I finally broke down on got a Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
My first reaction when I received the card was that it’s downright beautiful. It’s heavy, heavier than a standard credit card. And it doesn’t have numbers on the front, there’s nothing embossed there, the numbers are displayed on the back. That gives it a really sleek and surprising look. I want to pull that card out of my wallet. Lucky calls it the poor man’s Centurion card.
I got it primarily for the 50,000 point signup bonus after $3000 in spend, no fee the first year (Update: the 50,000 point offer is no longer available, but the card still offers a 40,000 point signup bonus). The points are pretty darned useful, transferring to United/Continental, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, Amtrak, and Korean. And you really earn 1.07 miles per dollar since you get a 7% bonus on points earning for the year.
You can use the points to straight up buy travel at 1.25 cents apiece, but I’m unlikely to ever do that. It has no foreign currency conversion fees, just like my Hyatt Visa.
Here’s how I’m thinking about the card and how it relates to the others in my wallet. It’s my go-to card for restaurant spend and also hotel spend where I don’t have their co-branded card, since it earns double points on both spend categories (that means Priority Club and Marriott, I do carry the Hilton Surpass Amex for Diamond status after $40,000 in spend annually, the Starwood card for the value and flexibility of their points, and the Hyatt Visa for Hyatt spend).
For airline tickets (triple points) and gas and groceries (double points) my go-to card remains the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card.
Chase has several cards which offer no foreign currency transaction fees. Others I’ve focused on in the past have been the BA and Hyatt cards. The British Airways Visa is still a better card if you are looking for BA miles (1.25 miles per dollar, rather than 1.07) or if you can make good use of the companion award ticket you’ll receive after spending $30,000 on the card in a year. The Hyatt Visa does have an annual free night, but that’s not an incentive for spend, I’ll likely only be using the card for spent at Hyatt since the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is actually better at earning Hyatt points (1.07 vs. 1) than the Hyatt card is on all other spend. This is going to be my primary card for international spend, though I’ll use the Hyatt card when staying at international Hyatt properties (I have upcoming reservations in Singapore and the Maldives, for instance) and I’ll still use the Hilton Surpass American Express at Hilton properties even though I pay a conversion fees, the 9 points per dollar are marginally worthwhile to me (I have 3 upcoming Conrad stays).
I need to look into whether Chase Sapphire Preferred’s rental car collision damage coverage is primary or secondary. I’ve long used my Diners Club card for car rentals, since their coverage is primary. The Continental Onepass Plus Mastercard has had that for awhile, and now the United Explorer Card does as well. So it wouldn’t surprise me if Sapphire did as well, it would be interesting if I was able to put the Diners Club away for awhile.
For most spend, though — outside of travel, restaurants, gas, groceries — my card of choice is still the Starwood American Express.
I do have a United Visa, it is my oldest card account and I’m not getting rid of that, I hate that I still pay an annual fee on it but can’t bring myself to dump it and I do value its contribution to the high average age of my accounts. I also have a Continental Mastercard which is now superfluous, I’m not getting rid of it though because I want to keep it for ‘horse trading’ purposes, the next time there’s a good Chase signup bonus that I want to take advantage of I’ll probably get declined for too many cards and too much credit, I’ll ring up the reconsideration line (888-245-0625) and offer to trade this Mastercard for whatever new bonus they’re offering… and my ‘reason’ for wanting the new card of course won’t be because I want the bonus, but because I now have two virtually identical cards (United and Continental) and there’s no reason for that. All will make good sense, and I’ll probably be approved for the bonus I want.
And of course there are other cards that make sense for folks to carry, or to put spend on, depending on their particular circumstance.
I love the Asiana American Express from Bank of America, it earns 2 miles per dollar spent and even though they add fuel surcharges to awards their award chart is favorable for shorter trips. Business class on Star Alliance carriers of less than 10,000 miles flown costs 80,000 miles. So an award from the East Coast of the US to much of Europe will be earned after just $40,000 in spend, and they allow two stopovers in each direction as well.
Another Bank of America card, the Alaska Airlines Visa, offers an outstanding value proposition in its $99 companion ticket, which is valid on any seat, any class of service, any Alaska Airlines flights. Buy one first class ticket to Hawaii, for instance, and the second is $99+tax. The companion books into the same fare class with the same fare rules as the paid ticket (so a first class fare is changeable without fee), and earns miles and even bonuses based on that fare.
And of course if you are trying to achieve elite status with your preferred loyalty program, you may want that progam’s credit card to the extent it offers elite qualifying miles, stays, or nights towards status based on spend. You’re even likely willing to give up some measure of value that other cards might offer in order to get that.
But to sum, for me, my primary credit cards are currently:
- Starwood Preferred Guest American Express. Most generic spending.
- American Express Premier Rewards Gold. Airfare, gas, groceries.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa. Restaurants, hotels (where I don’t have the hotel’s own co-branded card), international spending, merchants who don’t take American Express.
Your own situation may suggest a different combination of go-to cards, but I thought sharing my own current thinking would be worthwhile.
As they say, what’s in your wallet?