Bigger Bonuses from My Favorite Chase Cards!

It’s no secret that I love Chase. They consistently put out the most competitive sign up bonuses among almost all of their travel related credit cards. And you can generally get the bonuses over and over again, provided that you wait 24 months in between applications. Well my two favorites, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Freedom, have just seen an increase to their sign up bonuses!

INCREASED SAPPHIRE PREFERRED BONUS

I’ve written about the Chase Sapphire Preferred before. Until a few days ago, the sign up bonus for the CSP was 40,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 on the card in 3 months. The card is now up to 50,000 Ultimate Rewards with the same spending requirement and this time, you can get an additional 5,000 Ultimate Rewards after adding an authorized user. So, once you meet the spending and add a user, you’d end up with 59,000 Ultimate Rewards. And I’ve heard rumors that this is the new on-going bonus so there probably is no rush to sign up now if it doesn’t fit into your immediate plans. There is an annual fee of $95, but that’s waived for the first year. We continue to pay that fee year after year though because we love the flexibility that Ultimate Rewards provide. This is one of the only cards we willingly pay an annual fee on.

INCREASED FREEDOM QUARTERLY BONUS 

The Chase Freedom is by far my favorite no annual fee card out there. I’ve had it for about 10 years now. It also gives you Ultimate Rewards as the rewards currency for spending on the card. My favorite aspect of the card is the 5X bonuses at given retailers or categories that change quarterly throughout the year. For example, this quarter the 5X bonus is at audible.com, diapers.com, Zappos, and Amazon. When you spend up to $1,500 at any of these retailers, you receive 5X your spending back in Ultimate Rewards!

And just a few days ago it was announced that your return will be increased from 5X to 10X back from November 23 through December 31! That’s amazing. So, from October 1 to November 22, you could receive 5X back for $1,500 in spending at those retailers. And from November 23 through December 31 you can receive 10X back for another $1,500 in spending! If you maxed both of these periods out, you’d have 22,500 Ultimate Rewards back! Given how much we spend at Amazon throughout the year, we’ll likely buy gift cards to use on items next year in order to max out these bonuses.

INCREASED FREEDOM BONUS

Given that the Freedom is a no annual fee card, the sign up bonus is up by only 5,000 Ultimate Rewards to 15,000 Ultimate Rewards for spending $500 in the first three months on the card (it has been as high as 20,000 Ultimate Rewards). But that’s more than enough for a one way ticket anywhere within the continental US. Couple that with some of these other bonuses and you’ve got a great stash of Ultimate Rewards to fund your travel adventures!

HOW TO USE ULTIMATE REWARDS

Even though you can’t transfer Ultimate Rewards received from the Freedom directly into travel partners programs like you can with the Sapphire Preferred, you can transfer the rewards you get from the Freedom card to the Sapphire Preferred card (or Ink Plus) and then onto travel partners. So, a great combination would be if wife had the Freedom and husband had the Sapphire or Ink, for example. That would enable you to get the 5X quarterly category bonuses not available to those with only the Sapphire Preferred while at the same time being able to transfer those hard earned rewards directly to travel partners which is not available to Freedom card holders.

What good are Ultimate Rewards, you ask? Well, they’re awesome – my favorite travel currency, in fact. Ultimate Rewards can be transferred to the following airlines: Korean Air (a Sky Team member), British Airways (a OneWorld member), United (a Star Alliance member), Singapore Airlines (a Star Alliance member), Virgin Atlantic and Southwest Airlines. The combination of these airlines pretty much covers all of your travel needs, regardless of the airline you’d like to fly.

Now each of these airline frequent flyer programs are unique and have their benefits and drawbacks. British Airways miles, for example, are not good for travel in business or first class but they are awesome for short hops in economy class that can be pricey. And Korean Air has a very arcane frequent flyer program so redeeming miles with them isn’t the easiest process, but there are some treasures there if you have the patience to deal with them. United is by far the easiest program to use as they have many of their partners on their website and their award ticket taxes are reasonable. But, the mileage they require for travel in a premium cabin is pretty high. That increased mileage requirement when compared to other programs may be worth it though to save on high taxes or fuel surcharges.

Ultimate Rewards transfer directly to hotel programs as well. The IHG program (think Holiday Inn and Intercontinental), Hyatt, and Marriott programs are all transfer partners of Ultimate Rewards. Given the number of points required by IHG and Marriott, Hyatt is the best hotel transfer partner out there, but having the option to top off your IHG or Marriott account is a great benefit as well.

Ultimate Rewards are also useful to book rental cars or non-chain hotels through their online portal. You likely won’t get as good of a return as you would by transferring them to travel partners, but it’s an option nonetheless. And if travel isn’t your thing, you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards for cash. In short, you can cover an entire vacation with Ultimate Rewards, assuming you have accumulated enough of them.

So, what can you do with 59,000 Ultimate Rewards? Well, first of all, I’d recommend spending another $1,000 on the card to bring that total up to 60,000.  60,000 Ultimate Rewards would get you a roundtrip from anywhere in the US (excluding Hawaii) to Europe on any Star Alliance airline through the United frequent flyer program. 60,000 Ultimate Rewards would also get you two nights at the Park Hyatt in Sydney which retails for about $750 a night during the winter time and over $1,000 during peak season. Assuming you used those nights during peak season, that’s a $2,000 value (although most people I know would never spend that much on a room). 60,000 Ultimate Rewards can also get you a roundtrip from the continental US to Hawaii in lie flat business class. Those tickets retail for as much as $4,000 so that’s an amazing value as well.

NEITHER CARD AVAILABLE TO “CHURNERS” LIKE US

The options with Ultimate Rewards are almost endless as there are so many great things that you can do with them. Now the bad news. For those of us who apply for lots of credit cards, it is no longer possible to get approved for any Chase credit cards that aren’t co-branded. That is to say, applications for credit cards that offer Ultimate Rewards as the bonus currency won’t be approved if you’ve applied for more than 5 cards in the last 24 months, give or take. While Chase doesn’t have complete control over who can get credit cards that are part of a partnership with an award program, they have complete control over who can get a credit card with their program and this newish policy is basically saying that they don’t want customers who are just signing up for credit cards for the bonuses only. I can’t say that I blame them…

So, if either of these cards sound like winners to you, there’s no better time to sign up for them than now although it sounds like at least the CSP bonus will be around for a while. But applying for the Freedom now would mean you should receive it in time to take advantage of the 10X spending at Amazon for the end of the year.

While I don’t receive a commission for signing up for either card, if you’d like to be referred by me, I’d be happy to do so. I will get 5,000 Ultimate Rewards for each person that I refer who is approved for either card.

Are you as excited about these bonuses as I am?

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