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There are an overwhelming amount of rewards-earning credit cards available, each one better than the last. Trying to decide which credit card is best to offset the costs associated with traveling is a complicated and overwhelming experience.
While there are many great new credit card bonuses, the card we consistently recommend to our friends and family is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Here's why:
- Flexible ways to spend points – Transfer them 1:1 to airlines and hotels OR you can use them like cash (more on this below)
- Great new cardmember bonus – The current 50,000 points bonus is worth at least $625 in free travel
- Waived annual fee for the first year – Try the card out for the first year and then see if the $0 Intro for First Year, then $95 annual fee is worth it for you
- Bonus points for dining and travel spend – Earn 2 points per dollar when you eat out or book a plane ticket (or any other travel, like Uber or even tolls)
- No foreign transaction fees – Feel confident knowing that regardless of where you are in the world, you won't be charged any lame fees
- Trip interruption, cancellation, and delay coverage – Know you're covered when you're on the road in case something goes wrong with your trip!
What Kind of Points Do You Earn?
The Sapphire Preferred earns points called Ultimate Rewards, which can only be earned through a small set of Chase credit cards. Ultimate Rewards are widely regarded as some of the most valuable credit card points in the world.
What Could You Do with 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points?
You can use Ultimate Rewards Points towards whatever trips you want to take. With the Sapphire Preferred, you can redeem your points through the Chase travel portal, transfer them to 13 different hotel and airline partners, or a combination of both!
When using your Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase travel portal, the points can be redeemed for flights, hotel rooms, rental cars, cruises, and activities at a rate of 1.25 cents per point; meaning 8,000 Ultimate Rewards will cover the cost of a $100 travel expense. Not only can booking this way offer excellent value, but you get flexibility since you do not have to worry about blackout dates or fight for airline saver-level award availability.
The other option for redeeming Ultimate Rewards is transferring them to hotel and airline partners. If there is an award seat available for the date you want to fly or a hotel room open for booking with points, you can transfer your points to that airline or hotel program and book the free flight or room. As an example, the Hyatt Regency Maui shows a room for 20,000 World of Hyatt points:
If I head to my Chase Ultimate Rewards online dashboard, I can transfer 20,000 of my Ultimate Rewards to my Hyatt account:
The points show up almost instantaneously to your World of Hyatt account, and you can then book your free room at the Hyatt Regency Maui. The ability to transfer Ultimate Rewards points allows you to stretch your travel budget, which means more trips! Make sure you check out our favorite ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards. Knowing how and when to use Ultimate Rewards through the Chase travel portal and when to use them by transferring to partners is the secret to success with these points.
How Do You Earn Points?
Earning Ultimate Rewards with the Sapphire Preferred straightforward: All travel and dining earn 2x points; everything else earns 1x point per dollar. You can use the card anywhere Visa is accepted worldwide to earn points for your everyday purchases.
If you're looking to accelerate your earning, Chase offers an online shopping portal where you can earn bonus Ultimate Rewards for your online purchases. This double-dipping is one of the easiest ways to reach your goals faster.
What Happens If Something Goes Wrong on My Trip?
Besides earning valuable points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card carries built-in travel benefits which can save the day when your trip takes an unwanted turn. We recommend that you read the complete guide to benefits to learn about the protection and complimentary insurance you receive merely by paying for part of your trip with the Sapphire Preferred or by redeeming those Ultimate Rewards you earned when using the card.
Here are a few examples of the benefits that we've used:
- Trip Interruption/Cancellation – If there is an issue with a delay during your trip, Chase will reimburse you for extra expenses like a hotel at the airport. If you, your traveling companion, or your immediate family member gets sick, they will cover the cost of canceling your trip (although this is not cancel-for-any-reason coverage).
- Primary Rental Car Collision Damage Waiver – If your rental car is scratched, dented, or otherwise damaged, Chase will cover it. Note: Liability insurance is not included in this coverage, so you will be responsible for having your own. That said, if you're not at fault, you don't have to worry. Be sure to decline the CDW/LDW coverage from the rental company.
- Lost, Damaged, or Delayed Baggage – Ever had a problem with your checked baggage? Chase will reimburse you $100 per day for up to five days for clothing, necessities (including makeup), and an extra cell phone charging cable if your checked baggage is delayed by more than six hours. For damaged or lost baggage, you'll be reimbursed the cost of repairing or replacing your luggage and belongings, up to $500. This coverage is supplemental to anything you might receive from the airline.
Why Is It Tops Again?
The ability to earn Ultimate Rewards and redeem them at 1.25¢ per point via the Chase travel portal or transfer them to 13 different hotel and airline partners are the big reasons to love the Sapphire Preferred.
Built-in travel protection, a low annual fee (waived the first year), excellent earning rates and no foreign transaction fees all make the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card the best option if you're looking for the right travel rewards card to start.
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