When friends find out that my life is made up largely of points and miles it often doesn’t take long for the conversation to shift to how they can get started in the miles and points world as well. They usually want to know which rewards credit card is the overall best one to focus on. Most of them have established credit, and have been using a credit card for some purchases for years, but their card(s) often provide pretty measley rewards, if any at all. In fact, because the card they use doesn’t offer impressive rewards, it can be hard for them to believe that not all cards are created equally.
Those of us who have been at this a while know that the real secret isn’t having just one card, but getting multiple cards. However, that method isn’t for everyone, and certainly isn’t what I recommend for a person new to this hobby. They often want just one card, and they want it to be a good one. Before I make a recommendation I usually try to understand what they want to use their miles and points for, as that can really help me give a better suggestion. This is also what I suggested in my recent post for beginners.
However, not everyone knows from the beginning how they want to use their miles, they just want in the game. Fair enough. In that case there is one card that is almost always my universal suggestion for those just getting in the game. Any guesses as to which card it is?
All things being equal, my recommendation for beginners is to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card. The reason is that the sign-up bonus is pretty solid at 40,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $3,000 in three months. Best of all, the points can be transferred to a number of partners at a 1:1 rate so newbies don’t have to know exactly how they want to use the points before they earn them. They can decide later if they want to use the points with United, Hyatt, British Airways, etc. There is a introductory fee of $0 the first year, then $95 in subsequent years. The card also gets you access to the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, so it is a good way to get friends into the habit of shopping via a pretty reliable online shopping portal for extra points.
There are other very good cards out there for those new to the hobby, but I don’t personally think that any other card is as universally a good starting point as the Sapphire Preferred. I guess you could call it a “gateway card”.
I know I can’t possibly be the only one who regularly gets questions from others about what card to get to start their rewards card journey, so I’m curious to know what cards are the common ones you recommend to friends who want to start getting into the game.
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