Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Keith: I’m running out of credit cards to add to my wallet. So I love spending time helping others with their credit card strategy. I know some folks shy away from this hobby until they see the benefits firsthand!
Helping my sister-in-law with her card strategy is a great case study in just how easy it is to take advantage of the best credit card offers. I helped her apply for 2 cards. And now she’s sitting on a growing balance of points worth at least $1,900 in airfare, hotels, or car rentals!
Here are the exact changes (and additions) my sister-in-law made to boost her miles & points balance!
Beginner Alert! The Ideal Candidate for Miles & Points Credit Cards
As a young professional with a solid income and great credit score, my sister-in-law is a great candidate for travel rewards credit cards. In addition to her day job, she also does a lot of freelance graphic design work on the side. This makes her eligible for small business credit cards!
Several years ago, she got the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This was a great choice because it’s the #1 card we recommend to beginners. But it’s been several years since she earned a new card sign-up bonus. And earning sign-up bonuses is the easiest way to get Big Travel with Small Money!
After a quick sit-down, these were the changes and additions we made!
1. Downgrade the Chase Sapphire Preferred to the Chase Freedom Unlimited
Unfortunately, you’re no longer able to have more than one Sapphire-branded credit card. Because my sister-in-law had the Chase Sapphire Preferred card open, she wouldn’t qualify for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
In order to make her eligible for the Sapphire Reserve, the first thing she did was downgrade the Sapphire Preferred to the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited. You don’t earn a sign-up bonus when you downgrade. But the Freedom Unlimited and Sapphire Reserve make a fantastic card combination.
With the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you earn 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on ALL purchases. Personally, I use this card for nearly all purchases that don’t fall into a bonus spending category on another card in my wallet.
The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
2. Apply for the Ink Business Preferred (Best Card for Small Business Owners)
My sister-in-law is very entrepreneurial! She provides graphic design services to several clients.
She doesn’t have a formal business entity. But reporting the extra side income on card applications makes her eligible for small business cards. And she can apply using just her social security number.
I recommended she apply for the Chase Ink Business Preferred. This card has the highest sign-up bonus of ANY card earning valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points!
You can redeem the sign-up bonus for things like:
- $800 in cash back
- $1,000 in travel by booking airfare, hotel stays, or car rentals through Chase’s travel portal (with no blackout dates!)
- Potentially even more value by transferring points directly to airline and hotel partners, like Hyatt, Southwest, or United Airlines
She wants to travel back to South America. So having a stash of points worth $1,000 in travel savings will come in handy when she’s ready to book her trip!
3. Apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve
Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve
When you sign-up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
The sign-up bonus can get you $750 worth of travel when you redeem points for flights, hotels, car rentals, and more through the Chase travel portal. Because when you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points are worth 1.5 cents each on travel booked through Chase!
And my sister-in-law can move points from her other cards to her Sapphire Reserve account to increase the value of all her Chase Ultimate Rewards points!
With the Chase Freedom Unlimited, Ink Business Preferred, and Sapphire Reserve, she has an excellent trifecta of Chase Ultimate Rewards point earning credit cards!
Why It’s Best to Apply for Chase Cards First!
As a general rule, it’s best to apply for Chase credit cards BEFORE you sign-up for cards from other banks. That’s because Chase has strict application rules, which make it harder to get most of their cards if you apply for other bank cards first.
Here’s the Chase rule you should know about: If you’ve opened 5 or more credit cards from ANY bank in the past 24 months (excluding certain small business cards and Chase business cards), you’re not likely to be approved for most of their cards.
Chase has lots of cards to choose from. But as I showed my sister-in-law, Chase Ultimate Rewards point earning cards are the best for increased travel flexibility.
If you are new to the miles & points world, here are some terrific cards to consider:
|Card||Sign-Up Bonus & Minimum Spending Requirements||Our Review|
|Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card||80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account||Read why this is the top card pick for small business owners|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account||The #1 card for beginners|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account||Lots of folks love this premium credit card because of the ongoing perks!|
|Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card||$500 bonus (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account||Read our review here!|
|Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card||$500 bonus (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account||Read our review here!|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||$150 bonus (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account||Earn 1.5% cash back (1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on ALL purchases
|Chase Freedom||$150 bonus (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account||Here's our review of this great no-annual-fee card!|
Keep in mind, you can NOT transfer points directly to Chase airline and hotel partners if you have a no-annual-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards points earning credit card. But you can combine points to another eligible Chase card. Then, transfer points. Here’s a graphic to show which cards you must have to transfer points.
A short credit card strategy sit-down with my sister-in-law resulted in a HUGE boost to her points balance.
She now has a fantastic trifecta of Chase cards, including the:
Earning new cardmember sign-up bonuses is the fastest way to get Big Travel with Small Money! And just 2 new card sign-up bonuses got my sister-in-law points worth $1,900 in travel!