Applying for Your First Travel Cards

This post is part of the Travel Hacking 101: First Class in 90 Days series.

In the last post of this series, Your First Travel Credit Cards (Part 2), your action items were to find out how much spending you can put on credit cards each month and to find out how many cards you have applied for in the last 24 months. Have this info handy for the rest of this post.

Spending Requirements

The two cards you’ll be applying for have a combined spending requirement of $4,500 in 3 months. Make sure you can meet this spending requirement. Getting a card and not hitting the bonus spending requirement is one of the worst things you can do in travel hacking.

Multiply the amount you can spend on credit cards each month by 3. Don’t forget to take into account any big irregular purchases you might have to make in the next 3 months and add it to this total.

  • If you are well short of $4,500 in 3 months, just apply for the Chase Freedom for now. It only has a $500 spending requirement in 3 months. Wait until you have a big purchase to make, apply for the Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred, and then use it for the big purchase.
  • If you are just short of $4,500 in 3 months, you could just apply for the Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred. These cards have a $4,000 spending requirement in 3 months. Then 3 months later, get the Chase Freedom in your second round of applications.
  • If you can meet the $4,500 in 3 months, congrats! This puts you on track to have enough points to book an international first class flight in 90 days!

There are some ways you can increase your credit card spending without actually spending any more money than you normally would:

  • Dining out with a group? Offer to put the entire bill on your card and have everyone pay you back.
  • Pay insurance bills upfront. Insurance companies will often let you pay your bill in yearly or 6 month installments. You will probably even get a discount for doing so!
  • Check if you have any subscriptions that could be paid upfront in a yearly installment.
  • Have someone you could add as an authorized user? Add them as an authorized user and have them put all their spending on the card. Make sure you trust this person to pay you back!

Taking all of this into account, decide whether you’ll be applying for one or both of the cards we have discussed.

Chase Application Rules

There are two rules unique to Chase that you need to be concerned with.

  1. Chase 5/24 Rule
    • If you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months, Chase will automatically deny your application. If you are applying for both cards make sure you have opened 3 or less cards in the past 24 months.
  2. 30 Day Rule
    • Chase will only let you open two cards in a 30 day period. Make sure you haven’t opened another Chase card in the past 30 days before applying.

Filling out the Application

This part is pretty straightforward. Answer all the questions on the application truthfully. Never lie about your income or employment status.

Getting your Decision

There are three outcomes that can happen when applying for a new card.

  1. You’re immediately approved!
  2. You’re immediately denied.
  3. You get a screen that looks something like this:


No need to panic! When this happens, you’re going to want to immediately call Chase’s reconsideration department. Most often they just need to verify some info with you over the phone. Every time I’ve ever got this screen, I’ve called up, talked to the rep for 5 minutes and was approved over the phone. You’re going to want to say something along the lines of:

Hi! I just applied for the (insert card name here), and was wondering if you needed anymore information from me.

They’ll ask you a few basic questions. Be truthful in your answers, and hopefully they will approve you over the phone. You can reach Chase’s reconsideration line at 1-888-270-212. They are open:

  • 8am-10pm EST Monday to Friday
  • 8am-8pm EST Saturday & Sunday

For this reason I recommend applying for your cards in one of these time frames.

Your “action items” for this post are:

  1. Apply for either the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred.
  2. Apply for the Chase Freedom.
  3. Meet the spending requirements and get the bonuses!


Editorial Disclaimer: All written content on this site is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely of the author, unless otherwise specifically cited. All information or ideas provided should be discussed in detail with an advisor, accountant or legal counsel prior to implementation. Neither the editorial content nor the comments on this site are provided by the companies whose products are featured. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or evaluations provided here are those of the author’s alone.

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