Best Credit Cards

The Credit Card that Enticed Me to Give Up my 5/24 Holding Pattern

Update: application link for Merrill card appears to be dead.

Introduction

Back in December, I reevaluated my Chase 5/24 status. If you are new to the credit card miles and points hobby or have no idea what I’m talking about, Chase will not approve people for most cards if you have opened 5 or more new credit cards in the past 24 months. It’s really a tough rule for those of us in this hobby, because Chase has some really awesome credit card offers!

Since the Chase Sapphire Reserve came out last year, I’ve been trying in vain to get pre-approved for the card to bypass the 5/24 rule, with no luck. Chase threw me a bone in January by pre-approving me for the Chase Sapphire Preferred instead. I was ecstatic with this approval, as the card still comes with a hefty sign-up bonus.

After getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred, I decided to hunker down and hold off on applying for new personal credit cards to get under 5/24 by November 2017. My strategy would include applying for business cards while my husband still collected miles from personal cards. I’ve been in this 5/24 holding pattern.

However, over the past few weeks, I’ve been having second thoughts about my strategy of waiting to apply for new cards. And a few days ago, I threw it all away and applied for a new personal credit card.

Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why Did I Change My Strategy?

It really comes down to forecasting our travel for the next two years and determining which cards will fit our needs the most.

For the past three years, I’ve had a Southwest companion pass. One of those years, my husband had one, too. Our Southwest points and companion passes were a perfect fit for our family of five. We live near a Southwest hub, and we used to fly on Southwest 3-4 times per year. My primary reason for trying to get under 5/24 was to earn more Southwest points and get another companion pass.

However, times are changing for my family. With our kids getting older, our future trips will be less frequent and will soon branch outside of Southwest’s route map (more on that development in a future post). When we look at the trips we are planning for the next two years, Southwest points will play a lesser role than they did in the past.

In addition, upon reflection I realized I have been too hesitant in this hobby. I haven’t jumped on lucrative offers in a timely manner, and I’ve missed out on some great deals. Compared to some, I’m pretty conservative when it comes to earning miles and points from credit cards.

It’s 2017, and I’m throwing caution and hesitation to the wind!

So the Winning Credit Card Is….

Drum roll, please.

Image courtesy of interphasesolution at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Merrill + Visa Signature from Bank of America.

Leana has written about this card several times (last November when it first came out, a few weeks ago and again as a comparison to the SPG Amex and CSR). This card does not pay us commission, but we are featuring it because it’s a great deal for families regardless.

The Merrill + Visa Signature card has no annual fee and comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after spending $3000 within 90 days. You can redeem the 50k points for $500 in cash, gift cards or statement credit. Or, you can use the points for “Anytime, Anywhere Air Rewards” for tickets up to $500 in value for 25,000 points (so up to $1000 for two airline tickets with the 50k bonus).

My husband and I both applied for this card on Saturday. As I expected from reading other data points, our applications went to pending status. Since most people reported getting approved after one business day, I checked our application statuses online on Monday. Sure enough, we were both approved!

Nobody knows how long this credit card offer will be available. If I didn’t sign up for it soon, I would have kicked myself if it was gone tomorrow.

Plans for the Points

With our two cards combined, we will have either $1000 in cash or $2000 towards four airline tickets. Not too shabby for a card with no annual fee!

Although my husband could have applied just by himself while I still held out for 5/24, the reality is that two plane tickets are not nearly as useful for my family of five as four tickets are. With the potential of four free $500 airline tickets, there are a lot of routes that open up to us, even one-ways outside of the U.S. We would still have to pay for the 5th ticket or find award availability on another program for our last ticket. However, that’s still more doable than paying for all five tickets in cash.

We may decide to use these points to help us get ideal routing to or from Hawaii in early 2018, or we could use the $1000 cash to help pay for our short stay at Disney’s Aulani Resort. Or we could just save the points for another trip altogether. The possibilities are endless!

Just the Beginning

I didn’t come out of my 5/24 holding pattern for just this card. I’ve got my eyes on a few other cards in the future, including ones that earn Amex Membership Rewards points and American Airlines miles. I might work on earning Alaska Airlines miles, or go for the Avianca 60k bonus. My plan is to stick to cards that earn airline miles and flexible points. I’m going to pass on hotel points cards for now.

Of course, I will still check from time to time to see if Chase has pre-approved me for the CSR or the Chase Ink Business Preferred cards. Since this happened to me for the CSP, it could happen again.

Recent events in my life keep reminding me that life is too short and very unpredictable. I want to see the world with my family while we have the means, the time and our health. And these credit card opportunities are helping us get there.

Is anyone else giving up the 5/24 holding pattern? Or were you never going to wait? Anyone still holding strong?

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Author: Nancy

Nancy is a contributing writer for Miles For Family. She enjoys traveling to the beach and is a big fan of Disney. Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids.

14 thoughts on “The Credit Card that Enticed Me to Give Up my 5/24 Holding Pattern

  1. I’ve been trying to stay on the 5/24 path as well but want another card so badly. I passed on another Aadvantage card last month as I was only 18 months out from closing and didn’t want to take a chance. This card sounds perfect but can you direct me to a site to understand the airline reward? I just read Doctor of Credit and it sounds like you can only purchase one airline ticket at a time. Also, do you purchase this ticket through a specific portal or is this reward good for purchasing directly from the airlines? Thanks for any clarification.

    • @Michelle You may have missed my post on this topic, see the second part: https://milesforfamily.com/2017/02/13/close-call-merrill-visa-signature-sign-bonus/ It will give you a pretty good idea on booking airline tickets through Merrill portal. Based on my experiment, you should be able to purchase several tickets at a time. If you are short on points, it will let you copay with cash. It’s a great offer, especially if you can find tickets right at $500 mark.
      On AA card, there is currently a working non-affiliate link without 24 months language: https://www.citicards.com/cards/credit/application/flow.action?app=UNSOL&sc=4XSD1887&m=148D000002W&B=A&ID=3001&uc=FJR&t=t
      I don’t know if you’ll get the miles, but many had success with it. That being said, I think Merrill bonus is superior if you can only pick one.

      • Leana,
        OK, I somehow missed that takeaway from that post as well. Like Michelle, I did not know you could book multiple tickets with the points So, in practice, could I book a round trip flight for 4 tickets that costs $1200 with 50,000 points and have the points cover $1,000 and use $200 cash for the remainder?

      • @CBD–My understanding is that if you have 50,000 points, you can book up to two tickets at 25k each with a value up to $500 per ticket. The minimum you will spend per ticket is 25k points. If the tickets are over $500 each, you can pay the remainder on any credit card. The four tickets come into play if you have 2 cards, each with 50k points. It’s confusing, for sure!

        Or, if you have 2 cards you would have $1000 combined in cash back to spend on anything. Hope that helps!

    • @Cheapblackdad Nancy is correct. That’s how it was showing up for me when I checked the portal. See my hypothetical example of booking two tickets to Vancouver.
      @Michelle You are certainly welcome! Everyone is busy and I don’t expect folks to read every post I publish. It is a very good offer, for sure.

  2. @Nancy how are you finding out from Chase what you’re prequalified for? Hubby and I are over the 5/24 and are still applying for other cards, but I could kick myself for not getting Southwest points (just the points as there was no way I would be able to get 2 cards from Southwest) and Chase Ink. I was just going to concentrate on regular spending this year (after Jetblue cards and a Hyatt card for a planned trip) with CSR and SPG Amex, but then we got offers for 45,000 points from Korean Skypass, 50,000 points from Citi Premier, and I wanted to accumulate AA points. Some of these offers are too good to pass up and could help our family of 4 with free flights (almost free + annual card fees + taxes & fees).

    My hubby had a relative get snarky with him yesterday when they found out how many trips we’re going on this year (and where we were going) because we said we couldn’t afford a $7,000 cruise. Ahhh…the life with points 🙂

    Thanks again Nancy and Leanna for all that you do. It’s nice to know that there are people out there that are so willing to help others. A lot of our current and future trips are due to your advice and info.

      • Thanks for sharing the link, Jennifer! None of the 3 cards I was pre-qualified for in the branch showed up here or in my account offers. So weird! Thankfully, I live just a couple of miles from a branch, so I will be asking every few months. 🙂

    • @Stephanie I went into a Chase branch and sat down with a banker. He had me type my SS# into his keypad and was able to determine which cards I was pre-approved for. If you live near a Chase branch, I recommend you stop by, because you never know!

      You’re right, there are some other good offers out there that are too good to pass up!

      I’m so glad that you have some great trips coming up! Don’t worry about snarky comments from others. People outside of this hobby don’t understand. 🙂

  3. @Jennifer – thanks for the link (no offers available to either of us), but I’ll keep looking. @Nancy figured I would have to go in-branch. Would they let me plug in my hubby’s SS# to figure out if he’s pre-qualified? He has a tough work schedule, and I can’t just make him go in a branch just to find out that it was a waste of time. Thanks for the info….and we do ignore the comments…you should have seen the looks we got when my kids said we stayed at the San Francisco Fairmont in a Suite 🙂

    • @Stephanie Definitely ignore snarky comments! Some people will be miserable no matter what you do. It’s a tricky thing, for sure. I do my best not to discuss our trips unless someone actually asks me. I think it’s better that way. That being said, it’s not like I stole the money or points to pay for our trips! You shouldn’t be embarrassed or feel guilty either. I buy my clothes at Goodwill and my wedding ring cost us $100. Which reminds me, I need too get it fixed… Everyone has different priorities.
      Unfortunately, your husband will have to go in branch unless the banker knows you personally. Then perhaps he/she will make an exception. Sorry!

    • Unfortunately, it is. 🙁 Leana made a note at the top this morning about the links being dead. Hopefully it will come back (sometimes these offers reappear!)

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