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My 5 favorite redemptions in year 1 with the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Jan. 24, 2022
6 min read
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When my friends and family ask what the best starter travel card is, I always defer to my trusty Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Nobody just starting out with points and miles wants to pay an exorbitant annual fee — and it's easy to justify the $95 yearly cost on the Chase Sapphire Preferred once you review its long list of benefits.

(Photo by The Points Guy)

What makes the Chase Ultimate Rewards program so valuable is the ability to book travel in two key ways. First, you can book flights, hotels, car rentals and more through the Ultimate Rewards portal at a rate of 1.25 cents each.

While that's a great value, where you'll find the most value is from Chase's 11 airline and three hotel loyalty partners, as you can transfer your points to these respective programs at a 1:1 ratio.

In this fashion, TPG values Ultimate Rewards points as worth more like 2 cents each.

Since I opened my Chase Sapphire Preferred about a year ago, I've redeemed more than 300,000 Ultimate Rewards points that I've accrued from the sign-up bonus and everyday spending. Even so, I still have almost 90,000 points sitting in my award balance that are waiting to be used.

By that measure, I effectively received and used around $6,000 in travel rewards in a year — making that $95 annual fee a no-brainer in comparison.

As I've reached my first anniversary with the card, here are my top five favorite redemptions I've made, in no particular order. Hopefully, this post inspires you to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points this year for that trip you're dreaming of.

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Costa Rica

It's unlikely that you'll utilize every single one of Chase's transfer partners, but a good place to start is knowing which programs offer the best value.

World of Hyatt is one of my favorites, as the program charges reasonable rates for remarkable properties — including the Los Altos Resort, a five-star property in Costa Rica.

Cash rates were around $450 per night, but instead I transferred my Ultimate Rewards points to my Hyatt balance and booked my stay for just 25,000 points per night. What I got was a fantastic three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath suite, a large kitchen, living room and multiple balconies overlooking the Costa Rican rainforest.

I also loved the infinity pool, free morning yoga classes and hiking trails that sprawled throughout the resort.

Related: Welcome to the jungle: How I redeemed 100,000 Chase points to book a Costa Rica trip of a lifetime

Iceland

While you can often find some great flight deals to Iceland, it's an entirely different story once you're on the ground.

That's why my strategy for my Iceland trip was to pay cash for my airfare and look for accommodations via points. Hyatt hit a home run on this one.

At 25,000 Hyatt points per night, I stayed at the cozy Hotel Rangá in southern Iceland. Its proximity to must-see tourist sites but distance from light pollution (so that you can hopefully catch the northern lights in the winter) are among the reasons why I loved my stay.

Related: Iceland on a budget: Why you should seriously consider renting a campervan

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Yet another World of Hyatt success story was one of my most recent trips: to an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica, the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall.

While I rarely take all-inclusive vacations, I appreciated that all of the restaurants and amenities were on the property, making for a great last-minute winter getaway. I also felt like I got an especially great deal using my travel rewards (25,000 Hyatt points per night) for this resort since all of the food and drinks had been taken care of, stretching the value of my points even further than what's normally possible.

Related: Why I was denied boarding to Chile — and spent Christmas in Jamaica instead

Spain

(Photo by Stella Shon/The Points Guy)

One of the cheapest ways to fly business class to (or from) Europe is to leverage the Iberia Avios program. For just 34,000 Avios and under $300 in taxes and fees, you can score a lie-flat seat to Madrid.

Unfortunately, I had a stomach bug on the way home, so my whole journey was spent asleep. While I cannot attest to the quality of the meals or inflight entertainment, the ability to sleep during the entire eight-hour flight made this redemption incredibly worth it for me.

Related: The seat carries the flight: A review of Iberia’s business class on the A350, New York to Madrid

Morocco

2021 was also the year I got to try out Air France's business class for the first time — and on the carrier's 777-300ER aircraft. I had flown to Morocco via TAP Air Portugal's business class and I also wanted to fly home in comfort and style.

By transferring my Ultimate Rewards points to Air France/KLM Flying Blue, I scored my flight home, with a layover in Paris, for 53,000 Flying Blue miles and around $300 in taxes. It was nice to take a hot shower in the Air France lounge and take an afternoon nap as we flew across the Atlantic.

Bottom line

As you can see, World of Hyatt is one of my transfer partners of choice. Otherwise, I prefer to save my points for business-class flights, as I can often find even more than 2 cents of value per point.

In 2022, my strategy is to continue accruing as many Ultimate Rewards points as possible with my Chase Sapphire Preferred, so that I can look back in another year and reflect on some more great redemptions (and travel memories).


Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 80,000-point sign-up bonus after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.


Featured image by (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023