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Chase Sapphire Preferred has been — and remains — the best all-around, most rewarding personal credit card for the past four years.
- If you’re just getting started in the hobby, it’s the card you should get.
- It plays a key role in the wallets of many of the most experienced miles and points enthusiasts.
It has a strong signup bonus, it offers some of the most valuable points, it is one of the fastest points-earning cards because of spending bonuses, and it comes with great benefits like purchase protection and even primary collision coverage when you rent cars. So it’s a great card to get, a great card to have, and a great card to use.
Signup bonus: the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers 40,000 points after $4000 in spending within 3 months plus 5000 more points for adding a free authorized user to the account and making a purchase within that same timeframe.
Fast earning: You can use the card pretty much anywhere, since it’s a Visa (my dry cleaner doesn’t take American Express..). And you earn double points on travel expenses (like airfare, hotels, rental cars, tolls, cabs, etc).
Some of the very best points: Chase has one of the most valuable points currencies, because their points transfer to a variety of airline and hotel programs – in whatever amount you wish (1000 point increments) whenever you wish. You can earn points and decide where they go later, based on who has the award availability you need.
Great benefits: No foreign transaction fees (you can even earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining abroad without frustration), primary collision damage when renting cars with the card (if you ding the rental your own insurance may not even have to know), and strong protections — I even got reimbursed when I cracked the screen of my new cell phone by dropping it on the sidewalk.
Previous Cardholder? Maybe It’s Time to Get it Again!
Back in October I wrote that Chase seemed to change its policy on welcoming back former cardmembers.
Instead of a signup bonus one time ‘per product’, they replaced the rule with offering the bonus to folks who aren’t current cardmembers, and who haven’t received a bonus for the card within the past 24 months.
Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Airline, Hotel, and Ground Programs
While you can redeem these points at 1.25 cents apiece towards paid travel, that’s not their best use. You want to hold onto them and transfer them to frequent flyer programs most of the time.
I value ‘flexible’ points the most, points where you can choose where to point them at the time you’re ready to redeem for an award.
If you accumulate miles in an airline program, then you need that program to have the award you want at the time you want to fly. But with points that transfer to your choice of programs, you increase the odds substantially of getting the award you want — if one program doesn’t have the award, another one likely will.
The transfer options with this card are:
- Airlines: United, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Korean Air, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines
- Hotels: Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, IHG Rewards Club
- Train: Amtrak
Who Are the Best Points Transfer Partners?
United is my favorite partner of these because of generous award routing rules, and no fuel surcharges.
British Airways miles are best used for short non-stop flights, since they charge separately for each flight segment based on distance. The shortest awards, like my own Washington DC to Chicago or New York, run just 4500 miles each way. Domestic flights on British Airways partners American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines do not incur fuel surcharges.
I actually prefer having Korean Air as a partner for Skyteam awards despite their adding fuel surcharges onto the cost of an award ticket. That’s because Korean offers one-way awards, first class awards, and is more generous with blackout dates than Delta is.
Korean does require you to redeem for family members only out of your own account, and they want proof of the relationship as part of the redemption process. But I’ve used them for 2 first class awards back from Malaysia the Sunday after Thanksgiving. First class award space is totally unmatched with Korean, and the airline flies to more US cities than any other Asian carrier.
- Korean Air First Class Between the US and Hong Kong One-way. They charge 80,000 points for first class, and the availability is amazingly good. They serve more US destinations than any other Asian airline. You can fly between the US and Hong Kong (or to the North of Hong Kong) in first class via Seoul, south of Hong Kong is 15,000 points more expensive. Here’s my Korean Air experience from back in November.
- British Airways short-haul US domestic economy Awards start at 4500 points each way with no fuel surcharges on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. (It’s why I’m flying economy more and more, and loving it.)
- South America in Business Class with United miles. One-way business class is 55,000 miles, roundtrip 110,000. The price is the same whether you fly United or a partner.
- Hawaii for 30,000 points roundtrip in coach or 60,000 in first class on either Alaska Airlines or Hawaiian Airlines.
Chase points transfer to Korean Air which partners with both of those airlines and offers reasonable award pricing. There are no fuel surcharges to Hawaii.
Non-stop flights from the West Coast to Hawaii can be had even cheaper by transferring Chase points to British Airways.
- 80,000 points roundtrip to Europe in business class.
That’s the price on Chase transfer partner Korean. They do add fuel surcharges, but it’s a great price considering that Delta charges 125,000 miles for travel on the same Skyteam airlines, and United’s partner award price is 140,000 miles roundtrip.
- 50,000 miles roundtrip in coach or 110,000 in business class between the US and Southern South America
That’s Korean’s price for travel on Skyteam partners, and there are no fuel surcharges on these routes.
- Park Hyatt Maldives. Three nights in a Park Villa for 90,000 points. They also regularly make cash and points awards available at the property.
- Park Hyatt Vendome Paris or Park Hyatt Sydney or Park Hyatt Tokyo. There’s no standard room award that’s more expensive than 30,000 points no matter the hotel in Hyatt’s system. So even when the Park Hyatt in Paris is $1200 per night, it’s still 30,000 points, and any standard room that’s available for cash can be booked on points.
- Singapore Airlines is great because the airline makes tons of premium cabin awards available to their own members that aren’t available using miles from partners.
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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either.