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Once you’ve opened five credit cards from any bank in the last 24 months (not counting most business cards), Chase will likely deny you for all of their travel rewards credit cards. Pieced together through shared experiences online, people like us nailed down this trend a few years ago and dubbed it the 5/24 rule.

It’s important to consider Chase’s 5/24 rule if you plan on diving into this hobby–and by diving in I mean opening numerous cards over time–so you don’t cut yourself off from valuable sign up bonuses and the earning potential of a collection of Chase travel cards. Pick the ones you want and then move on to other banks. Below is a guide to choosing the right cards that will apply to most people: four different five-card combos depending on the type of traveler, consumer, and miles/points enthusiast you are.

Combo #1

  1. Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  2. Chase Freedom Flex℠
  3. Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
  4. One Chase Southwest consumer card
  5. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

If you’re not interested in Southwest Rapid Rewards nor the companion pass/don’t live in city served by Southwest, then apply for:

Combo #2

  1. Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  2. Chase Freedom Flex℠
  3. Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
  4. Chase Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
  5. Chase Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

Not eligible for business credit cards? You sure? Ok, then here are the five consumer cards I’d go for.

Combo #3 (THIS POST)

  1. Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  2. Chase Freedom Flex℠
  3. Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  4. Chase United℠ Explorer Card
  5. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Bonus Combo for Points Omnivores: read more in the linked post. 

Today I’ll tell you a little about each card in Combo #3 and what you’d earn total from those cards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited®, like the Chase Freedom Flex℠, is marketed as a cash back card that earns 1.5% cash back on all spending. But what you actually earn are Ultimate Reward points…indeed worth only 1 cent each if redeemed from the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Transfer those points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the value of your 1 cent a piece Ultimate Rewards will jump dramatically if you transfer them over to one of those accounts. All of those cards earn Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred to airline/hotel partners for high value redemptions on premium cabin/international awards (much higher than 1 cent a piece, more like two cents and up). The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Ultimate Rewards points can also be redeemed for 1.25 cents a piece through the Chase travel portal. Ultimate Rewards transferred to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® can be redeemed for 1.5 cents a piece through the Chase travel portal. Read about transferring Ultimate Rewards here.

United Explorer Card

The United Explorer Card is Chase’s co-branded United card.

United miles’ biggest strengths are that economy and business class awards are fairly priced and there is a good deal of award space compared to other programs. There are never any fuel surcharges on United awards and searching for award space and booking is easy.

You can book award flights on any of these airlines with United miles and not have to worry about fuel surcharges flying any of them.
You can book award flights on any of these airlines with United miles and not have to worry about fuel surcharges flying any of them. 

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Limited Time Offer! Earn 5 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points)

After you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from your account opening

LEARN MORE 

Timing of Applications

Don’t apply for more than two applications in a 30 day period. The general consensus is that Chase won’t, automatically at least, approve more than that. It is possible to get approved for more than that, but you’ll almost certainly have to put in a reconsideration phone call and Chase representatives are known for being rather difficult in that aspect. I recommend no more than two applications every 30 days.

Bottom Line

If you plan on pursuing miles and points as a hobby, it’s a no-brainer that your first five rewards cards should be issued by Chase. If you’re not interested in earning a Companion Pass and/or Rapid Rewards for Southwest flights and you’re not eligible for business cards, then the first five should be the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Freedom Flex℠, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, United Explorer Card, and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless.

I’ll discuss the bonus combo in an upcoming post.

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!


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