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Key Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best all-around, most rewarding personal credit card. Here’s why.
There are three key value propositions for a credit card.
- Signup bonus (how much will they give you upfront for getting the card)
- How value is the earning for your ongoing spend (do you actually want to put spending on the card once you’ve earned the bonus)
- Benefits of having the card
And the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is top of wallet for the first two of those criteria — one of the very best signup bonuses, 40,000 points after $3000 in spending within 3 months plus 5000 more points for adding a free authorized user to the account and making a purchase within that same timeframe, and that’s an exceptionally good offer because their points are among the two best currencies of any loyalty program, and double points earning in that most valuable of programs on all travel and dining spending, Visa acceptance, and no foreign currency transaction fees.
It’s recently even upped its game in benefits for carrying the card. I always found it useful here, I cracked the screen on my new phone, it cost me over $300 to fix, and the card’s insurance coverage paid me back. But the very best cards for benefits are the American Express Platinum card for lounge access benefits and more (like an annual $200 airline fee credit and reimbursement of the fees for Global Entry expedited immigration) and the Hilton HHonors Reserve Card for Hilton Gold status as long as you have the card (free breakfast, internet, upgrades, bonus points).
Chase Sapphire Preferred now comes close to tops even in the benefits category, since they’ve just added primary collision damage coverage for when you rent cars.
Net net, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been probably the all-around most lucrative credit cards in the market for the past 3 years.
Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Airline, Hotel, and Ground Programs
While you can redeem these points at 1.25 cents apiece towards paid travel, that’s not their best use. You want to hold onto them and transfer them to frequent flyer programs most of the time.
I value ‘flexible’ points the most, points where you can choose where to point them at the time you’re ready to redeem for an award.
If you accumulate miles in an airline program, then you need that program to have the award you want at the time you want to fly.
But with points that transfer to your choice of programs, you increase the odds substantially of getting the award you want — if one program doesn’t have the award, another one likely will.
The transfer options with this card are:
- Airlines: United, Korean Airlines, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines
- Hotels: Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, IHG Rewards Club
- Train: Amtrak
The best hotel transfer value is Hyatt in most cases, but it’s really valuable to be able to top off an account towards an award no matter which account of yours that winds up being.
Usually I think of United and British Airways as the best values for points transfers, since United gets you all of the Star Alliance with no fuel surcharges (though international first class awards on partner airlines are super expensive) and British Airways gets you cheap short distance non-stop flights on American, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines starting at just 4500 points one-way.
Singapore Airlines is great because the airline makes tons of premium cabin awards available to their own members that aren’t available using miles from partners. And Korean Air is fantastic because their first class awards are plentiful, too, and generally not accessible through most partner programs so there’s little competition for the seats. Plus, just as British Airways gets you access to oneworld partner flights, Korean gets you access to Skyteam partner flights.
Further, points to several of the programs transfer literally instantly, and it’s useful for helping to prevent miles from expiring (by dropping say 1000 miles into a United account).
A Very Strong Card for Earning Points
Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the very best cards for earning points based on spending. Now, the most leveraged thing you can do with your spending is get a new card with a big signup bonus (like this one), but when you’re deciding what card to put spending on that’s not going towards a signup bonus, this one is really strong.
In addition to the standard points-earning (you get a point per dollar on your spend, and as-described it’s a valuable point – plus it’s a Visa so I can use it even at my dry cleaner’s that doesn’t take American Express), you also get:
- Double points on travel and restaurant spending
- No foreign currency conversion fee
- Additional points for your online shopping through access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall, a mileage-earning shopping portal that earns extra points for the online purchases you’d make anyway.
There’s no annual fee the first year, then it has a $95 annual fee.
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.
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