The Chase Gauntlet

Travel Rewards | Part 2 : The Chase Gauntlet | Card Opening Strategy

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So which order should I open the cards

I always recommend starting with what I like to call the “CHASE GAUNTLET.”

They were the first company to have a rule stating that if you were to open more than five cards within a 24 month period, then you would be declined. So if you start with another card, it can make it more challenging to go back. The 5/24 rule is why you never open dumb cards like an Old Navy or TJmaxx card. Since Chase points are potentially the most valuable and have the most flexibility, I recommend you start here. If you are managing cards for you and your spouse, it effectively becomes 10/24

So you could spend up to 3 years working on chase cards alone depending on how aggressive you are

Chase Points are the most valuable because they are transferable to many partners. They lose that flexibility once transferred, so you want to keep them in the chase family as long as possible.

When I originally started writing this post, I was going to show you the exact order I used, but some of the points have changed since then, and I know more now than I did then. So this is my recommended card strategy if you are just getting started. I also build a spouse or significant other into my strategy, so I am using a 10/24 baseline. If you are single and don’t have a partner, it will work the same, but your gauntlet would be five chase cards per 24 months. To be even more specific: when Chase does a hard pull on your credit, if you have opened more than five cards in the past 24 months, you will get an automatic denial.

Chase has about 7-8 cards they offer. This fluctuates depending on their mood and maybe their stock price on any given day.

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred – 50,000 points

  • The first card for anyone should be the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It has a 50,000 point bonus and the $95 annual fee is waived for the 1st year. It really can’t be beaten. The fact that the fee is waived for the first year makes this card even more compelling. so you get to try travel rewards for free for a year.

2. Repeat for your spouse

3&4. Chase Southwest Cards (2)  50-60K x2

  • If its December or January I would start working on the Chase Southwest cards next – the person who travels more frequently domestically should apply for this 2 card sequence. I would start with the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card (60K bonus currently): followed by the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
  • They have a third one which is interchangeable. I look at the bonuses to decide which is better. when the bonuses are the same I pick the one with the lowest fee. I would not open 3 southwest cards. Just do the minimum to get your companion pass (the Holy grail of sweet spots). The goal is to get your southwest companion pass early in the year ideally hitting the bonuses in Jan or February. this allows you to BOGO (Buy One Get One)your flights while still using your points. Absolutely incredible! you need to get to 110,000 points in one calendar year. so if you reach your bonus in March 2017 you have the card until December 2018. basically, you can get a flight anywhere in the country for 25,000 points then bring a friend for Frizzle. Yeah that just happened
    With those 4 cards, you now have enough for a trip to Europe and free domestic flights anywhere in the US for 2 years. VEGAS ANYONE?

Do you want to keep going?

5.Chase Ink Business Preferred (80K)

6. Repeat for Spouse (80K)

7. Chase Sapphire Reserve (50K)

8.Repeat for Spouse

9&10. Chase Southwest Cards (2)  50-60K x2

Total Points 710K points

And your just getting started- this should take you 1-3 years depending on your level of income and intensity. I encourage you not to rush this but enjoy it. Travel Rewards is a game you can win because now you know the rules.

I will update the info as new card become available but the basics should remain the same. Many of the travel hackers out there are too far down the road to be able to do this. But I believe if they were starting over this is the approach they would take

How do I get the business cards if I don’t have a business?

If you noticed, several of the cards we discussed were business cards. If you were reading my advice and thinking I don’t have a business, then read the next section because I bet you do. In fact getting a business credit card was one of the pushes I needed to make my business a reality

Do not confuse the credit card companies for the IRS. Their idea of what constitutes a business is much looser. In fact, if you have a consulting job, blog or hobby that you are thinking of monetizing then you could easily take the next step and start a business. You do not need to file any paperwork to start a business. You can operate your business as a sole proprietor using your social security number. In fact, ChooseFI began as a sole proprietorship before I converted it to an LLC with Brad. And it was a little more than an idea in my head when I requested my first business card with Chase. Small businesses have lots of startup cost, and Chase and other credit card companies want a piece of that action, so they look kindly on your business application even if you don’t have any revenue to show

This is the Chase Gauntlet, and if you are doing it for you and your spouse it should take 1 to 3 years to complete, And if you follow our advice, you should be able to travel the world for free

I think that the advantages of doing it this way ensure you don’t miss out on the chase points and you learn how to do this in a controlled setting. It gives you a great blend of flexibility plus the holy grail of the companion pass for you and your spouse for nearly two years.

Have you listened to our Travel Rewards podcast yet?

Go back to part 1 – Travel Rewards, An Introduction

Read part 3– How to redeem my points for trips all over the world

Skip part 3 – I’m ready to get started now!

13 thoughts on “Travel Rewards | Part 2 : The Chase Gauntlet | Card Opening Strategy

  1. Loved the podcast. I have a few questions.

    You pointed out in the podcast that we can repeat the series after about two years. Do you recommend that one close out each credit card as soon as the points are awarded, until the points are used, or keep open the credit card?

    Also, I’ve made the mistake of having my wife as an authorized user on the Chase Sapphire Preferred. How can I recover from this mistake?



  2. I would like to start saving up points but I do not plan on traveling much (at least by plane) for about 3 years or so. Would you just skip the southwest cards until January of the year you plan on flying more frequently? Then just bounce back and fourth between ink and sapphire? When my kids get a little older we would like to do Disney then maybe Hawaii or Mexico.

  3. I want to open some cards and get in on the points, I already have a lot of Delta miles but nothing for hotels, but we are probably 2 years or so away from taking a vacation where we could use them. Is there an option where I wouldn’t have to pay to keep a card open? Above it says you will transfer your points over to the reserve, can I do that without keeping a card open and paying the yearly fee? If I have to pay the yearly fee i’ll just wait until we are closer to going on a vacation to do this.

  4. Love the podcast! Thanks for doing it.

    I am planning out my rewards strategy for the year and I had 2 questions regarding the Southwest companion pass. I have had a Southwest Preferred card for 5 years. I want to go for the Southwest companion pass as early as possible in 2018 so that it lasts through 2018 and 2019.

    Question 1: Should I close my existing Southwest Card so that I can get two more with the bonuses and avoid the $99 annual fee on my current card which will hit August 1, 2017?

    Question 2: Should I open my first new Southwest Card in October 2017 such that most spending occurs in 2017 but the 50/60k bonus miles will hit my Southwest Account in early 2018? Or is there some risk to this approach, such that I should wait to open the first Southwest card until January 2018?

  5. Thanks for the reply!

    I will use your website when applying for the next credit card.

    I kept open the Chase Preferred for another year. I also tried to apply for a Chase business credit card, but hit the 5/24 limit because I was previously focusing on cash back cards and not points. I now want to shift to focus on points, but won’t be over the 24 months for another 6 months.

    I looked at the CITI AAdvantage, for 50K points but this has a $95 fee that is waived the first year and I don’t think that I would use all of the points in the first year. So, my questions is, what credit card would you recommend that I get next?

    Thanks again,


  6. So if you put your spouse on a card as an authorized user does that mean that they can’t get the card within 2 years? Or can they be an authorized user and then sign up as a primary user?

    Also, do you always keep one card open so that before you cancel a card you transfer all of the points to that primary card? If so, which one do you use as your primary card?

    Thanks! We really enjoy your podcast and it has risen to the top of our favorite podcasts.

    • Your spouse can definitely get approved as a primary as well. But she has effectively used one of her 5/24 spots. so she would have 4/24 left. Definitely listen to episode 9 for a comprehensive tutorial and if you want to go deeper into the weeds make sure you listen to each friday roundup where we reserve a segment to tackle questions about travel rewards from our audience.Thanks for the feedback!

  7. Hey there guys. So I recently listened to the travel hacking podcast and I love the podcast in general! About a week into it and already on episode 17. Will be caught up soon. So my only question was regarding the southwest companion pass… I’m trying to verify 100% that the southwest business and personal card bonuses will apply toward the 110,000 requirement. From my research, I’ve seen mixed answers. Even Southwests terms and conditions are leaving me confused. This is what they currently have on their website.
    “A Member who earns 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points or who flies 100 qualifying one-way flights booked through Southwest Airlines per calendar year will qualify for Companion Pass. Companion Pass qualifying points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, points earned on Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and base points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners. Purchased points, transferred points transferred between members, points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club, points earned from program enrollment, tier bonus points, flight bonus points, and partner bonus points (with the exception of the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not qualify as Companion Pass qualifying points.”

    So at one point it states “Companion Pass qualifying points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, points earned on Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards,” implying that those signup points should count but then they later specify “points earned from program enrollment, tier bonus points, flight bonus points, and partner bonus points (with the exception of the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not qualify as Companion Pass qualifying points.” indicating that points earned from program enrollment (im assuming rapid reward program) will not count. Any current clarification you guys have on this? I would just hate to sign up for these cards and not earn the companion pass. Thanks again, and great podcast! Southwest terms and conditions were derived at this link :

  8. 1. If running the Chase Gauntlet along with a spouse, is it advisable to transfer points from one spouse to the other to gather all the points in a single account over time? That was going to be my plan, but after reading the below disclaimer I was wondering if that action could trigger some negative consequences. If leaving the points separate, in order to access the ultimate rewards accounts, we will need to leave at least one card open under each of our names which will mean paying double fees?

    2. Has anyone used the “invite a friend and earn 10k bonus points” function to invite a spouse when its time to open the second card? I was wondering if you could pingpong this back and forth each time you open a new card, but perhaps they only pay you the 10k bonus on customers that are new to chase. Seems like an easy win, but again concerned about the below disclaimer…

    Here is the disclaimer text from chase that I am referencing above:

    Combine points with other Chase cards with Ultimate Rewards
    You can move your points, but only to another Chase card with Ultimate Rewards belonging to you, or one member of your household. If we suspect that you’ve engaged in fraudulent activity related to your credit card account or Ultimate Rewards, or that you’ve misused Ultimate Rewards in any way (for example by buying or selling points, moving or transferring points with or to an ineligible third party or account, or repeatedly opening or otherwise maintaining credit card accounts for the sole purpose of generating rewards) we may temporarily prohibit you from earning points or using points you’ve already earned. If we believe you’ve engaged in any of these acts, we’ll close your credit card account and you’ll lose all your points.



  9. Tim’s note above with the Chase disclaimer is concerning. We started down the travel rewards path recently with a United card for my wife, since it had a 70,000 bonus. I am trying to figure out our exit strategy for my long-held United card and in the future, other 10×24 cards. I figured it was best to look at this from the back end perspective, if we’re not able to open up the same rewards card again for 24 months, it seems like the best approach is to reach the bonus level, transfer the points, then close the card as soon as possible to start the 24 months count down to open up that card again. But, it sounds like closing the card right after collecting the bonus (repeatedly) would trigger the negative consequences in the disclaimer.

  10. I’m hoping to get the Southwest companion pass for 2018. Would I be able to open the 2 southwest cards in November and then wait until January to hit the spending minimum? Or would I have to wait until January to even open the cards? I’d rather start spending on them early to allow us to hit the spending requirement earlier in 2018. Just planning ahead to make sure we are under the 5×24 rule.

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