Which Chase Card Is Best for You?
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With so many great travel rewards credit cards available, it can be hard to decide upon a specific product. To help you find the best option for your goals and spending habits, TPG Points & Miles Editor Sarah Silbert walks you through the top cards from issuer Chase.
It’s always a good idea to diversify your points and miles — and that includes holding and using travel rewards cards from a variety of issuers that earn different loyalty currencies. Whether you’re looking for a co-branded airline or hotel card or want to earn transferable points that open up a myriad of redemption options, Chase has some excellent products worth considering. Today, I’ll kick off a series on finding the best card for you, starting with this issuer.
(Note that point values vary dramatically with the currencies referenced below, so if you’re trying to decide between several options from Chase, be sure to review our most recent valuations to see how much value you’ll get from each point you earn and redeem.)
If You’re Looking for Transferable Points: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Current bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening
Benefits: Earn 2x points on all dining and travel purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else. No foreign transaction fees. Travel and purchase protection and primary rental car insurance.
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Reasons to get it: Transferable points can be redeemed with a variety of partners rather than with just one loyalty program or through the issuer’s rewards center, and they can be a great option when you don’t have a particular redemption in mind. Chase’s transferable currency, Ultimate Rewards points, are especially valuable due to the great selection of travel partners to which they can be transferred at a 1:1 rate, including British Airways, Hyatt and United. Thanks to the wide variety of redemption options, TPG consistently values these points at 2.1 cents apiece — higher than other transferable currencies such as American Express Membership Rewards points.
When it comes to earning these valuable points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a solid option due to generous perks and an earning rate of 2x points for dining and travel purchases. That means based on TPG’s valuation, you’ll get a return of 4.2% on Uber rides, hotel stays, airfare, meals out and more.
Note: As a non-co-branded Chase card, the Sapphire Preferred, along with the Chase Freedom and Chase Ink Plus Business Card mentioned below, are subject to the issuer’s 5/24 rule, which stipulates that those who have opened five new credit card accounts within the last 24 months will likely not be approved.
If You Prefer to Have Cash Back: Chase Freedom
Please be advised that the promotions listed may not be current. View the current 5x bonus categories here.
Current bonus: $150 after you spend $500 in purchases in the first three months of account opening
Benefits: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined spending within a specified bonus category each quarter. Earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Annual fee: $0
Reasons to get it: If you prefer cash back to Ultimate Rewards points, the Chase Freedom is an excellent option, as its rotating quarterly bonus categories offer you the opportunity to earn a solid 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spending. This year’s categories include select grocery stores and restaurants, and Chase has even been known to bump the return up to 10% cash back during the holiday season. Especially for a no-fee card, this is a great deal. Note that if you also have an Ultimate Rewards-earning card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Plus Business Card, you can instantly convert your cash back to points at a rate of 1:1, giving you much more value with travel redemptions.
Also worth considering is the recently introduced Chase Freedom Unlimited, which offers a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases, also with no annual fee. It won’t offer rotating 5% quarterly bonus categories like the original Freedom, but it does offer a higher return on everyday spending — and if you do eventually decide to convert the cash back to Ultimate Rewards points by opening a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Plus Business Card, you’ll have more points on non-bonus spending to show for it.
If You Have a Small Business: Ink Plus Business Card
Current bonus: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening
Benefits: Earn 5x points on the first $50,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year. Earn 2x points on the first $50,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel each account anniversary year, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual fee: $95
Reasons to get it: Another great Ultimate Rewards-earning product, the Ink Plus Business Card offers you the opportunity to earn a 10.5% return on select bonus category spending (based on TPG’s valuation of Ultimate Rewards points), including office supply stores (note the $50,000 limit per account anniversary year). If you’re a small business owner who frequently makes purchases at Staples and similar stores (not to mention spending on hotels and at gas stations), the rewards can really add up.
If You Fly United: United MileagePlus Explorer Card
Current bonus: 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first three months of account opening
Benefits: Earn 2x miles on tickets purchased from United and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. Get a first bag checked free when you travel on United and purchase the ticket with this card. Priority boarding for cardholder and companions on same reservation. Two United Club passes each year. No foreign transaction fees. Earn 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $25,000 on your card each year.
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Reasons to get it: Though the United MileagePlus Explorer Card has offered higher sign-up bonuses of 50,000 miles in the past, it’s still worth considering even at 30,000 miles. Airline benefits like a free checked bag (for you and one travel companion), priority boarding and two United Club passes can sweeten the journey, and the opportunity to earn an additional 10,000 miles for meeting the $25,000 annual spending threshold is always nice. That said, one of the biggest benefits of holding this card is that it opens up additional award space at the Saver level, which can help you maximize your mileage redemptions.
If You Fly Southwest: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
Current bonus: 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening
Benefits: Earn 2 points per dollar on Southwest Airlines purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Earn 6,000 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary. Earn 1,500 Tier-Qualifying Points per $10,000 you spend on the card each calendar year up to a maximum of 15,000 TQPs per year. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual fee: $99
Reasons to get it: Southwest is another of Chase’s airline partners, and the issuer’s Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is a great option if you frequently fly with the carrier and/or are working toward the Companion Pass. This incredibly lucrative perk lets a designated individual travel with you for free (minus taxes and fees), and if you time it right you can earn it for almost two years. The Companion Pass requires 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, and luckily points earned with this card — including the anniversary bonus — count toward that requirement.
If You Fly Short-Haul on American: British Airways Visa Signature Card
Current bonus: A total of 100,000 Avios. Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus Avios when you spend $10,000 on purchases for a total of 75,000 bonus Avios. You’ll also earn another 25,000 bonus Avios when you spend a total of $20,000 on purchases within your first year for a total of 100,000 bonus Avios.
Benefits: Earn 3 Avios for every dollar spent on British Airways purchases and 1 for every dollar spent on everything else. 10% off British Airways ticket purchases with CARDOFFERU cardholder code through the end of 2016. No foreign transaction fees. Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you’ll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for the rest of the year and the following.
Annual fee: $95
Reasons to get it: Another co-branded airline option, the British Airways Visa Signature Card could be worth considering if you often fly short-haul routes on American Airlines. Though BA recently did away with its valuable 4,500-Avios awards for short-hauls in the US, these flights are still relatively affordable at 7,500 Avios each way for routes like New York to Chicago and Los Angeles to Denver. The card offers an assortment of other worthwhile benefits, including the 10% discount on BA tickets purchased for travel through the end of the year; however, note that you’ll need to spend $20,000 in a calendar year to get the 100,000-Avios bonus.
If You Stay with Hyatt: Hyatt Credit Card
Current bonus: 2 free nights at Hyatt properties worldwide after you make $2,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening
Benefits: Earn 3x points on purchases at Hyatt properties; 2x points at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and at car rental agencies; and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Complimentary Hyatt Discoverist status. Get one free night at a Category 1-4 property every year after your cardmember anniversary. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual fee: $75
Reasons to get it: The ability to earn 3 points per dollar on Hyatt stays is a nice benefit, but the real draw here is obviously the sign-up bonus of two free nights at any Hyatt hotel. Depending on where you redeem them, you can get hundreds of dollars in value. Plus, the free night at a Category 1-4 property awarded after each cardmember anniversary sweetens the deal, making the $75 annual fee quite easy to swallow.
If You Stay with Marriott: Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card
Current bonus: 80,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
Benefits: Earn 5x points on spending at Marriott and Ritz-Carlton properties; 2x points on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, and at car rental agencies and restaurants; and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Get 15 credits toward elite status (enough for Marriott Silver) and 1 additional elite credit for every $3,000 spent on purchases. Get 1 free night at a Category 1-5 property every year after your account anniversary. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual fee: $85
Reasons to get it: The current sign-up bonus of 80,000 points (30,000 points higher than the usual offer) could be reason alone to add this card to your wallet — but act sooner than later if you’re interested because this offer could be gone shortly. Apart from the opportunity to earn enough points for a variety of great redemptions, the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is worth a look thanks to the free night at a Category 1-5 property awarded after each account anniversary. Plus, if you’re a big spender, earning an elite credit for every $3,000 charged to the card could get you far in your pursuit of elite status.
If You Stay with Ritz-Carlton: The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card
Current bonus: Two complimentary nights at any participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
Benefits: Earn 5x points on spending at any participating Ritz-Carlton hotel or partner property; 2x points on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, and at car rental agencies and restaurants; and 1 point per dollar on everything else. 3 upgrades to the Ritz-Carlton Club Level each year (on paid stays of up to seven nights only). $300 annual travel credit. $100 hotel credit on paid stays of two nights or longer. Automatic Gold elite status. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual fee: $450
Reasons to get it: Sure, the annual fee is quite high, but the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, offers plenty of perks that make it more palatable. The $300 annual travel credit can cover baggage fees, Global Entry application fees, seat upgrades and more, while the $100 hotel credit on paid stays can help cover a spa treatment or other onsite expenses. That’s not even mentioning the sign-up bonus, which could be worth hundreds of dollars depending on where you redeem those two free nights. Note that Ritz-Carlton and Marriott share a loyalty currency, so points earned through this card can be redeemed at Marriott hotels (and vice versa with the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card).
If You Stay with IHG: IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card
Current bonus: 60,000 points after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening
Benefits: Earn 5x points at IHG hotels; 2x points on spending at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants; and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Get a free anniversary night. 10% point rebate on redemptions, for up to 100,000 points in a calendar year. Complimentary Platinum Elite status. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual fee: $49 (waived the first year)
Reasons to get it: The IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card currently offers a relatively good sign-up bonus, especially considering the low spending requirement of $1,000. Those 60,000 points can take you far, especially if you redeem them at a PointBreaks property that costs just 5,000 points per night. The ability to earn a free night after each account anniversary is a nice bonus as well.
If You Carry a Balance: Chase Slate
Current bonus: $0 intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance in the first 60 days of account opening (after that, 5% fee for future transactions with a minimum of $5)
Benefits: Free monthly FICO score.
Annual fee: $0
Reasons to get it: It’s never ideal to carry a balance on your credit cards, but if you do you’re certainly not in the minority. While in a perfect world you’d pay your balance in full each month, it’s good to know that you have some solid options when you do need to carry some of it over. The Chase Slate is one of them, as it lets you transfer balances from other cards without any fee for the first 60 days, and it charges no interest on balance transfers for a full 15 months. For more about this card and others that offer balance transfers, see this post.
What are your favorite travel rewards cards from Chase?