Actionable: Get $500 – $20,000 in Value From Very Simple Advice

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I gave a talk this week in Denver where I promised that 90% of the people in the audience would walk away with a minimum of $500 in value right away, that some people would get as much as $20,000 in value, and that they’d be able to use the information over and over too.

That’s actually pretty easy to do. One audience member is a JP Morgan Private Bank investment client, and has a credit card that offers him free United Club membership. He didn’t know that, and he’s been paying for United Club for years. Most people didn’t know about trip delay or lost baggage benefits either.

We talked about tracking miles (such as using AwardWallet), and earning the most valuable points — transferrable points like American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards — and always earning more than just one mile per dollar for their spending.

I helped folks decide to close some of their high annual fee cards, too. For most people it’s important to have one premium Chase card whose points transfer to airline miles.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. The card earns two points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.

  • 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.

    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.

We talked about the approval rules for various credit card issuers, including Chase’s “5/24” that they won’t approve most people for new card accounts that have had 5 or more cards opened in the last 24 months. That doesn’t apply to all cards. If you’re over 5/24 you are still eligible to be approved for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card. But you want to start with Chase’s own-branded cards if you’re under 5/24.

And getting started in the hobby the $0 annual fee the first year, $95 thereafter Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is the no brainer to begin with. You get the big signup bonus without the big up front annual fee. You see the value of the points once you’ve successfully redeemed them, and then take the next step with a higher annual fee card or a small business card.

The points from all three of these cards transfer to:

  • Airlines: United, Southwest, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Korean, Virgin Atlantic, Air France KLM, Aer Lingus, Iberia
  • Hotels: Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton

And once you have one of these cards whose points transfer to miles, you can consider getting no annual fee cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5 points per dollar on all of your spend). Transfer those points to a Sapphire Preferred, Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred and on to frequent flyer miles – since Freedom on its own can’t transfer to miles. Then you earn a minimum of 1.5 miles per dollar on all spend, no more of that modest 1 mile per dollar earning.

I did show everyone my wallet by the way (but only because they asked).

This is all basic and obvious stuff to regular readers of frequent flyer blogs. But for the executives in this audience it was new.

Getting up to $20,000? Well a few couples decided to get both the

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, earn their bonuses, and they’d quickly have over 140,000 Chase points apiece. That’ll cover premium cabin airline tickets and hotel for what would easily be a $20,000 vacation — they’ll have the points in a few months and take the trip this year.

  • 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, 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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    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. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


    1. I’m not sure if the above is satire… but if you think 140,000 Chase points can get you $20,000, anyone want my 140,000 points for $19,000? You’ll save $1,000!!!!

    2. @Gary – sure but let’s be honest, the $ value of something is really only the value you can sell it for

      My offer still stands… $19k for 140k points 🙂

    3. So easy! We’ve done this roundtrip Cathay Pacific first to Hong Kong for less…including Biz class Dragon air on to Singapore. While there we used a few British Airways miles to fly to other destinations in Southeast asia.

    4. Gary, could you confirm from your sources the new more restrictive Chase policy that apparently is now in effect? My Chase private client banker said that 5 APPLICATIONS with any bank (even if denied) count as marks in the 5/24 rule.
      I’m a churner that was denied for the new a B of A travel card because of several screwed up Alaska Air cards that were never activated. I then applied for a Sapphire card and was denied because of too many recent applications. When I asked my Private Client banker he said they now count APPLICATIONS and not approvals.
      Anyone else experience this?

    5. @Cohagan

      Wrong Cohagan. The value of the points are only what you would pay otherwise without using them. If I have 80K Hilton Points to stay at the Conrad, but I would stay at a $60 Comfort Inn, the actual value of the points are $60 + additional meals that I wouldn’t get at the Comfort Inn. Now the cost to stay at the Conrad might be $500 that night, but the value remains at $60—–so long as I have stayed at the Comfort Inn in the past when a Conrad was there.

      Ditto with Airline miles. If I always fly in business class, but use miles for 1st, the value remains the business class fair that I would pay.

      Therefore, your offer is only valued at ~$3000.00. Don’t fall for Gary trying to be the next Kevin Trudeau (although Trump should pardon him) since it brings trolls like Cohagan attempting to be clever but is only a moron. If Gary spent $20K, then uses his points for a second round, yeah, then they are worth $20K—-to him.

    6. Gary, the private banker said all applications count even those which no card was approved. Applications, approvals and denials all count as 5/24.

    7. @paul that would be the first i’ve heard of it, a bank can see hard pulls on your account to be sure but until i see data points on this i’m going to guess your private banker is misunderstanding things.

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