Credit cards – friend or foe, love ‘em or leave ‘em?

Some will tell you to avoid them at all costs, but given the best Chase credit card, you could travel the world for free! I have earned thousands of dollars’ worth of travel signing up for multiple Chase credit cards, while only spending a fraction of that on fees. You too can make all of your bucket list vacations come true at just a fraction of the sticker price. 

Through opening numerous Chase credit cards, earning and burning points for the last 5 years, and hours upon hours of research, I have found the best overall Chase credit card to have in your wallet: the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Age old “wisdom” will tell you that having a credit card will wreak havoc on your financial situation and send you into a downward spiral of debt and collections. However, with a smart financial strategy, a credit card in your wallet can be one of your most lucrative assets. 

I currently have multiple Chase credit cards, each of which has earned me hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in free flights and hotel stays. Just one of my Chase cards earned me over $2,500 worth of travel & benefits in the first year of having the card alone.

The golden rule of having a credit card and being able to amass such lucrative benefits is to not spend irresponsibly or spend any more than you already do on a daily basis. This is done by using your credit card like a debit card and paying off your bill in full and on time every month. By doing this, you reap the full benefit of the rewards and not pay a single cent more.

When it comes to credit card issuers, Chase is frequently regarded as offering the best credit cards with the most benefits. Chase has a portfolio of 29 credit cards with a broad spectrum of hotel and airline partners, offering everything from no fee cashback cards to premium travel cards. Chase’s cards offer everything from cashback & travel points/miles to lounge access and travel insurance protections.

One of the key highlights of Chase Bank is Chase Ultimate Rewards. Chase Ultimate Rewards is the points program for many of Chase’s credit cards in which you earn Ultimate Reward points for cashback or travel booking. Chase Ultimate Rewards are the best points of any airline, hotel, or credit card program due to their flexibility in redemption and high value. 

Through Ultimate Rewards, Chase offers a booking portal (powered by Expedia) for booking hotels, flights, and activities. One of the best and rarest features of Chase Ultimate Rewards is that points can be shared and pooled by family members, allowing for much more flexibility. With many of Chase’s cards earning Ultimate Rewards for purchases, the many various bonus categories allow for increased rewards.

Take a look below at all of Chase’s amazing credit cards and find the one that works best for you!

Methodology

The value derived from a credit card is subjective, based upon each person’s goals. Do you want cash back or do you want to be able to travel with the rewards? Do you care about APR? What about purchase protection for when your new iPhone gets damaged and you don’t have insurance? In determining the best Chase credit card in each category, the following criteria were considered:

  • Annual Fee – Is there an annual fee? How much? Does the fee make sense for this card?
  • Sign Up Bonus – How much value is received from the sign up bonus for the minimum spending requirement?
  • Bonus Earning/Categories – The increased earning rate on bonus categories and everyday spend
  • Other Benefits – Does this card have travel credits, travel insurance, lounge access, or any of the many other benefits offered by similar cards?

Quick Navigation

Best Overall Card

  1. Chase Sapphire Preferred

    • Annual Fee: $95
    • Sign Up Bonus: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards Points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months
    • Bonus Earning/Categories: 2X Ultimate Rewards points on all travel and dining, 1X on all other purchases
    • Other Benefits: Point transfer to airline loyalty programs via Chase Ultimate Rewards, Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Baggage Delay Insurance, Trip Delay Reimbursement, Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty Protection, No Foreign Transaction Fees

     

    The moment you have been waiting for is finally here – the best overall Chase credit card is none other than the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Despite not having quite as many perks as some other premium cards, the Sapphire Preferred shares many of the same benefits without a huge annual fee. This makes the card manageable and ideal for everybody.

    The Sapphire Preferred credit card features a 60,000 point sign up bonus, which is worth minimum $750 (1.25 cents per point) if booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards booking portal or potentially much more if transferred to one of its many transfer partners at the 1:1 ratio. The Ultimate Rewards points can sometimes be worth over 2 cents per point when transferred to airline partners, making the bonus worth over $1000 alone!

    The 2X bonus earning on travel and dining give added bonus for every kind of traveler and foodie. This card features many travel and purchase protections, such as trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay insurance, and no foreign transaction fees. 

    Regardless of your frequency of travel, nobody likes the majors headaches of lost baggage and delayed flights, both of which are made much easier by this card’s benefits. It also provides protection for your various purchases with purchase protection and extended warranty. 

    This card is the ideal card for any kind of traveler, not just a frequent traveler. It features a manageable annual fee, which makes it a card that can work for anybody and everybody, from the seasoned business traveler to the infrequent weekend warrior. It has a sign up bonus spending requirement similar to many other mid-tier credit cards, but has a much larger sign up bonus. 

    This card is an absolute no brainer for you, your friends, or your family! Let your everyday expenses, your big purchases, and sometimes impulse buys get you that much closer to your next getaway vacation!

    Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Best No Annual Fee Flat-Rate Card

  1. Chase Freedom Unlimited

    • Annual Fee: $0
    • Sign Up Bonus: Earn 3% cash back (or 3 Ultimate Rewards Points) on the first $20,000 spent in the first year
    • Bonus Earning/Categories: 1.5 % cash back (or 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points) on all purchases thereafter
    • Other Benefits: 0% APR for 15 months, Extended Warranty Protection, Purchase Protection

     

    The Chase Freedom Unlimited Card is a very strong card for every day spending with a whopping 3% on everything (up to $20,000 spend) in the first year and a solid 1.5% back on everything thereafter. 3% cash back on a no annual fee flat-rate card is drastically higher than other cards available from any bank in the same category and the 1.5% back after is on par with many other similar cards. 

    The rewards earned on the Chase Freedom Unlimited can also be used as Ultimate Rewards points to book travel so long as you hold the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred. Assuming Ultimate Rewards are valued at minimum 1.25 cents each that makes the 3% bump up to a thrill-inducing 3.75% value for each dollar spent on a no annual fee card. 

    The Extended Warranty & Purchase Protection are nice added benefits, but this no fee card really shines due to its great earning rate & ability to be used for Ultimate Rewards.

    Apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Best Cashback Card

  1. Chase Freedom

    • Annual Fee: $0
    • Sign Up Bonus: $150 cashback or 15,000 Ultimate Rewards Points after $500 spend in the first 3 months
    • Bonus Earning/Categories: 5% cash back (or 5 Ultimate Rewards Points) on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in rotating quarter bonus categories, 1% cash back (or 1 Ultimate Reward Point) on all other purchases 
    • Other Benefits: 0% APR for 15 months, Extended Warranty Protection, Purchase Protection

     

    The Chase Freedom Card is yet another phenomenal no annual fee card, but it’s the rotating bonus categories that make this card outlast the Freedom Unlimited for Best Cashback Card. This card has a traditional sign up bonus, which gives $150 cash back after spending $500 in the first 3 months. 

    But just like the Freedom Unlimited, all rewards earned on the Freedom can be used as Ultimate Rewards points if you also have either of the Sapphire Products or Ink Business Preferred cards. If using the rewards for travel (with one of the mentioned cards), the rotating categories earn 6.25% back for your next getaway and the sign up bonus is worth a minimum $187.50. 

    Unlike many other cards with rotating bonus categories, the Freedom bonus categories each quarter are for places you would already be spending: gas stations, grocery stores, wholesale clubs (like Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJs), and department stores (especially during Q4 for your increased holiday spending).

    Apply for the Chase Freedom

Best Frequent Traveler Card

  1. Chase Sapphire Reserve

    • Annual Fee: $450
    • Sign Up Bonus: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months
    • Bonus Earning/Categories: 3X points on travel and dining, 1X point on everything else
    • Other Benefits: $300 Annual Travel Credit, 1.5 cents per points redemption on Chase Ultimate Rewards booking portal, Point transfer to airline loyalty programs via Chase Ultimate Rewards, No foreign transaction fees, Priority Pass Select membership, Global Entry or TSA pre-check credit, Trip cancellation and interruption insurance, Auto rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage reimbursement, purchase protection, return protection, and extended warranty protection

     

    As you can see from the list of the many benefits offered to Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders, this card offers tons of value and perks that so many other cards don’t. However, this does come with a high $450 annual fee. 

    This card offers a $300 annual travel credit, effectively making the annual fee only $150. The TSA pre-check ($85) or Global Entry ($100) credit can be utilized every 4 years as well. The Priority Pass Select membership grants you (and up to 2 guests) free access to many airport lounges, which, when used regularly, can be worth hundreds of dollars by itself in food and alcohol. 

    This card offers tons of travel protections, such as lost luggage and trip cancellations, alleviating the many stresses associated with frequent travel. 

    The sign-up bonus for this card has a bit of a higher spending requirement, but the 50,000 UR points is worth $750 when used to book travel via the Chase UR portal or potentially much more when transferred to airline loyalty programs. Everyday earning on this card is only 1X for everything other than travel (3X points), which makes travel purchases earn minimum 4.5% back. 

    This card offers tons of value for the frequent traveler, but is also great for somebody who only travels a few times a year. When you consider the large sign up bonus, great earning rates, & ability to transfer points to airline and hotel partners, this card absolutely shines.

    Apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Best Business Card

  1. Ink Business Preferred

    • Annual Fee: $95
    • Sign Up Bonus: 80,000 Ultimate Rewards Points after $5,000 spend in the first 3 months
    • Bonus Earning/Categories: 3X points on first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping, phone, cable, internet, and advertising on social media & search engines, 1X on all other purchases
    • Other Benefits: Point transfer to airline loyalty programs via Chase Ultimate Rewards, No Foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, roadside dispatch, auto rental collision damage waiver, cell phone protection, purchase protection, extended warranty

     

    The Ink Business Preferred credit card is by far the best business card offered by Chase. If you have a small business, this card is a no brainer due to its bonus spending categories and its massive sign up bonus. 

    This card gives you access to Chase Ultimate Rewards and its many transfer partners. Ultimate rewards points can also be redeemed for 1.25 cents per point, making the sign up bonus worth a minimum of $1000. When transferring to one of the many partners (at a ratio of 1:1), the value of each point can be worth even more. In my experience, I usually receive a minimum of 1.5 cents per point (which would make the sign up bonus worth closer to $1200). 

    For business owners, the earning rates on this card can’t be beat at 3X on many of the standard purchases that business owners have. Assuming the minimum 1.25 cents per point, the 3X category on the many business purchases would yield a return of 4.75% back to be used for all of your travel needs. 

    For those business owners that travel (or have employees that travel), the earning is the same on all travel purchases. Additionally, this card offers tons of protections when traveling such as primary rental car insurance and trip cancellation and interruption insurance. Employee cards on the same account are free, thus maximizing all of the purchases that any employees have to make while traveling. 

    For international travel, there are no foreign transaction fees allowing for ease on mind on any and all expenses. With only a $95 annual fee, this card packs tons of benefits for business owners. If you aren’t sure if you are a business owner, Chase includes sole proprietors and contractors as business owners (even if you simply flip items on ebay or craigslist – that counts!). 

    Apply for the Ink Business Preferred

Best Co-Branded Hotel Card

  1. World of Hyatt Card

    • Annual Fee: $95
    • Sign Up Bonus: 25,000 Hyatt points after $3,000 spend in first 3 months, plus an additional 25,000 Hyatt points after $6,000 total spend in the first 6 months
    • Bonus Earning/Categories: 4X Hyatt points on all Hyatt hotel purchases, 2X Hyatt points at restaurants, plane tickets purchased directly from the airline, local transit & commuting, & fitness/gym memberships, 1X on all other purchases
    • Other Benefits: Free Anniversary Night (Category 1-4) on cardmember anniversary, Additional Free Night (Category 1-4) after $15,000 spend during cardmember anniversary year, Hyatt Discoverist Elite Status, No foreign transaction fees, Baggage Delay Insurance, Purchase Protection, Lost Luggage Reimbursement, Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance, Visa Concierge 

     

    When it comes to co-branded hotel credit cards with a reasonable annual fee, the World of Hyatt credit card is clearly best in class. Hyatt points are worth the most of any hotel points, oftentimes redeemed for up to 2 cents per point. At 2 cents per point, each tier of the signup bonus can be worth $500, for a total of $1,000 sign up bonus after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months. 

    For the traveler that enjoys and frequently visits Hyatt resorts, this card is an absolute must have card. With 4X points on Hyatt hotel purchases, that’s up to an 8% return for future Hyatt stays. The 2X points on restaurants, plane tickets (purchased directly from the airline), and local transit add significantly more value for even the casual traveler. 

    Some of the most lucrative benefits of this card are the free anniversary nights (one at your cardmember anniversary and one after spending $15,000 in a year). These free nights can be used on weekdays or weekends up to Category 4 resorts, like the Hyatt Centric French Quarter New Orleans or Hyatt Regency Seattle where rooms can run up to $350 on a peak weekend. 

    The complimentary elite status gets you free wi-fi, free breakfast, preferred rooms, and late check out, which can add a nice touch to every Hyatt stay (and save you money as well). The many travel benefits, like lost or delayed baggage and trip interruption insurance, can give you ease of mind on your next big vacation or business trip. 

    You will earn a massive sign up bonus, great bonus category rewards, a free night, and so many other travel benefits with this card for just a $95 annual fee. This card should be a no brainer, whether you are a Hyatt aficionado or somebody that just needs a place to lay your head on your next trip out of town.

    Apply for the World of Hyatt Card

Best Co-Branded Airlines Card

  1. Southwest Priority Card

    • Annual Fee: $149
    • Sign Up Bonus: 40,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
    • Bonus Earning/Categories: 2X Rapid Rewards points on Southwest purchases, 1X on all other purchases
    • Other Benefits: 4 Upgraded boardings annually, $75 Southwest travel credit, 7,500 anniversary Rapid Rewards points, Lost Luggage reimbursement, bag delay insurance, extended warranty protection, purchase protection, no foreign transaction fees

     

    Chase offers three different Southwest co-branded credit cards, each with a different set of benefits and varying annual fees. The Southwest Priority card is the top tier personal card of the three but it is on this list for a good reason. Despite the higher annual fee ($149 vs $69 or $99), it is actually a cheaper credit card than the Plus or Premier due to the $75 annual travel credit; this effectively makes the Priority cost only $74 before any of its additional benefits. 

    The 4 upgraded boarding passes (which renew annually) are each worth anywhere from $30-$50, depending on your itinerary. Those upgraded boarding passes (which get you an A1-A15 boarding position), can be worth up to a total of $200 annually. With Rapid Rewards points being worth 1.5 cents apiece, the sign up bonus is worth $600 and the anniversary points are worth $112.50. 

    The 40,000 sign up bonus points also count towards earning the Companion Pass, which is one of the most lucrative travel perks among all airlines. The sign up bonus gets you 40,000 points closer to the required 110,000 points needed to earn the pass (within a calendar year), which allows an additional person to fly for just the taxes and fees every time the pass holder flies (regardless of the flight being booked with cash or points). 

    If you are able to earn the Companion Pass, that effectively makes the anniversary points, sign up bonus, and the $75 annual travel credit worth double. 

    You can also travel with ease knowing that this card offers many of the travel protections offered by other similar cards as well as no foreign transaction fees, which is great since Southwest now flies internationally to many destinations. With such generous perks and benefits, this card is hands down the best co-branded airline credit card that Chase offers.

    Apply for the Southwest Priority Card

How do I know if a credit card is worth the annual fee?

When it comes to annual fees, there are 3 different levels of cards: no-fee, mid-tier, and premium cards. Each tier typically offers more perks than the previous one. No-fee cards, as it sounds, have a $0 annual fee. Mid-tier cards typically have annual fees in the range of $75-$150. Premium cards have annual fees that can range anywhere from $300-$600 (very few go above this number). 

The best way to determine if the card is worth the annual fee is to look at the value of the sign-up bonus, the value on everyday spending and bonus categories, as well as the value of each of its various perks. Depending on which benefits you use and the value of each perk, the total value should be more than the annual fee.

How many Chase cards can I get?

There is no official limit on the number of cards a person can be approved for by Chase, but there are some unofficial rules to follow. 

The first unofficial rule that will determine eligibility for any particular card is called the Chase 5/24 rule. This rule states that if you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the past 24 months, your application will almost certainly be denied outright by Chase. The caveat to this rule is that business cards don’t seem to apply to your 5/24 status, but being approved for a business card is subject to the 5/24 rule.

There is also another unofficial rule in regards to the total amount of credit Chase is willing to extend a cardholder. The general consensus is that Chase will extend somewhere around (or a bit above) 50% of the cardholder’s annual income. The best way to avoid denials because of this is to reduce credit lines for cards that have a higher limit than you would need.

What are the different kinds of points worth?

There are some points that are worth more than others and some that have fixed value or varying value of degree. No two points/miles (or airline programs) are identical.

For example, Southwest Rapid Rewards points are fixed value in that each point is worth approximately 1.5 cents. Chase Ultimate Rewards points have a wide variety of value depending on how you redeem them, but should be worth 1.5 cents each a minimum; any other redemption is not good value for Ultimate Rewards points.

Airline miles have a large variability in their value due to two factors: award fare zones and award availability. Award fare zones assign mileage costs for flights between two geographical zones (i.e Europe, North America, South America, etc). Flight routes between different zones require varying amounts of miles. So depending on the revenue cost for the same flight, the value of a mile could vary significantly. 

Most airlines only allow so many seats to be booked with points (award availability). Just like how the cost in dollars for a flight increases as the flight gets more full, the cost in miles typically increases as more seats are booked with miles. Because of this, airline miles can be worth anywhere from 0.5 cents to 3 cents.

Should I get a cashback card or a travel related card?

In order to decide on a cashback card or a travel related card, the key question is about how often you travel and what kind of travel you prefer. If you are a homebody who rarely travels, a cashback card is the way to go. But for even an infrequent traveler, a travel rewards card is the way to go as you will almost always receive more bang for your buck redeeming points for flights and hotels.

Do my points expire?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question as it solely depends on the specific rewards program. Many hotel and airline loyalty programs require some sort of mileage activity (earning or redeeming points/miles) to prevent your points from expiring. Oftentimes holding a co-branded credit card for an airline program keeps your rewards from expiring as well.

Can I keep getting the same Chase card over and over again?

While this might sound like a good plan to keep signing up for the same credit card over and over again to get the sign up bonus, Chase has a preventative measure in place. For almost all of their cards, the terms and conditions when applying say that you are only eligible for the card if you have not received a sign up bonus for that card in the last 24 months. For Sapphire cards (Preferred or Reserve), it states that you can’t get the card or sign up bonus if you received a bonus for either card in the last 48 months.

How good does my credit score have to be to get approved for each card?

This has a lot of variability to it and there is no hard and fast rule for approvals or denials based on credit score alone. Chase tends to like cardholders that are trustworthy and have proven credit histories. A safe bet is to have over a 700 credit score for Chase cards, however there are many people who have been approved with lower scores. Typically, more entry level cards/no fee cards are easier to get than the mid-tier or premium cards.

What is the best Chase credit card?

The best Chase credit card is, hands down, the Chase Sapphire Preferred. This card offers a large sign up bonus (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) worth a minimum of $750 when booking travel through the Chase booking portal. It comes with a reasonable $95 annual fee that is easily offset by the value of its many perks (travel insurance, trip delay reimbursement, and many others). 

It features strong earning potential with 2X points on travel and dining expenses and 1X on all other purchases. One of its best features is the ability to transfer points to nine airline and four hotel loyalty programs, potentially making every point worth 2 cents or more. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a must have card for everybody that eats out or travels (frequently or infrequently) – essentially everybody.

About The Author

Patrick Beckman is the Contributing Finance Editor for RAVE Reviews. Leveraging his educational training in engineering, Patrick has developed his own consumer finance strategies for household saving and credit card optimization. A centerpiece of his approach is his Travel-for-Free philosophy: Decide where you want to travel and what you want to do, and then reverse-engineer your credit card sign-ups and bonuses in order to travel to and stay in your destination of choice for free.

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