Sapphire Preferred or Arrival Plus for General Spending?
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TPG reader Kenny emailed me to ask:
"I have both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus. I've already met the minimum spending requirements to get the bonuses. For all of my travel and dining, I use Sapphire Preferred on top of the Chase Freedom bonus categories. For all my other spending, where I'm only earning 1pt/$1 with Chase, should I use my Barclaycard Arrival Plus to take advantage of the 2 points per dollar, or should I just stick with Ultimate Rewards ?"
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard are always among my top all-around travel rewards credit cards, and each has their own perks.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you get 11 strong transfer partners that can help you extract huge value from your Ultimate Rewards points. You also earn two points per dollar on all dining and travel expenses, which includes things like taxis, boutique hotels, tolls, and even parking. The earning and redeeming features are strong on this card, and it has no foreign transaction fees; that's why it's one of my favorite cards and I have it with me wherever I go.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus gets you two points per dollar on all purchases. There are no transfer partners, but miles can be redeemed for travel at 1 cent apiece plus a 5% rebate, so you effectively get 2.11% back on your spending. The neat thing is that you can use your Barclay card miles for non-traditional travel options; for example, this past summer I went from New York City to the Hamptons via helicopter. It was a bit of a splurge at $575, but I was able to use the miles to wipe that charge from my statement. Basically, the sign-up bonus and a small amount of spending on the card got me a free 45 minute helicopter ride - something I wouldn't have been able to do with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. I have plenty of miles and hotel points, but having an experience like that for free was awesome.
I like to mix my spending on the Arrival Plus and Sapphire Preferred. For general spending that doesn't fit in a bonus category, which card you use really depends on your future travel plans. Because of the flexibility of Arrival miles, I recommend you use the Arrival Plus for at least some of your spending. Even if you're booking award tickets through Ultimate Rewards and its transfer partners, you can pay for taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus and then wipe those charges off your statement. That way you're truly getting a free flight.
In summary, It depends on your travel style and plans, but I would firmly suggest keeping both cards, and putting around half of the general spending on each of the Arrival Plus and the Sapphire Preferred so you build up both accounts and diversify your points and miles. This percentage can and should be altered when you decide how you want to organize your travel spending and expenses throughout the year.