If You Can Only Have One Credit Card (Writing Assignment)

10/15/2013 at 5:23 am Leave a comment

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One card stands above them all…

Okay, it might not be that epic, but picking a credit card can be overwhelming if you’re new to the points and miles game. If you can only have one card, Million Mile Secrets recommends the Chase Sapphire Preferred® as the best option. Here’s why:

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1. Bank Rewards Cards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a Visa Signature card offered by Chase bank. Rather than a card co-branded with one specific airline or hotel, a bank card offers the flexibility of transferring your points to several airlines and hotels. If your goal is to use points and miles to travel the world for free, you can’t afford to be loyal to any one airline. You’ll want to make the most of every opportunity and offer. And as we’ll see, Chase is a company with many great offers.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® currently offers a sign-up bonus of 40,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first three months.

2. Ultimate Rewards Points

Points accrued with Chase are called “Ultimate Rewards Points.”

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® (or “CSP,” for brevity’s sake) offers x2 points on travel and dining, and x1 for all other purchases. That means paying a $100 restaurant bill with your card will earn you 200 points (whereas a purchase of $100 at, say, a clothing store, will earn an equal 100 points) The “dining” category applies to fast food the same as fine restaurants. And since travel and dining often go together, it’s a perfect points pairing.

Sometimes the CSP will enter partnerships for limited-time offers with increased rewards. A current example is a partnership with OpenTable that offers x3 points per $1 on dining the first Friday of each month. The offer started in April and lasts through the end of 2013.

The x2 points for travel includes airfare, train tickets, cabs, and even parking. And because there’s no foreign transaction fee (more on that in a moment), you can use it overseas and rack up the points while traveling. Use it while sipping limoncello at the Venice waterfront cafe you traveled to using your points 🙂

3. Spending Requirement

Like most cards that offer good rewards, the CSP has a spending threshold that must be met within a certain time-frame. To earn the 40,000 bonus points, you must spend $3,000 on the card within 3 months.

This is a much more feasible number to meet than the $5,000 required for many business cards. And unfortunately, cards with no spending requirement offer little in the ways of sign-up bonuses. Worried about meeting the $3,000 threshold? Follow these suggestions on how to meet your spending requirement without breaking the bank.

This spending must be met 3 months from the approval date, not from the day you receive the physical card. And remember: like any rewards credit card, this one has a high APR (15.24%), so make sure to always pay your bill in full.

4. Airline And Hotel Redemption

So you’ve met the threshold and accrued all your bonus points… now what to do with them? How to convert your Ultimate Rewards Points to free flights and swanky hotel rooms?

That’s easy. The CSP offers a 1:1 points transfer. This means that if you’ve racked up 40,000 Ultimate Rewards Points, you can transfer it to 40,000 miles with a participating airline. Or 40,000 points will convert to 40,000 participating hotel points.

Chase is partnered with these airlines, which cover all three major airline alliances:

• British Airways
• Korean Air
• Southwest Airlines
• United
• Virgin Atlantic

And these hotels:

• Hyatt
• Marriott
• InterContinental Hotel Group
• The Ritz-Carlton

This combination of airlines and hotels will allow to you travel and stay all over the world. Oh, and for those who like to ride the great, wide US railways, Ultimate Reward Points can also be used on Amtrak.

And here’s where one of the greatest benefits of the CSP comes in: Not all cards allow the transfer of points to miles, but the CSP does! For example, a card like the Chase Freedom may earn you Ultimate Rewards Points too, but you’ll need a CSP (or a Chase business card) account to actually convert those points into airline miles or hotel nights. Basically, if you want to use a credit card to earn points for traveling, the CSP is 1 of only 3 Chase cards that allow you to do that directly.

5. Fees

The yearly fee to use the CSP is $95, with the fee waived the first year. Some people have reported success in calling up their Chase representatives after the first year and getting the fee waived, but there are no guarantees.

But as far as fee-cards go, $95 is a low cost for a card with such convenient and high rewards. Canceling after a year is an option, but you may just decide to keep this one for the long-term.

And again, speaking of fees, the CSP has no foreign transaction fees. You can use it while overseas on those fantastic trips you’re taking with your miles redemption.

6. Build A Relationship With Chase

Starting a credit history with Chase will put you in a good position for approval if you choose to apply for other cards down the line. And it’s no secret that Chase cards are very popular among travel bloggers. The Chase Ink Bold and Plus business cards offer even higher sign-up bonuses, and the Chase Freedom has rotating x5 points categories to earn you even more.

Bottom Line

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® offers you the best of all worlds. A good sign-up bonus, the ability to transfer your points to travel partners,  x2 points on popular spending categories, and no foreign transaction fee. It’s good for use both at home and abroad. If you can only have one credit card, it’s the one you’ll make the most of.

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Getting To Europe Using Chase Points vs. Amex Points (Writing Assignment)

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