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 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 many frequent travelers for about 8 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 — specifically before you hit 5 new products in 24 months, and then get cards from other banks.
Here’s my ranking of the 11 best Chase rewards cards:
- 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. This is not my referral link, and information about Sapphire Reserve is neither provided nor reviewed by its issuer.
Anecdotally it’s a tough approval. 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. That’s why the best strategy for many people may be to get a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and then ask to product change in a year.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card lets you earn 60,000 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, $95 annual fee, 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.
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. While 5/24 applies, getting this card shouldn’t add to your 5/24 total.
- World of Hyatt Credit Card offerings 50,000 points as an initial bonus: 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening plus an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend a total of $6,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.
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.
Since the card comes with 5 elite nights and then keeps earning 2 more elite nights with each $5000 spend I’ve been using the card quite a lot. At 30 total elite nights Hyatt offers a category 1-4 free night. At 60 nights it’s a category 1-7 free night. And you earn club lounge and confirmed suite upgrades based on nights, too.
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.
- UnitedSM Explorer Card has an offer of 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2000 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.
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. The card comes with two United Club passes each year at card renewal.
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. This is not my referral link, and information about the card is neither provided nor reviewed by its issuer.
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 Premier 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.
- Marriott Bonvoy BoundlessTM Credit Card offers 75,000 points after spending $3000 within the first 3 months of cardmembership.
Al Maha Desert Resort – Base Room is a Standalone Villa With Private Pool
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the 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 60,000 points after you spend $2,000 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.