigh the value of the extra points you could earn with other cards.

    Some people might want to consider using one of their slots for the IHG Select Card to receive its annual free night certificates and high-level status. IHG Platinum status doesn't provide much in the way of benefits, but it can sometimes be useful for matching to high level status in other hotel programs.

    The situation with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card is more complicated. Some people will want to make sure to have a Marriott card in order to get an extra 15 elite night credits every year towards Marriott Platinum status. You could always get the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, but holding onto that card will take up one of four Amex credit card slots (which may eventually hold you back from maximizing your Amex signup opportunities or getting other Amex cards you want) and you'll need to make sure you are able to use the bill credit each year to offset the annual fee.

    If the elite night credits and free night certificate appeal to you and you have room, we would recommend getting the Chase card, even though you will be giving up another worthwhile Chase signup bonus. It provides more flexibility with American Express down the road. If there are other Chase cards you really want, skip it. You'll still be able to get a Marriott card from Amex.

  • You can get these cards in any order. Once you figure out how you want to use your available slots, the order you get these cards isn't important. You only need to make sure to get the most important cards before you wind up hitting the limit. If you are getting the Southwest airlines card, get it around the beginning of the year you plan to qualify. Prioritize the card in the order you want to start taking advantage of their ongoing benefits.
  • If you decide to squeeze in the Altitude Reserve, get that as one of your first cards. We'd sign up for a Chase card first and get the Altitude Reserve as your next card. This lets you spread out your Chase applications a little, while still letting you apply for the Altitude Reserve before you get too many other cards. It also gives you a little time to open a U.S. Bank checking account (if necessary) to qualify for the card.

  • We recommend limiting yourself to only one new Chase card every 1.5 to 2 months. At this rate, signing up for four cards would take a total of five or six months. If you are getting cards from Bank of America, you can mix those in. The official Chase limit is two personal cards in any 30-day period. But even if you can generate enough spending to sign up for the cards this quickly, there is some risk that Chase may get nervous and shut down your accounts.

Right after hitting 5/24

  • If you have a Bank of America account and postponed getting their cards, you'll need to get them before you hit 7/12.
  • Sign up for a few other cards that are hard to get later. Capital One and Wells Fargo are stingy about approving anyone who is collecting credit cards. In addition, Capital One doesn't like customers who have good credit and pay their bills every month. So, there is a good chance you can't get approved for their cards. But now is the most likely time (at least till you eventually start slowing down). The longer you wait, the harder it will get.
  • The Capital One Venture Card has a valuable signup bonus, the ability to transfer your points to airline partners, and is hard to get approved for once you've started signing up for credit cards.

    This is the most likely time to get approved for a Wells Fargo card. We suggest starting with the Wells Fargo Propel Card. The normal signup bonus of 30,000 points isn't that great. But, if you can also get approved for the Wells Fargo Visa Signature card, the points are worth 1.5 cents each. You'll need to wait 15 months between applying for different Wells Fargo cards.

  • Get any remaining cards that you want for their ongoing travel benefits. If you held up getting these cards while you were under 5/24 (so that you could get fit in more Chase cards), you don't need to wait any longer. However, you may want to postpone getting some Amex cards you want or at least start by getting the less attractive versions of the cards in the same family. Amex limits you to a total of 4 credit cards at any time. To keep a good relationship with Amex, you'll need to keep each new card for at least year. Therefore, each card you hold onto uses up a slot you could have used to collect an additional Amex signup bonus per year.
  • Fortunately, many of Amex's most lucrative signup bonuses are part of families. So, you can gradually collect the bonuses from each one, while maintaining access to their desirable benefits. Dealing with the Amex 4 Credit Card Limit.


    If you value the checked bag benefit, you might want to get started with the credit card for the airline(s) you fly the most, such as the Delta Gold Credit Card or Delta Platinum Credit Card, American Airlines Platinum Card or Aviator Red Card, or JetBlue Plus Credit Card. . This is especially true if you live in Delta territory and want to start receiving companion certificates.

    You probably want to get started with your first Amex Platinum Card to start enjoying access to additional airport lounges, the Hilton Gold breakfast benefit, and the Fine Hotels and Resorts program. By signing up for a different version of the Amex Platinum card each year, you can maintain continuous access to these benefits, while offsetting the high annual fees with signup bonuses.

    Unless you find a better than normal offer for the regular version, you should ideally start with the Morgan Stanley version. Unfortunately, you'll need to temporarily set up a small Access investment account to qualify (and keep it open for the year you have the card). But this gives you more time to find a better offer for the regular version and the Morgan Stanley version could go away at any time. Save the Schwab version for last in case you decide you want to use it to cash out your Membership Reward points.

    If you feel you can get good use of hotel certificates, you should prioritize getting the Hilton Aspire Credit Card, so you can start earning free night certificates (which can be used at very expensive hotels). The card has a high annual fee, but also includes several valuable statement credits. The Hilton Surpass card requires you to spend $15,000 per year to get your certificate. Since you want to use your spending to qualify for signup bonuses, it is better to save this card for later.

    If you do get at least one of the Hilton cards, it might change the prioritization of the Amex Platinum card (mentioned immediately above), as they also provide the free Hilton breakfast benefit.

    If you didn't get the Chase Marriott card when you were under 5/24, and you want the 15 elite night credits and free night certificate, you probably want to get the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card. Like the Hilton Aspire, it has a high annual fee, but the $300 Marriott hotel credit is extremely easy to use to use. Like the Hilton Aspire, it will take up one of your available slots.

  • Get the clock started with the major credit card companies. Most credit card companies have rules that require you to spread out your applications over time. If you want to collect signup bonuses at a quick pace, you'll want to "get the clock going" with each of these companies.
    • You can only get the signup bonus for one Citibank ThankYou card every 24 months. Get whichever of the ThankYou rewards cards that currently has the best signup bonus and start the clock until you can pick up your next bonus.
    • American Express will only allow you to have a total of four credit cards at a time and wants you to keep each card for at least of year. That effectively limits you to a maximum of four Amex signup bonuses per year. The Amex Platinum, Gold, and Green cards are "charge" cards and don't count against the five-card limit. If you want to hold onto a few Amex credit cards for the long run, you'll be limited to even fewer signup bonuses per year. You'll need to spread your Amex credit card applications out over a few years. Now is a good time to get a couple of one-year-only Amex cards. Dealing with the Amex 4 Credit Card Limit.
  • Prioritize earning the points you need. Despite any other advice, if you need a certain type of points for an upcoming trip, prioritize any associated signup bonuses. Don't forget that you may be able to covert Membership Rewards or other transferable points to the points you need.
  • Take advantage of good promotional offers when they are available. We will try to keep you updated on our best offers page.

Then...

  • Continue to take advantage of any particularly good promotional offers—they may not be available later.
  • Replace your Amex Platinum card every year. As you work your way through the signup bonuses, you'll maintain access to the Platinum card's valuable unique benefits.
  • Keep working your way through the offerings of the major banks.
    • Get a new Citi Thankyou card every two years. You can convert older unwanted versions of these cards to the Rewards+ card, rather than cancelling them, so they won't reset your clock.
    • Get the American Airlines Platinum Card. You are only eligible for the bonus once every four years. Unlike the ThankYou cards, cancelling this card won't reset the clock for earning another bonus.
    • Sign up for the Aviator Red Card and consider some of the other Barclays cards, such as the JetBlue Plus Credit Card.
  • Slowly work through the many different Amex cards. Amex is relatively indifferent to the total number of cards you have or applied for. Since you can only receive each American Express bonus once per lifetime, there is no rush to work your way through all their different offers. But if a great promotional offer is available or one of their cards is being discontinued, you'll want to fit it into your plans, rather than waiting. On the other hand, because the speed at which you can collect signup bonuses is affected by Amex's 4 credit card limit (discussed above), it can be helpful to start working your way their signup bonuses. Dealing with the Amex 4 Credit Card Limit.
  • Don't forget about the valuable cards that come from the smaller companies, like the Avianca Vuela Card and Cathay Pacific Credit Card.



Send comments or suggestions to editor@travelstrategies.com or leave a comment below.



blog comments powered by Disqus