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.
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 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. 🙂
It’s tax season. That time of the year where part of the population gathers paperwork as soon as possible to file for a refund and the rest of us put off the task until the last minute because we don’t want to see how much money we’ll owe the government. In the past, the way to pay the Internal Revenue Service was to write them a check and make sure that it was postmarked by the end of the tax deadline (April 15th, or later due to holidays or weekends). Now that many people choose to eFile their taxes, you can easily add your banking information to have your taxes due removed from your bank account. This is a fee-free option and I’m sure many people take advantage of the ease of doing this. As someone who’s always looking for a place to earn extra points and miles, I was interested when I saw that you can pay your taxes with a credit card…but with a catch.
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.
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.
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?