17 for ’17 — part 1: Chase Ultimate Rewards & Starwood Preferred Guest

2016 was a lot of things to a lot of people. For me, it was the year I lost my mind and acquired 17 new credit cards, all bright and shiny for the new year. Yeah. 17. I applied and was approved for the final one today. It wasn’t a goal. it just happened that way. I swear.

I don’t recommend any normal person do this. A normal person should just choose the one or two cards that they are going to use (protip: Chase Sapphire Reserve + Chase Freedom Unlimited) that can get them beaucoup travel or cash back.

Here’s what I can tell you, though, about this insane adventure: 

  • It did not negatively impact my credit score in any meaningful way.
  • It did not cost me a significant amount of money, and in many cases the annual fees are offset by clever finagling.
  • I am not paying interest.
  • I do not plan on keeping many of these cards more than a year.
  • Several of the cards were only approved after calling a reconsideration line.
  • I got a shitload of free travel, some of which I’ve already used, and all of which I intend to.

Here’s what I got and why:

Chase Ink Plus for Business: We needed a business card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, because you can use them to fly United, and for a bunch of other useful stuff. Signup bonus was 70,000 points, and first year is free.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: It earns 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on taxis, subway, and restaurants, so it was pretty much made for me. And it came with 100,000 points and lounge benefits.

Chase Freedom Unlimited: It earns 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent when I can’t get 3 using my Sapphire Reserve. It came with 15,000 points.

Chase Freedom Unlimited #2: While not technically a business card, we use it for the business so we can earn 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent for most things. It was changed from a Sapphire Preferred, which came with 50,000 points.


Amex Starwood Preferred Guest: Starwood Preferred Guest points are actually super useful because they can be transferred to 35 different airline programs. Still, I didn’t care about this card until after Marriott acquired Starwood and announced an easy way of transferring points between their respective loyalty programs, meaning that the points are also now valuable for a massive hotel chain with 30 different brands. So I grabbed this card for its 25,000 point signup bonus at the same time that I also grabbed two other cards with similar bonuses, for a cool 75,000+ SPG points. There was also widespread speculation that this card would be soon discontinued given Marriott’s relationship with Chase, and the likelihood that both rewards programs will be replaced by an all-new one in 2018.

Amex Starwood Preferred Guest for Business: See above. I got it for the 25,000 SPG point signup bonus. I may keep it in order to preserve the SPG points, and also for its Sheraton lounge access.

Chase Marriott Business: Also see above. I got this card for its signup bonus of 80,000 Marriott Rewards points, which translates to 26,666 SPG points. Also, this card is exempt from the usual Chase rule where they won’t give you a new card if you have obtained more than five personal cards, with anyone, in the past two years. Score!


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