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Let’s start first with a quick refresher on Chase’s 5/24 rule.
Here’s the short version.
If you have opened 5 or more cards in the last 24 months, Chase will NOT approve you for any of its cards. This count of 5 includes personal cards from all banks, not just Chase. Additionally, business cards from Capital One and Discover are also included in this total. Fortunately, business cards from other banks such as American Express, Citi, Bank Of America, etc. do not.
Undoubtedly, a couple of Chase’s cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Ink BusinessPreferred credit card, are the best cards for someone starting to dabble in travel rewards. You just have to be under 5/24 which, again, means that you’ve opened fewer than 5 cards in the last 24 months.
So if you’ve been doing this for a while, the question is, what now?
I see and hear this question a lot, often with a slight tone of panic. Moreover, some travelers are so adamant about staying under 5/24 that they miss great opportunities from other banks.
Is My Travel Rewards Life Over After 5/24?
The short answer: Absolutely not.
There are still many great welcome bonuses, bonus categories, and great credit card perks to keep you traveling. So, don’t worry, there are still ways to earn lots of cheap travel with the help of credit cards.
There’s also nothing wrong with a cooling-off period, if that’s what you prefer and if you want to get under 5/24 again; just know that you have options.
Here I’ll share with you some of my favorite non-Chase cards. This is not an exhaustive list, and it’s rather subjective. These are the cards that served me and my husband well, based on our travel needs and the places we like to visit.
My Favorite Card Options Post-5/24
Let’s look at other banks that offer great cards.
First, there is of course American Express that has so many great credit cards.
American Express cards also come with some restrictions. You can’t have more than five credit cards at a time. Charge cards, i.e. cards that don’t have a pre-set spending limit, such as American Express Gold Card or The Platinum Card from American Express, don’t count toward the five card max.
Here’s a rundown on the rules for opening American Express cards.
It’s important to keep in mind that you can get an Amex welcome bonus on a new card once per lifetime. The bonuses on some cards fluctuate, so it’s always a good practice to wait for a higher welcome bonus to come around.
Citi also has a few credit cards that come with great welcome bonuses and benefits in addition to access to some amazing redemption opportunities.
The key to success in this hobby is to keep an open mind and to keep learning. So let’s go beyond the basics and explore life after Chase’s 5/24.
My Favorite American Express Credit Cards
My favorite non-Chase business card is the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express. The card has no annual fee and earns 2X on everything up to $50,000 a year. This is a great card for any small business owner and I always keep it in my wallet. I love the simple earning structure of this card.
Membership Rewards points transfer to many valuable airline partners, such as Air France-KLM Flying Blue and Aeroplan.
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is another one of my favorite cards. The card often comes with a welcome bonus of 150,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. Its annual fee is $450, which is not waived the first year.
Some might dismiss the card outright because of its high annual fee but that would be a mistake. The card offers great value and has lots of valuable benefits that will help offset the annual fee.
It comes with Hilton Diamond status which provides complimentary breakfast and access to executive lounges. I love a good hotel breakfast spread! The fact that I can dip into the lounge during the day for a cup of coffee and some soft drinks is an added bonus.
Another great benefit is the annual free weekend night certificate. Unlike other credit cards, you don’t have to wait until your first year cardmember anniversary. You should have the free night very soon after you open the account. The free night certificate can be used at any Hilton hotel since there are no category restrictions. That’s right, you can use it at a Hilton hotel or resort where one night costs far more than the annual fee! Just remember it needs to be a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night.
Other benefits include:
- $250 Hilton Resort Statement Credit at participating Hilton Resorts
- Priority Pass Select membership
- $250 Airline Fee Credit
- Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance
The card earns 14X at Hilton properties, 7X on flights booked directly with airlines and car rentals booked directly with car rental agencies, and 3X on everything else.
Citi also has a few very good personal and business cards. My favorite is the Citi Premier because it comes with a generous welcome offer and earns flexible ThankYou Points. ThankYou Points can be transferred to 15 airline partners or used to book travel through Citi’s Travel Center.
Some of the best transfer partners include Avianca LifeMiles and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. Both are great options for booking flights on Star Alliance airlines like United and Lufthansa. Air France/KLM Flying Blue and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles could be used to book Delta flights.
From time to time, Citi runs transfer bonus promotions which make ThankYou Points even more valuable and help stretch your ThankYou Points even further. I’ve recently taken advantage of such a promo and scored a great deal on a trip to Israel.
Citi ThankYou Points can also be redeemed at 1.25 cents per point through the Citi Travel Center. This might be a good option if there’s no award availability on the dates when you need to travel, cash flights are super cheap, or you need to book hotels.
I love staying at non-chain hotels and in fact often travel to places that don’t even have chain hotels. So I am always looking for ways to earn credit card points that can help me save on hotels.
Citi American AAdvantage Cards
Citi’s American AAdvantage personal and business cards also come with generous welcome bonuses and great benefits including a free checked bag on domestic American Airlines itineraries and preferred boarding.
There are lots of great ways to use American Airlines miles, including booking flights on Oneworld partners. You can use American miles to fly to Japan on Japan Airlines or to South Africa on Qatar Airways. Recently, AA has been releasing a lot of really inexpensive web special awards, such as transcontinental flights in the U.S. for 5,000 American miles.
The first step is to figure out how important staying under 5/24 really is for you. It’s a personal decision to move away from Chase and explore other opportunities. There’s nothing wrong with a cool off period, if that’s what you want.
But know that there are other banks and card issuers that also offer opportunities for amazing redemptions. For example, Amex Membership Rewards points could be used to book some of the same awards you could book with Chase points.
In addition to the points and the welcome bonuses, many cards offer other valuable benefits that help offset the annual fees, such as Priority Pass membership, free checked bags or top tier elite hotel status.