Why I’m not applying for any new cards this year

When it comes to applying for a new credit card, one always wants to find the best welcome offer. This means finding the offer that provides the most value, whether it’s in the form of points, cash back, or other rewards. However, what if there’s a welcome offer so potentially lucrative that it keeps you from signing up for other cards for an entire year? That’s the situation I find myself in after getting the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card last year.

In the fall of 2023, I took advantage of a fantastic (now-expired) welcome offer on the Chase Freedom Unlimited. The offer was that at the end of my first year, Chase would match all the cash back earned on the card in my first 12 months of ownership. This means that for the first year of having the card, the earnings rates are essentially doubled. Instead of earning 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, I’ll earn a total of 10% back. Instead of 3% back on dining and drugstores, I’ll earn 6%. And instead of 1.5% back on all other purchases, I’ll earn a solid 3%. These elevated earnings rates are some of the best you’ll find on any cash-back card.

With such a lucrative offer, it’s no wonder that I find myself hesitant to sign up for other credit cards. Many other cards offer lavish travel perks and rewards, but it’s hard to beat the 10% cash back on travel booked through Chase. Additionally, the 6% cash back on dining is a fantastic return, especially given my personal spending habits. It’s clear that the Chase Freedom Unlimited is my best bet for maximizing value in my day-to-day spending.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I won’t consider other cards in the future. When my first 12 months on the Freedom Unlimited are over, I plan to apply for another popular and valuable offering from Chase: the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. This is because Chase’s 5/24 rule dictates that they won’t approve any new card applicants who have opened five or more personal credit cards across all banks in the last 24 months. Therefore, it’s wise to prioritize getting Chase cards first.

Furthermore, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, along with a few other Chase cards, allows me to convert my cash back on the Freedom Unlimited into fully transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. This unlocks Chase’s full range of 14 airline and hotel transfer partners, giving me even more options for maximizing my rewards. Every cent earned with the Freedom Unlimited will be worth 1 Ultimate Reward point, which is valued at 2.05 cents per TPG valuations. This effectively earns me over a 20% return on all travel purchases and over a 12% return on dining and at drugstores.

To summarize, by taking advantage of the matched cash-back offer on the Freedom Unlimited and then converting my cash back into points with another Chase card, I will quadruple the standard return on the Freedom Unlimited for my first 12 months of ownership.

The matched cash-back offer on the Freedom Unlimited is a rare one, and it’s not something you see every day. However, it’s a great example of the need to be flexible in the credit card rewards game. Originally, I had planned on getting the Sapphire Preferred much earlier in my credit card journey, but I’ve postponed it to maximize my return on spending with the Freedom Unlimited in the meantime.

This offer works particularly well for me because of my spending habits. Although I don’t travel a lot, I spend a significant amount on eating out. Therefore, the 6% cash back in the dining category is a boon for my bottom line.

In conclusion, credit card rewards are all about what’s valuable to you. It’s important to find the card, perks, and welcome offer that make the most sense for your lifestyle and spending habits. And when something really lucrative comes along, be ready to take advantage. Just remember to consider which card to pair it with next to continue maximizing your rewards.

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