We've been getting many questions lately for more details about how we travel the way we do. If you are just beginning with us in the #Game of Points, start here!
What are points?
Many credit cards and banks are competing for your business today by offering incentives to open an account with them. We open credit card accounts that offer "points" incentives, which means for every dollar you spend you can earn 1-5 points that you can then convert into miles to "buy" plane tickets with, or to book hotel rooms with. While you would have to spend a whole lot of money on your credit card to earn enough points for luxury travel, many cards offer sign-up bonuses. A sign-up bonus means that you open an account, and after spending a certain amount on your credit card for your normal purchases, they gift you a large sum of points. Some credit cards offers are not worth it, so don't open a new account without our recommendation first! We check in to ALL offers and will tell you which ones you should get, and which ones you should pass on.
What is the first credit card I should get?
Your first credit card in the points game should be the Chase Sapphire Preferred. This card earns some of the most valuable points in existence, with a very reasonable annual fee. Our points game began back in 2014 with opening this card, and we continue to hold onto it to this day. Let’s review this card and identify why it’s a solid start for anyone entering the points and miles game.
Why should I get the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
1. The sign-up bonus is HUGE! The Chase Sapphire Preferred currently offers 100,000 points as a sign-up bonus. This is a 40,000 point increase from its previous bonus (when we opened the card), and significantly higher than other similar cards on the market. Just to give you an idea, 100,000 points will cover two business class flight from Los Angeles to anywhere in Europe, South America or Asia and you will likely still have points to spare.
2. A low annual fee! The annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Preferred is only $95, which is significantly lower than other similar cards. (For reference, a similar card called the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $550 annual fee!) If you think about it, trading in $95 for business class tickets to your desired destination is not a bad deal at all. Now, if you don't want to close the account after collecting the sign-up bonus, but don't want to pay $95/ year, there is a solution. After opening the account and collecting your sign-up bonus, call customer service and ask to downgrade your card to a lesser card on the same account that doesn't have an annual fee, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. This will not impact your credit score like closing the account will, but you will no longer have to pay an annual fee.
3. Valuable Points! Not all points are created equal, so you may get targeted offers from some credit cards for 200,000 points and be tempted to go for it, but how and for what they can be redeemed is the key to knowing whether it's a good deal or not. The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Reward points, which are arguably the most valuable points on the market. You can redeem these points in the Chase Travel Portal for 1.25 cents per point, which give you 25% more bang for your buck. However, and perhaps what makes these points so special, is that you also have the option to transfer these points to twelve different airline and hotel companies directly which can make your points go even further. With our sign-up bonus points, we transferred 50,000 points to Virgin Atlantic Airways and then claimed a business class flight from Seattle to Paris on Delta Airlines (because Delta and Virgin are partners).
4. Double Points Earning! The Chase Sapphire Preferred will earn you 2 points for every dollar spent on travel or dining. So, when you purchase plane tickets, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and even city trains, buses, taxis, limos, ferries, toll bridges and highways, parking lots, garages and even ride-share companies, you will earn double the points. Also for all purchases made at any restaurant or fast food you will earn double the points. So next time you are out eating with friends, make sure to be the one to put the entire bill on your credit card and have them Venmo you their share of the payment so you can collect those points! Get creative!
5. The option to pool points for your household and add authorized card users for free! The Chase Sapphire Preferred allows for people living in the same household to transfer points back and forth to each other. Let us explain why this is useful. In order to earn your sign-up bonus, you need to spend $4,000 on this credit card in 3 months. For some, that might seem daunting. But we put EVERYTHING on our credit card: gas, groceries, there are even ways to put your mortgage or rent on it! $4,000 quickly adds up! But if your normal living expenses are less than $1350 per month, add your spouse, partner or roommate as an authorized user to your card and all of their spending will also help you earn your sign-up bonus. A great couples strategy would be for partner #1 to apply for the card, and add partner #2 as an authorized user for free. They will send two cards in the mail with your individual names but it is the same account. Between the two of you, you can hit your spending target and earn a sign-up bonus in 3 months. Then, do the reverse. Partner #2 then applies for the same card and adds partner #1 as an authorized user and work together again to earn a second bonus. In this way, in 6 short months, you will have earned TWO sign-up bonuses which is enough for two international luxury tickets wherever you want to go! Bon Voyage!
6. Primary car rental collision coverage! Yes, from now on you can deny insurance coverage when you rent a car, because this card will cover your rental automatically! The Chase Sapphire Preferred even includes vehicle theft protection, in case your rental car is stolen. Other cards might offer secondary car insurance, which means that if you get into an accident in your rental car, you will first have to submit a claim through your personal auto insurance. However, this card offers primary coverage, which means that you can submit the claim directly to the card issuer right off the bat and avoid involving your own insurance policy entirely. In other words, if you get into an accident while driving a rental, it won't affect your personal car insurance rates.
7. Trip cancellation reimbursement if inclement weather or sickness arises. Use the Chase Sapphire Preferred to pay for car rentals, cruises, plane tickets and hotels, because you never know when a trip will no longer be possible. This card will refund your travel purchases, should you be unable to travel due to a death, illness, weather, etc.
8. Other purchase protection! Be sure to also put all other major purchases on this credit card such as new electronics or appliances because this card will protect any purchases for 120 days against damage or theft. That's right, if you drop your brand new cell phone and shatter the screen, the bank will reimburse you right away! It also extends all manufacturer warranties by 1 additional year.
9. Baggage delay insurance and lost luggage! If your plane is delayed, or your luggage is lost on the way, it can be hard to get the airline to take responsibility. Now you don't have to have that fight! With this card, Chase will offer you $500 for the inconvenience of your flight delay, $100 per day for delayed baggage and $3,000 per person in lost luggage reimbursement.
10. Roadside Assistance! Go ahead and cancel your AAA membership because this card has roadside assistance included. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year in the U.S. and Canada. If you are driving and get a flat tire, run out of gas, have a dead battery, are locked out, etc just call the number and they will be available to assist. You can use this service for a total of four times per year.
How do I redeem my points?
When you are ready to redeem the points you’ve earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, that's when the card’s flexibility really comes in handy. You have several options for how to redeem. First, you can always use your points to purchase airfare, reserve hotel rooms and rent cars in the Chase Travel Portal, which is accessed through your card's personal login on the card website. So, at an absolute minimum, Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards a travel purchase, meaning that 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points will get you $1250 worth of travel if redeemed in the portal.
However, while it is easiest to use your Ultimate Reward Points this way, it is not the most cost profitable choice. The way to get top value for your points, is to transfer points to any of Chase's 13 airline and hotel partners, which are:
If you go this route, it will take a little research to learn which partners are best utilized for which trips and searching for award availability, and remember you can always shoot us a comment or DM for advice!