Middle Age Miles

Case Study – Should I Execute on a 15-Month Plan to Get Under 5/24?

chase 5/24 rule strategy benefits of going under 5/24 credit card strategy
Getting under 5/24 would open up opportunities such as an 80k UR point sign-up bonus on the Chase Ink Business Preferred card

Introduction

While I’ve been on vacation in Switzerland & France and catching up after that trip, I’ve given a lot of thought to the question posed by this case study – Should I execute on a 15-month plan to get under 5/24 by 11/1/2020?

I’m leaning toward doing this, but I wanted to pose the question and subject my analysis to peer review by savvy Middle Age Miles readers. In doing so, I hope to not only get your advice, but also spur creative and strategic thinking about your own credit card portfolios that I hope will help you maximize your credit card benefits and points-and-miles rewards!

Reminder About the Chase 5/24 Rule

As you’ll recall, in general the Chase 5/24 Rule works like this: If you have been approved for 5 or more new personal credit card accounts within the past 24 months, Chase will not approve you for a new card.

There is some nuance to the Rule. For one thing, business cards from CapitalOne and Discover are included in your 5/24 count. For another, sometimes people have been approved by Chase when over 5/24, using a pre-qualified offer that shows a fixed interest rate (not a range of rates).

At this time, the 5/24 Rule seems to apply to all cards issued by Chase.

The 5/24 count is based on the month on which your new card was approved; that is, it doesn’t matter whether you were approved on the 1st or the 30th. There are some conflicting data points on when cards fall off of your 5/24 count. For example, if I was approved for a new card on 8/23/2017, will it be gone as of 8/1/2019, or will it disappear as of 9/1/2019 instead? We’re not sure, and the answer may be different under different circumstances. For purposes of this article, we’ll make the conservative option and assume that the card will not drop off until the beginning of the 25th month after approval (in our example, it would be gone as of 9/1/2019).

Background

As of today, my credit card situation with respect to the Chase 5/24 Rule is as follows:

  • 12/24 (12 personal cards in the past 24 months)
  • 7/12 (7 personal cards in the past 12 months)
  • 1/6 (1 personal card in the past 6 months)

One important fact, though, is that I had 4 new accounts in the month of October 2018. I’ve only had 2 new personal accounts since then. So, if I go until the beginning of November 2020 without getting a new personal card, I would drop to 2/24 as of 11/1/2020.

Additional important background context relates to the time frame and situation when I started getting seriously engaged in credit cards and points-and-miles rewards. I started in late 2015/early 2016. At that time, the Chase 5/24 Rule was very limited. It applied only to Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR)-earning cards, and not to Chase-issued co-branded cards. And even at that, the Rule hardly applied to me, if at all:

  • On the personal side, I was a Chase Private Client (CPC), which at the time exempted me from the 5/24 Rule. I even managed to get approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card in November 2016 as a CPC.
  • On the business side, I had 1 Chase business card that I’d held for years, plus I was approved for the Chase Ink Plus business card in December 2015 (this card has since been converted to Chase Ink Cash). At the time, there weren’t any additional Chase UR-earning business cards that I didn’t hold.

Thus, I didn’t pay any attention to Chase 5/24 at the start. By mid-2016, I had blown past 5/24 without regard to any potential consequences. I’ve been at least 10/24 for almost 3 years straight now. I’ve cherry-picked the best cards and offers available to me for the past several years, and at the moment I hold a large portfolio of 30 cards – 20 personal and 10 business. Philly also has 10 cards in her name. If you’d like to see what we hold (as of 12/1/2018, at least), check out our reference article, What’s In Our Wallet? Part 1: Our Cards and Breakdowns by Annual Fee and Date Acquired.

Fast-forward to 2019 – My first group of applications this year didn’t go particularly well. In March, I applied for the Barclays Arrival Plus and Ebates Visa cards, as well as for a third Citi AA Platinum card. The Arrival+ and Ebates Visa applications were denied; my only approval was for the additional Citi AA Platinum card. One of three, despite a credit score around 800 and a perfect payment history spanning 30 years. That wasn’t too encouraging for additional applications, although I was subsequently approved in early June for the US Bank Radisson Rewards business card, leaving me at 2-for-4 on the year.

The denials suggested to me that it might be time to cool the jets for a while on new applications, in hopes of increasing my chances of approval later.

Benefits of Going Under 5/24

(1) Chase Business Cards Become Available

After the time I blew past 5/24, Chase has introduced 3 new business cards, the Ink Preferred, the Ink Unlimited, and the Ink Cash. Sign-up bonuses for each of these cards are generous:

  • 80k UR points on the Ink Preferred (worth $1,200 at our baseline value of 1.5 cents per UR point)
    • In addition, there’s a 20k referral bonus for the Ink Preferred card at this time, meaning that the total haul could be 100k UR points (worth $1,500) if Philly can refer me
  • 50k UR points on the Ink Unlimited (worth $750)
  • 50k UR points on the Ink Cash (worth $750)

If I was under 5/24, that would make me eligible for at least the Ink Preferred and Ink Unlimited cards. That would be $1,950 in value that I could seemingly capture easily; $2,250 if the referral bonus is still in place. I might be able to get two or more Ink Preferred cards. If you add an additional Ink Preferred card with another referral bonus, the total value available jumps to 250k UR points / $3,750. And I might be able to get an additional Ink Cash card as well.

As you can see, the opportunities on Chase business cards alone are huge.

(2) Additional Chase Personal Cards Become Available

Now, all Chase personal cards, including co-branded cards, are subject to the 5/24 Rule. Going under 5/24 means that I would become eligible for sign-up bonuses on the UR-earning personal cards that I’ve never held – the Freedom and the Freedom Unlimited. In addition, under the current 48-month restriction, I would become eligible in November 2020 for a sign-up bonus on another Sapphire card (either Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred (or potentially, even both, if the “modified double-dip” strategy lasts that long)).

Also, I would have options to apply for Chase co-branded cards such as British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, United, Southwest and IHG (I already hold co-branded Hyatt and Marriott cards issued by Chase). I couldn’t get all these cards at once, of course, but over time I could cherry-pick the cards with the best sign-up bonuses and/or most valuable benefits to us.

(3) Other non-Chase Cards Also Become Available

Finally, going under 5/24 would open up other opportunities, such as getting a new card with Barclays, which applies a “6/24” rule to some of its cards. In addition, cooling the jets for a while will undoubtedly make it easier to get approved for other cards that do not have bright-line underwriting restrictions, as my credit report will show fewer inquiries.

Costs of Going Under 5/24

The major “cost,” of course, would be the opportunities that I’d have to forego over the course of the next 15 months.

We’ll examine these opportunity costs in more detail in the “factors” section below.

Additional Factors That Impact My Strategy Decision

Let’s look at several factors that impact my strategy decision that are in addition to the “benefits” I discussed above. I’ll examine each of them from the perspective of how they’d play out if I indeed implement an “under 5/24” strategy:

  • During the 15-month waiting period, I can still get new business cards, and they won’t count against 5/24 (as long as they’re not Cap One or Discover).
  • Note that I have 4 accounts that will fall off at once after October 2020; this would take me from 6/24 to 2/24 if I had no new accounts during that period – But importantly, I can still get 2 new personal cards during the 15-month waiting period and I’d still be under 5/24 as of November 2020
    • This would allow me to cherry-pick 2 great offers somewhere along the way
  • Philly has several 5/24 slots open at this time
    • Thus, we can also cherry-pick good opportunities for her that come up during my 15-month waiting period
  • Amex upgrade offers help in the meantime to pick up good-sized bonuses without signing up for new cards
    • I just upgraded an Amex Hilton Ascend/Surpass card to Aspire, with an upgrade bonus of 150k Hilton Honors points (worth about $750 at our baseline value of 0.5 cents per point) for $4,000 spend in 4 months.
    • I also just upgraded an Amex Business Gold Rewards card to Business Platinum, with an upgrade bonus of 50k Membership Rewards (MR) points (worth about $750 at our baseline value of 1.5 cents per MR point) for $10,000 spend in 5 months.
    • I have 2 more Amex business charge cards that are eligible for a Business Platinum upgrade bonus of 50k MR points.
  • We have other big-spend thresholds where we can place our spend to receive valuable benefits without signing up for new cards:
    • Amex Hilton Surpass – Free Weekend Night for $15k spend
    • Chase World of Hyatt – 2 elite nights credit for each $5k spend; valuable as we are Going for Globalist in 2019 with Hyatt
    • Barclays AA Silver – we’re using this card for Philly to get benefits toward requalifying for AA Executive Platinum status, plus earn a 2-person companion certificate, and we have about $20k remaining of the $50k total spend to get these benefits
    • Barclays AA Business – we’re using this card for me to get an extra 3,000 EQDs to requalify for AA Executive Platinum status, and we have about $15k remaining of the $25k total spend needed during 2019
  • I’m not sure how much we’re actually giving up in terms of opportunity costs:
    • As noted above, I already have 30 cards and have cherry-picked most of the best sign-up bonuses and benefits from non-Chase cards
    • I already hold 7 Amex credit cards, so I’m not able to get approved for a new one without potentially having to close 2 cards – and I only have 1 that would be “easy” to close
    • As discussed, I’ve had some challenges getting approved for personal cards during 2019
    • The biggest “opportunity cost” might be foregoing applications for additional Citi AA Platinum cards with no time-restrictive language
      • But it’s unclear whether these opportunities will continue
      • And we have a very large stash of AA miles already; any incremental miles wouldn’t be used very soon anyway
    • I might have to wait on some interesting cards such as Wells Fargo Propel (30k points bonus worth $300; additional access to Amex Offers) and the Ebates Visa (assuming I could ever get approved, that is)
    • I’ve seen a few opportunities of late that are interesting, but they’re more supplemental-type opportunities that would be outside of our core travel patterns:
      • 60,000 LifeMiles on the Avianca Vuela Visa card issued by Banco Popular
      • 50,000 Choice points on the Choice Privileges Visa card issued by Barclays

And the Biggest Uncertainty Factor

Things change. Who knows if the 5/24 Rule will be the same in 15 months? The time period might be extended, or Chase might put other restrictions in place that would negatively impact this strategy. Given the changes we’ve seen in the past couple of years, it seems perhaps a fool’s errand to make plans for credit card strategies more than a year out.

In this case, though, it doesn’t seem like we’re foregoing any immediate “killer” opportunities to proceed with the “under 5/24” strategy. And, there are a couple of slots available that won’t delay getting under 5/24 if something huge comes up, plus we can also nab those opportunities through Philly in two-player mode. Finally, we can continue to monitor things, and if something changes to make the strategy unappealing, I can always change course.

Conclusion

Considering all of these factors – the relatively large benefits that would open up to me by going under 5/24 and the relatively small opportunity costs, plus the other mitigating factors that ameliorate the costs – it seems like proceeding with a 15-month strategy to get under 5/24 is the right way to go.

That said, I’m genuinely asking Middle Age Miles readers for insights and counter-arguments here. If I’m missing something important, or if you believe I’ve mis-analyzed, please let me know in the Comments! Many thanks!


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13 thoughts on “Case Study – Should I Execute on a 15-Month Plan to Get Under 5/24?

  1. Rob

    I don’t have as many cards as you, but am mostly feeling the same way about wanting to get under 5/24 and being much more selective about sign ups going forward. I feel like I want to hover around 3/24 or 4/24 so that I can keep my powder dry for any great offers. I have pretty high spend, so when Chase had the 3x Freedom Unlimited last year with no cap, I could have really benefited if I could have gotten it. I also got rejected for the Cap One 200k point for 50k spend spark card sign up bonus bc of too many accounts. I’m sure most folks are in the camp of just getting sign up bonuses and forgetting about 5/24, but that’s not a great strategy for me because with high monthly spend, I can’t possibly sign up for 10 new accounts a month. It’s important to me to get in on the special promo’s or high spend reward opportunities. One or two of those kinds of new cards a year could be worth way more points to me than 6 or 7 routine sign up bonuses.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Rob – Thanks for the thoughts. Both of those offers you mention would have been spectacular for folks with high-spend opportunities, that’s for sure. I had forgotten about the Freedom Unlimited no-cap 3x deal – you would have crushed it! I hope we see more opportunities like those. ~Craig

  2. HS

    I definitely think that you are on the right track. Which is to say I came to the same conclusion a year or so ago, and I think it was the right one. In a way, it’s like going on a diet and exercise regime. At first it feels excruciating and time moves unbelievably slowly. Then at some point you sort of get into it. Looks like you are far enough down the path (last six months) that you’ll be able to make it no sweat, and scarfing the occasional (non-Chase) business card is a more fulfilling compensator than carrots and kale salads.

    As you point out, unless something “big” non-Chase (like the Citi Prestige-Citi Premier-Citigold combo four years ago, or the Amex Aspire last year) pops up in the environment, your only real opportunity cost is the AA Citibank cards from mailers. You don’t seem to need them anymore — or at least in the mid-range future. With respect to the potential of new, exciting non-Chase cards: Well, those are the “problems” we’d all like to have. Like free cheesecake.

    I really value Chase cards because … Hyatt. If you are making Globalist this year, the new World of Hyatt card (which you have already) plus all those UR points from the Chase business cards is the making and intensification of a virtuous cycle — one that has turned me from a run-of-the-mill schmoe to a run-of-the-mill schmoe who is a regular at the Park Hyatt Vendome.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hey HS – Thanks for weighing in on this – and for reminding me that my brain only works *one year* slower than yours! 🙂 Also, great analogy as I’m in the process of losing some weight right now (17 pounds in the past 100 days!). Maybe I’ll turn Middle Age Miles into a diet & fitness blog 😉

      I like your thinking on the cards/points side. And we’re driving toward some very nice Hyatt redemptions in the coming years. We’re on track for at least 56 Hyatt nights organically (well, organically including my “strategic” Park MGM “stay” a few weeks ago), so we’ll be able to nab Globalist with no more than a little extra spend on the Chase WOH card and/or a night or two on points at a local Cat 1.

      Speaking of run-of-the-mill schmoes in Paris … Philly and I absolutely loved the Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace in Versailles! Thanks for the encouragement on that one. We wanted to stay much longer than our 1 night (certificate, of course). It’s on our short list for a return 5-night stay – 320k HH points with 5th night free. Maybe longer if we can tack a certificate night or two onto one end or the other. Not sure if you saw our Instagram feed with pics from our morning run in the Palace gardens. That was absolutely delightful. Definitely in the bucket of stuff I never dreamed I’d get to do – as well as the bucket of stuff I probably still wouldn’t do except for the credit card/points-and-miles game. And the fact that my bride loved it … priceless.

      Hope your summer’s going well and your travels are smooth. ~Craig

      1. HS

        I loved the pics from Versailles. It’s funny: I had meant to mention something about getting in there early, as in June, on our last day, too, I had gone for a run in the park and been delighted to find the whole place wide open. When I got back from the run I told my wife that if they still had a king living there, I could have gone in and had coffee and croissants with him on the terrasse….Glad to see you guys had time to do that, too.

        All of which is to say, yeah, because of (a) the location and (b) all the things you can put together with Hilton points, free nights, Waldorf-Astoria credits, Aspire cards, Amex Offers and the hotel itself (which is often surprisingly affordable), I think that the place is a great destination and/or weekend detour from Paris itself. I’d definitely shoot for the five-day stay. In the last year-plus, we’ve been there for stays of three, four, and three nights, and we’re far from tired of it. We keep finding interesting stuff in the domaine (park): Anyhow, you could probably write three different articles on ways to “play” the place, points and price-wise. I’m still trying to figure — maybe this is only going on in my mind, but still… — how much cash to mix in to get assigned to the big house instead of the bunkhouse (which was not actually bad at all on the one night we couldn’t stay in the main building).

        Hey, 17 pounds is nothing to sneeze at. Good for you. Keep running!

        1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

          Wow, that’s awesome that you guys have gotten to stay at the WA Versailles 3 times! It’ll be interesting to learn more about how get the most for our money and points there. As credit-card HH Diamond, we were assigned to the 5th floor of the main building, which was excellent. They put our son & daughter-in-law on the same floor, too. We took a quick spin into the other building – didn’t see the rooms but the lobby area was quite nice. We didn’t have time to go into the Petite and Grand Trianon areas, so we’ll be looking forward to that on a longer stay as well as more morning explorations of the Palace gardens & grounds. ~Craig

  3. Grant

    Very compelling logic, but as a CC churner and big fan of App-O-Ramas, it would be hard for me to sit on the sidelines for 15 months. I like to apply for 2-4 new CCs every 3 months, so that would be sitting out 5 rounds.

    Here are the Chase CCs I currently have:

    Chase Ink Plus
    Chase Ink Cash
    Chase Sapphire Reserve
    Chase IHG Select
    Chase IHG Premier
    Chase Hyatt (old $75 CC)
    Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless (old Marriott Rewards Premier Plus)
    Chase Marriott Bonvoy Business

    My fiance has these Chase CCs:

    Chase World of Hyatt
    Chase Southwest Airlines Priority (converted from Chase Southwest Airlines Plus with CP)
    Chase Freedom (converted from Chase Sapphire Preferred)

    So between the 2 of us, we have a majority of the best Chase CCs worth keeping for many years. I have had most of the Chase airline CCs in the past, but they don’t provide good value long term. My fiance is at 3/24, so I trying to convince her to get a Chase IHG Premier and Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless, before she goes after.

    She is the conservative one, and I am the aggressive one. I’m not sure this helps with your decision, but I love applying for new CCs, getting the new CCs, writing about them, meeting minimum spend, and then redeeming the rewards. Life would be boring for me without minimum spending requirements and sign up bonuses 🙂

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hey Grant – Thanks for sharing your thoughts, especially with details. Your analysis makes perfect sense to me. In fact, your recent article on your July app-o-rama has been the strongest thing pulling me toward keeping the train going. I almost (and probably should have) linked to your article in mine as the poster child for the opposing viewpoint.

      You and your fiancee are exactly like us – one aggressive and one conservative 🙂

      As you know, I’m very much like you – love applying for and getting the new cards, redeeming and enjoying the rewards, and writing about it all. I’m thinking that I can get enough “juice” out of the game between Amex upgrades, business cards, cards for Philly and maybe even a personal card or 2 for myself along the way.

      But of course, I will continue to read your app-o-rama reports with envy 🙂 ~Craig

      1. Grant

        There is no doubt that you can get enough juice out of “Amex upgrades, business cards, cards for Philly and maybe even a personal card or 2 for myself along the way.” You do a really good job of examining card bonuses, upgrade offers, and limited time offers, so I’m not worried if you go that route.

        Plus, with your 30+ CCs, you have plenty of material for “Keep, Cancel or Convert?” posts 🙂

        I just worry that what Chase does is unpredictable. What if Chase changes their rules and decides to go 2/24? Or what if in 12 months, Chase decides to go 10/24? Can you live with those possibilities?

        1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

          No doubt, the unknown (and unknowable) is the biggest risk by far.

          Stay tuned for Keep or Cancel, Citi Premier edition, coming later this week 🙂

  4. BRETT HAMILTON

    Craig,

    I just finished getting under 5/24. I churned pretty hard in 2016 and 2017. I got denied a few times in late 2017 and naturally slowed down my applications. I realized about a year ago if I waited a bit longer I could be under 5/24 .On 6/27/19 I went below 5/24 and applied for a Chase INK Cash. I was approved immediately.

    My current goal is to reap 5x rewards on almost all purchases. The INK Cash allows me to buy $25k in Office Depot Visa gift cards. I am pairing with my two Freedom cards that also generate $12k per year in Visa Gift Card purchases per year at 5x rewards. These three cards are a start in achieving my goal. We have pretty high natural spend and I will probably need more Freedom or INK Cash Cards. I should be able to acquire these through my account or my wife’s since we are both under 5/24 thus enabling our ability to purchase more items at 5x rewards.

    To further clarify……I am not using these Visa gift cards for manufactured spend. I am using them (instead of my cc’s) for everyday purchases such as groceries, gas, restaurants, etc. This costs a little bit in fees but results in easy accumulation of a maximum amount of points per spend.

    Some areas that I do not use these gift cards for spend are: items that need cc insurance, travel (use CSR), and items that may need to be returned (much easier on a cc than gift card.

    I enjoyed your article. I hope my insights help.

    P.S. I was about 1-2 days behind you in Switzerland. We also visited Jungfraujac and Zermatt. They were beautiful!

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Brett – Thanks for sharing your thoughts and strategy. Our credit card timelines sound pretty similar – except that you were a lot faster than I was in recognizing that a return to sub-5/24 could be quite valuable!

      I like your strategy. You’ll rack up a ton of UR points that way. Hopefully you’re knocking out the big SUBs on the other Chase biz cards too – maybe even multiple times on the CIP. You can always convert a CIP to CIC later, to get rid of the annual fee and get yourself another $25k to spend on 5x office supply stores.

      Ah, Switzerland. That was an awesome trip. As you say, beautiful sights! I hope you got good weather at Jungfraujoch so you could see all the views from up there. Sorry it took me a while to get back to you on social media while we were both traveling – I was too busy enjoying everything!!! I hope you guys had as good a time as we did 🙂 ~Craig

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