I receive compensation for content and 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 or Sapphire Reserve cards. Information about these 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 bny ‘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 7 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 is as a general matter reluctant to approve cards for 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 one of the better cards out there. Anecdotally it’s a tough approval, and not just because 5/24 applies. Chase shares 785 average FICO score and over a $180,000 average income, but several readers above both have told me they’ve been declined for the card.
- 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. And it’s less expensive than Sapphire Reserve, a $0 annual fee the first year then $95, even though its points transfer to the same places.
Points transfer to United, Hyatt, Southwest, JetBlue, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Aer Lingus, Iberia, Air France KLM, Marriott Rewards, and IHG Rewards Club. The card earns 2 points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. 5/24 applies.
Transfer Points and Redeem for Singapore Airlines A380 Suites
- 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.
It has my favorite initial bonus of any card. Since 5/24 applies, if you’re under that it’s also a great first card to sign up for because it shouldn’t count towards 5/24 (it shouldn’t increase your balance of new cards).
- World of Hyatt Credit Card has a limited-time offer of up to 60,000 points with this card. You earn 40,000 points after $3000 in spend on purchases in the first 3 months from account open and an additional 20,000 points if you spend $6000 total within the first 6 months.
And 60,000 points is enough for 2 free nights at any Hyatt hotel except for all-inclusive Miraval. (Or 12 nights at category 1 properties.)
You get both a free category 1-4 night each year at card renewal and an additional free night at a category 1-4 Hyatt property after spending $15,000 in a cardmember anniversary year. That makes putting $15,000 annual spend on the card attractive.
Chase’s 5/24 reportedly does not apply.
Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Maldives
- Ink Business Unlimited(SM) Credit Card is a no annual fee Visa card that has an initial bonus of $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Your ongoing spend will earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business.
Points can be transferred to a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card account and from there to airline miles or hotel points. Pairing them lets you earn 1.5 points per dollar on your otherwise-unbonused spend. That’s similar to Chase Freedom Unlimited, but I list this one because of the big initial bonus. 5/24 applies.
- United MileagePlus Explorer Card has an offer of 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2000 5/24 applies. 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).
- IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card offers 80,000 points after $2,000 spend on purchases in the first three months after account opening. This $89 annual fee card. 5/24 reportedly does not apply.
- British Airways Visa Signature® Card is offering a signup bonus of up to 100,000 Avios.
You get 50,000 Avios after $3,000 spend on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Then you get another 25,000 after $10,000 total spend on purchases within your first year of account opening — for a total of 75,000 bonus Avios. (This is $7000 additional spend on top of the first $3000 for 50,000 Avios.)
Finally there’s an additional 25,000 after a total of $20,000 spend within your first year from account opening — for a total of 100,000 bonus Avios.
That sounds like a lot of spending to earn the full bonus and frankly it’s a great card to get even if you were going to stop at 50,000. 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 $95 annual fee. 5/24 applies. (Offer expired)
Starwood’s Al Maha Desert Resort – Base Room is a Standalone Villa With Private Pool
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the new premium Southwest Airlines co-brand card really designed for folks who fly Southwest — it makes Southwest travel better, and spending helps earn both A-List status and a companion pass. [Offer expired]
The card’s initial bonus lets you earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. In addition cardmembers receive 7,500 bonus points after their cardmember anniversary.
Earning 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.
This $149 annual fee card provides a $75 travel credit with the airline each year; 20% back on in-flight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies; and four upgraded boardings per year when available (when A1-15 boarding positions are offered at the gate, buy it and you’ll receive a statement credit for the charge).
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.