How to Build Your Ideal Chase Ultimate Rewards Wallet

Chase's 5/24 rule means you can't apply for every rewards credit card it offers all at once.
Alex CramerMay 5, 2021

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Chase Ultimate Rewards® has proven to be one of the most popular programs for travel rewards collectors. Chase makes it easy to both collect and redeem points and, with several credit cards to choose from, it’s not hard to find one that will match your spending habits.

In fact, it can make sense to carry more than one, using complementary Chase cards to maximize the rewards you earn.

If there is one catch to Chase Ultimate Rewards® it’s the “5/24 rule” — Chase’s unofficial policy of denying credit card applications from anyone who has applied for more than five credit cards from any issuer (not just Chase) over the previous 24 months.

If you’re looking to maximize card benefits by carrying multiple cards, this rule poses a problem: How do you get the best combination of Chase cards if you have only one, two or three remaining opportunities to apply? Use this guide to help you build the ultimate Chase wallet based on how many cards you can still apply for.

If you have 1 application left

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

With a $0 annual fee and an easy-to-earn welcome bonus, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of the better cards available right now. Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

But where this card really shines is in its high-earning bonus categories.

This card pays you 5% back on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% back on restaurant spending, including takeout, 3% back on drugstore purchases and 1.5% back on all other spending.

If you have 2 applications left

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card is a $0-annual-fee card that offers high-value bonus categories that complement the bonus categories of the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card offers 5% cash back on the first $25,000 you spend annually on your internet, cable and phone bills and at office supply stores. This could net you up to $1,250.

Another highly useful perk is 2% cash back on the first $25,000 you spend annually at gas stations and at restaurants. Surprisingly, not many travel rewards cards have gas station bonuses, and this will be a high-use category for many people.

The only downside of this card is that it can be tough to earn the welcome bonus. Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Keep in mind, your side hustle or freelance work may be enough to qualify you for a business credit card.

If you have 3 applications left

Chase Freedom Flex℠

The perks on the Chase Freedom Flex℠ are very similar to the Chase Freedom Unlimited® but with one key difference: It offers 5% back on the first $1,500 you charge quarterly in spending categories that change every three months.

For example, in the second quarter of 2021, users are earning 5% back on the first $1,500 spent at gas stations and home improvement stores.

Some quarters will be highly valuable to you, others less so. But because this is a no-annual-fee card, you don’t lose anything if you sit out a quarter.

If you have 4 applications left

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®

If you have both a cash-back Chase card and one of the Sapphire cards, you can convert your cash back into Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to redeem them for travel at a higher rate, substantially increasing the value of your earnings.

That’s because points you earn with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel in Chase’s own portal. If you’re a Chase Sapphire Reserve® holder, your points are worth 50% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase.

So the $200 cash-back bonus you earned on your Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is worth $250 if you redeem it through the Chase travel portal as a holder of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or $300 as a holder of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Points you earn with Sapphire cards can also be transferred directly to airline partners including JetBlue, Southwest and United Airlines. Other Chase cards don’t give you this option.

But the Sapphire cards carry an annual fee — $95 for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and $550 for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® — so you’ll want to be sure that the value they deliver is worth the price you’ll pay.

If you have 5 applications left

Up to you

If you haven’t applied for any credit cards in the last 24 months, you could, technically, apply for five new cards from Chase. But beyond the four cards already discussed, you’re not likely to find much additional value. While it’s possible you might find a Chase card that complements these four, it’s more likely these will maximize your rewards no matter what your spending habits are.

The bottom line

Chase Ultimate Rewards® offers a lot of valuable cards, but its 5/24 rule means that you need to be strategic when applying for them. So start with the cards that deliver the most value and work up from there.


How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:

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