Plan your credit card applications wisely!

Advertiser disclosure: The Miles Genie has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products.  The Miles Genie and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.


It is important for anyone who wants to apply for travel credit cards to plan around the Chase 5/24 policy

Costa Rica on miles and points, best credit cards for beginners

Like I always suggest, please read the starter tips before applying for any credit cards.

Update June 2019: This post has been edited to reflect current welcome bonus offers.  You can also click here for a full list of our favorite credit cards.

Chase is the issuer of some of the best travel credit cards, so it is important to consider the Chase 5/24 rule, especially if you’re a beginner.  Since this particular trip involves points and miles earned from cards that are issued by Chase, it is important to plan your strategy accordingly.

What is the Chase 5/24 policy?

First of all, you may want to read this post about Chase’s 5/24 policy. That article is a more detailed overview of the policy, but I’ll try to cover all of the facts that are relevant to booking Costa Rica in this post.

The short version:  Chase is the issuer of some of the best credit cards for travel. Unfortunately, Chase limits the amount of credit cards one can open in a 24 month period.  It is generally believed that anyone who has opened 5 or more credit cards in the past 24 months will not be approved for certain Chase credit cards. This includes any credit card account that shows on your credit report, not just Chase accounts.

Once you’re at 5/24, Chase will deny an application for a card subject to 5/24 such as Chase Sapphire Reserve.  Trust me, you do not want to miss out on a Chase Sapphire card!  So my suggestion is to wait on the airline and hotel co-branded cards from other banks until you’ve opened the Chase cards you want.

So if you open 1 Bank of America Alaska Airlines Card, 1 AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard from Citi, 1 AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard from Barclay, and 2 American Express cards, you’re at 5/24 even though none of them are Chase cards.  You would not be able to get approved for any Chase cards that are subject to the 5/24 rule until your fifth-newest account is 25 months old.

chase cards 5/24 policy

Not all Chase cards are subject to the 5/24 rule As of 2019, all Chase travel credit cards seem to be subject to the 5/24 rule

These are the Chase cards potentially relevant for Costa Rica:

These are the Chase cards subject to 5/24
  • Chase Sapphire cards (including business cards)
  • Southwest branded credit cards (including the business card)
  • United branded credit cards (including business cards)
  • World of Hyatt credit card

Side note about business cards: any business cards that you open do not count as one of your 5, but you cannot get approved for most Chase business cards if you’re over 5/24.

Can I apply for 2 Chase cards on the same day?

A year or two ago, I would have said yes.  The rationale behind applying for 2 in the same day was that since inquiries aren’t reported to credit bureaus in real time, banks will not know that you are applying for more than one card in one day.  Anyway, I’ve seen data points that Chase will sometimes approve two cards in the same day.  But I’ve also seen data points of Chase flagging and even shutting down accounts if they think you’re opening up too many lines of credit too quickly.  Or if they think something shady is going on.

Since Chase issues so many great travel credit cards, they are not a bank I want to get blackballed from.  I like to play it safe with Chase, so my answer to this question is that I do not recommend it.

How long should I wait between Chase credit card applications?

There is no official policy from Chase, but I would probably wait about 3 months between Chase applications.

While you’re under 5/24, I suggest not applying for cards from other banks until you’re sure you’ve applied for all of the 5/24 cards you want from Chase.

chase cards Costa Rica, best travel rewards credit cards

Which credit card should a beginner (under 5/24) open first if the goal is Costa Rica?

The best card for beginners is usually a Chase Sapphire card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve.  These cards earn Ultimate Rewards points.  Chase UR points can be transferred to 9 different airlines and 3 hotel programs.  Southwest and Hyatt are both transfer partners.

There is also a business card to consider if you qualify for business cards. This would be the Chase Ink Business Preferred card.

You can have a Chase Ink Business Preferred card and a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred open, but you cannot have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve open at the same time.

If you’re torn between Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred, click here for more information and a comparison.

Once you have a Sapphire card that earns Ultimate Rewards, the next cards you should consider are any hotel or airline cards issued by Chase.

What other credit cards should beginners consider for Costa Rica?

I can’t run through every scenario, because this would get super long.  But if I am a beginner and if Southwest is a reasonable airline option for me, this is probably what I would do to earn the points and miles needed for a Costa Rica vacation:

This is assuming 2 player mode (meaning you have a spouse/partner who can also open cards)

  1. Each person opens a Chase Sapphire Preferred card
    • Annual fees: $190 ($95 each)
    • Sign up bonus: 120,000 Ultimate Rewards (60,000 X 2)
  2. Each person opens a Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card
    • Annual Fees: $198 ($99 each)
    • Sign up bonus: 80,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points (40,000 each)

Total:

  • $388 in annual fees
  • 80,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points (which should be more than enough for 2 Costa Rica roundtrip flights)
  • 120,000 Ultimate Rewards points.  You can transfer these points to Hyatt for a stay at the Andaz Costa Rica! 120,000 is enough for a 6 night stay.
An alternative plan for beginners:

Similar to the above plan, you’re going to want to get an Ultimate Rewards earning card.  But instead of using those points for the hotel, you can use them for your plane tickets by transferring to Southwest, United, or another partner to book your flights:

  1. Each person opens a Chase Sapphire Preferred card
    • Annual fees: $190 ($95 each)
    • Sign up bonus: 120,000 Ultimate Rewards (60,000 X 2), which is more than enough for 2 roundtrip flights to Costa Rica
  2. Each person opens a Hyatt credit card
    • Annual Fees: $190 ($95 each)
    • Sign up bonus: 50,000-100,000 Hyatt points (25,000-50,000 each)

Total:

  • $380 in annual fees
  • At least 50,000 Hyatt points which is enough for a 2 night stay at the Andaz Costa Rica
  • 120,000 Ultimate Rewards points.  You can transfer these points to airline partners to book your flights to Costa Rica.  Then you can transfer the remaining Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt to book more nights.
If you’re over 5/24

You will not be able to open a Chase Sapphire card that earns Ultimate Rewards, a Southwest card, a United card, or the World of Hyatt credit card.

For flights, you can open either an American Express Membership Rewards earning card or an airline card issued by a bank other than Chase.

If you’re wanting to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you also need to plan around that

All Southwest cards (including the business card) are subject to the 5/24 policy. So if the Companion Pass is your priority, you may want to hold off on a Sapphire card until you have opened the Southwest business card and a Southwest personal card.  Click here to learn more about earning the Southwest Companion Pass.

Remember, points earned from the Southwest credit cards DO qualify for the Companion Pass.  If you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest, they DO NOT qualify for the Companion Pass.

Conclusion

Anyone can book Costa Rica for almost nothing like we did, but Chase is the issuer of many card options that earn the points and miles needed for this particular trip.  For that reason, it is very important to plan your applications in such a way that you do not miss out on some of the best travel credit cards!

chase cards 5/24 rule

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred 2019

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Advertiser disclosure: The Miles Genie has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products.  The Miles Genie and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

1 thought on “Plan your credit card applications wisely!”

  1. Pingback: How to book the Andaz Costa Rica on points (for free!)

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