Just Starting with Points and Miles? Start with Chase Credit Cards
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Points Principles: Just Starting with Points & Miles? Start with Chase Credit Cards

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Editor’s Note: Welcome to our Points Principles series, an ongoing series dedicated to explaining the basics behind the confusing world of frequent flyer miles and travel rewards points. Follow along as we lay out some of the building blocks to travel for nearly free. And check back to the Points Principles page to see what ground we’ve already covered. 

There’s a good reason we tell readers getting started with points and miles to consider opening travel rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Actually, there are two of them.

First, these cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the best way to get a handle on points and miles. You get great value in the most straightforward way to use points: putting them directly toward the cost of a flight when booking through the Chase travel portal. And it’s also an opportunity to learn about the power of transferring points to airlines and hotel chains to get even more out of your points.

But there’s another reason, and it’s even more important: The growing restrictions on getting approved for Chase credit cards mean you could miss the boat on Chase entirely if you don’t start with Chase credit cards.

Add in the best-ever bonus of 80,000 points on the Preferred Card and a bigger, 60,000-point bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and Chase cards are easily the best way to get started with points and miles right now.

 

Mastering Points and Miles with Chase

There are two basic types of currencies in the frequent flyer world. There are airline miles you earn with Delta, United, and other airlines. And then there are credit card points you can use to buy down the cash price of airfare – or transfer to other airlines. And there are big differences between credit card points and airline miles.

With Chase Ultimate Rewards, you get the best of both worlds. You get the simplicity of Chase’s travel portal, where you can use the points you’ve earned to book airfare directly. It’s the easiest way to use points, our favorite way to book cheap flight deals, and it also allows you to keep earning miles with the airline you fly on.

However, Chase also has more than a dozen airline and hotel chain partners to which you can transfer your Ultimate points. Check out the full list: 
 

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

ProgramTypeTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer LingusAirline1:1Instant
Air France/KLMAirline1:1Instant
British AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
EmiratesAirline1:1Instant
Iberia PlusAirline1:1Instant
JetBlueAirline1:1Instant
Singapore AirAirline1:112-24 hours
Southwest AirlinesAirline1:1Instant
United AirlinesAirline1:1Instant
Virgin AtlanticAirline1:1Instant
World of HyattHotel1:1Instant
IHGHotel1:11 day
Marriott RewardsHotel1:12 days

Some of these partners are stronger than others. But as you learn more about miles and credit cards, you’ll see that transferring points is the key to getting even more value out of your points. It’s how you can book luxurious business and first-class seats you’d never pay in cash – or even be able to afford. Read our guide on how to transfer Chase points.
 

Chase Credit Cards 

Chase isn’t alone in that regard. American Express, Capital One, and Citi all allow cardholders to book directly with airlines or transfer points to travel partners. And you can also book directly through each bank’s travel portal using points. 

But on the whole, Chase is better. While other banks give their users just 1 cent per point for travel when booking direct, Chase ups the ante. Cardholders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred get 1.25 cents per point. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is even better, getting you 1.5 cents per point.
 

CSP MSP to BNA
With most other credit card points, this $116.80 flight would take 11,680 points to book.

That combination of value and versatility is why we’ve named the Chase Sapphire Preferred the best starter travel rewards card. It’s also why the Chase Sapphire Reserve is widely considered one of the best travel rewards credit cards – if not the best.

And it’s what makes Chase credit cards the perfect place to start with points and miles. But there’s another important factor that could make it imperative to start with Chase.

 

Open Chase Cards Before It’s Too Late

Chase is one of the stingiest banks when it comes to approving applications for credit cards. Some advanced planning can help you beat the sting.

If you’ve read a word about Chase credit cards, you may have come across its notorious 5/24 rule. What it means is that once you’ve opened five or more credit cards (from any bank, not just Chase) in the previous 24-month period, you will not be approved for a Chase card.
 

 

Historically, not every Chase card has fallen under this rule. The big guns like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom, and others all did, as did some other big co-branded airline cards like the United MileagePlus Explorer card. Others escaped Chase’s ire.

But that number is shrinking. It now includes cards like the World of Hyatt card, British Airways Visa Signature Card, and Iberia Visa Signature card. Overall, Chase appears to be making it harder for travelers to keep cycling through cards to earn sign-up bonuses.
 

Chase Credit Cards 

So what does that mean for a beginner who can’t fathom opening five cards in two years? Even if that thought makes your head spin, you should still plan ahead and prioritize Chase. Before you know it, it could be too late to get approved for a Chase card.

Think about the cards you want – and may want – before moving onto other banks like American Express or Citi, which aren’t nearly as restrictive when it comes to approving applications. You should be able to open those cards at almost anytime, but your window to open Chase credit cards can close fast.

Start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, easily the best starter card on the market with the best welcome bonus, period. You can earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 within three months. Plus, the card’s reasonable $95 annual fee gets cut in half thanks to a $50 grocery statement credit that will kick in automatically.
 

Chase Transfer Bonus British Airways
 

Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. 
 

Want points and premium travel perks like lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit, and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck? The Chase Sapphire Reserve is always worth a look, especially now that it’s offering a 60,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 within three months. That’s up from the standard 50,000-point bonus.
 

chase sapphire reserve
 

Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. 
 

If you want to keep earning flexible Ultimate Rewards points, get a Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited card before moving on to other banks. If you live in a United hub, consider the United MileagePlus Explorer card. Want to rack up some Hyatt Rewards points? You may want to open a World of Hyatt card, another valuable Chase option.

That may seem like a lot, and you certainly don’t need to open them all. But you do need to plan ahead for the credit cards you may want, putting Chase at the front of the line.

 

Bottom Line

Chase Ultimate Rewards are considered the most valuable points out there for a reason, but it’s also the perfect place to get started with points and miles. It’s the perfect system to learn the ropes.

And it’s more important than ever to prioritize Chase if you want to accelerate your travels. Wait too long, and it could be too late. 
 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

2 Responses

  • Hi Kyle Following your article on transferring Ultimate Rewards on Chase to a partner Air Line tried to do that on August 10th. Somehow the option to TRANSFER Miles is no longer there! maybe many of us tried to do it and Chase desired to eliminate it? They only give you the option to get a credit in $ and only if you book with them!

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