I receive compensation for content and many links on this blog. Citibank is an advertising partner of this site, as is American Express, Chase, Barclays and Capital One. 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). Terms apply to the offers and benefits listed on this page.
I believe strongly that you should never earn just one mile per dollar spent. You’ll never do as well with return on spend as when you first get a card and there’s an initial bonus offer. However just because a card is good to use for the benefits doesn’t mean you should use it for your ongoing spend. Instead a simple portfolio strategy, anchored around a single Chase card, can supercharge your points-earning.
You don’t have to settle for just one mile per dollar. You can earn a minimum of 1.5 points per dollar in a transferable points currency and choose which mileage program you want to move points to later. And you can earn bonuses for a variety of different kinds of spending beyond this as well.
Here’s how the strategy works with Chase.
You Want One Chase Card to Serve as a ‘Hub’
Since Chase allows you to combine their Ultimate Rewards points from different credit card accounts you only need one Chase premium (annual fee) credit card because those cards let you transfer your Chase points to other loyalty programs. That means you can transfer them to:
- Airlines: United, JetBlue, Southwest, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Air France KLM, Singapore Airlines, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Emirates
- Hotels: Hyatt, Marriott, IHG
The two Chase cards that allow this that have modest ($95) annual fees are:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you earn 60,000 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. The card has an annual fee $95.
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card has an 80,000 point signup bonus after $5000 spend within 3 months. 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 pay your cell phone.
Once you have a Chase card that lets you transfer points to miles, you can use that card as a hub for a more sophisticated rewards-earning strategy. But this is step one, your base.
Earn More Points With No Annual Fee Cards Then Make Those Points Much More Useful
There are two no annual fee Chase cards that earn 1.5 points per dollar spent. Those cards normally don’t let you transfer points to airline miles. However you can transfer the points you earn on these no annual fee cards over to your Chase Sapphire Preferred or your Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card and from there to airline miles.
- Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card is a no annual fee Visa card that has an initial bonus offer to earn $500 bonus cash back (50,000 points) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Ongoing spend earns 1.5 points per dollar.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited also earns 1.5 points per dollar on spend and has no annual fee.
Earn 5 Points Per Dollar in a Variety of Categories, Too
The no annual fee Chase Ink Business CashSM credit card earns 5% back [5 points per dollar] on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. It earns 2% back [2 points per dollar] on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.
The no annual fee Chase Freedom® credit card earns 5% back (5 points per dollar) on up to $1,500 in purchases in bonus categories which change each quarter. You have to register for this each quarter.
The Crucial Points
The ability to maximize the value of these 5 points per dollar offers from no annual fee cards hinges on the ability to transfer those points to a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. That’s because on their own, Chase no annual fee cards do not let you transfer points to airline miles or hotel points.
Once you move those points over, of course, they become just like points that were earned on the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card in the first place and can be transferred to participating airline and hotel loyalty programs.
Of course Chase could limit to end the ability to make these transfers in the future, which is why I sweep my no annual fee Ink Chase and Freedom cards regularly, keeping those balances low and accumulating points in my annual fee cards.
Chase reportedly considered such limits, but the Wall Street Journal reported at the beginning of the year that that’s not something that was on the immediate horizon.