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.
Earn the most valuable points – and using an arbitrage opportunity, earn them quickly. And transfer them to programs that accept points from a variety of sources. Then you’ll have points for your award goals in no time.
The Basics: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The 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. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® — but you can do far better than that.
And the card earns 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. It has an introductory annual fee of $0 the first year, then $95.
There was a brief targeted test of 50,000 points with a higher annual fee two years ago. For the most part we haven’t seen an offer like this for the card since March 2012. (And that was without the 5000 extra points.)
I’ve been a fan of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card as an important tool for frequent flyers since 2011 because:
- It earns one of the most valuable points currencies, which transfer to a variety of airlines (including in all 3 major airline alliances) and hotels.
- It earns points quickly, with double points on both travel and dining (what travelers tend to spend on most).
This is the best card to apply for especially if you haven’t gotten 5 or more new cards in the past 24 months.
These points transfer to:
- Airlines: United, Southwest, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Air France KLM
- Hotels: Hyatt, Marriott Rewards, IHG Rewards Club, and Ritz-Carlton.
It’s probably the best all-around credit card, and with a great signup bonus. I even love using it for car rentals because it comes with primary collision, meaning own insurance may not even need to know about scratches and dings.
Earning the Most Points When There’s No Spending Bonus
Chase has its new $0 annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited Card. Pair that with Sapphire Preferred. (The information related to Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card has been collected by View from the Wing and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.)
- Earn with Chase Freedom Unlimited Card at 1.5 points per dollar. That’s what they give you on all of your spending.
- If you only have Freedom Unlimited that’s like 1.5% cash back. But when you have Sapphire Preferred Card also you can transfer the points from your Freedom Unlimited card to your Sapphire Preferred account. And then they’re transferrable to airline miles and hotel points.
You’re then earning a minimum of 1.5 points per dollar on all of your spend (you’ll still earn double points on travel and dining direct through Sapphire Preferred).
I value a Sapphire Preferred point at 1.9 cents. So 1.5 of those points would be worth 2.85 cents. That’s 90% more value than the 1.5 cents a point you’d get with Freedom Unlimited alone. And more value than you get with an unbonused point using Sapphire Preferred alone.
Using Airline Partners That Also Transfer from Citibank, American Express, and Starwood
You really rack up points quickly for award travel when you combine points from your Chase accounts into the same frequent flyer programs that other bank transferrable points transfer to as well.
For instance, Air France KLM Flying Blue is also a Citi ThankYou transfer partner so you can pair your points from Chase with your points from the Citi Prestige Card in the same Flying Blue account.
And Air France KLM Flying Blue is also a Membership Rewards transfer partner, so you can transfer points from the fastest earning Membership Rewards cards to Flying Blue.
Starwood points transfer to Air France KLM Flying Blue as well. And Flying Blue gives you better availability on Air France flights than partners like Delta have access to. Here are some of the great tricks you can do with Air France’s points.
That’s not the only frequent flyer program with more than one transfer program in common. You can move points from Chase, Citibank, American Express and Starwood to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer as well.
Transfers to Singapore are exceptionally useful because using Singapore Airlines miles you get much better availability redeeming for Singapore business and first class flights than what’s offered to their partner airline members.
Singapore is also great for redeeming awards in United first class domestically and to Hawaii.
What’s especially useful is you can put all of your points earned in large chunks such as from signup bonuses, in one place so that you can redeem for premium cabin awards quickly.