Sunday Reader Question: Chase Sapphire Preferred® and Ink Bold Application Strategy and Kenya Flight Advice

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Update: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card sign-up bonus offer is now reduced to 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

TPG reader Wendy asks:

“In a recent post you mentioned that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Ink Bold 50,000 point sign up bonuses might be expiring in Feb/March.  Any idea if that is imminent?

I’m trying to get to Kenya from Texas the end of July (Business Class) and have approximately 170K American miles, 125K British Airways miles, and 60K Aeroplan miles. I just got the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (50K points); is it worth trying for the Ink Bold for another 50K before the bonus expires to top off the BA miles? Or is there a better strategy?”

There are several questions here, so let me answer each one individually. If you want the short version, take a look at this video I made, and then read on to see the details below.

1) Do I have any information on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Bold 50,000 point bonuses going away?
I don’t have any official information on the offer end date, but from information gleaned from several sources, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chase Sapphire Preferred® bonus drop in the near future. However, I think Ink Bold will remain at 50,000 points. As with all sign-up bonuses, they go up and down, so I wouldn’t rule out the bonus going back to 50,000 (or possibly even higher) in the future. Trying to figure out your application strategy and when to strike is part of the fun of the miles and points games – sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Often when you snooze on a great deal, you lose.

My personal opinion is that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is one of the best cards for travelers and the 50,000 point sign-up bonus, with the first year annual fee waived, is an absolute no-brainer. I not only blog about it a lot because there’s huge value for my readers, but I preach about the card almost everywhere I go because it’s just a great deal for pretty much anyone, whether you are just getting started in points and miles or even if you are are an extreme points expert.

2) Should you get the Ink Bold for 50,000 points?
In general, getting the Ink Bold card is a great deal as well since I value 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points at around $1,000, and the first year annual fee is waived. You can apply for both on the same day – if your second application gets declined initially, just call the reconsideration line and try to get your application approved with the argument that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a personal card and Ink Bold is business so it makes sense that you’d want both to separate expenses. As a business owner this card is great for maximizing spend in categories like office supplies, cable and wireless which earn 5 points per dollar (yes, I make TPG employees use my additional cards so I get the points – I’m such a horrible boss, I know, but what else would you expect?).

3) Whats the best way to get to Kenya with your miles and points?
With your American, British Airways and Aeroplan balances, we can rule out using Aeroplan because they don’t do one-way awards and you don’t have enough for a roundtrip.

American charges one-way 75,000 miles for business class to Africa or 100,000 for first and your most likely routing will be on British Airways, which means you’ll be paying $500+ in fees. American doesn’t allow stopovers on awards, which complicates this search because you’ll need to find good routing via Europe that doesn’t stop for more than 24 hours.

British Airways has great first class availability, but you will pay through the roof, both in terms of miles and fees for it. In my experience, finding business class availability, which requires 1/3 less miles, is extremely difficult.

The cheapest option would be to book via United MileagePlus, which has low fees and flexible routing. Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio. There are a lot of routing options via Europe and you can build in a stop in any of the cities as an option to break up your journey or find better routing.

The difference in fees between United and British Airways/American is drastic. I just pulled up two one-way first class options for Houston to Nairobi in July and the British Airways option required 150,000 miles and $742 vs. the United option of 75,000 miles and $31!

150,000 BA miles and $742 one way Houston to Nairobi
United Houston to Nairobi one-way first class: 75,000 miles and $31

If you can’t rack up enough Ultimate Rewards points to get a roundtrip award, think about doing one-way using United miles and one-way with American. Save the British Airways miles for short haul and flights within North and South America.

I’d also recommend building up an American Express balance so you can top up your Aeroplan account and even British Airways, so you can take advantage of current amazing promotions like the current 50% transfer bonus.

However, if your future travel calls for a lot of Europe and Africa, British Airways probably isn’t your best bet since the fees are so outrageous.

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