“Must have” Chase cards

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The other day I was working on a post detailing a first year credit card signup strategy for someone new to the points & miles game.  I didn’t finish the post because I got bogged down with the question of which Chase cards to recommend. As a result, I decided that the topic of “must-have” Chase cards required a post of its own.  This is that post.

Chase has quite a few excellent cards, but they also have the dreaded 5/24 rule.  If you have opened 5 or more cards in the past 24 months, from any bank, Chase won’t approve you for any more cards.  For that reason, anyone considering signing up for a bunch of credit cards should think seriously about starting with Chase.  I recommend getting all of the Chase cards that you want before going on to other cards.

Chase’s must-have consumer cards

Chase has quite a few great consumer credit cards.  Here are the ones that I think are contenders for our “must-have” list:

Sapphire Reserve

Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred

Card Name w Details & Review (no offer)
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

FM Mini Review: Excellent all-around card for frequent traveler. Best when paired with no-fee Chase Freedom Flex, no-fee Freedom Unlimited & no-fee Chase Ink Cash


Annual Fee: $550

Card Type: Visa Infinite

Base
Travel
Dine
Other

Earning rate: 10X hotels & car rentals booked through Chase ⚬ 10X Chase Dining ⚬ 5X flights booked through Chase ⚬ 3X Travel and Dining ⚬ 10X Lyft (through March 2025)

Noteworthy perks: $300 Annual Travel Credit ⚬ Points worth 1.5 cents each towards travel or Pay Yourself Back ⚬ Transfer points to airline & hotel partners ⚬ Primary auto rental collision damage waiver ⚬ Priority Pass Select lounge access ⚬ $100 Global Entry fee credit ⚬ $5 monthly DoorDash in-app credit through December 2024 ⚬ Free DashPass through 2025 ⚬ Earn 10X on Lyft spend

See also: Chase Ultimate Rewards Complete Guide

Earn 3X Ultimate Rewards points for travel & dining spend (1X everywhere else).  Points are worth 1.5 cents each when used to book travel through the Chase travel portal.  Points can also be transferred to airline and hotel partners.  Priority Pass airport lounge benefit.  $100 Global entry fee credit.  Great automatic travel protections.  Annual fee is partially rebated with an annual $300 travel credit.

After you have the card for a year, Chase will usually let you downgrade to either the $95 per year Sapphire Preferred card, or the no-fee Freedom card, or the no-fee Freedom Unlimited card.  If you’re thinking of cancelling the Sapphire Reserve, I highly recommend downgrading instead.  This way you can always upgrade again in the future if you find that you need the Sapphire Reserve’s features.

For more about Chase Ultimate Rewards, I highly recommend reading this post: Chase Ultimate Rewards Guide.

Sapphire Reserve alternatives:

  • Sapphire Preferred:  This one has a lower annual fee ($95) and offers free authorized user cards.  2X for travel & dining. Points are worth 1.25 cents each towards travel.  Points can be transferred to airline and hotel partners.  Very good automatic travel protections (including primary rental car collision waiver), but not as good as the Sapphire Reserve.  One of the best features of this card is that you should be able to upgrade it seamlessly to the Sapphire Reserve if you ever need the extra features of that card.
  • Ink Business Preferred: 3X travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone, and advertising with social media sites (up to $150K spend per year).  This one isn’t a great choice for dining spend, but it offers the same 3X for travel that the Sapphire Reserve offers.  Points are worth 1.25 cents each towards travel.  Points can be transferred to airline and hotel partners.  Primary rental car collision waiver is only for business travel.

Freedom Unlimited

Card Name w Details & Review (no offer)
Chase Freedom Unlimited

FM Mini Review: Great for 3x categories and 1.5X everywhere else. Excellent companion card to Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, or Ink Business Preferred.


Annual Fee: $0

Card Type: Visa Signature or Platinum

Base
Travel
Dine
Other

Earning rate: 5x travel booked through Chase ⚬ 5X Lyft through March 2025 ⚬ 3x dining ⚬ 3x drugstores ⚬ 1.5X everywhere else

Noteworthy perks: Free DashPass for up to 3 months upon activation

See also: Chase Ultimate Rewards Complete Guide

Earn 1.5X Ultimate Rewards points everywhere. No annual fee.  This card does impose foreign transaction fees.

This is a great card to pair with the Sapphire Reserve.  Use the Sapphire Reserve only for travel, dining, and international spend.  Use the Freedom Unlimited for all other spend. Even though this card is advertised as a cash back card, it actually earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  Move Freedom Unlimited points to your Sapphire Reserve account in order to make the points more valuable.

Freedom Unlimited alternatives:

  • Ink Business Unlimited: This card is nearly identical to the Freedom Unlimited but since it is a business card it won’t add to your 5/24 count (see “Business cards are special” later in this post).  I highly recommend picking up the Business Unlimited card instead of the Freedom Unlimited.

United Explorer

Card Name w Details & Review (no offer)
Chase United℠ Explorer Card

FM Mini Review: Decent perks such as enhanced access to United saver level economy awards makes this a keeper for some.


Annual Fee: First year free, then $95

Card Type: Visa Signature

Base
Travel
Dine
Brand

Earning rate: 2X United ⚬ 2X restaurants ⚬ 2X on hotel stays

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ Improved economy saver award availability ⚬ Free first checked bag for primary cardholder and one travel companion when you pay with the card ⚬ Unlocks complimentary elite upgrades on award tickets ⚬ Priority boarding ⚬ No foreign exchange fees ⚬ 2 United Club passes per year ⚬ One year of complimentary Dash Pass (Must activate by 12/31/24) ⚬ Primary auto rental collision damage waiver ⚬ Up to $100 Global Entry,TSA Pre-check or Nexus credit ⚬ 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights and on Club premium drinks when you pay with your Explorer Card

Chase United Quest Card

Annual Fee: $250

Card Type: Visa Signature

Base
Travel
Dine
Brand
Other

Earning rate: 3X United ⚬ 2X restaurants including eligible delivery services ⚬ 2X on all other travel ⚬ 2X select streaming

Noteworthy perks: Up to $125 in statement credits for United purchases each cardmember year ⚬ First and second checked bag free for cardholder and one companion when you purchase your tickets with the card and include your Mileage Plus number ⚬ Two 5K award flight rebates per cardmember year (5K miles back when you book first 2 award tickets each anniversary year) ⚬ One year of complimentary Dash Pass (Must activate by 12/31/24) ⚬$100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexuas reimbursement ⚬ 25% back on United inflight or Club Premium drink purchases

This is a pretty good airline card with decent airline card perks: Improved economy saver award availability; Last seat standard economy award availability; Free first checked bag for primary cardholder and one travel companion when you pay with the card (most airlines don’t require paying with the airline card for free bags, but United does require it); Priority boarding; No foreign exchange fees; 2 United Club passes per year; Primary auto rental collision damage waiver; Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre-check credit; 25% back on United in-flight purchases.  $95 annual fee.

After you’ve had this card for a year, consider downgrading to the no-fee United MileagePlus card.  This no-fee card is no longer available new, but it is still available as a downgrade.  The great thing about this no-fee card is that it preserves two of the $95 card’s best features: Improved economy saver award availability, and last seat standard economy award availability.  In fact, one of the reasons I included the United Explorer card on this “must have” list was for the ability to downgrade to this no-fee card.

United Explorer Alternatives:

  • United MileagePlus Explorer Business card: This is almost identical to the consumer version of the card.  This one has the distinct advantage of being a business card so it won’t take up a 5/24 slot.  Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a no-fee version of the business card.
  • United Club Infinite card: The club infinite card costs $525 per year and includes United Club membership.  If you would otherwise pay for United Club membership, then you might as well get this high end card instead since the annual fee is less than the usual Club membership fee.
  • Southwest cards (Plus, Premier, or Priority consumer card; Premier and Performance business cards).  These are great for their signup bonuses, especially if you use those bonuses to acquire the Southwest Companion Pass.  For everyday use, though, I don’t see a lot of value here.
  • Avios cards (Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia): These are good for their big signup bonuses, but not very compelling for long term use in my opinion.  Those who pay for travel often on Iberia, though, may get good use from the $1,000 discount you can earn with $30K calendar year spend.

World of Hyatt

Card Name w Details & Review (no offer)
Chase World of Hyatt Credit Card

FM Mini Review: Great card for signup bonus and annual free night. Might be worth using regularly for additional free night and as a path to status.


Annual Fee: $95

Card Type: Visa Signature

Base
Travel
Dine
Brand

Earning rate: ⚬ 2X restaurants / cafes / coffee shops, airlines, local transit, fitness clubs and gym memberships ⚬ 4X Hyatt

Big spend bonus: One free Cat 1-4 night certificate after $15K spend in a calendar year. ⚬ Get 2 elite qualifying night credits every time you spend $5K in purchases

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ Free category 1-4 night every year upon renewal ⚬ Additional free category 1-4 night after $15K spend in cardmember year ⚬ Discoverist elite status ⚬ 5 elite qualifying nights

Chase also offers Marriott and IHG hotel cards, but their Hyatt card is my favorite.  For $95 per year, you get an annual award certificate for a category 1-4 hotel.  Get another certificate after $15K annual spend.  Certificates can be used not just at Hyatt properties, but also at partnering Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Hyatt does not impose resort or destination fees on award stays.  This card is also great for those who would like to earn high level Hyatt elite status through spend.

World of Hyatt alternatives:

  • IHG Rewards Club Premier: This $89 card includes strong earnings at IHG properties (10X); platinum elite status; fourth night free on award stays; a 20% discount on points purchases; and a free night e-certificate each year good for hotels costing up to 40K points.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless: This $95 card offers an annual free night certificate for hotels costing up to 35K points; automatic Silver status; and 15 nights of elite credit each year.  Since Amex offers similar Marriott cards, I don’t see this one as a must-have except for one special use: if you really want the Ritz Carlton card, it might be possible to upgrade from the Boundless card once you’ve had it for a year.  Alternatively, it should be possible to downgrade to Chase’s no-fee Marriott Bold card.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold: This is a decent no-fee card for those who want some help acquiring Marriott elite status.  Like the premium Marriott cards, the Bold offers 15 nights of elite credit each year.

Business cards are special

Most business cards do not get reported as new accounts on your personal credit report.  As a result, Chase doesn’t count these cards towards 5/24.  This is true even with Chase business cards.

To be clear: the 5/24 rule does apply to Chase Business cards.  If you are over 5/24, you won’t get approved for new Chase business or consumer cards.  However, if you are under 5/24 and get approved for Chase business cards, those cards won’t add to your 5/24 count.  For example, suppose you have opened 4 new personal credits cards in the past 24 months.  You are now at 4/24 (4 cards in 24 months).  Next, you open two Chase business cards.  What is your new 5/24 count?  It is still 4/24 because Chase business cards don’t add to your 5/24 count.  If you then sign up for a personal card, you’ll be at 5/24.  And then if you apply for another Chase business card you’ll be denied.

Applying for Business Credit Cards

Yes, you have a business: In order to sign up for a business credit card, you must have a business. That said, it's common for people to have businesses without realizing it. If you sell items at a yard sale, or on eBay, for example, then you have a business. Similar examples include: consulting, writing (e.g. blog authorship, planning your first novel, etc.), handyman services, owning rental property, renting on airbnb, driving for Uber or Lyft, etc. In any of these cases, your business is considered a Sole Proprietorship unless you form a corporation of some sort.

When you apply for a business credit card as a sole proprietor, you can use your own name as your business name, use your own address and phone as the business' address and phone, and your social security number as the business' Tax ID / EIN. Alternatively, you can get a proper Tax ID / EIN from the IRS for free, in about a minute, through this website.

Is it OK to use business cards for personal expenses? Anecdotally, almost everyone I know uses business cards for personal expenses. That said, the terms in most business card applications state that you should use the card only for business use. Also, some consumer credit card protections do not apply to business cards. My advice: don't use the card for personal expenses if you're not comfortable doing so.

Chase’s must-have business cards

Chase has a number of terrific business cards.  Here are the ones I consider to be “must have”:

Ink Business Cash

Card Name w Details & Review (no offer)
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

FM Mini Review: This one should be in everyone's wallet. Incredible signup bonus for a no-fee card. Great card for 5X categories. Excellent companion card to Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, or Ink Business Preferred.


Annual Fee: $0

Card Type: Visa Signature Business

Base
Dine
Gas
Phone
Office
Other

Earning rate: 5X office supplies ⚬ 5X cellular/landline/cable (on up to $25,000 in total purchases in 5x categories annually) ⚬ 2X on the first $25K in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each cardmember year ⚬ 5X Lyft through March 2025

See also: Chase Ultimate Rewards Complete Guide

Earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points in several categories of spend.  No annual fee.  This card does impose foreign transaction fees.

The Chase Ink Business Cash is one of my favorite cards. It offers awesome 5X category bonuses (and a couple decent 2X bonuses), and even though it is advertised as a cash back card it actually earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Surprisingly this no-fee card offers a few valuable perks as well: auto rental coverage, 1 year extended warranty, and 120 day purchase protection.

The card’s bonus categories are: 5X office supplies and 5X cellular/landline/cable (on up to $25,000 in total purchases in 5x categories annually); and 2X gas and restaurants.  5X for office supplies is the true secret weapon of this card.  The reason this is so powerful is that you can earn 5X when buying gift cards at office supply stores.  OfficeMax, Office Depot, and Staples all sell many different gift cards in-store.  And Staples.com sells many gift cards online.

Unfortunately, this card does charge foreign transaction fees, so it is not a good choice for spend outside of the US.

Ink Business Unlimited

Card Name w Details & Review (no offer)
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

FM Mini Review: Great signup bonus for a fee-free card. Good option for earning 1.5X everywhere. Good companion card to Ink Business Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred.


Annual Fee: $0

Card Type: Visa Signature Business

Base
Other

Earning rate: 1.5X on all purchases ⚬ 5X Lyft through through March 2025

See also: Chase Ultimate Rewards Complete Guide

Earn 1.5X Ultimate Rewards points everywhere.  No annual fee.  This card does impose foreign transaction fees.

This is a great card to pair with the Sapphire Reserve.  Use the Sapphire Reserve only for travel, dining, and international spend.  Use the Ink Business Cash for its 5X categories.  Use the Ink Business Unlimited for all other spend. Even though this card is advertised as a cash back card, it actually earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  Move your Ink Business points to your Sapphire Reserve account in order to make the points more valuable.

Ink Business Unlimited alternatives:

  • Freedom Unlimited: The Freedom Unlimited card is nearly identical to the Ink Business Unlimited, but the Freedom card is a consumer card that will add to your 5/24 count  I recommend picking up the Ink Business Unlimited card instead of the Freedom Unlimited.

“Must have” summary

If you are able to sign up for business cards, then I recommend the following line-up of Chase cards:

  1. Sapphire Reserve: Earn 3X Ultimate Rewards points for travel & dining.  Points worth 1.5 cents each towards travel.  It may make sense to start with the Sapphire Preferred card (since it has a higher signup bonus) and then upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve later.
  2. Ink Business Cash: Earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points at office supplies and 5X cellular/landline/cable (on up to $25,000 in total purchases in 5x categories annually); and 2X gas and restaurants.
  3. Ink Business Unlimited: Earn 1.5X Ultimate Rewards points for all other spend.
  4. United Explorer: When the annual fee comes due after a year, consider downgrading to the no-fee United card which preserves this card’s best features: Improved economy saver award availability, and last seat standard economy award availability.
  5. World of Hyatt:  Keep for the annual free night certificate.  Consider spending $15K per year for a second certificate, especially if you pursue Hyatt status since you’ll earn 2 elite qualifying nights with each $5K spend.

If you are not interested in signing up for business cards, then I recommend the following Chase cards:

  1. Sapphire Reserve: Earn 3X Ultimate Rewards points for travel & dining. Points worth 1.5 cents each towards travel.  It may make sense to start with the Sapphire Preferred card (since it has a higher signup bonus) and then upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve later.
  2. Freedom Unlimited: Earn 1.5X Ultimate Rewards points for all other spend.
  3. United Explorer: When the annual fee comes due after a year, consider downgrading to the no-fee United card which preserves this card’s best features: Improved economy saver award availability, and last seat standard economy award availability.
  4. World of Hyatt:  Keep for the annual free night certificate.  Consider spending $15K per year for a second certificate, especially if you pursue Hyatt status since you’ll earn 2 elite qualifying nights with each $5K spend.

What about the Southwest Companion Pass?

A post about “must have” Chase cards isn’t complete without considering Southwest.  Southwest offers one of the best deals in travel: earn 125,000 qualifying points within a calendar year and then a companion can fly free with you for an unlimited number of flights (paid flights and/or award flights) for the rest of that year and all of the next year.  Significantly, points earned from Chase Southwest credit cards do qualify.

The easiest way to earn a Southwest Companion Pass is to wait until near the end of a calendar year and then apply for both a personal and business Southwest card.  Make sure not to complete the minimum spend requirements until January 1st so that points will be awarded early in the new year.  With two signup bonuses, you will likely earn enough points for a companion pass that will be good for the rest of that year and all of the next.

So, this is obviously an awesome deal, but it requires staying a 4/24 or below in order to sign up for the Southwest cards.  (If you are at 4/24, you can get approved for a Southwest business card first and then go for either the other business card or a consumer card).

Luckily, if you first sign up for all of the “must have” cards that I listed, and no other consumer cards, you’ll end up at either 3/24 (with the mixed personal & business card version) or 4/24 (with the no-business-cards version).  So, you can still do the Southwest two card strategy to obtain the companion pass.  Note that the two card strategy requires signing up for at least one Southwest business card.

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[…] So much focus in fact is placed on this rule that there are posts about Flying under 5/24 and which are the best Chase cards to get before you go over 5/24. But over the past few days, it has come to my attention just how blinded many of us in the hobby […]

[…] to lose your ability to get those cards due to applying for cards first from other banks.  See: “Must have” Chase cards for more […]

[…] get it: If you’re close to going over 5/24 and have your heart set on other Chase cards (see: “Must have” Chase cards), then you may want to skip this one.  Also if you love the Sapphire Reserve card’s features […]

Lily

That was a very good read! Thank you. Hope you do more interesting and informative posts like this (not that the others aren’t informative enough LOL)

Captain Greg

I have two 5/24 slots left and have been heavily debating between the United card (current 65k signup), the Hyatt card and the IHG card (when another big signup hopefully comes). You clearly suggest here that I should pick the United and Hyatt cards, but the big temptation behind the IHG card – other than the free night – is the 4th night free booking. In my mind it really comes down to which do I covet least – the second hyatt stay at $15k spend, the 4th night free booking at IHG or the United expanded saver/award availability? It’s a really tough call for me, and I’d be interested to hear why you think the IHG card is clearly inferior.

On a related note (seeing it in the first comment), does the 4/24 double dip still work? I thought it didn’t, but if it does, that would make my problem moot.

Brad

My wife and I both have the CSP. If she downgrades to the CFU can she still transfer her URs to my account given that she no longer has an “official” UR earning card? I’m looking at our strategy going forward.
Thanks.

Nick Reyes

Yes, absolutely. The Freedom and Freedom Unlimited do in fact earn Ultimate Rewards points — it’s just that if you keep the points associated with one of those cards they can only be redeemed for cash back at a rate of $0.01. You need to first move them to a CSP / CSR / Ink Business Preferred in order to then be able to transfer to partners.

Again, yes, she can transfer her URs to one additional member of her household (you). It is totally unnecessary to have two CSPs.

skdelta

[previous comment disappeared so reposting] Is the ‘no-fee United MileagePlus card’ still available? Recently downgraded a United MP Explorer card asking for the ‘no-fee’ version, and endedup with a TravelBank card, which seems quite useless for XN and last-seat award availability. As per Chase secure message folks: “…United TravelBank® account which is the only United® card that doesn’t charge any annual fee.” Does anyone have recent datapoints about the no-fee Miles (not TravelBank) card existing and how to ask for it? Thanks!

skdelta

Finally HUCA worked — found an agent who knew the correct card and product-changed the no-fee TravelBank card to the no-fee MileagePlus card!

[…] to lose your ability to get those cards due to signing up for cards first from other banks.  See: “Must have” Chase cards for more […]

Greg

Any idea what the chances are of getting all 3 chase business cards for a small sole proprietorship with excellent credit (~800)?

When I applied for a second business card with Barclays recently, they actually denied me because they felt they had extended me enough credit on my first card. I called and got approved, but it worries me with chase. I’d love to get the preferred for the signup bonus, but the other two are the ones I’d actually use. So I’m trying to decide in which order I should apply for those 3 cards.

Greg

After reading through all the comments, it definitely sounds like I should apply for the CIU last. If I don’t get it, I can just downgrade the CIP next year. The question is, should I apply for the CIP or the CIC first? The CIC is by far the most useful to me (since I already have a CSR), but I feel like I’m more likely to get approved for both cards if I apply for the CIP first. Do people ever have problems getting approved for both the CIP and a no fee ink card (assuming I wait 30+ days between applications)?

Aloha808

In one of your recent podcasts, one of you (I think it was Greg) mentioned your cutoff/breakpoint for putting spend on a transferable points card was 1.25 cpp. So if someone has a 2% cashback card such as the Double Cash, if they instead put that spend on a CFU/CIU they’re essentially paying 1.33 cpp for those points earned (2 cents/1.5 pts).

Therefore, since many folks have 2% cash back cards, I wouldn’t rate the CFU/CIU as must-have cards, since they’re making people pay too much for their points. These folks are better off getting a 2% back card (or better) or a Blue Business Plus for that general spend.

Aloha808

Well I suppose the question then arises, is there any other Chase card you’d recommend in its place must-haves?

Aloha808

Sure, understood. Except in your situation, you’re a BoA Platinum Honors member right? So you’d actually be buying points at 1.75 cpp …(2.625 cents/1.5 points), and I think most would agree that’s a bad price to pay for UR. MS does change the calculus though, because I’m unsure of how comfortable folks are MS’ing (4 example) significantly with a BoA PR card (Plat Honors). CIU/CFU may be a bit easier in that regard.

Captain Greg

I’m missing something here. If the CIU gives 1.5 points per dollar and we value those points at 1.5 cpp, then purchases are worth 2.25 cents per dollar spent vs. 2 cents per dollar spent on a cash back card. That makes the CIU better, right?

Aloha808

I believe they said 1.5cpp was the RRV…but that’s not quite the same as saying your purchases are worth 2.25 cpd. They have a good article discussing the distinctions.

Captain Greg

I get what you’re saying now. That’s a fair point, but if you have the CSR, I think you can say that purchases are worth 2.25 cpd since the CIU gives you 1.5 ppd and then you can redeem those points through the portal at 1.5 cpp.

Aloha808

I basically never redeem points through the portal. But then again, I’m kinda weird. 🙂

Captain Greg

I never do either, haha, but that’s because I assume we both generally get better value. But I think that’s why we can say the CIU for sure gives you 2.25 cpp, but probably a bit higher RRV.

Captain Greg

*cpd, not cpp

Aloha808

Ahh depends. But lately my UA redemptions have been horrible lol.

Captain Greg

I mean, if you’re getting worse than 1.5 cpp, then you should just be buying your tickets through the portal, right?

Aloha808

Except when the portal prices are high and the UA awards are high, and I’m UR poor and UA rich lol.

[…] recently posted a list of “must have” cards from Chase.  Chase has a lot of great cards but, thanks the 5/24 Rule, you can’t have them all.  In my […]

Max

“Hyatt does not impose resort or destination fees on award stays. ” Is this documented somewhere?

Max

Thanks. Was led to believe otherwise during checkout recently at a Joie de Vivre property by the owner. Checked the bill today and indeed no resort fee charged.

Josh

what is the consensus with the old hyatt card vs the new hyatt card, and if upgrading is worthwhile?

Stefan Krasowski (Rapid Travel Chai)

If you only care about the anniversary free night cert and won’t put spend on it, then don’t upgrade. If you care about earning Hyatt status or bonus point categories or have lots of paid Hyatt stays that you would use this cad or want to another anniversary cert for $15,000 spend, then a case for upgrade can be made. My annual interaction with Hyatt is (1) paying the card annual fee, (2) using my free anniversary night, so I’ve not upgraded.

[…] “Must have” Chase cards […]

Points For Four

Is there a maximum number of Chase cards one can have? Currently I have CSR, CIP, Amazon, Disney, CIC, CF, and CIU. I’m 4/24 and hoping to go for the Southwest Companion Pass for 2020/21 with the Southwest Performance Business & Priority Cards, but am worried that might be too many Chase cards.

Points For Four

after that maybe the Hyatt card

Allan

Right now the United card is offering only 40k which is low.

frugalman

Quite agree on most of the content. Just one thing I want to check, Greg: since I have old IHG card ($49 AF?), do you still think World of Hyatt is better? I don’t often find my chance to stay there since I have both Hiltion Aspire (x2) and old IHG (x2).

In another way, which is the best hotel credit card (chase or not) for a typical family to use for their say summer or December vacation (4~7 nights)? Both I and my spouse can apply so you can double count the FN.

Thanks!

frugalman

Thanks, Greg. Very interesting perspective (to hold 4 IHG cards). If Amex still keeps it a pain to redeem the $250 airline credit, I may well give up the Aspire card and the four-card way may be my next option. Haven’t really redeemed 40K-capped FN yet. Will see how easy or painful it is to spend them before I decide to make big change. It really requires a big commitment and trust on IHG brand to hold four cards with them.

wise2u

multiple ihg cards may have looked good in the past, but with the added language of not currently having the card to get the signup bonus +$49 a year AF to keep the first card, it seems like a waste. My wife recently canceled hyatt and ihg to get the new cards and signup bonuses…and were approved for both…the IHG hotel we prefer for beach went from 35 to 40k last year, but with the 120k signup bonus, free night cert (40k) and 4th night free on award stays we wont see any negatives other than the increased AF….We started with CSR in 2017, then SW early 2018 and got the companion pass until dec 2020 with 2 cards, Got the 80k business sapphire (maybe with a 20k referral for me?) and new Hyatt this year (with 5k referral for me), followed by the IHG a few days ago….so glad we didn’t bite on the 80k offers….Those are our favorites

Stefan Krasowski (Rapid Travel Chai)

Are other retired for new applications United cards like that Access or Select available for conversion?

Jill Anderson

I have the Ink Business Plus from long ago. If I add the Chase Business Cash will I be able to transfer my points from CBC to the Ink? Is the CBC considered a premium card like the Ink Plus?

Diane

If I get the SouthWest Business card and put year end taxes on Dec 31, will the points post in Dec or Jan? I am trying for the companion pass for 2020 and the 80,000 pts plus my taxes/expenses should get me 110,000+. I guess I’m asking do points post when the transaction is made or statement closing. Thanks

Sophia

Interestingly, this list would be different if you ranked based on first year value. In that case, the Chase Ink Preferred Business card would be the clear winner.

Money

Do I have to wait a year to downgrade? I dont have any 5/24 slots remaining and I want 1.5x, can I downgrade in 2-3 months after getting bonus?

WR2

I was pretty shocked that this card wasn’t even on your list, let alone not #1. The only way you can say it is non-essential is looking solely through the lens of MS. Best signup bonus of all Chase cards, only $95 annual fee, 3x on travel and other possibly useful categories, cell phone insurance…and the reason why it’s essential long term: 20k referral bonuses. I’ve already received 2 for 40k in the first few months. That covers 4 years of annual fees at even a 1cpp valuation. And, as you say, converting to CIC or CIU after the first year is always an option.

Nick Reyes

Great points.

I think the Ink Business Preferred is an essential welcome bonus.

However, it’s non-essential from the perspective of long-term use/holding, regardless of whether or not you MS in my opinion. If you consider the annual travel credit on the CSR to be roughly face value, then I think the CSR makes a lot more sense at a net $55 more. You still get your 3x travel, but also 3x dining, better travel protections, and the ability to use points at 1.5c each in value vs 1.25c. If you redeem at least 22,000 points per year at a value of 1.5c, that makes up for the net $55 difference in AF.

If you can take advantage of the referral bonuses, that’s awesome. But from the perspective of card benefits / use, the only really compelling benefit long term is cell phone insurance. You could likely buy cell phone insurance reasonably enough (or open a no-fee card like the Uber Visa that offers it as a benefit) if having it matters to you. And I say that as someone who has kept the Ink Business Preferred longer than necessary for the cell phone insurance. I don’t think it’s really a good play though.

But I’ll wholeheartedly agree that it makes sense to open the Ink Business Unlimited and then downgrade down the line.

Will

I have a CIP and a CIC. The fee just came up on my CIP. I’m thinking of downgrading since I’m starting to get into reselling and can see a huge value in having two CIC obviously but before I downgrade I should probably apply for a CSP or R to ensure I maintain my ability to transfer to partners, right? I guess that’s obvious I just haven’t because I’ve been wary of getting denied. Also amazon would be my third business (uber, amazon flex driver) so do you think I would be able to quality for the CIU if I applied for it and the CSP at the same time? I’m currently 2/24.

seouloman

Is it any more difficult to get approved for the CIP than either the CIC or CIU if you have a young business with low revenue (under $1K)?

Aloha808

All the Ink cards are Signature Business cards and all have a minimum opening credit line of $5k. However, the credit line can be lowered to $500 after opening, but that might not be advisable if someone wants to product change the card down the road.

Aloha808

Awesome! Does it have the full Visa Signature card benefits?

Brands

Great list, but anyone planning on signing up for 5 Chase cards in a short amount of time should be worried about a Chase shutdown, IMO.

Pepe

Awesome post Greg. It will be very nice to see what is the best strategy for two players in a future post or updating this one.
Thanks again for all your great research guys.

Brad

My wife already gas the Sapphire Reserve card. If I get a Business Ink Unlimited can we pool our points in one Ultimate Rewards account?

OhBoy

Yes, please do. My wife and I both have CSRs and it would be nice if we could pool our points. Is that really possible?

Trevor

You can pool your points with Chase. My wife and I pool ours together all the time. Use the Ultimate Rewards website at the top where the links are to such things as rewards activity click see all then there’s a combine points option. From there you can add a household member to transfer your points to freely. The transfer is instant.

OhBoy

Thank you! I had never noticed that before. It was very easy to set up!

Nick Reyes

Unless you and your wife pay for a lot of travel & dining when you are not together, you should consider downgrading one of those CSRs to a Freedom Unlimited. We only keep one CSR in our household since we can move points between all of our various Ultimate Rewards accounts.

Lisa

3/24 and wanting a good bonus on the Reserve and Hyatt. Then I’ll bite

Blue

Glad you highlighted how important the United card is. XN availability is incredibly important to using United miles (and that’s directly tied to the value of UR).

Nick Reyes

You know, the United card was one of the first rewards cards I opened (and I still have the no-fee version). I don’t think I’ve ever booked one of the expanded availability awards. I can obviously see how they could be beneficial, I’ve just never found the spot where I needed one.

Blue

It’s pretty important if you’re not in a United hub (at least if you want to avoid a positioning flight).

Amol

I have UA Silver via Marriott and the XN has come in so clutch almost every big trip I take. It’s why UA miles still are sometimes more worth to me than LifeMiles

kDeen

I use MPX alot, and the one benefit to the United Explorer card that was not mentioned was that you get a 25% bonus on MPX purchases – just for holding the card (you don’t even need to use it). Each year I make roughly $70 worth just on this bonus from the United Card, which reduces my effective annual fee to $25. I don’t know if the no-fee version has the same 25% bonus. but regardless, I consider the United Explorer card a keeper.

Aloha808

You still get the benefit from the no AF version.

Alex

I didn’t think the double dip at 4/24 worked anymore. But it’s just for 2 personal cards. In the SW example above, where one is a business card, just make sure to apply for the business card first.