The Five Chase Cards You Should Apply For: Combo #2

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5/24 is a buzzword in the miles and points sphere. It refers to the fact that Chase will cut you off from eligibility for many (but not all) of their most lucrative cards once you’ve opened five credit cards from any bank whatsoever in the last 24 months (not counting most business cards). It was never published by Chase anywhere, but rather pieced together and clarified over time after many people like us shared their experiences online.

As Chase issues travel rewards cards with valuable sign up bonuses and earning structures, there is an opportunity cost to signing up for credit cards from other banks first. Pick the Chase cards you want and then move on to other banks. Chase issues a variety of credit cards though, to suit a variety of consumers and travelers. How do you know which ones you should choose?

I have broken down the answer to this question into four different five-card combos.

Combo #1

  1. Sapphire Reserve
  2. Freedom
  3. Ink Business Preferred
  4. One Southwest consumer card
  5. Southwest Business 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 (THIS POST)

  1. Sapphire Reserve
  2. Freedom
  3. Ink Business Preferred
  4. Ink Business Cash
  5. Ink Business Unlimited

Not eligible for business credit cards? You sure? Then apply for:

Combo #3 

  1. Sapphire Reserve
  2. Freedom
  3. Freedom Unlimited
  4. United MileagePlus Explorer Card (when bonus rises to 50k)
  5. Marriott Rewards Premier Plus

Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Credit Cards.

Expect more info on Combo #3 and the bonus combo for serious points omnivores in the near future.

Today I’ll tell you a little about each card in Combo #2 and what you’d earn total from those cards. As Combo #1 and #2’s first three cards are the same, I won’t regurgitate the info on those cards here. If you’re just picking up on this series and are interested in learning more about the Sapphire Reserve, Freedom, and Ink Business Preferred Cards (as well as the kind of points they earn), read The Five Chase Cards You Should Apply For: Combo #1.

Ink Business Cash

Much like the Freedom card, the Ink Business Cash is marketed as a cash back card. But the Ultimate Reward points it earns don’t have to be redeemed for 1 cent each. If you have a Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred, you can transfer your Ink Business Cash Ultimate Rewards to one of those accounts to turn them into the kind of Ultimate Rewards that are transferrable to nine airline or three hotel loyalty programs for outsized value on international/premium cabin award flights and expensive hotel rooms.  Alternatively, moving them to your Sapphire Reserve card also means you can redeem the points for 1.5 cents each on cash flights through the Chase travel portal, which is often the better deal (compared to turning them into airline miles) for domestic flights.

The Ink Business Cash comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards for spending $3,000 within three months of opening your new account. Moving those points to a Sapphire Reserve account means the bonus is worth at least $750 and up to an estimated $1,000. For a no annual fee card (ever), that is an extremely lucrative bonus.

You’ll earn the following category bonuses as well:

  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent at office supply stores, and with internet, cable and phone services (bonus is capped after $25k in spending per cardmember year)
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent at restaurants and gas station s(bonus is capped after $25k in spending per cardmember year

If you’re not sure you qualify for a business card, check out How to Be Approved for Business Credit Cards.

One pitfall: This card does charge foreign transaction fees.

Ink Business Unlimited

Just like the Freedom and Ink Business Cash (and Freedom Unlimited, for that matter), the Ink Business Unlimited is another one of those Chase cards that–you guessed it–is advertised as a cash back card. But you know better. Move those points over to an Ultimate Rewards earning card with an annual fee and you’ve got yourself much more valuable points to either redeem for 1.25 to 1.5 cents a piece through the travel portal or to turn into airline miles or hotel points.

The Ink Business Unlimited’s sign-up bonus matches the Ink Business Cash card’s: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards for spending $3,000 in three months. It also has no annual fee like the Ink Business Cash.

It’s selling point, aside from it’s large sign-up bonus, is the fact that it earns 1.5 Ultimate Rewards on all purchases. That’s a nice card to have in your wallet for otherwise non-bonused spending. Don’t use it abroad though, as it also collects foreign transaction fees.

What You’ll Get Total From Combo #2

Not considering category bonuses nor the bonuses for adding authorized users, you’d earn 264,500 Ultimate Rewards from spending $15,500 to meet the minimum spending requirements for the sign up bonuses on the Sapphire Reserve, Freedom, Ink Business Preferred, Ink Business Cash, and Ink Business Unlimited.

Your potential for return on spending would span the following category bonuses:

  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent on rotating categories (Via the Freedom, common categories are gas stations, grocery stores, drug stores, PayPal and Apple Pay, restaurants, and Amazon)
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent at office supply stores, and with internet, cable and phone services (via the Ink Business Cash)
  • 3 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent on travel and dining (via the Sapphire Reserve)
  • 3 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent on shipping and search engine or social network advertising (via the Ink Business Preferred)
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent at gas stations (via the Ink Business Cash)
  • 1.5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent on everything else (via the Ink Business Unlimited)

Timing of Applications

The general consensus is that Chase won’t, automatically at least, approve more than two applications in a 30 day period. 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. If you want smoother sailing, keep it to two applications every 30 days.

It’s wise to apply for two at the same time (on the same day), as the two hard credit inquiries should combine into one as long as both are personal cards or both are business cards. I’d recommend putting some time–at least two months if not three–between these double application days though, as Chase has been shutting down accounts recently for too many new accounts too quickly (makes you look like a risky customer).

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, then the first five should be the Sapphire Reserve, the Freedom, the Ink Business Preferred, the Ink Business Cash, and the Ink Business Unlimited card.

I’ll discuss Combo #3 and the bonus combo in upcoming posts.

The above recommendations will apply to the majority of people, but not everyone. If you have a very specific destination in mind and you want to make sure you earn the right type of rewards for you trip, use our Free Credit Card Consultation Service. I’ll make sure you’re set up with the right cards.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. I think I’ll open an Ink Business cash in time to pay my annual timeshare maintenance fees. I’ll get a nice haul of points with no annual fee. I’ve already got the Reserve and don’t want to jump through all the Freedom hoops. I can put my cell and cable bills on the Business card as well.

    I’m not quite ready to go for the Southwest companion pass yet. You’re doing a great job with all these articles.

    • Nice! Yep, the Ink Biz Cash bonus is an impressive haul for $0/year.

      And thank you for the positive feedback, it’s appreciated more than you know.

  2. In Combo #2, why do you need the Ink Business Preferred? Is it better/competitive on an ongoing basis than the Business Cash or just has a good signup (80k UR for $5k)?

    • It’s primarily on the list for the hefty sign up bonus. Also, many businesses these days have heavy spend in the searching/social network advertising category (3x on Ink Biz Preferred).

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