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 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.
- 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.
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. Still I was surprised by how many already had Sapphire Reserve cards — and how just telling them that Timberline Steaks at the Denver airport gave them $28 credit with their Priority Pass card helped them quickly see that the $500 in actionable advice I promised was real.
Getting up to $20,000? Well a few couples decided to get both the