In the past six months, I’ve booked just over $600 worth of air travel — for free.
I’ve done it using points from a travel rewards credit card that I applied for after spending weeks scouring reviews and testimonials in search of the perfect card.
The perfect card (for me) turned out to be the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Chase does not pay me for endorsements. Frankly, I’m so happy with my choice that I tell my friends — and occasionally strangers — about it any chance I get.
As a 20-something who uses the bulk of my recreational spending money for travel and food, the Chase Sapphire credit card is a godsend. Not only does it reward me every time I spend money, it rewards me doubly when I travel and eat — two of my favourite and most frequent activities. The same could not be said for my other credit card through Wells Fargo, which “rewards” me with $25 cash back every few months for paying my bill.
Plus, for the Chase Sapphire card, an annual $95 fee is waived for the first year. Of course, I’ll have to work that fee into my budget come 2017, but I think it’s a small price to pay for great rewards.
There’s one thing about being a new card holder that’s simply the best: the new member bonus. After three months and $4,000 spent on my card, I was rewarded with 50,000 bonus points, or about $625 in travel rewards. That’s a round-trip ticket from New York to London, or two round-trip tickets from New York to Southern California, where I travel no less than four times per year to visit family. (No wonder the card is a favourite among travellers like Brian Kelly, also known as the Points Guy).
What’s more, in that same time period I was racking up regular points from that $4,000 spent on dining, travel, and shopping. Here’s the breakdown:
- 1 point earned for every $1 spent
- 1 additional point earned for every $1 spent on travel (includes airfare, hotels and hostels, taxis, Ubers, my monthly subway pass, etc.)
- 1 additional point earned for every $1 spent on dining (includes Seamless, bars, cafés, fancy restaurants, and some grey-area places, like my facial salon)
Initially, I was doubtful that I’d reach the $4,000 minimum spending mark within three months of my account opening in February to earn the 50,000 bonus points. In fact, my shoddy calculations had me a couple hundred dollars short, but I wasn’t going to go on an impromptu shopping spree just to reach the minimum. About a month after the three-month mark, I checked my account and much to my surprise, I had earned the 50,000 bonus points. Score.
But the perks didn’t end there. A few months ago, my roommate applied for a Chase Sapphire card and listed my name as her referral. When she made her first purchase with the card I was awarded 10,000 points for referring her. I can do this up to five times, earning a potential total of 50,000 bonus points. Score, again.
And redeeming the points is just as easy as earning them. I can access my stockpile of points directly through my online account — which is incredibly easy to navigate and provides a full and precise breakdown of where I’ve spent money and earned points. I can also search airfare, hotels, car rentals, and activities in my destination city through my account and book them using points, my Chase card, or a mixture of both.
I have yet to travel overseas using my Chase Sapphire credit card, but when I do, I’ll look forward to saving precious dollars thanks to no foreign transaction fees.
Ultimately, the new member bonus points I earned set up a solid launching point for me to continue earning rewards through everyday purchases. Going forward, my Chase Sapphire Preferred card is my new favourite travel companion.