With the number of credit cards options continually growing, it’s critical for card issuers to find any way possible to stand out from the crowd. Some issuers offer cardholders the ability to earn bonus points on specific categories, like gas stations or grocery stores. Then there are some cards that offer perks like elite status with airlines or hotels. But there is one thing that will almost always drive new applications and that’s a massive signup bonus.
Earlier this year, there was a lot of hype leading up to the release of Chase’s most recent personal credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The big draw was that the card offers new cardholders a signup bonus of 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Because you would be able to redeem your points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal for 1.5 cents per point, that signup bonus is worth $1,500. There is no other credit card openly available that currently offers someone that kind of a value upon signup.
Boosting the Bonus
One of the best things about any card within the Chase Ultimate Rewards family is the different ways that you can redeem your points. A redemption value of 1.5 cents is great, but there are ways to increase that value even more, and that’s with the Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners. By strategically transferring your points to partners like Hyatt, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Singapore Airlines and others, you can book travel plans that value more than 1.5 cents per point.
As an example, a room at Hyatt property Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort costs around $514 per night in February (prices subject to change). Because this is a Category 6 Hyatt hotel, it would cost 25,000 points per night, giving it a point value of about 2.06 cents per Ultimate Rewards point.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve: What You Should Know
The signup bonus is what helps get new customers, but there are other benefits offered by the Sapphire Reserve designed to keep cardholders around for the long term. For awhile, Chase’s Sapphire Preferred (see full review here) had been one of the best cards to use at restaurants and for travel because it offers 2x the points on those purchases. The new Chase Sapphire Reserve has improved on that and offers 3x the points on restaurant and travel. All other purchases on both cards earn 1x the points.
Still, there is a major factor that might make this card out of reach for some people: it comes with a $450 annual fee that Chase does not waive during the first year. However, to offset that fee, it does offer an annual $300 travel credit. That means you can book travel plans with your card and you will receive a statement credit back for up to $300.
You also receive a $100 statement credit every four years so that you can apply for either Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check. Then while you are traveling, you can take advantage of the complimentary Priority Pass membership that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. This will give you access to over 900 airport lounges worldwide. Because the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is a Visa Infinite card, you can book a hotel room through the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection and receive automatic room upgrades when available, late checkout, complimentary continental breakfast, a $25 food and beverage credit, and more.
Of course, the long-term worth of these benefits hinges on how often you travel — and how you spend. For instance, cardholders known to carry a balance are better-served opting for a low-interest credit card or balance-transfer credit card (you can go here to learn about some of the better cards out there), since any points they earn would easily be lost to interest. The Chase Sapphire Reserve carries a variable purchase annual percentage rate (APR) of 16.24% to 23.24%, depending on creditworthiness.
It’s important to read the fine print to determine what credit card is right for you. Something else to note: Premium credit cards like the Sapphire Reserve generally require good credit to qualify, so you’ll want to see where you stand before you apply. Otherwise, you’ll risk a hard inquiry. You can view your free credit report snapshot, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.
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