Should You Get The Chase Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred?

Chase offers two personal credit cards that are marketed to those who want to earn travel rewards. There’s the Sapphire Preferred, which is great for those getting into the points and miles world, offering transferrable points to both airline and hotel programs and bonus points for travel and dining expenses. The newer Sapphire Reserve is the luxury card for the Ultimate Rewards program. It has a higher annual fee but offers additional benefits than the Preferred.

When I wrote that I was considering getting rid of all my premium cards, the one that people seemed to be the most attached to was the Sapphire Reserve. They pointed out the reasons it’s worth paying the extra money over the Preferred, some of which I was aware of and some that I wasn’t.

So I decided to take a closer look at the two cards and see where they are the same and where they differ. Only then could I really know if the extra money for the Reserve is worth it.

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Sorry Starbucks, I Love You But I’m (Still) Not Going To Sign Up For Your Credit Card

In February 2018, Starbucks and Chase launched the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card. This credit card links directly to your Starbucks Rewards account and lets your earn stars for your purchases.

Starbucks Visa

Starbucks is still constantly emailing me offers to get this card. I’m sure if you’re a Starbucks Rewards member, you’ve also received these messages. If you are a regular visitor to Starbucks, it may seem to make perfect sense to get this card. You drink their coffee anyway, why not earn free drinks for your everyday spending, right?

I’m a self-admitted Starbucks-a-holic. Every morning shift I work, I’ll stop by for an Iced Coffee with Sugar-Free Vanilla Syrup (no classic) and whole milk. I was quite proud when the baristas at my regular store would make my coffee for me without having to order. They even wished me goodbye on my last visit when I was transferred to a new work location and wouldn’t be a regular at their store anymore. It was an appropriate farewell, a note on my coffee and a Starbucks gift card. 🙂

So I’m the target audience for the Starbucks Rewards Visa card then, right? The problem is that before I’m going to apply for any card, I’m going to do the math and see exactly what it offers.  Continue reading “Sorry Starbucks, I Love You But I’m (Still) Not Going To Sign Up For Your Credit Card”

When You Should(n’t) Use Airline Co-Brand Credit Cards To Pay For Airfare

All of the larger airlines in the U.S. offer co-brand credit cards. These cards, which provide extra benefits to cardholders, range from ones with no annual fee to premium cards costing up to $450 per year. While you’d think that using a co-branded card would be the best choice for earning points with your flight purchase, that’s usually not the case. For most airlines, you don’t earn any extra points for airfare purchases for having a more expensive card either.

In most cases, instead of using a co-brand card, it’s better to use a card that earns flexible points like Membership Rewards, Thank You Points or Ultimate Rewards. These cards provide the opportunity to earn more points as well as the flexibility to use points on multiple airlines. You’re able to transfer points from these programs into your airline mileage account when you need them.

Here are the earnings multiples on airfare for the main flexible points cards from each bank:

American Express (Membership Rewards)

  • Platinum card ($550 annual fee) – 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • Gold card ($250 annual fee) – 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel

Chase (Ultimate Rewards)

  • Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual fee) – 3x points on travel worldwide (including airfares purchased from airlines or travel agencies/websites)
  • Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee) – 2x points on travel worldwide (including airfares purchased from airlines or travel agencies/websites)

Citi (Thank You Points)

  • Citi Prestige ($495 annual fee) – 5x points on purchases at airlines and travel agencies
  • Citi Premier ($95 annual fee) – 3x points on purchases at airlines and travel agencies

The AMEX Platinum and Citi Prestige both offer 5x on airfare but the AMEX card only counts purchases direct from the airline or their website. When I had both cards, I used the Citi Prestige because I valued the additional travel insurance coverage but I know people would rather earn Membership Rewards than Thank You points. Of the $95 cards, the Citi Premier earns the most points on airline purchases at 3x.

So how many miles will you earn by using an airline co-brand card to purchase airfare and when does it make sense to do so? I’ve indicated which airlines are partners of one (or all) of the flexible currency cards so you can compare earnings potential between cards.

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The Reason You Need To Pool Your Chase Ultimate Rewards (It’s Not What You Think)

In May of 2018, I wrote an article that told everyone to pool their Chase accounts into whichever one was the most valuable because the ability to do so might be going away. It was a big story for like a week and there was plenty of hand wringing and mumbling (Sharon: “Was this all happening in the points and miles blogger world?” Joe: “Yes.” Sharon: “Oh, OK. Cuz I don’t remember wringing my hands and mumbling but I don’t do the points and miles thing, so that make sense now.”) but eventually, nothing happened. Everyone moved along to the next crisis and the issue was pretty much forgotten with no new news. And when it comes to points and miles, Gary Gnu taught me growing up that no gnews is good gnews.

 

The Great Space Coaster, but I digress. Back to the topic, combining Chase Ultimate Rewards.

At the beginning of 2019, Gary from View from the Wing (no relation to the Gnu) posted that while Chase had considered stopping customers from combining points, there was no current plans to implement such a restriction. He provided a quote from an article in the Wall Street Journal:

JPMorgan executives debated whether to stop letting cardholders pool together points from multiple cards, according to people familiar with the matter. JPMorgan’s [spokeswoman Mary Jane] Rogers said the bank has no current plans to stop cardholders from pooling points.

Like he says, this is no guarantee they won’t change their minds about this but I guess it’s still more of a positive than a negative for them, both from financial and publicity standpoints.

So why do I think it’s wise for you to combine your points into a single account?

Continue reading “The Reason You Need To Pool Your Chase Ultimate Rewards (It’s Not What You Think)”