After being convinced that the credit card I was recently approved for was lost in the mail, I finally received it Friday last week.
The next morning, I applied and was approved for my fourth credit card in a little less than a year.
This may sound a little reckless, especially if you’re from the Dave Ramsey camp like me, but I assure you that it’s all part of a plan that I’ve been thinking about ever since I finally threw out my old mindset and signed up for my first credit card a year ago today.
But wait, why the change of heart about credit cards in the first place?
An episode of ChooseFI did it for me. I had heard of travel hacking before I listened to this episode, but I always thought it sounded so intricate and difficult. However, Brad and Jonathan, the hosts of the podcast, explained travel hacking for beginners so well that I knew I could do it, and I had a feeling I would actually have fun with the process. Deciding to try out their Chase Gauntlet Strategy, I signed up for my very first credit card since I was 18, the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Click here for more details regarding this card.
Being a credit card user for the first time in over 10 years did require some adjusting though. I was used to logging into our checking account then bringing up our budget and balancing it very simply. I now had to also log into my credit card account and balance my budget using transactions from this account, as well.
That wasn’t so bad after a few days, but I never got used to seeing more money in our checking account than was actually there. I became so paranoid that we were going to overspend that I would pay off our card every single time we used it just so that our checking account would show how much actual, unspent money we had. It was pretty exhausting.
Fortunately, it only took me a couple months to come across a free service called Debitize, which deducts the amount of each credit card transaction from our checking account the next weekday morning, holds it in a reserve account and pays off our credit card every two weeks (check out this post for more details). Our checking account no longer shows more money than we actually have, I receive an app notification every two weeks letting me know my credit card is paid off, and all my credit card problems were solved.
Since using a credit card was so much easier after finding Debitize, I went ahead and signed up for my second card in February, the Chase Ink Business Preferred. The signup bonus for this card was huge at 80,000 points, but it came with an equally as huge spending limit of $5,000 in three months. My husband and I live very frugally and wouldn’t have been able to meet this limit without drastically overspending, so I applied for it a few weeks before we needed to reserve hotels and trains for the two-week stay in Russia that we had planned for June. You can read more details about this second card here.
After receiving the signup bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the signup bonus from the Chase Ink Business Preferred, I had over 130,000 points within three months. This came out to $1,300 in cash value or over $1,625 worth of travel rewards.
We have not touched our debit cards since signing up for that first card in December, and as of today, I now have a total of 320,383 Ultimate Rewards points. This comes out to $3,203.83 in cash or about $4,004.79 worth of travel rewards.
Okay, to be fair, let’s take out the $95 annual fee we paid for the Chase Ink Business Preferred. So, $3,108.83 in cash, or about $3,909.79 in travel rewards.
Considering that our motive for opening these cards is to travel for as cheaply as possible, paying the annual fee in exchange for the travel value we received comes out to about the same as stepping over two pennies to pick up a $100 bill.
I don’t think that’s too shabby for our first year of having credit cards!
We’re moving in a different direction now with the two latest cards we have signed up for, the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business last week and now the personal version of this card, the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier.
You can read about the business card by clicking this link, but for details about the personal card, just keep scrolling!
Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier
- Sign-up Bonus Points: 40,000
- Spending Limit to Receive Bonus: $1,000 in the first three months from account opening (This is important to remember. The clock starts on the date you’re approved, not on the date you receive or activate the card!)
- Earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases within your first year.
6,000 anniversarybonus points
- $99 annual fee, not waived
- No foreign transaction fees
- Unlimited points that don’t expire as long as your account is open
- Travel protection
Since this is a personal card instead of a business card, the application process is really quick and simple with all the basic questions – your name, address, phone number, type of residence, total gross annual income, type of income, etc.
I was a little nervous about applying for this card barely over a week after applying for the business version of this card, but I didn’t want to miss out on the temporarily larger signup bonuses, and I wanted to have it here in time to start using it in January. I was glad to see, as with my one other personal card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, that I was approved instantly.
Why this card?
Chase offers three Southwest Rapid Rewards® personal cards – Plus, Premier and Priority. The main differences are the annual fees and the number of anniversary bonus points you receive.
- Plus: $69 annual fee;
3,000 anniversarybonus points
- Premier: $99 annual fee;
6,000 anniversarybonus points
- Priority: $149 annual fee;
7,500 anniversarybonus points + $75 annual Southwest travel credit
The main reason I chose the Premier was so that I could use my friend Kate from smartsncents.com‘s referral link. She had used my referral link for the Chase Ink Business Preferred card several months ago, and I wanted to return the favor by giving her 10,000 bonus points at no cost at all to me. This has recently been changed so that the referral link works for any of the Southwest cards (business or personal) cards, so if this post helps you decide to sign up for the any of them, you can do the same favor for me by using this link to fill out the application!
This card accompanies the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Business Premier card that I was very recently approved for. We plan to start using both of these cards in January with one intention in mind – earning the Companion Pass.
What is the Companion Pass?
The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass allows you to designate one person to fly with you for free (does not include taxes and fees) every time you purchase or redeem points for a flight for the duration of the pass.
How do you earn it?
There are two ways you can earn the Companion Pass:
- “Simply” (the adverb used on Southwest’s website) fly 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year.
- Earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. (Let me stress that again, calendar year.)
I don’t know about you, but flying 100 one-way flights isn’t happening for me. However, earning 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year is attainable. The signup bonus from the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier card will take care of 40,000 of these, and the signup bonus from the business version of the card that I previously mentioned will take care of 60,000. After that, just 10,000 more to go!
How long does the Companion Pass last?
After meeting one of the criteria above, you’ll earn the Companion Pass for the following full calendar year, plus the remainder of the year in which you earned it.
Because of this, timing is critical. It is best to apply for these cards as late in the year or as early in the year as possible so that you can meet the spending limit early on and get the most benefit out of the pass that you possibly can. Again, keep in mind that the 110,000 points must be earned in a calendar year, not within a year of being approved for the card. Therefore, we are holding off on some larger purchases until January to try to hit the limit as soon as we can.
Where does Southwest fly?
As of December 2018, Southwest Airlines has scheduled flights to 99 destinations in 40 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, according to Wikipedia.
Why did I apply for this card after the business card?
I did it for the larger signup bonus that the business card offers. That way, if for some reason I didn’t get approved for the personal card, I would have gotten at least 60,000 bonus points instead of just 40,000 that the personal card would have given me.
This is my fourth card in a 24 month period, two of which are business cards, so I wasn’t concerned with Chase’s 5/24 rule. If you’re not familiar with that rule, Chase will automatically decline you if you have opened five or more personal credit cards issued by any bank in the last 24 months. If you are concerned with this rule, I suggest doing your research and deciding for yourself which to apply for first. From what I have seen, some suggest opening the personal card first, and some suggest opening the business card first.
What will our next move be?
I’m not sure at this point! I would like to start focusing on building hubby’s credit so that he can repeat the process of opening these same cards and doubling our rewards. He’s much more hesitant about credit cards than I am (it took me months to get him on board with me opening one last year), so he hasn’t had much to say about this when I suggest it. Whatever we decide to do, you guys will be the first to know!
As always, the intent of my blog is to share my experience, not to recommend that you do anything I’m doing. I especially want to make it clear that if you have credit card debt, struggle with sticking to your budget and/or paying bills on time, I do not recommend travel hacking with credit cards.
- Credit Card #1: Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Credit Card #2: Chase Ink Business Preferred
- Credit Card #3: Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business
- Credit Card #5: Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless