I put together a long post about my overall travel goals for 2018 — unfortunately, that post got deleted and I can’t recover it. Instead of recreating all of that, I am going to spread it out over 3 separate posts — one about my goals with credit cards, one about actual travel, and finally one about my elite status strategy.
I have some lofty goals for 2018. With 2017 being my first full year as a travel hacker, I traveled a lot but also learned some valuable lessons.
Recap of my year with credit cards
1) Meticulously track your credit cards!
Most importantly, as long as you are under 5/24 it is extremely important to keep track of when and if you can continue to apply for cards.
2) Get as many cards with one brand that’s possible
I was pondering a new credit card for much of the year only realizing that the card I should be getting is right in front of me. Holding the Chase Sapphire Reserve I assumed that the Preferred was off limits — I realized how wrong I was just in time. I signed up and got an additional 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards the week before Chase changed their rules on holding both cards.
My 2017 credit card activity went as follows:
– Delta Gold AMEX, 60,000 point sign-up bonus after $1,000 spend in the first 3 months
I’ll dive deeper into this, but ultimately I don’t think I needed to get this card. I started traveling weekly with Delta so there were no perks the card provided that I wasn’t already getting. And while the points were nice, I learned that I need to be more vigilant about the credit cards I sign up for — especially while I am still under 5/24!
– Chase Sapphire Preferred, 50,000 point sign-up bonus after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months
As I mentioned, I never really considered the CSP because I foolishly assumed I wasn’t eligible for it since I held the Reserve. Unfortunately, I wasted some valuable time in not signing up earlier, but mistakes have to be made to learn! This card is very important for my overall points gaining strategy, but also to lock down the Chase suite of products.
Strategy for the year ahead
Things have slightly changed since I wrote the ghost blog. One of the many benefits of Credit Karma is that they will show you all of your credit cards and when they were opened — something that is surprisingly hard to figure out with the issuing banks themselves. In doing this I found an error in my own record keeping, I was actually at only 4/24 — something that changes my strategy immensely.
Currently this card offers the highest sign-up bonus across all Chase products at 80,000 points. While the minimum spend at $5,000 is steep, it is really hard not to pass up.
I am still torn between the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited — I want to eventually have both products, but one will have to wait until later on in the year.
Whichever Freedom product I don’t sign up for, I will downgrade my Sapphire Preferred to. This should round out my Chase suite.
When it comes to spending on credit cards, every purchase you make should be earning bonus spend. And by the end of this year I am hoping to achieve just that — I most definitely have dining and travel done, the Ink Preferred has bonuses on cable and phone services (as well as a great deal on phone insurance!), and then any other purchases that don’t fall into one of those categories receives 1.5x the rewards with the Freedom Unlimited.
I firmly believe that Chase Ultimate Rewards are the most valuable points currency out there, and anyone else looking to maximize their rewards should consider following this strategy.
Stay tuned for my goals with elite status next year!