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My wife and I have been actively travel hacking since 2014/2015. We’ve learned so many things over the past few years, and have applied our knowledge of signing up for travel rewards credit cards that have allowed us to travel the world using miles and points.

Adding your children as Authorized Users

We have 4 kids and have decided to add two of them as an Authorized User on one of our credit cards. What does that mean?
  • They get to have their own credit card with their own name
  • This helps build their credit history
  • The charges will also help earn additional reward points towards your account
This is only advisable if you are a responsible credit card user, and have a great credit. So your good standing will only help build your child’s credit score.

Applying for their own credit card

We’ve finally come to a crossroad last year. My eldest son was just 19 years old at the time:
  • Been an Authorized User on our old Chase Sapphire Preferred card since he was 14 years old
  • Part-time job, college student
  • Credit score – 700s
  • He also has an existing checking/savings account with Chase

There was a lucrative offer at the time with the Chase Sapphire Preferred (80,000 bonus offer ended in Nov 2020). After doing some research, I learned that it would be hard for him to get approved a Chase Sapphire Preferred. Why? Although he was already building somewhat of a credit history, at the time, he didn’t have a credit card that he solely applied under his own merit. The advise was to have him apply for a credit card under his own name, give it about a year, and then he could try to apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred then.

Ethan’s high school graduation 2019

What’s a good starter credit card for those with little to no credit history

We considered a couple of options.
1. The first one was a Chase Freedom Student card. He could get:
  • $50 BONUS after your first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Freedom Student Credit Card helps build credit with a $20 Good Standing Rewards after each account anniversary for up to 5 years
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases

2. The second option was to get a Discover IT. The offer:

Get a $50 Statement Credit after you apply through this link –>Discover IT, and make your first purchase within 3 months of being approved.
This card also allows him to take advantage of the Discover
  • No annual fee
  • Easy approval for those with little to no credit history
  • He could activate his card for the quarterly 5% cashback bonus promotions (and trust me, we will take advantage of that). Historically, these promos included Amazon grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal
  • Discover will match ALL the cash back Ethan earns the 1st year – dollar for dollar
  • I referred him to this card, he gets a $50 bonus after making just ONE purchase, any purchase – that’s a win-win
  • While the plan is to pay his bills in full, with a Discover IT, you also get 0% APR on purchases for the 1st 14 months
  • While he does not have to worry about balance transfers, this card also offers 0% APR on balance transfers for the 1st 14 months
Ethan and his first credit card he applied under his own name – Discover IT

We decided for him to get the Discover IT card. Having a card under his own name, and keeping that active and in excellent standing will only help him establish himself to try for cards with lucrative offers in the future. He knows to pay his bills in full and on time monthly. He is already an Authorized User (AU) on our Chase Sapphire Preferred and could continue to still earn Chase Ultimate Rewards for the family.

What’s the game plan to eventually get a travel rewards credit card

As mentioned above, since he was able to get approved for a credit card:
  • Hold on to that new credit card
  • Pay in full and on time
  • Maintain an excellent record with the bank
  • Wait about a year before he tries to apply for the more lucrative travel rewards card.

Surprise! He got pre-approved for a Chase Sapphire PreferredrWhen my son got his Discover card in October 2020, our plan was for him to try for a Chase Sapphire Preferred around Oct/Nov 2021. To our suprise, just a little over 3 months since getting his Discover IT, Chase sent him an email that he was preapproved to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. This was the dream card, the dream starter card, and the plan worked sooner than anticipated.

Dotonbori – Osaka, Japan

We got our ducks in a row

One would think that since he was already pre-approved that we’d jump the gun and apply. Did he apply right away? No, not exactly. The invitation to apply was good through end of March 2021. Here’s what we did.

  • First of all, he already has a Chase Sapphire Preferred (only as an Authorized User). I learned that he did NOT need to close or cancel that card.
  • If he applied directly using the invitation, and he gets approved, he will get 60,000 bonus, and no bonus referral points for me
  • I generated a referral link for him to use, so if approved, I, too, will get a bonus referral of 15,000 points.
  • We needed a plan to ensure he meets the $4,000 minimum spend within 3 months
  • We also learned that this Chase Sapphire Preferred has a current offer $50 statement credit towards grocery store purchases
    • This makes the $95 annual fee easier to swallow

I referred him, he applied using my link….APPROVED

Once we had our I’s dotted and our T’s crossed, it was time to apply. He didn’t use the Chase link from the invitation he got from Chase. Instead. I had him use this link –>Chase Sapphire Preferred and he used that link to apply. Sometimes the response is delayed where Chase will need to do further review. But not for him. It was an instant approval.

Ethan CSP Approval

What’s next

This is where the rubber meets the road. Not everyone is in the same situation as my family. Since we are a “travel hacking” family, we already made plans how he could easily meet the $4,000 minimum spend. Not every college student has that kind of spend within 3 months. In our case, we have a big tax payment coming up, and we plan on using his new card to pay my tax bill. That should easily cover the $4,000 needed for him to meet the minimum spend.

And of course, part of our plan is to also pay his credit card bill IN FULL and ON TIME. We have no plans of missing the payment or paying the minimum amount. This is key!

For a list of ways to meet the minimum spend, click here.

What can these 60,000 bonus points do for you?

We all have different travel goals and needs. But I can share with you ways we’ve traveled with our points with cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Click on the destination to get the details how I booked, this will show you various examples what 80K bonus points could do for you:

  • Philippines – depending on the timeframe, 80,000 could get one roundtrip ticket to the Philippines. In 2019, is 7 members of my family flew to the Philippines for free and used roughly 60K points per person  from LAX to Manila round trip, that was during the high season (holidays). I did a similar booking for my sister in law a year prior, she only used 51,000 points during the low season, and she went from Los Angeles, visited her son in Japan, and then went to the Philippines, and the back to the US, all for 51,000 points.
  • Japan – 12 members of my family flew to Japan for FREE in Spring 2019, and we used roughly 40,000+ Chase Ultimate Rewards per person
  • Hawaii – we’ve gone to Hawaii many times and have transferred 25,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards to British Airways (a travel partner), and booked flights with American Airlines to Hawaii. 80,000 could get you up to 3 tickets to Hawaii. During low season, I’ve seen these fares go below 20K roundtrip.
Kauai 2017
  • Costa Rica – I found a low airfare from Los Angeles to Costa Rica and used an average of 25,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards per person, so with the right deal and timing, 80K could get you 2-3 tickets to Costa Rica round trip.
  • Barcelona/Amsterdam– using points with Chase Sapphire Preferred, this would’ve meant using around 30K points per person roundtrip from Los Angeles to Amsterdam to Barcelona (round trip).
  • Business class from HK to Taipei on Cathay Pacific– we transferred points from Chase to British Airways and booked seats with Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to Taipei. On the return we flew coach – total for 2 = 27,000 points

I could go on and on….I didn’t even factor in the many times I transferred our Ultimate Rewards to get hotel stays or booked vacation condos.

By no means am I guaranteeing that that you will get the exact same deal, it will all be based on the going airfare rate when using the Chase Portal or when transferring to a Chase Travel Partner – and that’s where I’ve been basing my experience! It’s all about flexibility. So whenever I am asked which travel card is good to start with….no hesitation, it’s the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

How about you? Did you also add your kids as authorized users? Any similar stories, or different stories that you could share?

Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.
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By Jason

2 thoughts on “How my 20-year old got approved for the coveted Chase Sapphire Preferred – a solid starter credit card”
    1. Yes, he was already an Auth User on our Chase Sapphire Preferred, and when he also opened up a savings account with Chase when he was a teen (I’ll add that to the post) so to your point, having that relationship could’ve helped strengthen that relationship. BTW, are you part of my FB travel group? Please feel free to join facebook.com/groups/daddytravelsnow thanks!

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