Best Churn of 2017: The MLA

Edit 27 Mar 2018: Looks like MLA Shutdown for Citi and Bank of America

Wow, 2017 was certainly an unpredictable year! The greatest surprise gift was the MLA granting Military complete fee wavers for every Citibank, Chase, and Bank of America product! Now for all of you churning virgins out there that have a free and clear record, you can maximize all the Chase cards with no annual fees. I for one wish I was in this position, If I could do it all over again I would get these Chase cards in this order:

  1. The Chase Saphire Reserve for its annual $300 payout on all things travel related. Use this link now to get 50k MR points for $4k spend in 90 days. The $450 is waived with the MLA!
  2. Next card is the Marriott card because of the free annual night that you will get with the $95 MLA fee waiver. Use this link to get 80K points after $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from your account opening, transferable to Ritz and SPG (3:1).
  3. Next 5/24 restricted card is the Freedom which will get you 5x UR points you can transfer to CSR to spend on travel at 1.5 cents (7.5% cashback) or to other travel partners. Use this link here for 17.5K: 15K after $500 spend in 3 months + 2.5K for adding authorized user . I would transfer the points to Hyatt or United to coincide with the next two cards.
  4. The United Club card would be next for me, this would give me Star Alliance Lounge Access such as the ANA lounge in Okinawa when flying Japanese domestic. The $450 annual fee would be waived, and they are offering 50,000 United Miles. (No referral link). This combined with the 67,500 from the Freedom and CSR as converted UR points, would give you round trip to anywhere in the world.
  5. The last of the 5/24 cards would be the Chase Southwest Card for the 40K after $1K spend in 3 months then 6k every year on renewal. The $99 annual fee is waived per MLA. (Link to the 50K offer here (thanks Dan!))

Now that you are over 5/24 you would be ineligible to apply for many of the fun Chase products, until the 24 month window passes. Resistance and complaining are futile as even Chase Private Clients are unable to bypass this rule! The best thing to do is to hit the very few 5/24 exempt Chase Products:

  1. First 5/24 exempt Chase card is the Ritz Carlton Card for the sweet $300 travel waiver as well as the two free nights with $4k spend. The better benefit is the $100 on Visa Flight Discount on 2+ domestic tickets. This means round trips ORD to MSP for $35.40 a segment! ($450 annual fee waived)
  2. Next card is the British Airways for 100k Avios if that comes around any time soon. This would be useful for both Domestic Short Haul American Airlines at 7,500 Avios a segment as well as 25.5k business class to Europe. ($95 fee waived per MLA)
  3. Chase IHG card for the 60k points and the free annual night. (Annual fee waived per MLA)
  4. The Hyatt card for the 45,000 points. Use this link here if your thinking about applying! It is a very reasonable $2k spend for this one. You will also get a free night every year.

Now what about the banished 5/25 exceeded peoples like myself? Well I mapped out my plan of *gasp* closing some cards before the annual fee hits in order to open them exactly 24 months after I had applied to get both the MLA waiver as well as the initial bonus again:

Chase Product Opened Fee Date Due Fate
British Airways (Me) Oct in 2015 $95 Oct in 2017 Closed, Reapply
British Airways (Wife) Sep in 2017 $0 N/A MLA
Ritz-Carlton (Me) July in 2015 $450 July in 2018 Close in July, Reapply
Ritz-Carlton (Wife) Nov in 2017 $0 N/A MLA
World of Hyatt (Me) Aug in 2015 $75 Aug in 2018 Close on Aug 18, Reapply
World of Hyatt (Wife) July in 2017 $75 July in 2018 Close in Jul 18, Reapply 2019
IHG Aug in 2017 $49 Aug in 2018 Close in Aug 18, Reapply 2019
All cards opened that are not 5/24 exempt Keep Open

For example the rules for the Ritz, BA, Hyatt, IHG read:

This product is available to you if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

I am going to keep any cards that are free or not 5/24 exempt open such as my Marriott Card, Ink Plus, United Club card, and Amazon because there would be no benefit in closing them. Also I think my Marriott cards will become some other product after the merger is completed.

Please use the refer links to keep my hobby going! Happy New Year!



8 thoughts on “Best Churn of 2017: The MLA

  1. Dan says:

    For those under 5/24, I think you really should get both southwest cards (premier and plus) before the marriott or freedom card because if each card comes with 60k miles (this may not be the current promo) then you get a reusable companion pass for nearly 2 years if timed right, which effectively doubles your SW points, gift cards, and/or cash. Incredibly valuable.

  2. […] Best Churn of 2017: The MLA […]

  3. Andres says:

    Anybody know if US Bank does any fee waivers for MLA? The Altitude reserve would be a nice card to own too.

  4. Andres says:

    Anybody know what Wells Fargo is doing? I would like to get the propel world card that is available in branch until March.

  5. Stefan says:

    Derp – I’m below 5/24 and have a non-MLA CSR now more than 2 years old (from original 100k offer). The $450 annual fee just hit and im trying to figure out how best to dodge it in the future while not losing my stash of points. I’ve never had a CSP, seemingly apply for a new CSP (MLA), transfer points from CSR to CSP, close CSR then reopen in 24 months and qualify for MLA? Thanks

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      that will be tricky because you might not open any more than one of the CSR, CSP or CS products while you have another. I say transfer the points to partner or redeem them for a trip and downgrade it to a freedom, and then get a new CSR

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