The Points Guy argued this morning that the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the best “card for everyday purchases to start accruing mileage points.”
Now, I do think Chase Sapphire is a very good non-American Express card. It’s one definitely worth considering as the backup card, for spending with places that don’t take American Express. But I don’t agree that it’s the best card for most spend.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers:
- $95 fee waived the first year, 50,000 point bonus for $3000 in spend within 3 months of signup
- Points are worth 1.25 cents per dollar for airfare purchases or transfer to Continental, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, and Amtrak.
- No foreign currency transaction fees
So I agree that this is a good card! And it’s worth considering as a second card in your wallet. But here are cards that I like better:
American Express Premier Rewards Gold card. Earns Membership Rewards points, which are more flexible and more valuable than the Chase Sapphire points. And earns double points on gas and groceries and triple points on airfare. Membership Rewards transfer to programs like Aeroplan, Delta, British Airways, All Nippon, Singapore, etc. and with many programs like Aeroplan, Delta, and British Airways the transfer is instantaneous. Plus they frequently run bonuses as high as 50% on transfers. So airfare spend winds up getting you 4.5 Delta or British Airways points per dollar. $175 annual fee is waived the first year. My wife just got this card with a targeted 75,000 point signup bonus, it was recently broadly available with 50,000 points, so you may want to wait until one of these offers is live again. Note that the only card that is arguably better for airfare purchases, if you can buy your tickets on Travelocity, is the 10% rebate Travelocity Amex.
Asiana American Express earns two points per dollar spent. Asiana does add fuel surcharges to awards but there’s a partial credit returned by the card once a year. Their distance-based award chart is reasonable for short- and medium-haul travel, a trip of no more than 10,000 miles flown costs 80,000 points in business class. That covers much of the US East Coast to Europe. And a roundtrip allows four stopovers in addition to destination on the award.
Starwood Preferred Guest American Express is still the all-around go to card for flexible points, redeem with Starwood hotels (W, Westin, Sheraton, St Regis, etc) or transfer to one of the largest stables of points program and with transfer bonuses to boot. Most programs (but not United or Continental) transfer 1:1, and earn 5000 bonus miles when transferring 20,000 Starpoints. Upshot is you’re effectively earning 1.25 miles per dollar spent with most airline programs, and you get to choose which program later plus have the flexibility of hotel redemptions. Points transfer 1:2 into LAN with double the transfer bonus, making short-haul non-stop oneworld award flights an incredible value. Only real downside is that points transfers don’t happen as quickly as with Membership Rewards making it hard to set up an award ticket and then and only then transfer the points.
Alaska Airlines Visa largely for their annual $99 companion ticket which is good for any Alaska Airlines itinerary that can be booked online (over the phone they may limit to basic roundtrips/open jaws). It works for first class, too, a paid for class ticket from New York to Hawaii one-stop via Seattle, for instance, the second ticket is just $99+tax and booked into full paid first class so availability isn’t an issue and even the companion ticket is refundable and earns class of service bonus. Plus, of course, Alaska miles can be redeemed on Cathay Pacific (140,000 for first class to Africa via Hong Kong), Qantas, British Airways, Air France, American, Delta, etc.
Diners Club isn’t available to new signups in the US currently, but there are tons of (mostly international, plus American) points transfer partners, and it still offers primary collision coverage when renting a car. Note that they’re not alone in this, even the standard Continental Onepass Plus Mastercard offers this now. But it’s a great benefit, and the Diners Club remains my primary non-American Express card, and I happen to use the Hyatt Visa for foreign currency transactions, though the Chase Sapphire card is good for foreign charges as is the Amex Platinum (which I also have and get great lounge access from) and the British Airways Visa from Chase.
British Airways Visa earns 1.25 BA miles per dollar, no foreign currency transaction fees, and offers a free companion award ticket after $30,000 in spend — redeem one ticket on British Airways (no partners) and the second person on the same all-BA itinerary is ‘free’ (you still pay taxes and fees for the companion, and with BA those can be quite pricey, think $700 or so to Europe, more if you have a UK stopover due to the British government’s luxury tax on premium cabin departures, and the fees can be even higher if flying BA beyond Europe).
The BA Visa doesn’t quite find a place in my wallet, but I’ve made good use of these other cards (and others). There are a ton of great cards out there, Chase Sapphire may have a place in your wallet especially as a secondary card for non-Amex spend and for international spend, but to me it doesn’t rank as the best current card out there.
What’s your preferred card, and am I missing anything important?