Get the most out of Chase with these credit cards in January 2021
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Chase credit cards are some of the most sought-after on the market. While the Chase lineup isn’t quite as extensive as what’s offered by American Express, there are a lot of great Chase-branded options for just about every type of cardholder.
Whether you’re looking for a premium travel card, an introduction into the world of points and miles, an easy cash-back option or a small business credit card, Chase has you covered. And since Chase cards are easily paired with each other for maximum value, people tend to hold more than one Chase card at once.
Chase has also recently added a number of temporary and permanent perks to help grounded travelers make the most of their Chase cards. This includes added flexibility on Chase Sapphire Reserve perks, a new Pay Yourself Back feature, select cobranded and business cardholders will receive higher points per dollar spent on groceries, gas and dining. and more.
Today I want to go through this magical combination to demonstrate just how lucrative it can be. Let’s start by taking a look at the best Chase credits cards overall, many of which we also value as some of the best credit cards on the market today.
The best Chase credit cards for January 2021
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best overall mid-tier card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for dining and travel insurance
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for non-bonus spending
- Chase Freedom Flex: Best for rotating bonus categories
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for business travelers
- Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card: Best for freelancers
- Ink Business Cash Credit Card: Best for telecom and office supplies
Comparison of the best Chase credit cards for January 2021
|Credit Card||Sign-up Bonus||Annual Fee|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening||$95|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening||$550|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||$200 bonus after spending $500 in their first three months of account opening||$0|
|Chase Freedom Flex||$200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening||$0|
|Ink Business Preferred Credit Card||100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening||$95|
|Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card||$750 cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening of account opening||$0|
|Ink Business Cash Credit Card||$750 cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.||$0|
Best Chase credit cards
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best overall mid-tier card
Sign-up bonus: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months from opening your account.
Earning rate(s): 5x points on Lyft rides; 2x points on dining and travel; 1x everywhere else.
Annual fee: $95
Why we love it: For some, the cost of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a dealbreaker. At $550 annually, it’s not a cheap card, although $300 of that cost is effectively recouped each year through the card’s annual travel credit. Still, not everyone wants to lay out $550 upfront for a credit card So as a backup option, you could substitute the Chase Sapphire Preferred for the Sapphire Reserve.
The Sapphire Preferred comes with a much more reasonable $95 annual fee (although with no annual travel credit), and since the card earns 2x bonus points for the same travel and dining purchases as the Sapphire Reserve, you’re only giving up 1x bonus points in those categories. And you will only earn half as many points for Lyft rides (5x versus 10x), you won’t get a free year of Lyft Pink and the Preferred doesn’t come with any DoorDash credits. However, you can get the same complimentary DashPass membership for at least 12 months as long as you set your card to the default payment method by Dec. 31, 2021.
So if you’re nervous about taking on an expensive credit card like the Sapphire Reserve or you don’t expect to have enough yearly travel and dining expenses to make the extra bonus points worth it, swap in the Chase Sapphire Preferred for your quartet. It’ll still provide a ton of value — including the option to convert cash-back points into fully-transferable ones.
It also includes an array of similar perks to the Sapphire Reserve, including primary car rental coverage, baggage delay insurance and trip cancellation/interruption protection. And it was chosen Best Travel Rewards Credit Card at the 2019 TPG Awards.
Like the CSR, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has added temporary benefits to help you maximize you card when you may not be traveling as much.
Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred review
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for dining and travel insurance
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months from opening your account.
Earning rate(s): 10x points on Lyft rides; 3x points on dining and travel; 1x on everything else.
Annual fee: $550
Why we love it: My wife and I love to eat out, and the Sapphire Reserve offers 3x points on these purchases. Based on TPG’s valuations, that’s a fantastic return of 6%. I’ve also found that Chase tends to be quite broad in how it defines restaurant purchases. I’ve even had bars (that serve no food) and my local private yacht club post as restaurant transactions, so this is a fantastic way to boost your earnings across a variety of merchants. In a typical month, I’d guess that we spend roughly $1,500 on dining out (which is mostly takeout or delivery right now), which translates to $18,000 per year. This means that, during a year, I’ll take home 54,000 Ultimate Rewards points, worth $1,080.
The card also has some limited-time perks for Lyft and DoorDash. You can earn up to $120 in DoorDash credits ($60 in 2020 and $60 in 2021) and get at least 12 months (but up to 24 months) of complimentary DashPass membership, which gets you waived delivery fees on orders of $12+ at participating restaurants. Cardholders are also eligible for a free year of Lyft Pink (15% off Lyft rides and more), which normally costs $19.99 a month. For more details take a look at our Questions and Answers post on these changes.
“Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.”
As you can see, this includes purchases that fall under travel with most cards, including airlines, hotels and car rentals. However, it also includes tolls, paid parking and even Airbnb. This is another category where my wife and I spend a decent amount of money every month, roughly $750 by my recent estimate. Over the course of the year, this translates to 27,000 points, worth $540.
Of course, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is also offering some temporary benefits as well to help cardholders maximize value during the coronavirus pandemic.
Related: Chase Sapphire Reserve review
Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for non-bonus spending
Sign-up bonus: $200 bonus after spending $500 in their first three months.
Earning rate(s): 5% cash back on Lyft rides; 5% on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3% on dining and drugstores; 1.5% cash back on other purchases.
Annual fee: $0
Why we love it: Another lucrative rewards credit card from Chase is the Freedom Unlimited, which is a great option for purchases that don’t fall into the typical bonus categories offered by other cards. The card also comes with three months of DashPass (no DoorDash delivery fees on orders over $12 at participating locations) with the next nine months for 50% off and after that the membership returns to it’s normal price of $9.99 a month. To activate your DashPass membership just set your eligible card as the default DoorDash payment method.
If you can pair this card with a premium card such as the Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred, you’re getting a 3% return on non-bonus spending — for me, non-bonus spending includes my monthly utility bill, charges for my daughter’s after-school care and my monthly Crossfit membership. I put about $1,000 per month on this card. Over the course of the year, my monthly spending nets me 18,000 Ultimate Rewards points, worth $360.
Chase announced a number of new benefits recently added to the card that now make it an even more attractive companion to your other Chase credit cards.
Related: Chase Freedom Unlimited review
Chase Freedom Flex: Best for rotating bonus categories
Sign-up bonus: $200 cash bonus after spending $500 in the first three months from opening the account.
Earning rate(s): 5% cash back on the first $1,500 in combined purchases in select rotating quarterly bonus categories (activation required); 5% cash back on Lyft rides; 3% on dining and drugstores; 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Annual fee: $0
Why we love it: The Chase Freedom Flex is a no-annual-fee credit card that offers 5% cash back (5x points) at merchants that rotate each quarter. The card also comes with the same DoorDash benefits as the Freedom Unlimited.
In each quarter you activate, you earn 5% back on the first $1,500 in combined eligible purchases in the bonus category, then 1% cash back on all other purchases. I generally max out the bonus categories each quarter (before shifting my spending back to other, more rewarding options). This translates to 7,500 points per quarter or 30,000 points per year, worth $600.
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for business travelers
Sign-up bonus: 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $15,000 in the first three months from opening the account
Earning rate(s): 3x on the first $150,000 spent annually in combined purchases on travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and research engines.
Annual fee: $95
Why we love it: The Ink Business Preferred is an excellent mid-tier business credit card that rewards cardholders on an array of business expenses. You’re earning valuable Ultimate Rewards points that can be used for 1.25 cents each through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or maximized by transferring to partners.
While the bonus is steep to hit at $15,000 in three months, keep in mind that this is a business credit card. Many small businesses easily spend $5,000 in combined expenses each month. The card charges a modest $95 annual fee and does offer cell phone protection as an added perk. However, keep in mind that Chase is currently requiring potential applications to sign into an existing Chase account before applying.
Related: Ink Business Preferred review
Ink Business Unlimited Card: Best for business travelers
Sign-up bonus: $750 cash bonus after spending $7,500 in the first three months from opening the account.
Earing rate(s): 1.5% cash back on every purchase
Annual fee: $0
Additional details: The Ink Business Unlimited mirrors the personal Chase Freedom Unlimited with the same rewards structure and no annual fee. Since it earns a flat rate across all purchases, it works best for business expenses that don’t fall into other bonus categories. This is also a great card for freelancers who may not spend enough in certain categories to warrant an annual fee or set bonus categories. The new sign-up bonus on this card is also a great reason to apply — especially if you have other Chase cards to convert your points into full-fledged Ultimate Rewards points.
Related: Ink Business Unlimited review
Ink Business Cash Card: Best for telecom and office supplies
Sign-up bonus: $750 cash bonus after spending $7,500 in the first three months from opening the account.
Earning rate(s): 5% cash back on the first $25,000 in combined purchases made each account year at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services; 2% cash back on the first $25,000 in combined purchases spent each account year at restaurants and gas stations; 5% cash back on Lyft rides; 1% back on all other purchases.
Annual fee: $0
Why we chose it: One of the most lucrative business credit cards is the Ink Business Cash credit card. It’s my go-to card for my monthly phone, internet and cable bills in my home office as well as purchases at office supply stores. All of these will earn 5% cash back (5x points) on up to $25,000 in combined purchases each year.
As mentioned above, the points you earn on this card are technically only redeemable for cash back at a rate of one cent each, but when you pair them with the Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred or the Ink Business Preferred, they immediately become transferable to partners including Hyatt and United. As a result, this gives you a fantastic return of 10% on these purchases.
I spend about $400 per month on telecommunications and about $250 per month at office supply stores. This boosts my Ultimate Rewards balance each year by another 39,000 points, worth $780.
Related: Ink Business Cash credit card review
The Chase quartet
Chase cards are easy to pair and maximize, making it worth considering adding multiple to your wallet. We have an entire guide dedicated to what’s referred to as the Chase Trifecta of credit cards, but I personally use a Chase quartet to maximize my own purchases.
From this group, you can only have either the Sapphire Reserve or the Sapphire Preferred — not both (we’ll discuss how to choose one over the other shortly). It’s also worth pointing out that four of the Chase credit cards listed above are technically billed as cash-back credit cards.
Although they’re rewarding in their own right, they take on exceptional value when they’re paired with a full-fledged Ultimate Rewards credit card such as the Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred. This is because the program lets you combine Ultimate Rewards points between accounts, allowing you to convert your cash-back points to fully transferable Ultimate Rewards points. That’s one of the main reasons this quartet of cards is so powerful.
That being said, which four make up your quartet will likely differ from someone else’s. It all depends on where you spend your money on a regular basis, how you want to redeem the points and miles you earn, and how you value the various perks provided on the best travel credit cards. As always, be sure to evaluate your spending habits and redemption goals to select cards that fit your situation.
Choosing the best Chase credit card for you may seem overwhelming, and you may not know where to start. So at TPG we’ve tried to make the process as simple as possible. As a handy guide, here are some of the factors we rate as important when we review credit cards.
Here’s what to consider when deciding which Chase credit card is right for you.
- Reward rates — We look at which Chase cards earn the most rewards in spending categories such as groceries, gas, travel and everyday spending.
- Annual fee — Annual fees vary and sometimes, a higher annual fee can mean a higher rewards rate and better perks. We look at the balance between the cost of each card compared to its earning potential and benefits offerings to see which are worth the annual fees.
- Sign-up bonus — Which card offers the best sign-up bonus and what form is best for you — points or cash back? A sign-up bonus can greatly increase the overall value of a card in its first year, which means it’s one of the primary factors we consider when researching.
- Pairability — We look at how well these Chase cards can fit into a larger credit card strategy. This includes considering if you are able to convert your rewards to transferable currencies with your other cards.
Maximize your Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards
Given the spending habits outlined above, how much value do I get from my four cards (using the CSR versus the CSP)? If you add up my earnings, I’m taking home roughly 168,000 Ultimate Rewards points every year. This haul is worth $3,360, and with yearly spending of $52,800, that equates to an incredible return of 6.36%.
Even when you take out the $250 effective annual fee that I’m paying on the Sapphire Reserve, it’s still nearly 6%, and even that doesn’t factor in the additional perks on the Sapphire Reserve card such as Priority Pass membership and primary car rental coverage. It also excludes any bonuses earned from the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, a simple, yet effective, strategy for boosting your earnings even higher.
However, I don’t put every dollar I spend on one of these four cards. There are a couple of others that offer an even better return on purchases with certain merchants or categories:
- When I book airfare directly with an airline or through American Express Travel, I sometimes use The Platinum Card® from American Express — with an annual fee of $550 (see rates and fees) — because it offers 5x points on these purchases, a return of 10% based on TPG’s valuations. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
- I’ll use an eligible Amex card when an Amex Offer gives me bonus points or additional savings.
- If a merchant accepts Amex for a non-bonus category purchase, I’ll usually swipe my Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express — with no annual fee (see rates and fees) — which earns 2x points on all purchases up to $50,000 each calendar year; then 1x. This gives me a return of 4% on these purchases based on TPG valuations. Terms apply.
- Finally, if I’ve recently opened another credit card and am working toward earning a bonus, I’ll use that card to ensure I hit the minimum spending requirement.
Will business credit cards add to my Chase 5/24 count?
In most cases, small-business credit cards will not add to your Chase 5/24 count because they don’t appear on your personal credit report. This actually includes Chase business credit cards, as well. So if you’re at 4/24 (four credits cards opened in the past 24 months) and you open the Ink Cash card, you’ll still be under 5/24 even though you just opened a Chase card.
If my application is denied is there anything I can do to get approved?
If your credit card application is denied you can call the Chase reconsideration line to speak to a specialist about why it was declined. If you’re not over 5/24, it is possible to have the decision reversed.
For example, Chase will extend you a certain amount of credit based on your income and if you’ve already reached that limit your application can be denied. However, it’s possible to move credit from existing accounts to the new account. So, as an example, instead of having all of your $20,000 in credit attached to a single card, you could move half of that to a new account to facilitate an approval.
The Chase reconsideration line for personal cards is 888-270-2127; for business cards, it’s 800-453-9719.
What credit score will I need in order to be approved for these Chase credit cards?
There is no exact science as to what credit score you’ll need to successfully apply for any Chase credit card because your credit score isn’t the only factor the bank takes into consideration. We’ve written about what scores are needed for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Freedom Flex/Freedom Unlimited and the Chase Sapphire Reserve cards.
That being said, having a score of at least 700 will give you the best chances of being approved for the top chase credit cards. Of course, it’s possible to be approved with a slightly lower score, it’s just not as likely.
How many Chase credit cards can I have at one time?
Chase doesn’t have an official limit on the number of Chase cards one person can have and many TPG staff have had eight or more Chase credit cards at the same time. But Chase does limit the amount of credit it will extend to you. As a general rule of thumb, you can be approved for one personal card and one business card within 90 days, but even that’s not a hard-and-fast rule.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are also different application rules for specific Chase cards. You can only hold one Sapphire card at a time. You can only have a single personal Southwest credit card; however, you can hold both a Southwest business and personal card, which is a great way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
For more details on the ins and outs of Chase’s application rules, read our guide on credit card application restrictions.
How do I cancel a Chase credit card?
If you want to cancel your Chase card, here is what you must do. Speak to a representative on the phone by calling the number on the back of your card or 1-800-432-4117 and let them know you want to cancel your Chase-issued card. This cannot be done online unfortunately and you also cannot cancel it until you have paid your balance in full.
It’s important to remember though that cancelling a credit card can have a negative impact on your credit score. Your score will be especially be impacted if you have a card with a high limit because your credit utilization makes up 30% of your credit score. If it’s merely a case of not wanting to continue to pay a high annual fee, your credit card provider may be able to organize a product change for you.
Related: How to cancel a credit card
Everyone has their own thoughts on what makes up the best set of travel rewards credit cards, and you may not want to deal with the hassle of tracking multiple cards to be used in different scenarios.
To really make the most of your everyday purchases, it’s important to evaluate your portfolio of cards and identify the best combination to maximize your earning rates. Some folks prefer swapping in the Chase Sapphire Preferred over the Sapphire Reserve, but by carrying the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom Flex, Chase Freedom Unlimited and Ink Business Cash Credit Card, I firmly believe that I have the perfect combination of Ultimate Rewards credit cards in my wallet.
Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor and Hayley Coyle.
Featured photo by The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.