For those of you in the market for a new credit card, Chase offers two that are particularly attractive for travelers: the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP), and the Chase Freedom. There is going to be a new member of the Sapphire family known as the Sapphire Reserve, but it won’t be available until later this month.
The links in this post are affiliate links, and I will get credit from Chase if you use them, so thank you in advance if you do! That said, if you find a better link (directly from Chase, or otherwise), please use it instead.
One word regarding foreign transaction fees before we get started — the CSP does not have any (so you pay the converted rate, per Visa standards), but the Freedom does have a fee of 3%. Be careful what you use, where!
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Currently, you can receive 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points with Chase by meeting the minimum spend requirement of $4,000 within a 3 month period. While these points can be used towards travel at 1.25 cents / point, you can also transfer them to various frequent traveler programs (such as KLM/Air France, United, Hyatt, and so on) at a 1:1 ratio. A full list of travel partners can be found over at The Well Traveled Mile.
The CSP offers quite a few perks that other bloggers extol, but my favorites are the Primary Rental Insurance (CDW), guaranteed access to a human representative (24/7), and great trip and product protection. In addition to the 50,000 point bonus for completing the minimum spending requirement, you will earn 2 points per dollar on almost all travel purchases (air, train, taxi, dining out, etc.), and 1 point per dollar on other spending. The downside is that this credit card does have an annual fee of $95, but it is waived the first year so you can see if it is a good fit for you.
In addition to the perks offered by Chase, as a Visa Signature card, you get quite a few treats from Visa directly. A full list can be found on Visa’s website, but some of the nicer ones include: a 24/7 concierge, deals on wine tastings in California, and access to the Signature Hotel Collection – similar to American Express’s Fine Hotels and Resorts.
The Chase Freedom is an interesting card in that while it advertises itself as a cash back card, if you have either a CSP or Chase Ink Plus, you can use them in their “native” form of Ultimate Rewards Points. This offers a lot more versatility as you can get more than the 1 cent per point that you would get with the Freedom alone. The link above offers $150 cashback after meeting the minimum spend of $500 within 3 months, but that is stored in your account as 15,000 Ultimate Rewards Points. There are occasionally offers of $200 cashback (20,000 Ultimate Rewards Points) available, however.
Similar to the Discover family of cards, the Freedom is built around rotating 5% earning categories with 1% earning otherwise. This is particularly nice as Amazon has been available as a category for both last year and this year, and gift cards count! Adding to the perks – this card has no annual fee, so keeping it around will strengthen your credit score over time.