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Just Starting with Points & Miles? Start with Chase Credit Cards

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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*. 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 – and with a 60,000-point bonus available on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of card membership, you can earn a lot of them. Same goes for an amazing bonus on the *freedom unlimited* and record-tying welcome offers on the duo of no-annual-fee Chase Ink business cards.

With one (or more) of these cards, 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 Chase transfer partners, sending your points straight to airline or hotel programs to get even more out of your points.

But there’s another reason, and it might be 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. And for small business owners (or travelers with a side hustle), that includes Chase business cards, too. 

To be clear, credit cards are serious business. You shouldn't open a single credit card – let alone several – and rack up spending that you can't afford to pay off just for the sake of earning points. But if you can do so responsibly, starting with Chase credit cards is a wise move.

Here's why.



Mastering Points & 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: 

ProgramTypeTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer LingusAirline1:1Instant
Air Canada AeroplanAirline1:1Instant
Air France/KLMAirline1:1Instant
British AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
Iberia PlusAirline1:1Instant
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

Read our guide on how to transfer Chase points.

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. 


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.

All these popular banks also allow you to book flights and other travel directly through a travel portal using points. But on the whole, Chase is among the best.

While other banks give their users just 1 cent per point for travel when booking direct, Chase ups the ante. Cardholders with the Chase Sapphire Preferred get 1.25 cents per point. The *chase sapphire reserve* is even better, getting you 1.5 cents per point.


Chase travel portal booking example
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.

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 the notorious Chase 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 Unlimited and Freedom Flex, and others all did, as did some other big co-branded airline cards like the United MileagePlus Explorer card. Others escaped Chase’s ire.

As it stands today, nearly all Chase cards are impacted by the 5/24 rule.

Related reading: Master Guide to Credit Card Applications: All the Rules You Need to Know, Bank by Bank


credit cards offering travel insurance


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 on to 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*, easily the best starter card on the market. You can currently earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within three months.


*chase sapphire preferred*


Learn more about the *csp*.
Want points and premium travel perks like lounge access – including to the excellent new Chase Sapphire Lounges – a $300 annual travel credit, and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck? The *chase sapphire reserve* is always worth a look.


*chase sapphire reserve*
Learn more about the *chase sapphire reserve*.


Add to Your Stash with Other Chase Cards

The Chase Sapphire Cards are critical building blocks to earn Chase points. But after that, there are plenty of cards worth considering while you can still open.

It's tough to top the *freedom unlimited* right now, which currently earns a base 5% cashback on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 1.5% on all other purchases.

This deal is made even sweeter with the recent offer thanks to an unprecedented bonus: bonus_miles_full


*freedom unlimited*
Learn more about the *freedom unlimited*.


This card makes a perfect pair with a Chase Sapphire Card. So long as you've got another card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, you can turn the cash back you earn from a Freedom card into more. And since you're earning at least 3% on every purchase with a Freedom Unlimited, you can maximize even more of your everyday spending in your wallet rather than constantly swiping a Sapphire Card.

Read more: New Chase Freedom Unlimited Offer: Earn 3% Cash Back (Or More) Your First Year!

Small business owners who are eligible for business credit cards – and trust us, that could include you! – would be wise to consider the *Ink Cash* or the *Ink Unlimited* right now, too. For a limited time, you can currently earn $750 cash back (or 75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on both these no-annual fee Chase business cards after spending just $6,000 in the first three months of card membership.


*ink cash*


Learn more about the *chase ink cash*.


*ink unlimited*


Learn more about the *chase ink unlimited*.


Even with business cards, it pays to consider them before it's too late. That same Chase 5/24 rule applies … kind of.

For starters, you will need to be under the 5/24 limit in order to get approved for a Chase Ink Business card … but that approval won't add to your 5/24 count. So if you've opened three or four credit cards in the last two years, it might be the perfect time to apply for one of these cards. That way, it won’t hinder any applications for other future Chase cards.

Business cards don't do it for you? There are other options worth considering.

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 Credit 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.

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