Why I’m not applying for any new cards this year

When applying for a new credit card, it’s always important to find the best welcome offer that offers the most benefits. However, what if there’s a welcome offer that is so lucrative that it keeps you from signing up for other cards for an entire year? This is the situation that I find myself in after getting the Chase Freedom Unlimited in September of last year.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited offered a best-ever sign-up bonus in the fall of 2023, which has now expired. The card’s earnings rates were essentially doubled for the first year of ownership, meaning that instead of earning 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, I earned a total of 10% back. Instead of 3% back on dining and drugstores, I earned 6%. And instead of 1.5% back on all other purchases, I earned a solid 3%. These elevated earnings rates were some of the best in the market.

So why am I waiting to apply for another card? The answer is simple – the welcome offer on the Chase Freedom Unlimited is so lucrative that it’s hard to beat. With 10% cash back on travel and 6% cash back on dining, it’s difficult to find another card that offers such high rewards in these categories. Additionally, the Freedom Unlimited also came with three months of complimentary DashPass, which encourages me to use food delivery services more frequently.

Sure, I could go for a premium travel card and take advantage of a welcome offer there, but when it comes to maximizing value on day-to-day spending, the Freedom Unlimited is my best bet. The lump sum of matched cash back will hit my account in the fall, and until then, I plan to make the most of the rewards on this card.

Once my first 12 months on the Freedom Unlimited are over, my next move will be to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. This card, along with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Ink Business Preferred, will allow me to convert my cash back on the Freedom Unlimited into fully transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. With access to Chase’s full range of airline and hotel transfer partners, every cent earned with the Freedom Unlimited will be worth 2.05 cents per TPG valuations – effectively earning me a high return on travel purchases and dining.

To summarize, by taking advantage of the matched cash-back offer on the Freedom Unlimited and then converting my cash back into points with another Chase card, I will quadruple the standard return on the Freedom Unlimited for my first 12 months of ownership.

This offer is a great example of the need to be flexible in the credit card rewards game. Initially, I had planned on getting the Sapphire Preferred earlier in my card journey, but I decided to maximize my return on spending by waiting. This offer also works well for me given my spending habits, as I don’t travel much but spend a lot on dining out.

In conclusion, credit card rewards are all about finding what’s valuable to you. It’s important to find a card, perks, and welcome offer that align with your lifestyle and spending habits. And when something really lucrative comes along, be ready to take advantage.

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