Everyone knows that the absolute quickest way to earn tons of frequent flyer miles is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses.
However, most credit cards only allow you to get the sign-up bonus for the credit card one time.
After a while, if you open a few cards, your options will become limited.
The best way to continue to get the best sign-up bonuses?
Open up a business credit card! (more…)
The world of premium travel credit cards is larger than ever. Chase has been competing in the space with its Sapphire Reserve card, while Capital One has also put out some solid offerings such as the Venture card.
There’s one card name, however, that’s been nearly synonymous with travel since its inception: the Amex Platinum. But while this card has a storied history, how does it stand up compared to today’s premium travel credit cards? (more…)
If you’re only going to get one travel credit card, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred is an excellent choice.
It’s one of our favorite travel credit cards here at Extra Pack of Peanuts, and it was my go-to card for years (until Chase introduced the Sapphire Reserve).
Below, I’ll break down what makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred such an excellent card, but here are a few fast facts:
- Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in 3 months.
- Get 2x points on all dining and travel purchases.
- Low annual fee of just $95.
It’s not often that I am blown away by a credit card offer — but that changes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Ever since Chase launched the Sapphire Reserve back in 2016, it’s been one of the best travel credit cards on the market.
I’ll break down exactly why below, but first, here are the important details:
- Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in 3 months.
- $300 annual travel credit for spending on airfare, hotels, and other qualifying travel purchases.
- 3x on travel and dining and 1x on all other purchases.
- Complimentary Priority Pass membership and a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
Sound too good to be true? Keep reading to find out all the ways this card can benefit you.
Why the Chase Sapphire Reserve Is the Best Credit Card for Travelers
So what exactly makes this card so great? Here are 7 things we love about the Chase Sapphire Reserve:
1. 50K Sign-Up Bonus with a Reasonable Minimum Spend
You’ll receive 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
Not only is 50k points a huge amount, but the minimum spend requirement of $4k in 3 months is pretty doable for most people.
2. Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
It gets better. Not only are you getting 50k points, but you’re earning the BEST travel points out there.
Chase points are my favorite because they can be used as cash through the Chase shopping portal, or they can be transferred to awesome partners like United, Southwest, and Hyatt (to name just a few).
At a minimum, these are worth $750 if you use them through the Chase portal. And if you transfer them, they can be worth $1500+.
Long story short: Chase points rule, and 50k is a lot of points.
3. $300 Annual Travel Credit
Each year, you’ll automatically get $300 in travel expenses reimbursed.
All you have to do is use your Chase Sapphire Reserve to purchase things that are coded as travel (flights, train tickets, etc.). This reimbursement is completely automatic and will show up as a statement credit.
4. Earn 3X Points on Travel and Dining
The Chase Sapphire Preferred used to be my go-to credit card because Chase points are highly valuable AND because it gives you 2x on travel and dining.
Now, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has upped the ante and gives you 3x on travel and dining.
This is awesome, especially for people who spend a decent amount on traveling and eating out.
5. Free TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
If all of that wasn’t enough, this card will reimburse you up to $100 when you sign up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
TSA PreCheck will help you speed through domestic airport security, while Global Entry can save you lots of time when passing through border control both in the U.S. and abroad.
If you aren’t already a Global Entry member, we recommend getting that, as it includes TSA PreCheck.
6. Free Access to Priority Pass Lounges
All Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders get free access to Priority Pass lounges. Priority Pass is a global network of airport lounges that offer perks such as free food, free alcohol, and free WiFi that actually works.
The lounges aren’t as luxurious as a nice hotel or restaurant, but they’re certainly nicer than the seats next to the gate.
7. No Foreign Transaction Fees
This is a standard feature with many credit cards, so Chase Sapphire Reserve isn’t special for offering it. Still, it’s a good benefit to have.
What Credit Score Do I Need for Chase Sapphire Reserve?
To qualify for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll need a Good/Excellent credit score. This generally means a score of at least 700, and ideally higher than 800. Given that the minimum credit limit for this card is $10,000, Chase wants to make you’re a responsible and experienced credit user.
Therefore, if you have average credit or just a limited credit history, we don’t recommend applying for this card. If your credit score is closer to 700, however, then it’s worth applying.
If you get rejected, you can always apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred instead, which tends to be easier to qualify for.
Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Worth It?
The answer depends on two factors:
- How much you spend
- How much you travel
Let’s take a closer look at each of these:
1. Can You Responsibly Spend $4,000 in 3 Months?
To start, if you wouldn’t ordinarily spend $4,000 in 3 months, then you shouldn’t get this card. You should never over-spend just to meet the minimum spend on a card; the math doesn’t make sense.
If $4,000 is too high, then we recommend looking into a card with a lower minimum spend, such as the Capital One Venture Rewards ($3,000 minimum) or Capital One VentureOne ($1,000 minimum).
2. Do You Travel Enough to Benefit from the Chase Sapphire Reserve Perks?
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is best for someone who travels frequently. At a minimum, you need to spend at least $300 per year on travel for this card to be worth it. Otherwise, it’s hard to justify the card’s $450 fee.
Furthermore, you need to regularly fly, stay in hotels, or do other travel-related activities to maximize the value of the Chase Ultimate Rewards points. If you tend to spend more on things like groceries and gas, then this isn’t the best credit card for you.
Our general rule is that if you travel more than 3x per year, get the Chase Sapphire Reserve. If you travel less than that, get the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which has a much lower annual fee.
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Preferred: 5 Key Differences
Before we conclude, there’s one more thing to address. Many people are curious about the differences between the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred. The two cards share a lot of features and benefits, but there are also some key differences.
1. Chase Sapphire Preferred Has a Lower Annual Fee
The annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Preferred is $95, which is significantly less than the $450 annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. However, the $300 in annual travel credit that the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers effectively brings the fee down to just $150 if you travel regularly.
2. Chase Sapphire Preferred Has a Higher Sign-Up Bonus
Currently, you’ll earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 within the first 3 months of opening the Chase Sapphire Preferred. That’s 10,000 more points for the same minimum spend as the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
This difference is compelling, though you have to weigh it against the fact that the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers additional reimbursements worth up to $400 (see the next section).
3. Chase Sapphire Preferred Doesn’t Reimburse You for Travel Spending
While it’s tempting to think that the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the obvious choice given its lower annual fee and higher sign-up bonus, you also need to consider the value of the reimbursements that Chase Sapphire Reserve offers.
As we mentioned above, the Chase Sapphire Reserve will reimburse you up to $300 per calendar year for travel expenses such as airfare and hotel stays. They’ll also reimburse you up to $100 every four years for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.
Given this, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has an effective annual fee of $150 per year (and only $50 for the first year if you apply for Global Entry). That’s still more than the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but the difference is less extreme than at first glance.
4. Chase Sapphire Preferred Earns Fewer Points for Travel and Dining
When you make travel or dining purchases with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar you spend.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, however, you’ll only earn 2 points for every dollar you spend on travel and dining.
This isn’t a massive difference, and it really only matters if you spend a lot each month. Still, it’s worth noting.
5. Chase Sapphire Preferred Doesn’t Include Airport Lounge Access
The final important difference between the two cards is that the Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn’t include the airport lounge access that the Chase Sapphire Reserve gets you.
While this is a notable difference, it may not matter to you if you don’t spend a lot of time in airports. And while the lounges are nice, they’re far from luxurious.
As soon as it was released, the Chase Sapphire Reserve became one of the best travel credit cards on the market:
- The 50k sign up bonus is great, given that Chase points are the most valuable points out there.
- The minimum spend is reasonable.
- The $300 annual travel credit helps offset the annual fee.
- Plus, you get 3x on travel and dining and a few other nice perks such as airport lounge access.
If you travel more than 3x per year and have a Good – Excellent credit score, I highly recommend you check this card out. Learn more about this card here.
Earning frequent flyer miles and travel rewards through credit card sign-up bonuses is far and away the best way to get large chunks of points quickly.
In fact, it’s the way that I’ve earned over 90% of my 3 million frequent flyer miles in the last four years.
However, when deciding which credit cards are right for you, there is one thing you must be keenly aware of:
The minimum spend requirement.
When most of the top end credit cards offer a sign up bonus, they also require you to spend a certain amount of money in a short period of time to get that bonus.
For example, they may require you to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months in order to get a sign up bonus of 40,000 points.
Always, always, always make sure you can meet the minimum spend requirement before opening the credit card.
If you don’t, you won’t be getting the points (and no amount of begging will change that).
If you’re not a big spender, don’t worry, neither am I. Here are lots of ways to help you meet the minimum spend requirements and make sure you get your sign up bonuses.
Simple, Effective Ways to Meet Minimum Spend Requirements
1. Use a credit card for all your regular spending- This is a no brainer. Instead of using cash, make sure to use a credit card for all your regular purchases, such as groceries, gas, etc. And don’t forget that some cards even give bonus points for certain categories!
2. Pay your insurance bills in bulk- Oftentimes, car insurance and health insurance companies will give a discount if you pay in 6 month or yearly chunks vs. month by month. Pay a large chunk ahead of time, save money and meet minimum spends!
3. Prepay monthly expenses- Do you have known monthly bills like a cellphone, cable, electric, or even a gym membership? Instead of paying each month, ask to prepay a larger chunk in advance. Most companies will let you pay ahead and get credit.
4. Make big purchases (that you already had planned)- Never, ever make frivolous purchases just to make a minimum spend. No, you don’t need a new tv, couch, or puppy just because you have a minimum spend to meet. However, if you know you have big purchases, open up cards around that time so the big purchases can help you meet the requirement.
5. Donate to charity- Most charitable organizations take credit cards. This is a win-win for everyone; you’re helping others out and you’re helping yourself make a minimum spend.
6. “Donate” to Kiva.org- Kiva.org is an incredible microfinancing organization that works with people in developing countries to give them loans. They have a 99% track record of paying back the loans, so it’s not exactly donating. You’re giving money now (credit cards are accepted) and getting paid back that money at a future date. Best of all, in between, the person is using the money to better their life, and you get to choose exactly who the money goes to!
7. Tithe ahead of time- If you regularly give money to a religious organization every week or month, consider giving a large chunk ahead of time.
Using Gift Cards To Meet Minimum Spend Requirements
8. Buy merchant branded gift cards (restaurants, gas stations, stores, online shops, etc)– You can buy gift cards to all types of places, from Applebees to Home Depot to GAP to Exxon.
These “branded” gift cards don’t usually have any extra fees associated with them (so a $50 gift card costs $50), so buy them and stash them for later. Just make sure you remember to use them.
9. Buy Visa gifts cards- Unlike merchant gift cards, Visa gift cards will have an activation fee (somewhere between $3-$7) but they have the advantage of being able to be used anywhere. If you’re not able to make a minimum spend, buy some of these during the minimum spend period and then use them at your leisure.
10. Amazon Gift Cards- Amazon gift cards are an awesome way to meet minimum spends. Amazon sells almost everything (and is usually the cheapest), their gift cards don’t have any fees attached to them, and they never expire.
Buy Amazon gift cards now and use them on whatever you want in the future. Or, give them as gifts!
11. Buy PayPal gifts cards- Some places allow you to buy PayPal gifts cards with credit cards. If you find a place that still allows it, take advantage. Load up your PayPal account with gift cards and use that to pay for items you buy online or even to pay other people. Using this to meet a minimum spend is great, but don’t abuse it! We wouldn’t want your PayPal account to get shut down!
12. Money Orders- There are some grocery stores (usually smaller, locally run ones) that allow you to buy money orders with a credit card at no charge. You can then buy a money order with a credit card and then deposit the money order in to your bank.
Some grocery stores even let you use your Visa Gift Cards from #9 to buy money orders, which you can use to pay off your credit card. Just make sure you get one with a PIN so you can use it as a debit card!
However, please do your research and proceed with caution as this can cause you problems with your bank account if done incorrectly, and you want to make 100% sure you get the right types of giftcards. Some internet research required.
Getting Others to Help To Meet Minimum Spend Requirements
13. Add an authorized user- Adding an authorized user means that someone else will get a credit card with their name on it but that is tied to your account. They can spend freely with this card.
If you need help making a minimum spend, consider adding a friend or family member you trust as an authorized user, allowing them to spend money that counts toward your minimum spend, and have them pay you back in cash or a check.
Just be careful: Anything they spend will be your responsibility to pay off, so make sure you trust them to pay you back!
14. Pick up the tab when you’re out with a friend (cheapskate version)- Out to eat or for drinks with friends? Pay the entire tab on your credit card and get them to reimburse you for their part with cash.
15. Pick up the tab when you’re out with friends (moneybags version)- Treat your lucky friends or family members by picking up the entire tab on your credit card..and not asking for any money back!
Ways to Meet Minimum Spends That Will Cost You a Little Bit Extra
The following methods will cost you money (usually around 2-3%) but might make sense in order to hit your minimum spend.
It may make sense in order to meet a minimum spend, but I wouldn’t do it otherwise.
16. Pay your mortgage- Plastiq allows you to pay your mortgage with certain credit cards (unfortunately AMEX and Visa do not work), but it costs a fee of over 2%. You can any card to pay other things like rent, employees, friends, etc.
17. Pay your student loans- Some colleges may allow you to pay your student loans with a credit card, but they almost always levy a pretty big fee. Inquire at the financial aid office. You can also purchase Gift of College gift cards at retailers to put towards your education, 529 plan, or pay off your student loans!
18. Pay your rent- You can pay your rent with a credit card through a variety of services like RadPad, RentMoola, and RentShare. Most charge around 3%.
19. Pay your taxes- You can pay your US taxes with a credit card. Here’s the IRS’s list of all the services that they allow. The lowest charge is 1.87%.
20. Transfer Money via Paypal- Paypal allows you to transfer money or pay someone with a credit card. However, they take a 3% cut, which is pretty hefty. They are also known to shut down accounts if you consistently transfer money back and forth.
21. Pay friends who pay you back- With mobile payments becoming the norm, services are popping up left and right that let you transfer money to friends.
Remember those Visa Gift Cards you bought? You can load them into numerous payment apps to pay friends, who then give you cash! Your mileage may vary with these apps, so make sure you do your research.
Pro Tip: Cash Advances- The Devil is in the Details
Cash advances don’t count towards your minimum spend. They also incur hefty fees (sometimes as high at 25%!!!)
Contact your credit card customer service and set your cash advance limit to $0. This prevents you from accidentally doing a cash advance. If you try to do one, the card will just decline.
Better safe than sorry!
There are many different ways that you can use to meet minimum spend requirements, most of which require just a small amount of effort and won’t cost you anything extra.
So before opening a credit card, always make sure that you can meet the minimum spend requirement – so that you can get that sweet sign up bonus and travel for free!
But don’t forget to think about all your options, not just your “natural” spending habits.
What are some of your favorite ways for meeting minimum spend requirements? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll continually add them to the list above!
FURTHER READING (POSTS HANDPICKED FOR YOU…BY US!)
None of that automatic “read more” stuff you’ll see everywhere else on the internet!
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Wow, it’s not often that I am blown away by a credit card offer – but that changes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve 100k offer.
Chase has just launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and it is, without a doubt, now the best travel credit card out there – head and shoulders above the rest.
I’ll break down exactly why below, but first, here’s the important details:
You’ll earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate rewards points after spending $4,000 in 3 months.
You also get a $300 annual travel credit, which means you’ll get reimbursed $300 every calendar year when you use the Chase Sapphire Reserve on airfare and hotels.
You’ll get 3x on travel and dining and 1x on all other purchases.
Plus, you’ll also get complimentary Priority Pass membership and $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre Check.
There is an annual fee of $450 a year, which seems steep at first, but…since you’re getting $300 a year in annual travel credit, it’s really a $150 annual fee – and you’re actually making $150 the first year, which I’ll explain below.
Why the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the Best Travel Credit Card
100k Sign Up Bonus with Reasonable Minimum Spend
You’ll receive 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
Not only is 100k points a huge amount – the biggest we’ve ever seen for a Chase card – but the minimum spend requirement of $4k in 3 months is pretty doable for most people.
Many of the higher end credit cards – especially those with 100k point sign up bonuses – require a much higher minimum spend.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
It gets better. Not only are you getting 100k points, but you’re earning the BEST travel points out there.
Chase points are my favorite because they can be used as cash through the Chase shopping portal or they can be transferred to awesome partners like United, Southwest, or Hyatt.
At minimum, these are worth $1500 if you use them through the Chase portal. And if you transfer them, they can be worth $3000+.
Long story short – Chase points rule, and 100k is a lot of points.
$300 Annual Travel Credit
Each year, you’ll get $300 in annual travel credit reimbursed. This supposedly will happen automatically.
All you do is spend money on your Chase Sapphire Reserve card on things that are coded as travel (flights, train tickets, etc.) and you’ll get reimbursed.
Since this happens annually based on calendar year, the first year, you’ll actually get $600 worth of travel credit (2016 and 2017) and only pay $450 in annual fee, meaning you’re making $150!
3x Points on Travel and Dining
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has been my go to credit card for over 4 years now because I value Chase points as the best AND because it gives you 2x on travel and dining.
Now, the Chase Sapphire Reserve up the ante and gives you 3x on travel and dining.
This is awesome, especially for people who have a decent amount of spending on traveling and eating out.
Global Entry and Priority Pass
If all of that wasn’t enough, this card gives you $100 credit when you sign up for Global Entry (if you haven’t already) and gives you Priority Pass membership.
Priority Pass lounges are decent and there are a bunch around the world, so this is a nice secondary perk, for sure.
As soon as it was released, the Chase Sapphire Reserve became the best travel credit card – instantly.
The 100k sign up bonus is incredible, Chase points are the most valuable points out there, the minimum spend is reasonable, the $300 annual travel credit helps offset the annual fee (and actually makes you money the first year).
Plus, you get 3x on travel and dining and a few other nice perks.
This is a MUST HAVE travel credit card – and I’d jump on this immediately, while the bonus is at 100k.
This will be my new everyday travel card – thanks Chase for knocking it out of the park!
To see all the best travel credit cards, click the travel credit cards in the black navigation bar at the top of this page.