Travel Freely is all about maximizing your free travel in the easiest way possible. So, start here with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. It’s the easiest recommendation for beginners who are getting started with the best rewards credit card. It’s been around for a while, and it’s always at the top of the “best rewards cards” lists. Why? Chase Ultimate Rewards points are highly valued and incredibly flexible.
However, don’t forget about the Southwest Companion Pass.
UPDATE: Chase Sapphire Preferred sign-up bonus is up to 60,000!
This offer just went into effect (3/18/19). Keep in mind that the annual fee of $95 is not waived anymore. If you value Chase points as high as we do, then the simple math is that 10,000 extra points can be valued from $100-$250 in cash or free travel based on how you use the points. So trading $95 upfront for $100-250 is actually a pretty good deal.
Here are some great reasons to love the “CSP.”
1) Up to $1,000+ in free travel!
When you hit your minimum spending bonus, you’ll get 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. In the Chase Travel Portal, points are redeemed at 25% extra. At a minimum, you’re getting $750 in free travel with your bonus. If you transfer to partners, you could get a value of 2 cents per point or more, and that is over $1,000 in free travel. Since moving to a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points, the annual fee of $95 is no longer waived for the first year. For those who do not like annual fees, the extra 10,000 points can be valued from $100-$250 in cash or free travel based on how you use the points. So trading $95 upfront for $100-250 is actually a pretty good deal.
2) It’s EASY to redeem
You can redeem your points in the following ways:
1) Book travel directly through the Chase travel portal (or by calling). You’ll get a 25% boost when you book through the portal. So points are worth 1.25 cents per point when you go this route.
2) Transfer points to their loyalty travel partners (Examples include Southwest, United, Hyatt, Marriott). This is where the best value is. For example, booking expensive domestic or international travel with United can bring in redemption rates at 4-5 cents per point.
3) Redeem points for cash or gift cards (retail, restaurant, or travel) through the online portal.
See how to redeem your points in this article: Chase Ultimate Rewards Guide
3. It’s a no-brainer all-around card
Beginners and advanced free travelers use the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. You can travel a lot or a little, and you’ll still rack up points. Any travel you do pay for (hotels, airfare, rental cars) will be double points. Even things like taking an Uber or paying for parking will get 2x points, too. You also earn 2x points on dining. So, anytime you eat out, you’re earning twice the points.
4. You get some great travel perks.
No foreign transaction fees can prove to garner big time savings for beginners who would otherwise use debit cards or cash. Credit cards often get the best exchange rate abroad, and you don’t even have to worry about carrying around extra cash.
Primary car rental insurance is also covered when you pay for your rental car with this card. Waive the fee and save $10-15 per day.
Other benefits include trip delay, trip cancellation, and baggage delay insurance. These benefits alone could be super helpful right when you need it.
5. It “is” a Southwest, United, Hyatt, Marriott card
As we outlined in the post about my friend Rebekah and how she is missing out by only using a Southwest card, you are missing out on extra rewards and flexibility if you aren’t using the Chase Sapphire Preferred for your normal expenses.
In that example, Rebekah thought that her Southwest card was the only way to get Rapid Rewards points. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card allows you to earn points that can transfer to Southwest points, immediately. Essentially, because of the travel partners and ease of transferring rewards, this Chase card IS a Southwest, United, Marriott, and Hyatt card rolled into one. Whenever you need those rewards, you can transfer them. So, you can stay flexible and only make a transfer when you need to transfer.
6. The 5/24 Rule
Beginners may not realize that Chase has an “unofficial” rule of denying credit card applications if someone has opened 5 cards in the previous 24 months. Some cards don’t count towards this, but most personal cards do. Travel Freely has a 5/24 counter on your dashboard. This is a game changer. So, when you are starting out with rewards cards, you need to get this card sooner than later. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is subject to the 5/24 rule, so you want to make sure you get it before some of the other great cards.
So what’s the best starter rewards card? This is it. No question about it.
For the reasons above, sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Have any questions? Email me at [email protected]