Finding Your “Unicorn” Among Chase Co-Branded Cards

No, not the actual unicorn. I’m not that crazy, though one of my readers said that sometimes I come across as certifiably insane. Can you believe it? Oh no she didn’t!

man in shock

 

Anyway, back to “unicorn” analogy. What I mean by that is spotting a sign-up bonus you can’t get with any other bank. And I’m not just talking about specific currency. United miles can only be earned via Chase cards. But if you mostly need domestic redemptions on United Airlines, you can get them via other flexible points programs  like Thank You, SPG and Membership Rewards. You might prefer Hyatt hotels, but it’s not a deal breaker to stay in other brands or even go through sites like VRBO and AirBnB.

So, we are looking for something super valuable, specific to your unique travel pattern. First, you might read this post with more info on the subject. As I’ve mentioned earlier, if you only get two new cards per year (in your name), none of this applies. However, if you are like me and get 10+ bonuses in 24 months, right now, you might be scrambling to decide which Chase card should be your (potentially) last victim. My reader Doug gave a tip that you might want to reduce your Chase credit limit before applying in order to increase your chances of approval. Just send them secure message through your profile.

Let me walk you through my reasoning process and hopefully, it will help you with your own dilemma. You can’t get the bonus unless it’s been 24 months since you’ve last received it, so I’ll list the cards I’m eligible for:

Business cards

See this list for reference

I’m technically eligible for all of them, but don’t feel comfortable using a business card for non-business expenses in order to satisfy sign-up bonus requirements. Chase Ink Plus is the most tempting of the bunch, but I’ll have to reluctantly pass.

Personal hotel cards 

Check my list for reference

1) Chase Marriott Premier Visa

Pros: I’m a fan of Marriott brand. Also, there is no need to worry about expiration of certificates because you receive points instead. The current offer  is quite attractive since you can get 87,500 points.

Cons: Nice properties are very expensive on points. There aren’t that many Marriott beachfront hotels in Florida, and those are the most desirable for my family. Also, I still need to use  IHG and Wyndham points, so would be accumulating Marriott currency speculatively.

I’m not “married” to any particular hotel chain and as long as the room is clean, I’m perfectly fine. I can always  sign up for cards that offer Hilton points down the road, and there are plenty of those available via Citi and Amex. Last, but not least, the fee of $85 on Marriott offer is not waived.

Verdict: Pass.

2) Chase Fairmont Visa Signature

Pros: This is  a good time to consider the card since it will most likely be discontinued due to Accor brand takeover of Fairmont. So, it’s probably now or never. Fairmont has some very nice family-friendly properties, specifically in Maui and Big Island. Also, the offer has all kinds of goodies bundled in, like suite upgrades, free food etc.

Cons: I’m not going to Maui or Big Island within the next year. Or any other place that happens to have a Fairmont property. Florida has exactly zilch and if our plans fall through, I would be in a pickle.

Certificates  expire within a year and spending requirement is quite high at $3,000 in 3 months. That’s a lot of “investment” considering I will only get two nights out of it. Once again, if I was going to Maui, then I would be all over this offer. But I’m not planning such a major trip just to take advantage of hotel bonus (read my post on Fairmont card)

Verdict: Pass

3) Chase Hyatt Signature Visa

Pros: I already got this card in my name and have two night certificates in the account. If my husband applied, this could extend our hotel stay to 4 nights instead. Also, he happens to have Diamond status which comes with all kinds of perks like free breakfast, late checkout and upgrades.

This is the perfect time  to apply if I want to take advantage of the royal treatment I’ve heard so much about. Also, Hyatt Visa comes with a complimentary Category 1-4 hotel night when you renew the card annually and pay $75 fee. It could give us a nice weekend getaway between two certs.

Cons: I have  a lot of hotel stays planned already, and I’m not sure my husband could take two more days off. Since certificates expire after 12 months, it would put pressure on us to burn them whether we want to or not. Plus, as I’ve said, I still need to use my stash of various hotel points.  Also, hotels we want that happen to be a Category 4 (or lower) now, could become more expensive in a near future.

Verdict: Pass (reluctantly)

Personal airline cards

See my list for reference

1) Chase British Airways Visa Signature 

Pros: Some very good deals on non-stop American Airlines flights (a partner), especially when visiting hubs like New York, Dallas etc. Some excellent deals from Miami when flying to Caribbean. This program lets you cancel and re-deposit tickets with very low penalty.

It also allows to pull miles in a household account, which can come in handy. I could also use Avios for non-stop flights from Orlando to Dublin or Fort Myers to Dusseldorf at a  cost of 25,000 miles one-way. That compares favorably to other programs. Read this post for more on Avios

Cons: I’m mostly interested in flights to Caribbean, and Miami is 4.5 hours from our house. That’s too far according to my husband. BA could add fuel surcharges to Europe flights at any time, so I wouldn’t bank on me being able to get good value on those routes. When it comes to New York and other AA hubs, I can usually find discount tickets on other carriers.

For the most part, AAdvantage is a better fit for my family, and I can still apply for AA-earning cards through Citi. Speaking of, the value of Avios is dwindling because sAAver availability on American is tough to find, especially when looking for four seats. And those are the only tickets bookable with Avios. Annual fee of $95 is not waived on this particular offer. But the biggest con is: I don’t see me using these miles within the next three years.

Verdict: Pass

2) Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier

Pros: Southwest program is incredibly useful for my family. On average, you get 1.6 cents per point on certain fares, if booked in advance. We flew  Orlando – Jamaica and Orlando-Buffalo for only 9,000 points roundtrip per person. Southwest fills the gap on routes that cost 25,000 miles via other programs. Plus, no need to drive to Miami in order to utilize Avios for Caribbean.

I don’t have to worry about award availability, bags fly free, and there is no fee for cancellations. Since my kids are in school, that’s important. In addition, I’m pretty confident I could use the points within two years. If not, there is always a possibility to redeem them for various valuable gift cards like Amazon on 1:1 basis. The credit card has to be open, though, in order to utilize the gift card option.

There are only two ways to get Rapid Rewards points: transfer from Ultimate Rewards and via Southwest co-branded cards. I can’t apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Plus, so this could be my last chance to load up on this currency. I don’t plan to go for Companion pass, but if you are, it would definitely yield tremendous return.

Hot tip: There is a roundabout way to maximize value on Southwest flights. I saw somebody mention this in the comments section of Doctorofcredit. Basically, you redeem Flexperks points for any Southwest flight in order to hit the cutoff (20,000 points=$400, 40,000 points=$800).

Then you cancel the fare and use the credit for the flight you actually need. Southwest doesn’t charge penalties, so there is no loss. Read about Flexperks-earning card here  It is on my “keeper” list, and could work very well for those who fly Southwest or buy revenue tickets on a regular basis. Watch for this offer to increase around the time of Olympics.

Cons: The annual fee of $99 on Southwest card is not waived.

Verdict: I think I found my unicorn.

Right now I’m waiting to get email invitation link from my sister-in-law. I actually totally forgot that she has this card. Can you believe it? My husband’s uncle even used direct link when she could have collected 5,000 points on referral. If you are planning on applying for Premier version with $99 fee, let me know and I can send you an invite. Email me at milesforfamily@gmail.com or leave a comment.

It could take up to 7 days for you to receive it, so keep that in mind. Anything she gets will probably be used for my family’s trips, so in a way, you would be indirectly supporting the blog. Of course, feel free to check this Flyertalk thread for links and referrals on Premier, Plus ($69 fee) or business version of Southwest card.

Bottom line

If you switch credit cards constantly, this could be your last chance to pick up a co-branded Chase bonus offer. I recommend you choose wisely, and  select a card that will benefit you the most in the short term.  If you need hotel points in a specific program, go for hotel card. If miles it is you are after, go after  mileage bonus. If you are not sure, go West. Southwest. Have a business? Get Chase Ink Plus while you still can.

Readers, what is your Chase unicorn?

 

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23 thoughts on “Finding Your “Unicorn” Among Chase Co-Branded Cards

    • @Lindy Glad you found it beneficial! Oh, and please, don’t worry about misspelling. I make mistakes all the time. No matter how much I check my posts, a few slip through here and there. This is a safe space, so no need to worry.

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  1. I am like most in this potentially very lucrative hobby in that I can easily, and do, amass far more miles and points in various programs than my time allows to actually use. (I guess I could easily use them all by flying first class all the time, but I am not so miles-rich that I’d want to use them all up for a few hours of extra legroom and better choice and quantity of alcohol, especially since I don’t drink alcohol :). So why do I keep collecting more when I already have more than I can realistically use? Of course it’s fun to use those miles for your own travel, but I found it just as, if not more satisfying to be able to help my extended family and close friends with their travel dreams and needs.
    So if I see a great credit card bonus-earning opportunity pop up, I definitely use your excellent and sensibly personal pro-con approach, but I also keep in mind that, yes I may not personally need yet another 50,000 of these particular miles or points, but I’m pretty sure I know several people who would be thrilled and grateful to benefit from them. So as long as that particular application isn’t going to do any real harm to my steady, long-term strategy for collect miles, why not? I can easily share them with family, thus easily putting them in debt to me which I can use later for leveraging into various useful things such as fixing my car when in need: “So you had lots of fun on your trip to Hawaii then? I’m so happy for you. So anyway, my car is having trouble…” Voila!
    But, seriously, I share miles mainly out of the goodness of my heart. (No, seriously.)

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    • @cbax22 I hear what you are saying, and I’m very much in the same boat. That’s partially why I switched to accumulating cash back bonuses. This new Chase development totally threw me off. I wasn’t planning on applying for Southwest card, but feel it’s now or never. The rules may change or perhaps this restriction doesn’t take place after all. But right now I’m operating under the assumption that it will.
      If I do get approved for Southwest card, in all likelihood, the points will be used for my in-laws. I actually have enough for my own family for 2 years worth’ of trips. But I would hate for them to pay cash when there is an opportunity for me to get them via sign-up bonus. I may end up getting them flights, and they will take care of car rental etc.
      I definitely don’t think it’s wrong as long as you work out the terms ahead of time. I don’t keep track of what I spend on them, but they usually feel like they need to compensate me. So, it’s “one hand washes the other” kind of thing. And yes, my father-in-law fixes our car on a regular basis! 🙂 For various reasons, they can’t apply for credit cards right now. I also regularly use miles and points for my parents, but lately ended up using flexible points for revenue flights. It just made more sense to go that route. I agree that it’s extremely rewarding to use points for family and friends. Credit card bonuses made it possible for me to bring my parents here regularly, something I could never afford otherwise.

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  2. Well, Southwest makes the most sense for me. Dallas is a hub, and most of our free flights over the last 2 years have been on Southwest. The only card I could get is the Plus version. My husband can’t get either of the Southwest cards, but it might make sense for him to get the British Airways card since Dallas is also an AA hub. I wish I could get the Fairmont card to use for hotel rooms in Vancouver for our Alaska cruise, but we can’t use them within the year.

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    • @Nancy It sounds to me like getting Southwest Plus and BA Visa is the way to go. I love Rapid Rewards program as much as you do. It’s awesome! If I lived near AA hub like you do, I would probably consider Chase BA card. But unfortunately, Miami is a bit far. And now, with 4,500-mile routes gone, it would cost too much to add Tampa leg. Avios is a great “niche” airline program, and your family is in a position to benefit greatly from it.

      Of course, there are caveats, like lack of saver AA availability. I know you have some schedule flexibility and take kids off school on occasion, so it would help. I would be leery about getting Fairmont card if you don’t think you can maximize the value. You don’t want to be stuck with certs and just use them on nearby hotels out of desperation. Between the two, I would pick BA Visa. You can always get hotel points for Vancouver hotel if it comes down to it. Hilton has several decent cards, and none of them are issued by Chase.
      On an unrelated note, check into Spirit credit card. I’ll have a post on it hopefully next week. Living near Dallas (Spirit hub), you could potentially get amazing value out of your points. Stay tuned.

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  3. I thought I said crazy. LOL.
    Anyway, how ofen can you apply for a chase card? Sounds like people on other blogs are applying every few weeks.
    I will probably go for the IHG as I now have over 50000 pts from priceless surprises and a free night from the accelerate promotion.

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  4. I just found your blog. I appreciate your family perspective. I am going for the SW Companion Pass, so applied for the two SW cards (one personal, one business).Got “pending” reply on both. Will call reconsideration line for personal soon. SW just makes the most sense for me since our daughter lives in Denver and we live in MSP.

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    • @AJM Glad you found my blog and welcome aboard! It gets crazy here at times but hopefully, not too crazy. SW Companion Pass is an incredible deal for family, without a doubt. I don’t know if you’ve had a lot of recent inquires (credit card applications), but it could make sense to just wait it out on both Southwest offers. Very often, they do get approved on their own. Chase reps are tough to deal with these days. My advice is to wait and if you get rejected, then call.

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      • Thank for the reply. I was definitely going to wait with the business application. I’ll consider also waiting on the personal application. I have some business expenses that will hit in about a month that could knock out both cards’ spend requirements, so having them by then would be great!

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  5. I heard somewhere that transferring Ultimate Rewards doesn’t count towards the SW companion pass. My plan was to try for the Chase Ink (long term) and get one of the SW cards. But not sure if it makes sense. I don’t live in a location but surrounded by 3 (Indy, Dayton and Louisville).

    I just feel like if I don’t get it now I won’t ever have a chance for it. There are no good airline cards for Cincy since everything is a layover through Chicago or Atlanta.

    Appreciate the thoughts here. Now I have to figure out what to do.

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    • @Jen7 You are correct that UR transfer does not count towards Companion pass. You may want to read this post on various roundabout ways to do it http://www.doctorofcredit.com/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-the-southwest-companion-pass/
      As far as your apps go, I don’t see how you can go wrong with Ink. The points are flexible, so you can always use them on something, including cashing them out at penny each. At its worst, the offer is worth $505 when you factor in the annual fee. If you apply in-branch, you may even get it waived. If you have a legitimate business and can meet the spending easily, this is a no-brainer IMO.
      As far as the other card goes, this is a tougher one. If you need the miles, I probably would go with Southwest offer. If you can’t find use for your points, you can always get an Amazon (or other) gift card. The other possible option is BA Visa but with connections, Avios price will add up fast. It does depend on where you plan to fly. If it’s to one of AA hubs, then BA Visa could make sense. But without more details, given the choice between the two, I would probably go with Southwest. So many pluses: no need to hunt down award seats, free bags, ability to redeem points on gift cards.
      Hope this helps! Feel free to comment or email with more details.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Miles and Points Recap: Redeem Your Hyatt Suite Upgrades, Chase Ink Plus Reminder, Amex and More! – Miles For Family

  7. Pingback: It’s Raining Hilton Credit Card Offers and Status! | Miles For Family

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