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If you’re going for cash back — and some people should, especially those who earn most of their points from ongoing credit card spend and use those points for domestic coach travel — then 2% is the gold standard. You can even earn 2% cash back and then use the cash to buy miles when airlines are selling their miles for less than 2 cents apiece. That’s better than earning 1 mile per dollar on an airline credit card.
However, I believe there are more lucrative options for everyday spending than a 2% cash back card.
Chase has a brand new no annual fee card that earns 1.5 points per dollar on all spending. It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited, and instead of offering a rotating set of categories with 5 points per dollar each quarter (with bonus earning capped) and one point on everything else, you get 1.5 points on everything. (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.)
The reason this card is a killer app — at ‘only’ 1.5 points per dollar — is that if you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card you can move your points earched with Chase Freedom Unlimited into your Sapphire Preferred’s points account, and from there transfer them to airline miles or hotel points. (See also: 10 Things I Love About Chase Sapphire Preferred)
In other words, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card gives you double points on travel and dining. Then for everything else put your spending on Chase Freedom Unlimited and earn 1.5 points per dollar.
Chase Sapphire Preferred’s points transfer to:
- Airlines: United, Southwest, Korean, Briitsh Airways, Singapore, Virgin Atlantic, Air France KLM
- Hotels: Hyatt, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton
Singapore Airlines A380 Suites
Since I value Chase points at 1.9 cents apiece, pairing Chase Freedom Unlimited with Sapphire Preferred will give you an effective return of 2.85% on all of your unbonused spend. Together these two cards are the biggest one-two punch, in my opinion, in travel.
Better than 2% cash back, and better as well than 2.3 cents that I consider a single Starwood Starpoint to be worth earned via Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.