If you’re new to travel rewards or tired of the points you are earning, the card we recommend most often is the the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – an all in one card that gives you the flexibility to use your points with many airlines. You can read how it stacks up to other cards for beginners at this link, or read on below for our full review of the card.
You can read more about it all below, but first here are the highlights of the card features:
We rate the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card the best credit card for earning airline miles because it allows instant 1:1 transfer of points into United Airlines Mileage Plus miles and Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points.
In addition, you can transfer points 1:1 to British Airways, Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Korean Airlines, Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG hotels mile and point accounts.
United MileagePlus® offers some of the best options for mile redemption. With its Star Alliance partners you have more flights and destinations available than any other mileage alliance, particularly in economy class.
Airlines available to book flights with United miles include United, US Airways, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Singapore, Swiss, ANA, and many more. Moreover, in a recent survey, United miles offered good availability versus large domestic peers for rewards — over 70% of the time.
If United’s not your thing, being able to transfer to Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points means you can use your points for flights with no baggage fees or change fees.
The British Airways transfer option lets you redeem for flights on American Airlines, its US partner, along with Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, LAN, Iberia, Finnair, and JAL. Korean miles let you redeem on its SkyTeam partners including Delta, Air France, Alitalia, and KLM.
Only select Chase cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offer 1:1 transfer into United miles. American Express stopped this benefit in September 2011 following the merger of Continental and United. Chase is now the exclusive credit card partner of United.
Double miles earned on all of your dining and travel spending — regardless of where you do it — with no caps.
Travel includes things like parking, tolls, taxi, and transit fare, not just airline tickets and hotels. We also like that there are no foreign transaction fees. To calculate how much the card can be worth to you with the dining and travel bonuses, try entering your spending habits in our MileCards.com Card Finder. We don’t retain or share any of the information you input, it’s completely anonymous.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card lets you transfer points 1:1 into the Marriott, Hyatt, and IHG Club (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental) hotel points programs. No other credit card offers you more hotel transfer options without dilution.
Just be aware that if your primary goal is hotel nights, you may find better values with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express as its free nights start at just 3,000 points versus 5,000 for Hyatt, 7,500 for Marriott and 10,000 for IHG Club.
However the flexibility of Hyatt, Marriott and IHG Club is unmatched in any other card, and we find Hyatt rewards give you particularly good value.
While we think the greatest value for points is when you transfer them into a native airline mile or hotel program, many people don’t want to deal with the hassle of figuring out airline mile rules. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you the best of both worlds by letting you use your points as cash towards any flight, hotel room, or car rental.
Every 100 points equals $1.25 in travel credit with the Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Chase is a touch more generous than typical points as cash programs — your points end up being worth 20% more than typical 100 points = $1 programs. It’s also more flexible – you can use your points to cover all or part of a travel purchase made via UltimateRewards.com, the Chase travel booking site.
Other cash back programs often require you to have enough points to cover the entire purchase.
Booking at UltimateRewards.com gives you access to the same fares you see at sites like Expedia.com.
However if your only desire is points to use as cash for travel, and not earning miles in airline or hotel programs, we recommend the Barclaycard Arrival Card which always earns double points, making your card spending worth twice as much as typical cash for travel programs.
You can also use your points for dozens of gift card merchants — at about $1 per 100 points.
The Sapphire Preferred® Card now offers primary car rental collision damage coverage, so you won’t have to file a claim with your own policy if you have collision damage on an eligible car rental you book and pay for with the card.
It also offers up to $10,000 in trip cancellation coverage, in case you can’t make a trip due to serious illness or other qualified reasons, and your tickets or accommodations booked with the card are nonrefundable.
And you get up to $500 in trip delay coverage, in case your flight leaves you stranded for more than 12 hours or overnight, letting you use it for hotel rooms and other reasonable expenses.
You get 50,000 points as a new cardholder when you spend $4,000 on the card in the first 3 months. That’s enough for 2 roundtrip domestic Saver award tickets when you transfer your points to United MileagePlus. Or you can get 2 or more free nights at most Hyatt hotels, along with many other options - see some of them here.
Chase lets you combine your Ultimate Rewards points (the ones earned by the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and its Freedom cards) in one account for no fee. That means if you also have a no annual fee Chase Freedom card, which earns 5x points in select categories each quarter, you can maximize your point earning.
Simply use the Chase Freedom card for your purchases in the 5x point categories and transfer the points you earn from the Freedom into your Sapphire Preferred® Card account, as shown here. Note that you must have an eligible card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card in order to use 1:1 mile transfer to airlines and hotels. You might want to consider both cards if you have neither at this point to maximize earning. Also note you can transfer points from your Freedom or Ink account into your own account.
Leave a comment below -- we'll reply shortly -- no need to use your real name. Or, use the email form at the top of the page for private advice.
"These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered."