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Million Mile Secrets reader, Ben, commented:
I’m going to apply for my 1st travel rewards card. What is the best card to get?
Welcome to the world of Big Travel with Small Money, Ben!
With so many great deals out there, it’s tempting for folks who are new to this hobby to jump right in and start signing-up for cards. But doing this could give you points in different accounts that aren’t useful for you.
So you’re doing the right thing by starting slow and thinking carefully about which card you’ll get first!
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is my favorite card for beginners. I’ll explain why!
Before You Get Started
Link: Beginner’s Guide
I typically apply for 3 to 5 cards each quarter because credit card sign-up bonuses are the quickest way to earn Big Travel!
For folks who are just getting started, like Ben, I recommend getting 1 or 2 cards and take it slow until you feel comfortable. Make sure you can meet the minimum spending requirements so you don’t miss out on the bonus. I have some tricks that will make it easy!
My Favorite Card for Beginners
I recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for beginners.
With this card you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.
And there are a lot of other things I love about this card:
1. The Only Personal Card That Unlocks Airline & Hotel Transfer Partners
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card (or Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Bold small business cards), gives you the ability to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points give you a lot of flexibility.
You can use your 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for cash back and get $500 (1 cent per point). But you’ll get more out of your points by transferring to airline and hotel partners including:
|Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfer Partners|
|British Airways||Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)||Korean Air|
|Singapore Airlines||Southwest||United Airlines|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners|
So you could transfer to Hyatt for a 2-night stay at Andaz Maui!
This hotel can cost ~$500 per night, which gives you a rate of ~2 cents per point (~$1,000 for 2 nights / 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points). That’s double the value you get with cash back!
2. Book Paid Travel With NO Blackout Dates!
You can use the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to book paid travel (flights, hotels, cars, and activities) at 1.25 cents per point.
This gives you more flexibility because there are NO blackout dates and you won’t have to worry about finding open award seats or available award rooms. So it’s a great option for folks booking last-minute holiday travel.
And sometimes you’ll spend fewer points on cheap flights than if you booked an award ticket.
Plus, you’ll earn miles and points for your flight or hotel stay!
3. Excellent Bonus Categories
If you do a lot of spending on travel and dining, like I do, you can easily earn more points for free travel. That’s because you’ll earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points in these categories.
4. No Annual Fee for the 1st Year
The $95 annual fee is waived for the 1st year. So you can give the card a try for ~10 months to see if it works for you without having to pay anything. If you like it, you’ll happily pay the annual fee in exchange for Big Travel (like I have for many years!).
Or if you decide to cancel, you can call Chase and have them close the account without any hassle.
5. This Is the Card I Use for Rental Cars
Most other credit card rental insurance is secondary, which means if you have your own car insurance, you have to file a claim with your own insurance company first.
Keep in mind, primary rental car coverage with a credit card only pays for damages to your rental car, NOT damage to other cars, property, or injuries.
6. You Can Make Charges Outside of the US Without Paying Fees
You can use your Chase Sapphire Preferred card wherever you are in the world (as long as they accept Visa) and you won’t pay foreign transaction fees.
7. Get It While You Can
Chase has recently denied applications from folks who have ~5 or more new credit cards (from any bank!) in the past 24 months. There are exceptions and it isn’t in writing. And I don’t think folks who are new to this hobby need to worry about it too much.
But it’s good to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card 1st because you may not be able to get it later!
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is my favorite card for folks who are new to miles and points.
The Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn give you flexibility because you can transfer your points to airline and hotel partners like United Airlines and Hyatt for Big Travel!
You’ll earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on dining and travel, which are 2 categories where many folks in this hobby do a lot of spending. The $95 annual fee is waived for the 1st year, which gives you a trial period with the card.
And you can use it anywhere where Visa cards are accepted without paying foreign transaction fees..
Chase is making it harder to get new cards if you’ve opened ~5 or more credit cards in the past 24 months. So it’s a good idea to make this your 1st card. Because you might not be able to get it later!
Be sure to check out the Beginner’s Guide before you get started, so you have an overview of how to get the most out of this hobby!
Thanks for the question, Ben!