Clean Slate Series: Year 2 Of Applications, What I Would do if I Were Starting Out Now!

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Mapping Out the First Three Years of Applications, Year 2

Some Of These Offers May Have Changed/Ended

Mapping Out the First Three Years of Applications, Year 2

This is the second entry of my Clean Slate Series. For this series I am imagining what life would be like if I were starting out now.

How would I handle the new rules and regulations?

What would be my goals?

In order to get a better idea of how I set up this thought exercise, the ground rules I set forth, as well as my goals you should read the Year 1 Entry.

2nd Year of Applications

I left off the first year with a 5/24 count of 3.  I had gained a companion pass, some of the best lounge benefits in the business, and amassed over $4500 in travel value.

For year two I want to focus on building up my hotel points, my flexible points, and prepare myself for a companion pass again in year 3.  Here are my applications for year 2:

Some Of These Offers May Have Changed/Ended
  • Chase Ink Preferred Card – January 2019
    • This card offers a bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months.
  • SPG Business Card – April 2019
    • This card offers a bonus of 25,000 SPG points after spending $5000 within the first 3 months.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred (or Reserve) – July 2019
    • Both cards come with a bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after $4,000 in spend within the first 3 months.  The CSP also offers 5,000 UR points when you add an authorized user.
  • Capital One Venture/Barclay Arrival Plus – October 2019
    • I would get whichever card offered the larger bonus, currently the Venture card.  I would get 50,000 points after $3,000 in spend within the first 3 months.
Some Of These Offers May Have Changed/Ended

This would increase my 5/24 count from 3 at the end of year one to 5 now.  Remember that I can not get a Chase card under the 5/24 rule until I fall back down to 4 cards.  This is why I started with the personal Southwest card instead of the business version in Year 1.

Why I Chose These Cards & In This Order

It was important to me to spread out the Chase applications. Chase has been cracking down on churners as of late.  I finished last year with 2 Amex cards so I could start with a Chase card. I made sure the second Chase application was spaced out by 6 months. The explanation for each choice:

Mapping Out the First Three Years of Applications, Year 2

Chase Ink Preferred –

The Chase Ink Preferred has the largest sign up bonus on the market when you are discussing Ultimate Rewards points.  Many value Ultimate Rewards points above all else, myself included.  Since it is a business card it does not count towards my Chase 5/24 count either, even though it is a card offered by Chase.

Ultimate Rewards points transfer to United, British Airways, Hyatt, Southwest and many others.  That unlocks hotel stays, points to use with my companion pass, and international flights.

CLICK HERE to get more details and learn how to apply for this card and other business credit cards!

Mapping Out the First Three Years of Applications, Year 2

SPG Business Card –

I applied for the SPG Personal card in Year 1 because I thought that card may be discontinued soon. I believe the business version is here to stay.  The SPG Business card comes with a bonus of 25,000 points. The bonus does occasionally get increased to 30 or 35,000 points.

This bonus would add to the points I earned last year.  SPG points are the most valuable points on the market when discussing redemption values.  They are great for hotel stays or for transferring to airlines for international travel.  And, since it is a business card it does not count towards Chase’s 5/24 count.

CLICK HERE to get more details and learn how to apply for this card and other business credit cards!

Mapping Out the First Three Years of Applications, Year 2

Chase Sapphire Preferred –

Next, I wanted to increase my Ultimate Rewards stash. The best way to accomplish that, after the Ink Business Preferred, is to get one of the Sapphire products.  I would personally go with the Chase Sapphire Preferred because I think that it comes with the better value in the first year. If you were looking for a card to hold onto long term then you are better off with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

The Chase Ink Preferred matches up with my spending patterns better long term vs the Sapphire Reserve. I would keep the Ink Preferred long term which would keep my UR points transferable.

After completing the minimum spend on the CSP and adding an authorized user that would add 55,000 Ultimate Reward points to the 80,000 I earned with the Ink Preferred.  This would add one spot to my Chase 5/24 count placing me at 4/24.

CLICK HERE to get more details and learn how to apply for this card and other travel rewards credit cards!

Mapping Out the First Three Years of Applications, Year 2

Capital One Venture/Barclay Arrival –

Lastly, I thought it was time to get a travel reimbursement card to pay for the miscellaneous expenses I would incur while traveling. I would sign up for whichever card had the better offer at the time.

Either card could help offset international award ticket taxes, non chain hotel stays, car rentals or room charges while staying at a hotel etc.  This card would add to Chase’s 5/24 count increasing my count to the full 5/24.


After completing the minimum spend on these particular cards I would have earned the following:

  • 144,000 Ultimate Rewards Points worth $2160
  • 30,000 SPG Points worth $600
  • 56,000 Capital One Venture points worth $560
  • Sheraton Lounge Access that comes with the SPG Business card

I would have paid the following annual fees:

  • $95 for the Chase Ink Business Preferred
  • The rest of the cards waive the annual fee the first year


After year two I have amassed a large amount of transferable points that can be used towards hotels, domestic, and international flights.  I gained over $3,300 in travel value with only spending $95 on annual fees.

If you do not value the Companion Pass from Southwest then year 2 may look more closely to what your first year of applications would be.

I have maxed out my 5/25 count sitting on 5 over the last 24 months.  You will need to come back for year 3 to see how I still get the Companion Pass for year 3 and 4.


How would you handle the second year of applications?  Does this more closely match how you would have done year 1?  Let me know in the comments.



Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. I’d be interested to see how this would play out if you didn’t own a business and were not eligible for business cards. Great series! I’ve been playing it cool for awhile, so I’m down to 2/5 and my husband is at 4/5. Trying to figure out our next moves…

    • That is the plan for after I finish year 3 – I will do a post for people without access to business cards. Thanks for reading!

  2. I didn’t see where you mention the annual fees from year 1 cards. Would you cancel them when it came due, or call & hope to get the fee waived? Or would you keep all 4 cards & pay the fee if you could not get it waived? I’m in my first year of this and have since Sept. ’17 gotten the Chase Freedom (regrets), SW plus, SW biz and Chase Ink Preferred. Trying to decide my next move. Really want the spg before it goes away, but hate to use a 5/24 space for it…

    • Faith good point I should add that in. I would cancel the 2 SW cards after the points post on the anniversary. You currently have only used up 2 Chase spots (Freedom, SW Plus) so if you got the personal SPG would only be sitting at 3 out of 5. You could then get the SPG business card down the road a little bit to add to your points.

      For my Year I would have canceled everything with a fee. The SW cards I will be getting again in year 3. The Platinum after the first year isn’t as valuable and I will be getting a different version in year 3. And with getting the SPG business card this year there is no reason to pay the AF on the personal version too. The Biz version is the better card since you get Sheraton lounge access with it.

  3. First let me say I’m a newbie, trying to figure this all out. I’m most interested in international travel, mostly fly Delta and not really interested in SW so not concerned about companion pass. From what I’ve been able to tell, Chase points don’t work on Delta, so wondering how valuable that series would be for me (looking for thoughts on that). I’ve had Delta AmEx Reserve for many years but that’s it. I did just get the SPG personal card after reading on here. Another question I have is how do you decide what you keep open and what you close once the first year is over (assuming fees waived)? Thanks for your thoughts on this. Enjoying this series since I am just starting out!

    • Yeah everyone is going to have a different agenda/goals etc. so their choices are going to be different. I usually look at a card and see what kind of value I get out of them and see if that value outweighs the annual cost.

      Unless you are traveling a lot for work and using the lounge access often or you need the MQM you can get from spend on the card I wouldn’t peg the Delta Reserve as a long term keeper.

      If Delta is who you fly and who you want to fly going forward then I would stick with Membership Rewards cards since MR points transfer to Delta 1 to 1. They have better perks, lower fees, and better earning rates vs the Delta cards.

      I would look at the Personal Platinum Amex card if you can get the 100k offer. It comes with Delta lounge access as well and a ton of other perks, and earns 5x on flights…a better card overall vs the Reserve.

      The Premium Rewards Gold is another good card that you can get a 50k MR offer most of the time.

      The other one I would look into is the Everyday Preferred card from Amex. It has the most rewarding earning structure out there for most people.

      Research those three and then decide which one offers the best return on your spend pattern and go from there. That would be my advice.

      • The nice thing about MR points instead of just Delta miles as well is you can transfer them to other airlines. Delta won’t always be the best choice and this would give you more options.

  4. I disagree with the Capital One, they pull all 3 CB. If you want cash back I’d get a 5% and or a 2%+ everywhere card with no fee.

    • Something to consider for sure Jeremy. I personally think the three CB pull is overplayed…Chase pulls 2 every app where I live.

      The 2% and 5% cards usually have little or no sign up bonus so I would look to downgrade to one in the future. If you were really worried about the 3 CB pulls you could always go for the Arrival+ instead. I think the Venture is a better product and currently has a better offer, but the Arrival+ will probably be back to 50k at some point.

        • The double cash back offer is amazing but takes a year to pay off. Something to consider for sure if you were to hit the card hard for a year. I think the sign up bonus is usually $50 from a referral though.


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