This guide explains everything you need to know for saving money traveling with Chase Credit Cards! Since 2015, I have saved over $25,000 traveling thanks to Chase travel credit cards. If you want to save money traveling, I think Chase is one of the best places to start. I find their points system to be very easy to learn how to use and to maximize rewards. They also have great fraud protection and other travel benefits.
Today, I want to share the credit cards that I keep in my wallet for earning travel points. I will go through the two types of Chase travel credits- co-branded, and not co-branded ones. The co-branded ones have an earning system where the points go directly to the rewards program (like Hyatt or Southwest). The not co-branded ones allow you use the Chase redemption portal to book travel or transfer the points to a number of rewards programs. You can even use the portal to book travel with cash instead of points and still save money!
There’s a lot more that goes into it, so I will try and explain the ins and outs of all the different Chase travel credit cards below. I swear you will be just as hooked as I am after your first points redemption!
In the interest of full disclosure, The Florida Travel Girl has partnered with Milevalue.com and may earn a commission for anyone who is approved for a credit card using some of the links on this page.
The Best Chase Travel Credit Cards
If you want to get a Chase travel credit card that can be used across multiple travel partners, you are going to want either a Sapphire card or the Ink Business Preferred. This is because these cards allow you to transfer your points directly to many hotel and airline partners. This is often the way to get the best deal. You can also use these points through the Chase travel portal, which can be great for booking travel not through chains.
The three card options here are the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Ink Business Preferred. Most people will probably want the Chase Sapphire Preferred as it only has a $95 annual fee and earns 2 points per dollar on travel and dining and 1x on everything else.
However, if you have a good credit score, you may want to splurge for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This is what we currently have and it gets you three points per dollar on travel and dining and 1x on everything else. In addition, you get access to Priority Pass Lounges with free food and drinks at airports, a free TSA or Global Entry application, free Door Dash Dash Pass and Lyft Pink. This comes with an annual fee of $550, however $300 of that gets reimbursed with travel expenses. This includes anything from flights and hotels to Lyft rides and tolls. It is pretty easy to meet that reimbursement and therefore basically a $250 annual fee.
This is still a lot, but you will save the $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee your first year. You can always downgrade it a Sapphire Preferred for future years! Keep in mind, you can only have the Preferred or the Reserve and cannot have both.
If you have a business, you are also eligible for the Chase Ink Business Preferred. A business can include things like babysitting, selling stuff on eBay or a variety of things. Most people are eligible, even if the business has made you little money (even $0!). This card gets you 3 points per dollar on travel purchases, as well as internet, phone, shipping and advertising purchases. The annual fee on this card is $95.
The big benefit of the Ink Business Preferred right now is the 80,000 point sign on bonus. Sign on bonuses are the way to rack up credit card points fast. Most require that you spend between $1000 to $5000 in the first three months of getting the card. Make sure you can meet the spend before signing up for a card! Currently the Sapphire Preferred has a 60,000 point bonus and the Reserve has a 50,000 point bonus.
In addition to using these points through the Chase redemption portal, you can also transfer them to many different partners. This includes Hyatt, Southwest, Marriott, United and many more. This is usually the best way to get more out of your points. For example, when we went to Europe, I found that United Airlines (and it’s partners Lufthansa and Aer Lingus), have a 60,000 point round trip pass for traveling from the US to Europe. We were able to transfer points to United and get flights that were worth over $2,000 for only 60,000 points. If we used the points for cash back, it would have only been $600!
To see if you are getting a good deal, I recommend dividing the equivalent cost by amount of points. This shows you how much each point is worth. Ideally, you want your points to be worth more than one cent. This is because that is how much you would get for using it as cash back (aka 100 points equals $1 in cash back). If you spend 20,000 Chase points on a $100 hotel, it’s not a good deal, because you could just pay the $100 and then get $200 cash back instead.
You’ll want to compare your purchase before figuring out how to use your points. Some of the best partners for getting a lot out of your points are Hyatt and United. The rewards programs are always changing and I like to follow One Mile At A Time to keep us with the latest deals.
Chase Credit Cards to Pair With Travel Cards
If you don’t have the credit score to get those credit cards above (usually 650 or better), then you might want to start with either the Chase Freedom or the Chase Freedom Unlimited. These cards are advertised as cash back cards, but if you have either a Chase Sapphire or Ink Preferred, you can transfer your points to be used for travel. I recommend saving up all your points until you have a travel credit card and then using them for that!
Andrew and I each have a Freedom and a Freedom Unlimited and use them both often. The Freedom Unlimited is great for all sorts of purchases because you get 1.5 points for every dollar spent. We both keep this on hand to cover any purchases that don’t get extra points on our other cards.
The Chase Freedom is a little trickier. This card gets 5 points per dollar on different categories that rotate per quarter. Categories can include gas stations, grocery stores, home improvement stores and more. You only get the points bonus on up to $1,500 of spending so that’s why we both have it. Whenever it’s home improvement stores or grocery stores, we get gift cards for anything we haven’t spent so we can get the full 7,500 points per quarter each! Considering a $400 per night Hyatt hotel costs 15,000 points per night, earning 5x the points adds up quick!
Neither card has an annual fee, so I recommend getting both at some point. Currently the sign-on bonuses are 20,000 points for only spending $500 in 3 months, so it’s definitely worth the points! Just make sure to save them for travel instead of cash back.
Hotel Credit Cards
There are currently three Chase travel credit cards where your points get transferred directly to hotels. This includes Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott. Andrew and I each have a Hyatt card and an IHG card. We may get the Marriott card eventually if the sign on bonus goes up.
World of Hyatt Credit Card
World of Hyatt is absolutely my favorite travel redemption program and I love the credit card as well. I have stayed at 12 different Hyatt hotels in the past four years and have found them to be superior to Marriott and IHG ones of equivalent value. The best part is that their most expensive hotels cost 30,000 points per night to redeem, whereas the most expensive IHG and Marriott can cost up to 100,000 points per night. This is why it pays to transfer your Chase points to Hyatt the most.
We have gotten some amazing deals in the past through Hyatt. We stayed at an all-inclusive hotel that would have cost over $600 per night for only 25,000 points per night. On New Years, we stayed in Miami Beach for only 15,000 points per night when the rooms were going for $650! You can even get rooms for only 5,000 points per night, so there are so many deals to be found.
Currently, the World of Hyatt credit card has a $95 annual fee and gets you 50,000 points after spend $6,000 in six months. You also get a free anniversary night (category 4 hotels and under) each year. As long as the hotel room costs over $95 per night, you save money! In addition to 9 points per dollar on Hyatt spending, you also get 2 points per dollar on restaurants, Ubers, flights, and gym memberships. For me, this card is an obvious one to get, as long as you like Hyatt hotels.
IHG Premier Credit Card
IHG is the hotel brand that includes Holiday Inn, Crown Plaza, Hotel Indigo and many more. It’s a lot different than Hyatt and the points redemptions are very high and sometimes hard to get. However, there are locations all over the world, so it’s convenient to have.
The best thing about the IHG credit card is that the sign on bonus can be very large, so that’s why we both have it. Currently it’s 140,000 points after you spend $3,000 in 3 months. There is an $89 annual fee, but you also get the anniversary night, and a free Global Entry or TSA Precheck application.
This came in handy abroad when we stayed at the Crowne Plaza Barcelona. We also thought it was an excellent deal for 20,000 points a night to stay at the Hotel Indigo in St. Pete. Hotel Indigo is probably my favorite hotel brand they have, but the points redemptions vary.
Just to clarify, the points earned with these credit cards go directly to your hotel rewards account and can only be used though their respective hotel brand. However, if you cancel the card, you still get to keep all the points you earned, which is not the case with the Chase cards above. To avoid that issues, you can transfer Freedom points to a Sapphire and vice versa to avoid losing them after cancelling.
Airline Chase Travel Credit Cards
For airlines, there are Chase travel credit cards for United, Southwest, British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia. I have the United card and two Southwest cards.
United Explorer Card
I got the United Explorer card to earn points for our trip to Europe. Currently, the sign on bonus is 60,000 points after spending $3,000 in 3 months. There is a $95 annual fee, but it is waived the first year. You also get the free Global Entry/TSA Precheck applications, as well as a free checked bag on United.
Considering you can get a round trip, multi city (we did Orlando to Barcelona to Dublin then back to Orlando) flight for only 60,000 points, this credit card is perfect for anyone wanting to travel to Europe! I find United to be better for international travel redemption as opposed to Southwest for within the US, but it’s always good to have the option.
Southwest Credit Cards
I also have both the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Rapid Rewards Premiere Business Credit Card. The reason I have both is because it is the easiest way to get a companion pass. To get a companion pass on Southwest, you need to earn 125,000 points in a calendar year. Then you get to bring a friend with you on flights for free for the rest of that year and the following year!
Upon hearing Southwest is flying to Hawaii, we knew this would be a great way to save on flights. We currently plan to both fly to Kauai in May for only 54,000 total! This saves us over $1,600 and probably a lot more for other airlines.
You can only hold one Southwest personal and one business card at a time, even though there are multiple versions to choose from. Right now, the personal cards offer a 40,000 point bonus after spending $1,000 in 3 months with varying fees. The main difference here is the anniversary points you get. For the business card, you can get either the Premier Business card or the Performance.
The Premiere Card currently only has a 60,000 point sign on, so you still need another 25,000 points to get the companion pass. You could do this by spending $25,000 on the cards or booking flights, but that does take a while. The Performance Business Card is a better bet because you get 70,000 points after spending $5,000. You can get an additional 30,000 points for spending $25,000 total.
Regardless, this is a big spend minimum so you want to make sure it’s worth it. You could also wait for bigger bonuses which does frequently happen. I believe when I got mine I only had to spend $8,000 total to get enough points. Usually the best deals come out December and January, so keep an eye then! Also make sure to get the cards in January and February ideally so that you can maximize your use of the companion pass by earning it early in the year.
This is definitely some next level points earning and took me a while to learn the ins and outs of. This post might explain it better. If you like flying Southwest, it still can be worth it just getting the personal card even without getting the companion pass. I think they have pretty good rates all over the country and you get to check two free bags!
Chase Travel Credit Card Tips
I know this post may be pretty overwhelming, as I am trying to convey years of travel credit card experience in one post. However, you can email if you need any clarifications! Before you do, take a look at the following tips before opening a Chase credit card.
- The main rule of thumb is that you can only open five credit cards in 24 months. You will get automatically denied for a new credit card by Chase if you have opened five personal (business doesn’t count towards this) cards of any brand (including AmEx, Citi, etc.) in the past 24 months.
- It’s best to wait at least 90 days between opening new credit cards. However, you do not have to wait 90 days to open a new business credit card after opening a personal one because of how they are separate entities.
- You can have an authorized user, such as your spouse. I do not recommend this if you both have similar credit. You will get more points if your spouse just opens their own account. Sometimes it does get tricky for Andrew and I to manage the 17 credit cards between us! The best way to handle that is to try to only use a couple at a time!
- You can only have either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve at a time. If you want to get a different one, you can downgrade or upgrade the first. However, you have to wait 48 months from when you opened it to qualify for the sign on bonus for the second card.
- You can only have one Southwest personal credit card at a time. This does not include business cards, so you can have a personal a business card at the same time.
- I use Mint to manage all my different credit cards and track my spending so that I know I reach my sign-on bonuses!
I hope this post gave you a good overview of how to start eating credit card points! It does take some research, but I have found it to be pretty straight forward once you start. To this date, I have yet to be rejected from any credit cards to date and my credit score has improved immensely. As long as you pay off your credit cards and never accumulate a debt on them, it’s a great way to save money.