It’s the 100,000-point question: How will you spend that whopper of a sign-up bonus with your new Chase Reserve credit card?
Millennials, who a Chase spokeswoman says are the ones mostly responsible for snapping up the new Reserve cards (see review), are anything but reserved when talking about how they plan to redeem those 100,000 bonus points. Cardholders get those points after they spend $4,000 in the first three months.
Sean Ogle, 31, of Portland, Oregon, expects to use his 100,000 points to pay for a lavish vacation like the one he and his wife took last year to the Maldives.
Ogle, who lives the life celebrated on his work-from-anywhere LocationRebel.com, cites the Reserve card’s $300 travel credit, lounge access and 3x points on travel and restaurants as big plus for him. “I do a lot of traveling,” he says. “And I eat out a lot when I’m working from various locations.”
Demand for the Reserve, which debuted Aug. 23, has so exceeded supply that Chase ran out of the metal versions of the card and has been shipping temporary plastic ones.
Ogle who has one of the metal versions, says he was quick to apply. “Metal makes you feel more important than you are,” he says.
Ogle’s travel isn’t just work related. He’s aiming to be the youngest person to play on the world’s Top 100 Golf Courses.
“If we could use points to get to the moon…”
For Warren Cohn, 29, founder and CEO of public relations and digital marketing agency Herald Strategies in New York City, those 100,000 bonus points will buy two round-trip tickets to Southeast Asia next year. He and his wife like to travel in style on Cathay Pacific, too, and the Reserve bonus will make that next trip possible.
“My wife and I make a great team when we travel,” Cohn says. “She picks the exotic location and plans the trip, and I apply for the credit card that will get us there for free with the sign-up bonus points.”
His wife prefers vacationing in faraway places. “If we could use points to get to the moon, we would be there,” he says.
Cohn picked up early on the buzz about the Reserve, and stood in line at his Chase branch when it opened so he could apply for the card the first day it was offered.
“I read about credit cards and updates every day – while pretending to work – and always keep my ear to the ground on new credit cards,” he says.
From Tuscan countryside to China on travel points
Danny Boedeker, 27, of Windermere, Florida, is a musician in groups that have performed for more than 20,000 people multiple times. How will he spend his Reserve card’s 100,000-point sign-up bonus?
“I want to travel to China next year, and the 100,000-point bonus is going to get me a huge portion of the way,” Boedeker said in an emailed response to questions. He was answering my queries while on vacation in the Tuscan countryside in Italy.
“I’m hoping that bonus, plus the points from everything else I earn over the next year with Reserve, will pay for 100 percent of my wife’s and my tickets.”
Boedeker has five credit cards, but he says he uses two of them regularly. The Reserve isn’t replacing any of his other cards. “I use it in combination with my other cards to get the most points back possible on each and every purchase,” he said.
“If I make a purchase and only get 1 point per dollar back, I feel like I’m losing money.”
Cohn is the same way. “I am very attuned to new credit cards and making sure to maximize my spending and points that I get,” he says.
Credit lessons from successful millennials
Cohn credits his father with teaching him about credit. “I have been building my credit for many years, thanks to my dad who started me off when I went to college,” he says.
“Since I had good credit coming into the workforce, once I was making an income and able to apply for more cards, I focused on sign-up bonuses and making sure that any card I have allows me to be rewarded for my spending and purchases.”
And that’s a strategy echoed by Ogle. He swaps out credit cards to get the sign-up bonuses, and he’s heard that “churning” (opening cards for the points or miles bonus and then closing the card once you redeem them) can ding his credit.
Not in Ogle’s case. He has cards he holds onto, and that may be why when he checked his credit score earlier this month it was 830, he says. (FICO and VantageScores range from 300 to 850.)
“I make sure we don’t carry balances,” he says. “I make sure we can pay off our credit card bills every month.”
Boedeker adds, “People, especially millennials, shouldn’t be afraid of credit cards. If you’re responsible with money and know you can always pay everything off, it’s a fantastic way to get amazing perks with what you’re already paying for.
“You shouldn’t get the Reserve if you don’t have great credit or may not be able to hit the minimum spend required to get the bonus, but there are tons of great cards with a smaller or no annual fee that are excellent starting points,” Boedeker says.
“Some millennials may not love credit, but I think most of us love travel, so we might as well use it to our advantage.”
See related: Infographic: Credit card love from older millennials, Millennials will switch to credit cards over time