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What’s The 1 Points-Earning Credit Card I Should Start With?

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Update:  As of July 20, 2014, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card no longer offers the 7% annual points dividend. View the current sign up offer here.

TPG reader Jamie tweeted me this week @thepointsguy with a question I get all the time:

“We want to start with 1 card to start earning travel points while learning the ins & outs. Which credit card do you recommend?”

It really all depends on what you’re looking to get out of your points – whether it’s airline tickets, hotel stays, cash back and statement credits, or something else.

However, if you’re looking for a really solid travel rewards card with some flexibility in how you can put your points to use, the core card I recommend to family and friends is the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

It offers really lucrative category spending bonuses including 2.14X points per $1 on travel (including the 7% annual points dividend) – which includes not only airline tickets, hotel rooms and things like that, but also parking garages and meters, taxis, metro transit like the Subway and a host of other transportation options – as well as on dining (and 3.21X points per $1 on dining the first Friday of each month through 2013).

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of my all-time top credit card recommendations.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of my all-time top credit card recommendations.

At the end of the year, the card also offers a 7% dividend on all the points you accrue during the year (not including the sign-up bonus) – so if you earned 10,000 points, you’d earn an additional 1,400 points at the end of the year – which helps boost your balance even further.

The sign-up bonus is currently 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months and the first year’s annual fee of $95 is waived. The card also has some other valuable benefits including Visa Signature perks and it waives foreign transaction fees, so it’s a great card to get if you travel internationally.

In terms of redemptions, Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which are what you earn on the card) transfer at a 1:1 ratio to 10 travel programs: British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, IHG Rewards, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and Amtrak. So when you think about it, you’re earning 2.14X points per $1 on a lot of your spend – and even more if you maximize the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal where I personally earn an additional 2X points per $1 by booking airfare through Travelocity, so I’m earning a very healthy amount of points on all of my spending.

So all around, the one card I’d recommend is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. To learn more about the card and Ultimate Rewards points, check out these posts:

Details on the Sapphire Preferred 2X on Travel
The Sapphire Preferred 7% Annual Dividend
Ranking the Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
Top 10 Ways To Maximize Each Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner
Why I Love Chase Ultimate Rewards
Ranking the Top Chase Travel Credit Card Offers

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