Key Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Word came down last week that Chase bank’s offer on their Sapphire Preferred card would be changing. We didn’t know what would change — higher or lower bonus, higher or lower spending requirement, new or changed benefits.
The new offer for the card is out and what’s different is that there is a lower spending requirement, making it even easier to get the signup bonus of 40,000 points.
At 40,000 bonus points, now after just $2000 in spending within 3 months, it has one of the richest bonuses of any card.
Requirements for the 40,000 Point Signup Bonus
When I first got into the credit card game there was no requirement to actually spend money on the cards to get a bonus, the points either came with card approval or after first purchase. But then the bonuses were only about 15,000 points…
Gradually banks started adding requirements to put spending on the card to qualify for bonuses, $250 and then $750 and then much larger amounts, the American Express Business Gold Rewards card generally requires $10,000 in spend when there’s a bonus offer available for instance. The British Airways card came back with a 100,000 point signup bonus this year that required $25,000 in spend for the full bonus.
The idea is first that they want to get new cardmembers into the habit of using cards, they don’t just want folks to get the cards. They’re offering the bonus with the intention of making it ‘top of wallet’ for the new cardholder. And second that they want higher spend customers, those are more profitable for the banks overall.
So it’s really surprising to me to see Chase reducing the minimum spend requirement on this card. It bucks the trend in the industry. And most of the lower spend requirement cards are also among the less rewarding cards. This is one of the best out there, and they’re making it even easier to get the big signup bonus (which is also one of the best signup bonuses out there).
Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Airline, Hotel, and Train Programs
While you can redeem these points at 1.25 cents apiece towards paid travel, that’s not their best use. You want to hold onto them and transfer them to frequent flyer programs most of the time.
I value ‘flexible’ points the most, points where you can choose where to point them at the time you’re ready to redeem for an award.
If you accumulate miles in an airline program, then you need that program to have the award you want at the time you want to fly.
But with points that transfer to your choice of programs, you increase the odds substantially of getting the award you want — if one program doesn’t have the award, another one likely will.
The transfer options with this card are:
- Airlines: United, Hyatt, Korean Airlines, Southwest Airlines, British Airways
- Hotels: Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, Priority Club
- Train: Amtrak
The best hotel transfer value is Hyatt in most cases, but it’s really valuable to be able to top off an account towards an award no matter which account of yours that winds up being.
Usually I think of United as the best value for points transfers, since the award chart is reasonable and available on Star Alliance partners is really pretty good in business class to Europe and Asia.
But transferring to British Airways Avios can be a good use of points, especially for short-distance non-stop flights (think as low as 9000 points roundtrip for a coach award). And while many awards on BA involve fuel surcharges, if you use those points to fly American Airlines domestic or to South America, LAN to South America, or Alaska Airlines for instance there are no fuel surcharges. (Also quite reasonable intra-Asia on Cathay Pacific and Aer Lingus Boston or New York to Ireland.)
Meanwhile, not only do you get Star Alliance awards via United and oneworld awards via British Airways, you have coverage of the third alliance — Skyteam — as well. You get access to the same Skyteam award space as if you had Delta miles. And in some cases there’s a favorable award chart.
Plus the ability to redeem for international first class and not just business class, something Delta doesn’t allow. And one-way awards, also not offered (except at the same price as roundtrip!) by Delta. I actually value these points the most, probably for transfers to Korean since I have my eye on flying first class on the Korean Airlines A380 with pretty good award availability, New York to Seoul to Hong Kong. And I want to use the points to fly first class on the China Southern A380 and also first class on Saudia Airlines.
Meanwhile, it’s also one of the very best cards for earning points based on spending. Of course the most leveraged thing you can do with your spending is get a new card with a big signup bonus (like this one), it’s also great for everyday spend as well:
A Very Strong Card for Earning Points
In addition to the standard points-earning, you also get:
- Double points on travel and restaurant spending
- 7% bonus on all points earned through purchases each year
- Visa acceptance, so even my dry cleaner takes it
- No foreign currency conversion fee
- Additional points for your online shopping through access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall, a mileage-earning shopping portal that often has the most lucrative opportunities to earn extra points for the online purchases you’d make anyway. I love the 2 extra points per dollar on Travelocity purchases, extra point per dollar at Expedia, and I love it when Drugstore.com gets up to 10 points per dollar spent.
There’s no annual fee the first year, my first year will be coming up shortly and I’ll be keeping the card even with the $95 annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is part of my one-two punch for most spending with the Starwood American Express card. And now the requirements for the bonus are even lower than before. If you use my link for the card, which offers the best bonus out there, then I will receive credit for the referral which I very much appreciate as well.