The White Whale of Travel Credit Cards

The Chase Sapphire Reserve

As a grad student right now accruing tens of thousands of dollars of debt, I have little surplus money to spend on travel and taking out more loan money seems like a dangerous precedent to set. However, my travel itch is incessant and my hiking isn’t cutting it. About a year ago, I realized that my schooling could be paid for with credit cards with absolutely no extra fees from the school. The loan money is then deposited directly to my bank account and subsequently re-routed to pay off the credit card. I can just hear Gordon Ramsey softly whispering in my ear, “beautiful.”  I’ve now opened and utilized this technique for five different cards which I’ll catalog on here later for my personal record keeping.

Five. A seemingly innocuous enough number. I’ve enjoyed the watching the “fierce five” in 2012 and the “final five” at the 2016 Olympics. Five, however, is a terrible number for credit card churners everywhere. Chase (the bank) in the last year has retaliated on this controversial churning practice. Chase will absolutely reject your credit card application if you have opened five or more credit cards from ANY bank in the last 24 months. (“5/24” will be the shorthand for this rule from here on.) Now in my original travel plans for a trip to Rome that has since fallen through, I mapped out my credit card apps and got my first card in February. This means that if 5/24 exists for this card, I’d have to wait until February of 2018 for a shot at it and by then its benefits will probably have been nerfed.

Of course just over a month after getting my fifth card, a new player entered the fray. The white whale has appeared! Chase now has an elite card to compete with the likes of Citibank and American Express and it is called the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Some people have already captured it through backdoor developer links that have since been shut down and, of huge importance, the 5/24 rule did not apply. Chase has stated that the card will be publicly available beginning next week. The sign up bonus of 100,000 points with 4k spend is one of the best ever public offers for a flexible points rewards card. While the sign-up fee of $450 is painful, it can be assuaged by a $300 travel credit per CALENDAR year and a credit for Global entry or TSA pre-check that can run $100 as well.

So if we assume 5/24 does not apply (unlikely) and my credit worthiness is sufficient (more likely), within one year of card ownership I can get $600 in travel reimbursed plus $85 for TSA pre and 104,000 points which could be added to my stash of 130,000 United miles. Add in the travel insurance and extra perks and even with the $450 annual fee, this is likely the most compelling rewards card to ever hit the market. As of earlier today I could take myself and six friends to Turks and Caicos for free by combining the Reserve’s points with my own. Fingers crossed and let the churn and burn be ever in your favor.

 

Ramble on,

Sam

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