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On Thursday morning, Brian Kelly — TPG himself — appeared on “The Morning Breath” with Claudia Oshry Soffer (aka Instagram’s girlwithnojob) and Jackie Oshry (aka Instagram’s jackieoproblems) to talk about travel, points and miles. If you missed it, you can find the replay here starting at 40 minutes in (warning: some language is NSFW):
Just a few minutes into the interview, Claudia admitted to Brian her deepest, darkest secret: she doesn’t have a credit card, just a debit card that she’s had since college. Thankfully, TPG is here to help both Claudia and “Breathers” who are looking for their first credit card.
Brian’s first recommendation is the Chase Freedom Unlimited — it has no annual fee and gives you 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make. For instance, if you buy Away luggage for $225, you’ll get $3.38 back as a rebate from your Freedom card. But the real trick of the Chase Freedom Unlimited is that the “cash back” comes in the form of points — in this case, 338 points — and those points add up over time. Eventually when you graduate to a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card down the line, you can redeem them for airline flights or hotel rooms instead of cash at a much higher rate.
You’re probably thinking, “What’s a ‘premium’ Chase card?” Two options are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Brian considers the Sapphire Reserve the “holy grail” of credit cards — even with the $450 annual fee — since it offers triple points on all travel and dining purchases. “If you’re a real smart millennial, you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Everyone talks about it.”
But if you’re getting your first credit card, don’t start spending above your means — you need to pay your bill in full and on time every single month. “If you’re going to get a credit card and spend more and pay interest … the points will not make sense,” said Brian. “Figure out what your monthly budget is and stick to it.”
When it comes to airlines, Brian talked about being a fan of JetBlue, especially when it comes to Mint, JetBlue’s business class cabin. But that doesn’t stop him from flying a low-cost carrier like Spirit when he needs to — just pay the extra $20-$30 to get up front and “they’ll treat you like a king.”
If you’re a regular traveler and want to get away from the craziness of the airport, get lounge access. The Platinum Card from American Express comes with an expensive $550 annual fee, but it also gets access to both Delta Sky Clubs (when you’re flying Delta) and all of Amex’s high-end Centurion Lounges. “Centurion Lounges are amazing because it’s top-shelf liquor, all food free, plus you get two guests with your Platinum card,” Brian explained. Both the Amex Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve also come with a Priority Pass membership, a network that has partnerships with not only lounges but also restaurants and bars in some airports.
Want to learn more? Get started with these posts here on The Points Guy:
- The Beginner’s Guide to Points and Miles: Essential Travel Tips
- 5 Basic Credit Card Terms You Need to Understand
- 5 Easy Ways for Beginners to Jump-Start Points and Miles Earning
- 3 Key Considerations for Improving Your Credit Score
- The 11 Best Starter Travel Rewards Cards for 2017
Featured image from “The Morning Breath.”
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49-25.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- No minimum to redeem for cash back
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
- Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
- No annual fee