What Chase Credit Card Is Best For You in 2016?

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With the new 5/24 Rule likely coming into fruition April of 2016, consumers are going to be forced to approach Chase credit card applications a lot differently. And since your options are going to be limited due to the rule, you want to make sure you’re getting the cards that are most valuable and useful to you. This article will run down the best Chase travel, airline, and hotel cards that are available to you in 2016.

The Chase Trifecta

My first recommendation is to look into the “Chase Trifecta.” The Chase Trifecta is the combination of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Freedom, and either the Chase Ink+ or Chase Ink Cash. These cards make up a trifecta because you’re able to earn a ton of Ultimate Rewards by making purchases in their respective bonus categories and earn some pretty hefty sign-up bonuses. Since these cards can earn you points that you can transfer to a variety of transfer partners, I personally would make it a priority to get one, two, or all three of them.

Here’s a brief breakdown of the benefits of these cards:

The Sapphire Preferred

  • Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year
  • Sign-up Bonus: 40K to 50K (currently 50K) when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 2X on all travel purchases (hotels, air fare, taxis, etc.)
  • 2X on dining.

The Chase Ink+

  • Annual Fee: $95, not waived the first year
  • Sign-up Bonus: 50K to 60K  (currently 60K) after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5X on office supplies stores, phone bills, internet, and cable bills
  • 2X on hotels
  • 2x on gas

The Chase Freedom card

  • Annual Fee: No annual fee!
  • Sign-up Bonus: 15K after you spend $500 in the first 3 months.
  • 5X on rotating bonus categories that have included: groceries, gas, dining, Amazon, department stores, etc.

Tip:  The Freedom is a good intro card if you’ve never held a card with Chase before and you’re maybe slightly questionable about your odds of being approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

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One thing that is important to know is that only Chase customers who currently hold a Sapphire Preferred or a Chase Ink+ have the option of transferring their Ultimate Rewards to travel partners like United, Southwest, IHG, etc. Therefore, if you’re interested in utilizing Ultimate Rewards for travel, you need at least one of these cards.

A word on the Chase Trifecta 

The Chase Trifecta is great but now with the new 5/24 rule applying to all Chase cards, it may not be the best fit for your needs. For example, if you’ve opened up two cards within the past two years and you obtain the Chase Trifecta, you would not be able to apply for any of the Chase hotel or airline cards below.

Thus, if you really value a few of the Chase airline and hotel cards you might be better off by not going for the Chase Trifecta or at least limiting yourself to only getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred and maybe just one of the Freedom/and or Ink.

Regardless of whether or not you choose to pick up the Trifecta, because of the 5/24 rule it is now imperative that you have some clear plan when pursuing Chase co-branded cards. Now, you need to know which 2 or 3 cards are your top priorities and then go for them before you’re excluded from being approved.

Since you really need to know what airline and hotel cards are most valuable, here’s a look at what I believe are some of the top airline and hotel cards that you might want to look into before being excluded by the 5/24 rule.

Tip: If you’re a newbie with no new credit card accounts within the past 24 months, then do your best to prioritize your credit card applications with Chase. It will take some patience (maybe like 2 apps every 2-3 months) but at least you’ll be able to get the cards you want before you hit the 5/24 threshold.

AIRLINE CARDS

Southwest Airlines Cards

There are four Southwest Cards offered by Chase: the personal Premier and Plus cards and the business Premier and Plus cards. (I’ll focus on the two personal cards as most people will not be looking for business cards but don’t rule them out.)

If you plan on flying a lot domestically (or even hitting up the Caribbean) over the next couple of years then getting two of these cards may need to be a priority for you! The reason is that you can quickly accumulate enough miles for the coveted Companion Pass and saves tons on your travels!

Here’s an overview of the  two different personal cards:

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

Southwest Plus Card

  • Annual Fee: $69, not waived
  • Sign-up Bonus: 25,000 to 50,000 sign-up bonus

Highlights:

  • 3,000 Bonus Points after your Cardmember Anniversary
  • Earn unlimited points that don’t expire
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines and Rapid Rewards®Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier card

Southwest Premier Card

  • Annual Fee: $99, not waived
  • Sign-up Bonus: 25,000 to 50,000 sign-up bonus

Highlights:

  • Receive 6,000 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary
  • Earn unlimited points that don’t expire
  • Potential to earn A-List quicker (mostly for big spenders)
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 you spend on Southwest Airlines purchases made directly with the airline. Also, earn 2 points per $1 you spend on Southwest Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees

These cards have good sign-up bonuses when you can catch the 50K Rapid Rewards offer but what really makes them valuable is that you can use these cards to help you reach the 110K Rapid Rewards needed for the Southwest Companion Pass. The Companion Pass offers you a free additional seat for two calendar years. Thus, the benefit offered by these cards can be extremely valuable if you even do a moderate amount of flying.

Tip: If the Chase website is showing the 25K offers do searches for Southwest Premier 50K offer or Southwest Plus 50K offer. Sometimes you’ll find a direct link to an offer and other times you might have to get a referral link from a user on a website like Flyertalk or Reddit.

United Airlines Mileage Plus Explorer Card

united_mileageplus_explorer_card

  • Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year
  • Sign-up Bonus: 30K (targeted offer for 50K)

Tip: The standard bonus offer for the Mileage Plus Explorer Card is 30K. However, if you sign up for a Mileage Plus account, you’ll almost surely be sent a targeted offer for 50K mies + 5K for adding an authorized user. You can also often find this offer available in-branch.

Highlights:

  • 2 annual United Club lounges passes (a perfect benefit for those who don’t fly frequently)
  • Free first checked bag for you and a companion on both domestic and international flights when booked with United
  • Priority Boarding

If you foresee yourself using or booking through United Airlines in the near future then this can be a great way to cover your upcoming travel and enjoy some travel benefits like complimentary lounge access. The two annual lounges passes may not seem like much to some but for a couple who only flies once or twice a year they can utilize those passes.

Moreover, you can always supplement your United miles with the points earned from the Chase Trifecta, making it easy to quickly accumulate enough miles for business or first class tickets.

The British Airways Card

ba_sig_card

  • Annual Fee: $95, not waived the first year
  • Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus earn an additional 25,000 bonus Avios when you spend $10,000 on purchases or 50,000 bonus Avios when you spend a total of $20,000 on purchases within your first year

Highlights:

  • Potential to earn up to 100,000 Avios within a year
  • Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa Signature card, you will earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years when you redeem Avios for a flight on British Airways. (This is the companion pass for British Airways but it’s not quite as practical to use as the Southwest Companion Pass is.)
  • Earn 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees

The most valuable feature of this card to me is the potential to earn up to 100K Avios (since the companion pass poses some difficulties). Although the domestic short-haul flight are not as cheap as they once were, booking through Avios is still a decent way to fly around the states and I’ve also gotten some great value through Avios by booking flights to get around in South America.

HOTEL CARDS

The IHG Rewards Club Card

IHG credit CARD

  • Annual Fee: $49, waived the first year
  • Sign-up Bonus: 60K (targeted offer for 80K)

Highlights:

  • One free night every anniversary year that can be redeemed at some of the best IHG hotels out there like the Intercontinental (a lot of co-branded hotel cards restrict such redemptions to less valuable hotels).
  • Platinum Elite status as long as you’re a Select cardmember
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent when you stay at their hotels
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores & restaurants
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Automatic 10% point rebate
  • No foreign transaction fees

With such a low annual fee this card is a keeper in my opinion. It won’t be hard to get a couple of hundred bucks back in value for your $49 annual fee and the card even has decent earning potential for everyday spend.

The Hyatt Credit Card

hyatt_card

  • Annual Fee: $75, waived the first year
  • Sign-up Bonus: Earn 2 free nights at Hyatt, worldwide after you make $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months after account opening

Highlights:

  • 2 free nights at Hyatt, worldwide after you make $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months (nights must be used within one year of receiving the card)
  • Platinum Status
  • Free night at any category 1-4 hotel after your cardmember anniversary
  • Earn 3 Hyatt Gold Passport points for every $1 spent on purchases at all Hyatt properties with your Hyatt credit card.
  • Earn 2 Hyatt Gold Passport points for every $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and at car rental agencies.
  • Earn 1 Hyatt Gold Passport point for every $1 spent on purchases anywhere else
  • Get 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user

This is definitely one of the most valuable deals where you can get two free nights (quickly) without even having to pay the annual fee the first year. On top of that, you get the annual free night that can easily cover your annual fee and bring you plenty of additional value.

The Marriott Rewards Credit Card

marriott_premier_card_pl

  • Annual Fee: $85, not waived the first year
  • Sign-up Bonus: 80K (plus 7.5K for adding an authorized user)

Highlights:

  • 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year after your account anniversary
  • Guaranteed Elite Status (Silver Benefits)
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent at over 4,000 Marriott locations worldwide
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on restaurants, car rental agencies, and on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

Sometimes, an offer with a sign-up bonus for 70K rolls around with the annual fee waived the first year but this card is still valuable with the $85 annual fee as the annual free night could more than make-up for it. The Silver Status isn’t quite as good as the Platinum Status offered by the IHG card but it’s still a decent perk. Considering the upcoming merger with Starwood, you’ve got to think that the already widespread availability of Marriott Hotels is just going to continue to grow. One last plus about this card: it’s metal like the Chase Sapphire Preferred!

Final Word

The new 5/24 rule may or may not take effect this coming April. However, you want to make sure that you are ready just in case. If you know you will have more than 5 accounts in the last two years come this spring, then try to sneak in a few apps with Chase before the rule comes into effect. If you don’t have any new accounts, then with a combination of planning and patience, you should be able to snag at least a few of the most valuable Chase cards come 2016. 

 

 

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