I receive compensation for many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).
I do not have referral links for the United Club, Ritz-Carlton, or IHG credit cards. Information about this products is neither provided nor reviewed by their issuer.
I frequently offer appraisals of the very best cards, and the very best signup bonuses, but in doing so only offer one or two cards per bank. That means I don’t get down further — what card should you get next, or if you aren’t going to get the one I prefer for whatever reason?
And the ‘best’ Chase cards have changed over the past several months since I last looked at their new products and limited-time signup bonuses. Your strategy for each is influenced by ‘5/24’ and what that means for getting approved for new accounts.
There’s no question in my mind that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is the best rewards card for getting started in miles and points. It’s been the best overall solution for frequent travelers for 6 years.
Sapphire Reserve has a higher annual fee, faster earn, and more benefits that I think is exceptionally worth it but will be a hurdle for some to convince themselves of.
Getting down too much farther isn’t for everyone, since Chase has as a general matter been seemingly reluctant to approve cards for many people that have had 5 or more new card approvals within the past 24 months. However this doesn’t apply to all of their cards.
When you’re getting started signing up for cards that you want to look at Chase cards first — and specifically get the cards where 5/24 applies before you hit 5 new products in 24 months, and then get cards from other banks or where 5/24 doesn’t currently apply if you wish.
Here’s my ranking of the 11 best Chase rewards cards: and worth noting that more than half of these are not my own referral links, but I do think the cards are outstanding.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Card 50,000 point signup bonus after $4000 spend within 3 months; triple points on travel and dining; Priority Pass Select membership with free guests; $300 travel credit make this new Visa Infinite card from Chase with a $450 annual fee the most exciting new entrant of the year. The card comes with a Priority Pass Select card. 5/24 applies.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card lets you earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. It’s actually a bigger bonus offer than Sapphire Reserve has because you can earn another 5,000 bonus points when you add your first authorized user to the account and make a purchase in the same 3 months from account opening. And it’s less expensive, a $0 annual fee the first year then $95.
The card earns 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. 5/24 applies.
Points transfer to United, Hyatt, Southwest, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Air France KLM, Marriott Rewards, IHG Rewards Club, and Ritz-Carlton. Here are the 8 best uses of the points you’ll earn.
Transfer Points and Redeem for Singapore Airlines A380 Suites
This was easily the best all-around credit card and with a great signup bonus before Sapphire Reserve came to town. It’s still the best card for folks new to the hobby because of the $0 annual fee the first year, a great way to start out and then consider getting Sapphire Reserve later. Plus it likely has a lower credit requirement than the Sapphire Reserve Visa Infinite.
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card has an 80,000 point signup bonus after $5000 spend within 3 months. That can even be enough for a roundtrip business class award ticket between the US and Europe. These points transfer directly to the same airlines and hotels that Chase Sapphire Preferred’s points do.
It earns 3 points per dollar on travel — that’s airlines, hotels, rental cars, tolls, even Uber — and 3 points per dollar on shipping and advertising on social media and search engines, so great for anyone who advertises on Facebook or Twitter, or who spends money advertising with Google. It also comes with $600 protection against theft or damage when you use it to buy your cell phone. 5/24 applies.
- British Airways Visa Signature® Card is offering a signup bonus of up to 75,000 Avios: (Offer expired)
- Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Earn an additional 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $10,000 total on purchases within your first year of account opening for a total of 75,000 bonus Avios.
Perhaps most importantly Chase’s 5/24 reportedly does not apply.
British Airways First Class
- Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers 75,000 points after spending $3000 within the first 3 months of cardmembership. Now that Marriott points transfer to Starwood, it’s a great offer for Starwood points as well. There’s a $0 annual fee the first year then $85. 5/24 applies.
Starwood’s Al Maha Desert Resort – Base Room is a Standalone Villa With Private Pool
- United MileagePlus Explorer Card has a limited-time offer of 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. You also get 5000 more miles adding an authorized user to the account and making a purchase within the same 3 months. 5/24 applies. This offer ends March 15, 2018. (Offer expired)
The card’s annual fee is now $0 the first year, then $95.
What’s often overlooked is that cardmembers get access to last seat availability when redeeming awards at the MileagePlus Standard Award level. Unlike Delta and American, last seat availability isn’t offered to everyone. However also unlike Delta and American and even Alaska there are only two award levels, the most you’ll pay for a domestic one-way award is 25,000 miles regardless of saver award inventory. That’s a lot less than Delta and American.
One benefit of the card for MileagePlus elites is that co-brand cardholders are eligible for upgrades on domestic MileagePlus award travel. Furthermore the card offers primary collision damage waiver for rental cars, and has no foreign currency transaction fees. And cardholder miles don’t expire as long as the credit card account is open.
Cardholders will still get their checked bag and priority boarding benefits even when purchasing basic economy fares — and the boarding benefit allows them to also avoid the ban on full-sized carry ons.
- United Club Card has a $450 annual fee card and comes with United lounge membership and earns 1.5 miles per dollar on all spending.
United Club Houston
It’s better to get this card than buy a United Club membership, and the 1.5 miles per dollar earn is strong (though I’d still prefer Sapphire Preferred which transfers to United among other cards, supplemented by another card earning 1.5 points per dollar on all spend).
- The Hyatt Credit Card offers 40,000 points after $2,000 in purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. You also get 5000 bonus points for adding an authorized user to your account and making a purchase with the card in that same 3 month timeframe. Chase’s 5/24 reportedly does not apply.
Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Maldives
- IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card offers 60,000 points after $1,000 spend on purchases in the first three months after account opening.
This is a $0 annual fee the first year card, and $49 thereafter. This is arguably the best hotel credit card to get for the signup bonus and to keep for its ongoing benefits. You get an annual free night at card renewal and a 10% rebate on the points you spend up to 100,000 points per year. But don’t put any spending on this card otherwise, it’s just not rewarding enough. 5/24 reportedly does not apply.
- The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card comes with Gold Elite status (which is honored at Marriott hotels, comes complimentary the first year and that you retain each year you spend $10,000 on the card); a $300 Airline Fee credit; $100 Global Entry credit; unlimited use $100 Airline Ticket discounts when buying for 2 or more passengers; and airport lounge access.
The signup bonus has dropped to 2 complimentary nights at any participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel after meeting minimum spend.
Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Credit: Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton credit card comes with 3 complimentary upgrades to The Ritz-Carlton Club® Level each year valid on paid stays of up to seven nights. It also comes with a $100 hotel credit toward dining, spa or other hotel recreational activities on paid stays of two nights or longer.
It appears that ‘5/24’ restrictions don’t apply to this card.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
This card has an offer to earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. (offer expired)
Ongoing earn is 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
You earn 3,000 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary, a nice incentive to keep the card.
What I like about Southwest is that they have no change fees, you can use your points even to make a speculative booking. It’s always great to have Southwest points around, even if you book mostly international award tickets. You might need a domestic flight to get to the city your international award ticket leaves from. Or book the Southwest flight, and if award availability opens up to include a domestic flight on your other ticket, great, there’s no change fees. Southwest points are great insurance. They don’t have other fees either like checked bag fees or change fees.
And you can always redeem your points for gift cards, too, I find I can always get a minimum of a penny a point in value that way so a 50,000 point signup offer has a floor of $500 in value.
Most importantly the points you earn on the card, including its signup bonus, count towards Southwest’s companion pass which is earned after 110,000 eligible points in a year.