THE BEST CREDIT CARDS TO KEEP IN YOUR WALLET – PART 1

With so many rewards credit cards out there to choose from, how is one to know which cards to actually use and keep in your wallet for spending miles and points.  Well, that is a loaded question that all depends upon what your travel goals are.  What do you need, free airfare, free hotel, spending money for your trip.  You might have loads of miles but you are needing free hotel nights.  Well, of course the easiest way to earn lot of miles and points is through credit card sign up bonuses.  But after the bonus, some cards long term benefits just aren’t there.  In general, any card that only gives you a 1 mile/point per dollar isn’t so hot except for a few cards like the American Express Starwood Preferred card or the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card..  The key with these cards, is the programs they are attached to give you flexibility in using their points where other programs you are locked in with not many options of how to use your points.

The best way to really evaluate which cards are best to keep in your wallet is depending upon your personal need and spending habits.    The only common thread is we can all benefit from mile/points that give the ultimate flexibility is redemption.  So you want to look to earn lots of miles/points in programs where you can transfer your miles/points or redeem them in many flexible ways.

In my opinion the top two points programs are the Ultimate Rewards program by Chase Bank and the Membership Rewards program through American Express.  The key with these two program is the flexibility of the program.  In both programs, you can transfer your points to several airline and hotel loyalty programs, redeem for travel and even get cash back or a credit on your statement.

ULTIMATE REWARDS PROGRAM

AMERICAN EXPRESS MEMBERSHIP REWARDS

CARD TYPE

BONUS

EARNINGS

CARD TYPE

BONUS

EARNINGS

Chase Sapphire

10,000 points

2 points per dollar spent at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

No annual fee but better benefits with Preferred card.

The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN

50,000 points

 3X points on airfare; 2x points on purchases in the U.S. for advertising in select media, gasoline at U.S. stand-alone gas stations, shipping, and select computer hardware and software providers; 1X points on other purchases

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

40,000 points

2X travel and dining.
7% annual dividend. No foreign transaction fee.  Great card travel card!

American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card

25,000 points

 3X points for flights booked with airlines, 2X points at US gas stations and US supermarkets, 1X points on other purchases. Earn 15K points after you spend $30,000 in one calendar year.

Chase Ink Bold Charge Card

50,000 points

5X office supplies, cellular/landline/ cable; 2X gas and hotels. Complimentary LOUNGE CLUBTM Airport Lounge Access (first two visits per year are free).

The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley

50,000 points

 Airport club access; $200 airline credit;  Plus, one additional card for no fee.  $500 bonus when you spend $100K within your anniversary year.

Requires an Eligible Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC brokerage Account

Chase Ink Classic Business Card

20,000 points

5X office supplies, cellular/landline/ cable; 2X gas and hotels. Points can be transferred to Ink Bold, Ink Plus, or Sapphire Preferred® Card in order to convert to airline or hotel programs.

Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz

50,000 points 

Airport club access; $200 airline credit; 5X for Mercedes-Benz purchases. 1X points on other purchases

Chase Ink Plus Business Card

50,000 points

5X office supplies, cellular/landline/ cable; 2X gas and hotels. Complimentary LOUNGE CLUBTM Airport Lounge Access (first two visits per year are free).

The Platinum Card® from American Express

25,000 points 

1X points on purchases

Airport club access; $200 airline credit;

Chase Ink Cash Business Card

$200 Cash (20,000 points)

5X office supplies, cellular/landline/ cable; 2X gas and restaurants. Points can be transferred to Ink Bold, Ink Plus, or Sapphire Preferred® Card in order to convert to airline or hotel programs.

 

 

 

Chase Freedom® Visa

$100 Cash (10,000 points)

Earn 5X in rotating categories.  Great card when paired with Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Bold.

 

 

 

Chase Freedom® MasterCard

$100 Cash (10,000 points)

Earn 5X in rotating categories.  Great card when paired with Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Bold.

 

 

 

 

ULTIMATE REWARDS PROGRAM


HOW YOU CAN USE ULTIMATE REWARDS POINTS

You can use Ultimate Rewards points for just about anything you could possibly need to buy or purchase.  The sky is the limit!  This is what makes the program so very powerful and highly valued in the miles and points world.  You can redeem your points for merchandise, travel, gift cards, and experiences or pay yourself back via check or direct deposit starting at $20 for 2,000 points

CASH BACK
Use your points to pay yourself.  I did this back in 2011 for some travel expenses.  I redeemed 100,000 points for a $1,000 check to pay for some travel expenses.
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Or you can use your points for a statement credit on your card for any purchase with your Chase card.

WHAT TO DO:

  • Sign in to your Chase account.  Click on “Go to Ultimate Rewards” in the right hand corner.ultimate rewards ULTIMATE REWARDS POINTS 101   Part 1 

Now you will be logged into your Ultimate Rewards account.  Here is where you control and manage what you want to do with your Ultimate Rewards points.

  • Click on “Cash Back” – Get Cash.  From here you can choose to have a check mailed to you for the amount you’d like.  Remember you can start at only 2,000 points for a $20 credit, check or direct deposit.
    chase ultimate rewards15 ULTIMATE REWARDS POINTS 101   Part 1

Deposit to Chase Bank Account 
If you have chosen to have cash deposited into your Chase Account, the deposit will usually be made within 2-3 business days. 

Paper Checks 
Gift cards and paper checks are generally processed within 1-3 business days. With Free Standard Shipping, your items should arrive within 5-7 business days after processing. 

Select Rush Shipping, available for a flat rate of $10, to receive items within 1-2 business days after processing. (Please note: Paper Check orders will arrive in a grey envelope with “Rewards Document Enclosed” on the front.) 

Statement Credit 
If you have chosen to receive a statement credit to your Chase credit card account, the credit will usually be made within 2-3 business days. 

  •  Click on “Pay yourself back”.  Enter your purchase date and amount you want credited with your points.
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The minimum amount that can be redeemed is $20 or 2,000 points.  Credits take 2-3 business days to be posted to your account.  Credits cannot be canceled or returned once placed.  They are also not applied towards your minimum payment.

BOOK TRAVEL
You can book travel online through the Ultimate Rewards site with no blackout dates or restrictions.  You can book flights, hotels, rental cards, cruises, activities, and special deals.  You can choose to either pay with your Chase card and earn points or pay with your points.

Click on “Travel” – Flights, Hotel, Rental Cars from the top bar

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PURCHASE TRAVEL GIFT CARDS
You may use your points to purchase a variety of different travel gift cards.  See examples below:

  • Click on “Travel” –Travel Gift Cards from the top bar

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BOOK CRUISES
You can see some packages available online but you must call to book cruises over the phone.

  • Click on “Travel” – Cruise Packages from the top bar
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SHOPPING
Redeem your points for top electronics through Ultimate Rewards at the same prices you’d pay in-store. So if something cost $200 online then its 20,000 points. You do still have the pay the cost of tax and shipping as with any online purchase.

  • Click on “Shopping” – Get Merchandise

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GIFT CARDS
You can also use your points to buy gift cards for almost every major vendor. Use your points for gift cards from the big guys: Gap, The Home Depot®, iTunes®, AMC Theatres®—at face value. So if a card has a $50 value in-store, it costs 5,000 points.  Remember 1,000 points equals $10.

  • Click on “Shopping” at the top bar and “Browse Gift Cards

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EXPERIENCES
Get exclusive, VIP access to concerts, sporting events, movie premieres, wine tastings and more—from being on-field for the coin toss to a walk-on role on your favorite TV show to ninja lessons. Check out some of the past experiences that were offered here.

  • Click on “Experiences” from the top bar and search by city, category and date.

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They also have a fun Auction section under Experiences where you can bid on special events.

  • Click on “Experiences”  at the top bar and “See All Auctions”
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Now for one of the most valuable parts of the Ultimate Rewards program – TRANSFER POINTS!!!

TRANSFER POINTS
You can also transfer your points to (10) nine travel partners.  United, Southwest, British Airways, Korean Air, VIrgin Atlantic, Amtrak, Marriott, Priority Club, Hyatt, and the Ritz Carlton.  These points can be transfer in increments of 1,000 points to 1,000 miles or points

  • Click on “Transfer Points” at the top bar.

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Click on “Transfer Points”.  Select the partner you’d like to transfer your points to. 

  • Enter the amount of points you’d like to transfer
  • Enter your frequent flyer/member number & name
  • Click “transfer”.  Done!  Simple as that
    These transfers appear instantly in most cases. 
     

    chase ultimate rewards point transfer united ULTIMATE REWARDS POINTS 101   Part 2

 

COMBINE POINTS
Chase also allows you to combine points from all your cards together in one account.  You are also allowed to transfer points between spouses and domestic partners.

Note: Once points are transferred, they cannot be credited back. Transfers may only be used to combine points belonging to the same individual or business in the program; or for the purpose of enabling spouses or domestic partners to combine points. Chase will not make the transfer if the credit card account(s) or checking account(s), as applicable, are in default at the time of the transfer. 

  • Click on “Earn Faster” – Combine Ultimate Rewards Points

Choose which card to transfer to or from, or add spouse/domestic partner’s card number and last name.

Select amount of points to transfer.  That’s it! 

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Lastly, don’t forget to use the Ultimate Rewards Mall to earn more points!  The Ultimate Rewards Mall offers most all top brands you shop through regularly.  The bonuses can really add up.  Sometimes bonus offers are 10 points per dollar or more.  Currently, you can receive 10 points per dollar for Kohl’s and Sephora.  Think early Christmas presents!  I earned a ton of points that year doing the majority of my shopping through this mall.

  • Click on “Earner Faster” – Browse by Product or Merchant

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I think that covers all the ways you can use your Ultimate Rewards points.  Can you see now why I say the options are endless?  Not many programs can compare to the flexibility that the Chase Ultimate Rewards program offers.  The only comparable program is American Express Membership Rewards Program.  These are the top two programs you want to become a part of if you aren’t already.  If you are earning in both you’ll have the ultimate flexibility when making your travel arrangements.

Stay tuned for PART 2 covering the benefits of  the American Express Membership Rewards Program and the Starwood Preferred Program

 


 

HELPFUL LINKS:

Chase Ultimate Rewards Demo Site – check this site out and explore around for your

Chase Ultimate Rewards Program Frequently Asked Questions – for more details

CREDIT CARD INFORMATION:
Chase Sapphire Card – 10,000 bonus points
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – 40,000 bonus points
Chase Ink Bold Business Card – 50,000 bonus points
Chase Ink Plus Business Card – 50,000 bonus points
Chase Ink Classic Business – 20,000 bonus points
Chase Ink Cash Business Card – $-200 Cash Back (20,000 bonus points)
Chase Freedom Visa – $100 Cash Back (10,000 bonus points)
Chase Freedom MasterCard – $100 Cash Back (100,000 bonus points)

 

2 thoughts on “THE BEST CREDIT CARDS TO KEEP IN YOUR WALLET – PART 1”

    1. @donnie – I agree completely. I’ve only done it 1 time. They are super valuable and you can surely get more value in many other ways.

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