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My very first transferable points-earning card was the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I actually still hold it in my wallet today because I never qualified for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card due to the number of new cards on my credit report. For readers who only travel a couple times a year, we still recommend getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred as one of the very first cards in your wallet — it’s a great starting place for learning how to maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards. Today, I’ll show prospective and current Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders how to maximize almost every benefit of the card in a single trip.
Currently, you’ll earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The card also has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year. But while the travel portal redemption option is convenient and easy to use, you can get more than 1.25 cents per point in value by transferring to airline and hotel travel partners; in this case I have a fantastic itinerary in mind bookable by transferring points to United.
The following itinerary is bookable on Star Alliance-operated flights, in business class, allowing you to see Seoul, Taipei, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Jeju Island each for as long as you like while including 24-hour stops in Beijing and Bangkok which allows you just enough time to grab dinner and see the Great Wall in Beijing and grab some pad thai in Bangkok.
You’ll fly business class on Asiana, Air China, Singapore and Thai Airways throughout the itinerary, enjoying some of the best service and onboard products aboard both wide-body and narrow-body planes. The cost of this lovely itinerary:
There are two open jaws, so you’ll have to get yourself from Taipei to Singapore (book a cheap nonstop flight on low-cost carrier Scoot) and from Hong Kong to Shanghai (there are multiple cheap flights/train options). This ticket will then give you 5,000 points left from your sign-up bonus for a Category 1 Hyatt or to use as $62.50 toward an activity booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal. A cash ticket on this itinerary in business would be well over $3,000 based on my searches, giving you almost 7 cents per point in redemption value. What a fantastic deal.
If you pay the taxes and fees for the award ticket with your Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll have multiple built-in travel insurance benefits. Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll be covered with:
- Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance — You’ll be reimbursed up to $10,000 in prepaid, nonrefundable expenses if you can’t make your trip or if your trip is interrupted. There are multiple situations that are covered, including if you’re injured; if severe weather prevents “a reasonable and prudent person from beginning or continuing” on a trip; if terrorist action or a hijacking messes up plans; and even if you get jury duty. Make sure to read all the fine print of your benefits guide.
- Trip Delay — Let’s say your flight from Singapore to Bangkok is delayed and you have to stay overnight in the Crowne Plaza at Changi Airport. The Chase Sapphire Preferred’s trip delay insurance will give you up to $500 in reimbursement for any expenses from accommodation, meals, toiletries and personal items. As long as you’re delayed by 12 hours or more, you’re covered.
- Lost Luggage — If, during the course of all your hopping around Asia, a bag gets lost to never be found again, you’re covered for up to $3,000 toward the cash replacement value of what was in your suitcase and $500 toward watches, cameras, video recorders and other electronic equipment.
- Baggage Delay — If your suitcase is delayed by more than 6 hours, Chase Sapphire Preferred will reimburse you up to $100 per day for a maximum of five days for “purchases of essential items needed as a result of the delay including by not limited to clothing, toiletries, and charging cables for cellular telephones (max 1).”
- Trip Accident Insurance — There’s a lot of fine print here, but basically if you have a catastrophic accident resulting in either your death or loss of one or multiple senses or limbs, you or your beneficiary is eligible for up to $500,000 in compensation.
No Foreign Exchange Fees
It’s pretty obvious how this would come in handy on your “Asian excursionist” trip. Adding an additional 2-3% on every charge made in a foreign currency would be silly. Remember to avoid the dynamic currency conversion ripoff and always pay your bills in the local currency if given a choice.
Earn Double Points on Dining and Travel
You’ve got your flights around Asia taken care of, but will still have quite a few dining and travel expenses — and you’ll want to maximize your earnings. I’ve had trains, tolls, ride shares, hotels, rental cars, trams, parking, food trucks and of course all restaurants earn me the additional bonus points while traveling.
Primary Collision Damage Waiver
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to get out and drive in any of these countries, the Chase Sapphire Preferred‘s primary CDW will cover any damage to the rental car, loss of use charges from the rental agency and towing costs from the accident site to the nearest repair facility. Coverage doesn’t apply to mopeds, motorcycles, luxury cars, antique cars or off-road vehicles — so no scooter riding around Bangkok hoping to have coverage. I’ve driven around Korea a few times; primary coverage is a great thing to have.
Thanks to all these benefits for just $95 a year, I’ll continue carrying the Chase Sapphire Preferred for the foreseeable future. It gives me almost everything I need on foreign trips for a relatively low annual fee. I strongly encourage everyone to become familiar with all the possibilities of maximizing Chase Ultimate Rewards if you want to get the most out of this card. Finally, read the entire card benefits guide, which clearly details what is and isn’t covered with all of the ancillary benefits so you aren’t caught off guard at any point.
Featured image by hallojulie via Getty Images.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees