10 Easy Steps That Could Earn New Award Travelers $7,500 in Rewards
Talking points and miles and helping others get into this hobby are two of my favorite things to do, and some of the questions I get asked on a daily basis are:
What’s the best order to apply for credit cards?
Which card should I get next...and when?
I'm short on time – can you just tell me which cards to apply for, and the right order as well?
If you have any of those questions, this one’s for you. You can use it as a roadmap or a starting point, whichever is best for you.
Following this strategy could get you an estimated $7,569 in travel, assuming you’re approved for all these cards.
- 154,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth at least $2,317 in travel)
- 115,000 Southwest Airlines miles (enough for up to 10 RT flights, plus the coveted Southwest Companion Pass)
- 53,000 United miles (enough for a RT ticket from the U.S. to South America)
- 103,000 Marriott points (enough for up to 13 nights)
- 42,000 Hyatt points (enough for up to 8 nights)
Before we dive in, a few important disclaimers:
- This is just one strategy. There are of course several strategies you can use, this is just the one I think works best and what I generally tell others to use as well. It optimizes your Chase 5/24 status to earn you a huge stack of points and miles.
- Good to note: Chase UR points can be transferred to Southwest, United, Marriott or Hyatt, if you wish!
- If there's an acronym you don't recognize, this glossary is a good resource.
This method assumes:
- Your Chase status is 0/24, meaning you’ve applied for 0 credit cards in the last 24 months
- You’re able to meet the minimum spending requirement (MSR) on time for each card
- Your credit score is 700+ (excellent credit is ideal)
Alright, let’s go!
1. Start a Spreadsheet
Start a spreadsheet to keep track of your cards, dates of accounts opened, bonuses, etc. Here’s the template Team FBZ uses.
2. Sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Spend $4,000 in the first three months to meet minimum spending requirement (MSR) and earn 50,000 bonus points, plus 4,000 Ultimate Reward (UR) points.
Total earned = 54,000 UR points
3. Sign up for the Chase Ink Business Preferred
Spend $5,000 in the first three months to meet MSR and earn 80,000 bonus points, plus 5,000 UR points.
Total earned = 85,000 UR points
Now it’s time to pause for 30 days (set a calendar reminder).
4. After at least 30 days have passed, sign up for a Southwest Premier or Southwest Plus Card
Spend $2,000 in the first three months to meet MSR and earn 50,000 bonus points, plus 2,000 SW points.
Total earned = 52,000 SW points
Note: Sometimes the bonus offer for this card is 40,000 bonus points. If that’s the case, try to hold out for the offer with 50,000 bonus points.
5. Sign up for the Southwest Business Card
Spend $3,000 in the first three months to meet MSR and earn 60,000 bonus points, plus 3,000 SW points.
Total earned = 63,000 SW points
Congrats! At this point, you’ll not only have 115,000 SW points to book flights with, you’ll also have earned the Southwest Companion Pass which entitles you to buy-one-get-one free flights for up to two years.
Time to pause for another 30 days (set a calendar reminder).
6. After at least 30 days have passed, sign up for the Chase Freedom or Freedom Unlimited Card
Spend $500 in the first three months to meet MSR and earn $150 bonus, which translates to 15,000 bonus points, plus 500 UR points.
Total = 15,500 UR points
7. Sign up for the Chase United MileagePlus Club Card
Spend $3,000 in the first three months to meet MSR and earn 50,000 bonus points, plus 3,000 United Miles.
Total earned = 53,000 United Miles
Note: You could swap this out for a card like the Aer Lingus Visa Signature Card (it's new and you can earn up to 100k Bonus Avios Points).
Pause for another 30 days (set a calendar reminder).
8. After at least 30 days have passed, sign up for the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card
Spend $5,000 in the first three months to meet MSR and earn 100,000 bonus points, plus 5,000 Marriott points.
Total earned = 105,000 Marriott points
9. Sign up for one additional Chase-affiliated hotel credit card of your choice (Hyatt, IHG, Ritz).
Let’s go with The Hyatt Credit Card. Spend $2,000 in the first three months to meet MSR and earn 40,000 bonus points, plus 2,000 Hyatt points.
Total earned = 42,000 Hyatt points
10. You've Reached 5/24
At this point, you’ve maxed out your 5/24 status (assuming you got the cards mentioned above) and can begin opening non-Chase cards that aren’t affected by 5/24, like Amex cards, Capital One cards, etc. See other good options here.
There you go, 10 quick and easy steps to becoming a pro at award travel.
If you have any questions or what to discuss further, join and ask in our Facebook group, FBZ Elite - Travel and Points.
The Bottom Line
Almost anyone can do this – even if you're short on time.
By following the steps above, you’ll earn roughly $7,569 is travel rewards, after spending $24,500 on MSR. That’s more than 30 percent return for spending money you would have otherwise spent.