I’m Not Going To Recommend My Favorite Credit Card – Here’s Why


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UPDATE: Some or All of the offer(s) mentioned in this post have now expired

I’ve been playing around with the miles & points hobby for a few years now (not nearly as long as some but longer than most) and I’ve built up a significant collection of credit cards. Some of my cards have a near-permanent home in my wallet while others rarely see the light of day but all my credit cards serve a purpose.

My favorite credit card is, without a doubt, the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card and, unless Chase seriously devalues this card’s offering, I can’t imagine ever giving it up.

Compared to most people I travel a lot so the fact that this card earns 3 points/dollar on just about all mainstream modes of transport is a big positive for me.

Also, because I travel a lot I tend to eat out a lot so the 3 points/dollar that the Chase Sapphire Reserve card earns me at restaurants, diners, bars, fast-food outlets etc… is another big positive for me.

Put simply, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card helps me earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a pretty impressive rate and I love earning Ultimate Rewards points.

Ultimate Rewards points can be used to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal or they can be transferred to a variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs so they’re flexible and protect me for any one program’s devaluations – Ultimate Rewards points are my favorite rewards currency.

However….

Despite how great I think the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is, I’m not going to suggest that most people should get it.

To most newcomers to the miles and points world the $450 annual fee that comes with this card is pretty scary.

It shouldn’t be scary because most of that annual fee is offset by the $300 in travel rebates the Sapphire Reserve credit card offers every year but it’s still often hard for people to see past the big $450 number….and that’s ok.

If you’re new to this hobby you shouldn’t be doing anything that you’re not 100% comfortable with and you should be easing yourself into things and learning as much as you can while you’re at it. If the $450 number looks daunting then by all means stay away.

Another good reason to stay away is because there’s a perfect credit card for you and it’s the Sapphire Reserve card’s little sister – the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card can be a great card to get you started in the miles and points hobby as it’s inexpensive and has multiple uses.

Here’s what you need to know in brief:

  • Annual Fee is $95
  • Current sign-up bonus is 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months (OFFER EXPIRED)
  • Earn 2 points/dollar on travel and dining
  • Earn 1 point/dollar on all other spend
  • Points can be redeemed at 1.25 cents each for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • The card offers primary auto rental collision damage insurance

Here’s why it’s perfect:

(1) The 50,000 point sign-up bonus will get you $625 of travel credit at the Ultimate Rewards portal so, even if you don’t want to deal with transferring points to other programs or learning how other programs work, there’s $625 of free travel right there (you can use the portal in pretty much the same way as you’d use sites like Expedia, Orbitz etc..)

(2) If you’re happy with moving Ultimate Rewards points to other loyalty programs you can turn the sign-up bonus into things that clearly have a value (like free nights at Hyatt properties or award flights with United Airlines) so you get to use your Ultimate Rewards points effectively and quickly.

(3) If you’re getting into the miles & points hobby you clearly want to travel so, when you travel, this card will give you great auto insurance when you rent a car, good earnings on your travel costs, good earnings when you eat out and you won’t get charged fees when you use it abroad.

(4) If you pair the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with the no-fee credit Chase Freedom Unlimited card you’ll earn even more Ultimate Rewards points from day to day:

  • Travel – 2 points/dollar (from the Sapphire Preferred card)
  • Dining – 2 points/dollar (from the Sapphire Preferred card)
  • All other spending – 1.5 points/dollar (from the Chase Freedom Unlimited card)

Bottom Line

If you’re just getting into the miles & points hobby it can be quite a challenge to know where you should be directing your efforts so my suggestion has always been a simple one – pick one or two loyalty programs that you like and then concentrate your efforts on those before expanding your horizons when you have a bit more experience.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card would allow you to make Ultimate Rewards one of your preferred loyalty programs and, thanks to the numerous partners the program has, give you the scope to expand to other programs as you find your feet in the miles & points world.

3 COMMENTS

  1. That’s a really helpful article. I like your approach – very understanding that most of us are not experts at this. And you don’t make assumptions that we all know what you’re talking about, like some of the other miles and points experts do.

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