Does the AAA Visa Trump Chase Sapphire Preferred?

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Reader S. makes the case for the AAA Visa.

Not sure if you used to (or still do) have the AAA Visa Card? I got it years ago when it was MBNA & now it’s Bank of America.

I used to use it long ago to buy AAA travelers checks & get points that could be used towards a $50 gift certificate at AAA & then converted those to Hertz vouchers.

Anyways, I never use the card unless they send me a spend $500 & get $50 cash back offers (which i get once a quarter almost from them as i never use the card).

Just got the new card in the mail & was looking it over & now you can cash out your points for cash back as well as AAA vouchers (which do me no good since I am no longer a member of AAA & haven’t been for years).

…[Y]ou earn 1 point per dollar on regular spend, 2 points per dollar at all gas, grocery, and pharmacies, and 3 points per dollar on all travel (AAA booked or non-AAA booked is how I understand the [terms and conditions] – for airlines, hotels, and rental cars only – no trains, not as many categories at Sapphire).

So 3% cash back is slightly better than 2 UR points per dollar, right? Or do you think it’s better to earn the 2% UR points on airline, hotel, and rental car (well, rental car, I always put on the [United] card since it’s primary insurance) – and then 2% cash back on groceries & pharmacy is better than 1% on UR? I put all gas on the 5% PenFed card.

First off, I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at more than 1.5 cents apiece. So 2 Chase points is worth more to me than 3 cents (the 3% back on travel offered by this card).

So I’d argue that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is more rewarding for travel and also dining, where it’s earning 2 points per dollar spent. And the travel category is broad.

While the bonuses for gas, groceries, and pharmacies is good… there are better cards offering spending category bonuses.

In addition, Chase Sapphire Preferred now offers primary collision damage protection for rental cars, so that’s no longer a unique benefit of the United card. That means you can get the primary coverage, earn double points transferrable to a variety of mileage programs, and even have no foreign currency transaction fees all in one card.

In general the Sapphire Preferred card offers better United mileage-earning than the United card does, although unsurprisingly I did sign up for a new United Explorer card when they recently had a 50,000 mile signup bonus.

Sapphire Preferred‘s bonus is 40,000 points after $3000 in spending within 3 months, plus another 5000 points for adding a no fee authorized user card to the account and making a purchase within that same time period.

Chase points transfer to:

  • Airlines: United, Singapore, Korean, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest
  • Hotels: Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, IHG Rewards Club
  • Ground: Amtrak

Ultimately the AAA Visa is pretty decent. I’d even hang onto it. And I’d certainly take advantage of offers that amount to a 10% rebate even on a modest amount of spend. But I wouldn’t be rushing out for it.

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.


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 »

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Comments

  1. What’s so funny here is you make it look like you are helping this person by indicating there are better choices for G/G/D but instead of highlighting the obvious G/G/D choice you serve up a link with more clickbait!

  2. Aren’t we desperate in the CC sales department today. You could have easily handled this in an email exchange they way Ingy would have in the “good old days”.

  3. @ABC I actually thought the description of the AAA value proposition, and their penchant for offering these bonuds, was worth wider discussion. Sorry if you didn’t get any value from it! @HikerT you’re welcome to offer your analysis of what would be best in any given scenario, rather than just saying “there are better options” (some of the ones you tend to recommend would make readers uncomfortable, such as when you suggest making up tax ID numbers, so folks should get a clearer sense of what you mean plus it would actually be helpful)

  4. Gary,

    I think what @HikerT and @ABC are talking about is if you really think Sapphire is a better card, than discuss it without offering a personal link to it so we know that you’re not trying to make money off what is otherwise good advice

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