Will the High Yield Portfolio Credit Card Strategy End Soon?

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To get the very best out of rewards cards you don’t just need one card, you need more than one.

  • You want to earn the most valuable points, these are points that transfer to a variety of frequent flyer programs.
  • You want to earn that at the fastest rate possible.

Here’s what I told the Wall Street Journal‘s Scott McCartney a few weeks ago,

Gary Leff..likes that flexibility. You have a better chance of landing the trips and dates you want if you can buy in a variety of programs.

“Is there one card that’s best? I don’t think so,” he says. But having multiple cards “is more rewarding than ever before.”

Scott writes,

You may want one card for everyday spending, one for travel and restaurant purchases, one to get lounge access and one to waive baggage and priority boarding fees if you don’t have elite status. You also might want one more for free hotel stays. And just signing up for a new card every year can get you a free ticket or multi-night hotel stay.

Singapore Airlines Suites

You should never earn just one mile per dollar. If you do, you’re buying that mile for 2 cents since you could easily put the spending on a 2% rebate card.

Instead you need to make the most out of all of your spending and that takes more than one card. While I’ve had a Starwood Amex for years, and used to use it for unbonused spending, there’s better solutions out there now (and many with that card will keep it for the perks but stop spending on it come August when earning changes).

You Need One ‘Hub’ Card

My favorite transferable currency is Chase Ultimate Rewards. They have high value partners like Korean, and even partners that don’t add fuel surcharges to award tickets like United. And Hyatt gives them a strong hotel partner, there’s not enough value in American Express points transfers to hotels.

Chase has the following transfer partners:

  • Airlines: United, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Air France KLM, Southwest, Aer Lingus, Iberia
  • Hotels: Hyatt, Marriott, IHG Rewards Club, Ritz-Carlton

Korean Air First Class

Chase’s no annual fee cards earn bonuses for spending in various categories, but the points do not transfer to airline miles. You need an annual fee card for that. You can pool all the points you earn with that one premium card, and all the points become transferable.

To make the strategy work, get one of these two cards:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You can earn another 5,000 bonus points when you add your first authorized user to the account and make a purchase in the same 3 months from account opening. It has a $0 annual fee the first year, then $95.

    The card earns 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

  • Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card offers 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Your spending will earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. It has a $95 annual fee. Note that you may be able to get an even bigger initial offer in branch.

You can also get the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, if you spend heavily on travel and dining the extra point per dollar over Sapphire Preferred is worth it. However it’s a higher annual fee card, it’s harder to get ($180,000 annual income and 785 average FICO score) while Sapphire Preferred has the bigger bonus and a $0 annual fee the first year.

Then You Can Take Advantage of All of the Bonuses

You can get an Ink Cash card to earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services. It has no annual fee.

You can get a Chase Freedom Card (I producted changed to get mine) and earn 5 points per dollar in rotating categories each quarter.

And you can get a Chase Freedom Unlimited to earn 1.5 points per dollar on everything else. That way you never earn less than 1.5 points per dollar for your spending.

Bear in mind that all of the Chase branded rewards cards generally only approve people who have had fewer than 5 new credit cards in the past 24 months.

Do All Your Shopping Here for 5x

This is Too Good to Be True, Won’t It End Soon?

There’s been a lot of talk in the blogosphere lately that Chase could end the ability to move points between their cards. It’s not the first time this has been rumored to be under consideration. They should do this, if they know what’s best for themselves. Because by transferring points between cards you can earn all of their bonuses from various spending categories while minimizing fees. You aren’t just beating the house, you’re winning the jackpot.

That just means you should transfer your points regularly to your primary card, rather than letting points sit in the accounts of no annual fee cards. Every great strategy ends eventually. Every great strategy’s end has also been called prematurely. So it’s best to take advantage of it while it’s still alive, rather than waiting on the sidelines.

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. May want to mention to new readers that if they rush out and apply for all these cards at once chase may very well shut down all their accounts even people under 5/24

  2. My salary is nowhere close to $180,000 per year, and I got the Chase Sapphire reserve no problem. I do have good credit, so that probably helped. Dont scare people off just because you dont get a referral bonus from reserve while you do get it from preferred.

  3. I disagree with everything above. You do need just ONE credit card… just make sure it’s 2% cash back. (hint… no kickbacks to the bloggers for these though)

  4. @Jimmy I disagree, you can do better than a 2% return on your spend, and in fact I do receive referral credit if that’s what you really want.

  5. A 2% card is nice if you primarily use rewards for:

    -domestic economy
    -international economy to major destinations (as long as fuel prices remain low and competition high)
    -certain hotel redemptions, probably on the lower end (that’s where we stay)

    Outsized rewards require outsized points. High end hotel redemptions and premium international cabins are far more efficient with points than cash back. So it just depends on what your redemption preferences. No one answer is best for all. It’s the most basic rule of all rewards collecting.

  6. I disagree – even for domestic travel the sign on bonuses are worth not spending on a 2% card. I average around 6x-8x on all of my spend throughout the year when you factor in all the points and all the spend.- so the normal spend multiplier really doesn’t matter to me, for that reason. I use all the points on domestic travel and hotels.

  7. Chase “should” end card to card transfers? Who’s side are you on here? You are a “thought leader”… don’t you think all the lost business from closed or never opened cards would more than offset any marginal gains?
    Please stop telling the banks and airlines that it’s okay to devalue their self made currencies.

  8. If I were chase, I’d stop sign up bonuses before stopping good bonused spend. At least with the latter they’re getting a lot of spending on their cards. I’m not a fan of churning just to get sign up bonuses.

  9. @Gary

    I’m with afterbang. The Chase Freedom + UR keeps a lot of spend in the Chase family. If they stopped points transfers, I would probably ditch the Freedom card and pick up the AmEx whatever card that actually gives some bonuses on grocery spend.

    Remember that Wells Fargo got into tons of trouble trying to cross-market or “relationship manage” or whatever you want to call it with their customers. What Chase is doing is keeping people spending on Chase cards.. willingly.

  10. Do not be fooled by Chase’s ability and their travel partners ability to make money by having customers and card activity. Chase makes plenty on merchant fees, annual fees, interest charges, and non bonus spend. They also make it on the float between when the merchant is paid and when their customer pays their statement.
    Then, somehow, they buy the travel at a discount and charge you full price. But if you take the cash, it is generally 1 to 2%. And if you transfer points to a partner, you cannot transfer them .back and eventually, they will expire if not used to do

  11. I can’t even begin to understand why you would suggest that chase “should” (sorry can’t get italics on my phone) kill UR transfers. Maybe start reading other blogs & learn how to do this correctly. Dan put it down pretty well, you’d do well following his direction. You’re blog loses lots of credibility with a post like this.



  12. @H – you misunderstand. I do not WANT them to do this. I benefit tremendously from this strategy. I’m warning people that a reasonable model of how the world works suggests they eventually WOULD place these limits because the costs to them as significant. They’re losing money on you and me.

  13. @Gary. If you read the second article posted you’d see that chase themselves aren’t sure that they’d save money this way. You & I both know that if they’d do this they’d lose a ton of spend that they’re getting now. Instead of encouraging them to kill it, maybe write the article with the opposite attitude. Having bloggers like you represent us consumers, is only making things worse for us. Sorry for being so harsh but at the rate the game is being killed there’s no need to have people within doing whatever they can to kill it as well.

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