What’s in my wallet?

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As promised I’m here to help you get on your next flight for dirt cheap. Today I’ll be sharing one card that’s always in my wallet. The Chase Sapphire Preferred.

My wallet is fairly slim. Other than a driver’s license, a credit card, and occasionally an ATM card and some petty cash, there’s usually not much more in it. Sometimes I will have multiple cards in there and I’ll share that when I review another card. Today I’m going to review the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred

This is my go-to card. One, it’s sexy as all heck for a card. It’s also stainless steel so it’s noticeably heftier than plastic cards. But none of those are reasons why it’s in my wallet.

40,000 Bonus Points!
50,000 BONUS POINTS!!!

First off there’s a generous sign up bonus of 40,000 points (for a limited time it’s been increased to an even more generous 50,000 points!), that’s worth at least $500 $625 in travel if you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Get the 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within the first 3 months. If $4,000 seems like a lot to spend think about what your monthly budgets are and what you can charge on your card. Car insurance is a big one for me so I try to open a new card around the time my car insurance is due to easily get the spending requirement out of the way. Add in grocery costs, cell phone bill, gas for your car, tolls, birthday gifts, etc. If you think you can spend about $1,400 on your card a month and be able to pay it off each month then there you go. Don’t carry a balance or else the interest will negate any points you earn.

Again I want to stress this, the problem for most people is that they don’t know how to manage their money wisely. Many people get out of control with their credit card spending. This is where spending exceeds income and people go into debt.

For most people, their biggest struggles with debt are credit cards. Until you begin to pay off your current credit card debts and get your spending under control with your budget, don’t let your credit card be a temptation.

Stop using them until you pay off your balances.

/soapbox

The Chase Sapphire Preferred also gives an extra 5,000 points for just adding an authorized user. This is a card on the same account, it actually has the exact same card number, for someone else such as a spouse. It does not affect their credit score. If you have a trustworthy family member I consider this to be a 45,000 point bonus offer. (Really it will be at least 49,000 points when you include the $4000 you have to spend, enough for a roundtrip ticket to Europe)

There is a $95 yearly fee with it but is waived the first year. Even if it wasn’t that’s one fee I would pay because I think it provides a worthwhile value.

Double Points

They reward you with 1 point for every dollar you spend and an extra point for dining or travel. Dining includes going out to dinner or simply ordering from Qdoba. As long as a business lists themselves as a food establishment that’s 2 points/dollar. The travel category obviously includes flights but also includes hotels, taxis, buses, trains, tolls, and more. Not bad!

The first Friday of every month also awards you with an extra point on top of your dining bonus for a total of 3 points/$ for dining.

No foreign transaction fees!!

Another huge perk is no foreign transaction fees. Zero. When using your card in another country many cards charge you a foreign transaction fee, usually averaging about 3% more. This card won’t. (Also, always charge in the local currency for best exchange rates).

Embedded Chip

The card does have an embedded chip which works with credit card terminals that support it, which will be most by October 2015, which is now most of them. Outside the US where credit cards have evolved at a faster rate and every other country uses Chip-and-Pin you’ll be able to use this card as well, albeit as Chip-and-Signature.

Car Rental Insurance

If you rent a car don’t worry about paying for insurance as this card offers auto rental collision damage waiver, aka primary collision insurance. Many other cards offer insurance when renting a car but is usually secondary to your own auto insurance. This one doesn’t make you deal with that dirty mess.

And last but not least, anyone can offer a million points but doesn’t necessarily mean they are valuable. The points you get here are called Ultimate Rewards (Chase’s own system). The beautiful thing is they transfer at a direct 1:1 rate to 11 different partners. Airline partners include United, Southwest, British Airways, the beautiful Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic. They also offer 1:1 transfers to hotel partners including Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, and Ritz-Carlton.

1:1 Point Transfer to Participating Travel Partners

Therefore 40,000 UR points are the same as 40,000 United miles or 40,000 Southwest points. This makes it extremely valuable as you can check who offers a cheaper award and transfer to that partner.

If your preferred airline is not on the list you can still redeem them for travel directly through Chase. The value isn’t great but they do give you a 25% bonus over redeeming for cash or gift cards (which I don’t mention because you can do a lot better, so don’t bother with it unless you want to burn some points).

My flight to Las Vegas was flown on award miles simply because I went during the International Consumer Electronic Show (CES) and all flights were $1,000 and up. I’m definitely not paying that much for a domestic flight, especially when they are usually $300. So it wasn’t worth it for me especially since I was able to find relatively cheap award space. I usually fly United but going to Vegas no saver award space was available, only their standard awards. That is a difference between 12,500 miles for a saver space or 25,000 for a standard award. I never suggest taking a standard award unless you absolutely have to because there is no real value to it. I checked Southwest and was able to find a flight for 14,000 points. I transferred that over from the Chase UR and was a saving of 11,000 points. Points that I can use for another flight. Coming back United had cheaper award space so I booked each segment one way, going on Southwest and returning on United. Not to mention that United charges extra fees of $50 going to Vegas but not coming back, Southwest doesn’t. So I saved $50 on top of that.

That’s why I consider this a game. You need to know the rules and have a strategy. I want you to be able to find an exciting vacation, possibly even two for the price of one if you get a stopover in a country you like, instead of just blindly redeeming them as most people do or getting stuck with long routes that drain you on days that don’t work for you. I enjoy finding ways to earn miles and how to redeem them for the best value.

Shopping Portal

Chase Ultimate Rewards also offers their own shopping portal so that is something I often check, sometimes offering better values than other portals. ie: Purchasing through hotels.com via the UR shopping portal currently earns you 4 bonus points/$.

If you notice I make no mention of the APR on this card. That because any card that I review it is meaningless to me. The only way to keep these points valuable is to not pay interest on your card. I have always paid off my balance every month ever since I got my first credit card. And you should too. Therefore it doesn’t matter if the APR is 2% or 200%. Only charge what you can afford then pay it off!

And of course it is a VISA so it can be used wherever VISA is accepted.

If you want to find out how to get 5x Ultimate Reward points on different categories be sure to read about how to use the Chase Freedom card too.

All in all the Chase Sapphire Preferred is my current and favorite go-to card. I like it so much that everyone in my family now has it. If all else fails the sleek look and heavy feel of the card is usually a great conversation starter when paying with it.

Here’s a referral link to get your very own: Apply here – Chase Sapphire Preferred

Remember this is a limited time offer. Chase occasionally sends out these offers but has only done very rarely in the past two years. 50,000 plus an extra 5,000 for an authorized user is an incredible deal, especially for a card that is so valuable that it’s always in my wallet.

These are referral links that just help me get some miles so I can continue traveling and bringing you more tips to do the same!

Questions, comments, typos? Let me know
– M TingTang

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