Credit Card Strategy for Newbies

A lot of people have been asking me about how to get started collecting airline and hotel points. Which card should you get first? Since every individual may have different travel preferences, I’ll start with my recommendation for getting started. My advice would be to start with a points program that allows for transfers to multiple programs. See my post on transferable point programs for more info on how transfers work.


My newbie strategy is based off a person with good credit and you’ve opened less than 4 personal credit cards in the past 24 months.


Start with Chase cards. Chase will automatically decline your application you if you’ve opened 5 or more personal credit cards in the past 24 months, this is commonly referred as the 5/24 rule. Chase has a lot of really good cards and they are the only ones that have this strict rule. Ok, so now that we’ve established which bank to start with, which card should you get first?

*note: Chase will only allow you to receive a bonus for each card every 2 years!

Good Cents Guy Top 4 as of May 2017























And just for a little perspective..60,000 Ultimate Rewards points can get you:











Round trip coach economy ticket to Rome!

4 nights at the Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica!


  • After this it comes down to personal preference. Any of these would be good options:

    • Chase United Mileageplus Explorer. Standard offer is 50,000 points after $3,000 in spend in the first 3 months. There recently have been targeted offers as high as 70,000 points AND $50, so check your emails and your United Mileage Plus account (you can create one for free)

    • Chase Freedom Unlimited. 15,000 points after $500 in spend in the first 3 months. Not the largest sign up bonus, but this card earns 1.5 points on all spend, so it’s a very nice companion card.

    • Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus and Premier. 40,000 points after $1,000 spend in the first 3 months. I’ve seen this offer go to 50,000 quite frequently, so I’d personally hold off until the bonus goes up again. The Plus card has an annual fee of $69 and the Premiere $99.

    • Marriott Rewards Premier. 100,000 points after $5,000 spend in the first 3 months. This is their highest offer and this card does have an annual fee of $85 that is not waived the first year

Chase cards not to start with: Hyatt, IHG, and British Airways. These cards are reported not to be affected by the Chase 5/24 rule, so it makes more sense to get these after you’ve reached 5/24 status.


After you’ve moved on from Chase, feel free to go after the best offers from other banks. I’ll be providing plenty of updates too!