Dedicated Bank and Other Travel Cards

Cards earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points are some of the best in the business. Otherwise, these types of programs earn points or pseudo-miles as up front bonus points and per dollar spent on the cards, but often have no other way of earning those points or miles. Some seem worth considering, anyway, but heed these cautions:
  1. The points or miles are almost never transferable to other programs. You may not transfer "miles" in the program to any airline miles account, and thus you may not combine these miles with real airline miles. (Big exception: Cards earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points.)
  2. Usually the only way to earn "miles" is by spending money on the card. Unlike real airline miles programs, you cannot earn "miles" via telephone offers, financial offers, etc.
  3. The points or miles usually expire after a period of time, usually two or three years. So you must be certain that you will spend enough on the card within that time period to get the award you want. This may mean that for a ticket you will have to know where you want to go, and when, within that time period.
  4. Some programs say you can get a certain type of ticket for a certain number of points or miles. The number of dollars you must spend on the bank credit card to get this type of ticket is often less that you must spend on a regular airline credit card. Usually there are no blackout dates on the ticket - if it is available, you can have it. Sometimes there is a dollar value cap on the ticket, and sometimes you can make up the difference.
  5. Other programs give you a dollar credit towards a ticket for a defined number or points or miles. Beware of these types of programs. You are at the mercy of the bank's travel agent, who may or may not be able to buy the lowest price ticket for the flight you want. Ask if the agent has access to intent fares and consolidators. If no to either, avoid the program.
  6. Some programs may prohibit you from buying a business or first class ticket, either via a dollar cap, or by simply not listing it as an award. This would be a deal breaker for me, as I do much of my travel on international overnight flights on which I need a business class ticket in order to sleep.
  7. By purchasing airline tickets through a third party like this agent, Orbitz, Travelocity or Expedia, you take the risk of miscommunication between that company and the airline, with neither company taking responsibility for it. There have been numerous complaints on travel discussion boards regarding what happens if a flight is cancelled or changed so that a connection can no longer be made. The complaints involve either not being notified of the change, and/or neither company taking responsibility for rebooking you.
TV station KARE-11 (Minnesota, I think) did a scathing report on how Capital One devalued the points earned through its heavily advertised "No Hassle" credit card (and what you can do about it). Gary Leff also wrote about this in his View From the Wing blog. (It's the 8th entry from the top.)

 

 
   

Chase cards earning Ultimate Rewards points.

Chase cards offering Ultimate Rewards points are the only bank points cards that I know of that I am certain are useful. And they are very useful indeed. The Ink Cash®Business Card and the Chase Freedom® Visa, both described in my Credit Cards > Free Cards > Cash Back Cards section, offer points convertible to Ultimate Rewards points if you have a card that earns these directly. You can get both a personal and a business card, and perhaps more than one of each.

Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to United or Korean Airlines or Singapore Airlines or British Airways or Iberia or Aer Lingus or Air France KLM’s Flying Blue miles or Southwest Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, or Hyatt, Intercontinental Hotels Group (Priority Club), Ritz-Carlton, or Marriott hotel points, 1,000:1,000. Also see 5 “Secret” Unofficial Chase Transfer Partners.

  • The points transfer instantly to United Airlines miles. This means you can first find out if an award you want is available, then instantly transfer the points you need to pay for it. I don't know if this is true of transfers to the other programs. Before you close an account, carefully plan ahead to be sure that you have a multiple of 1,000 points and that those points are transferred out of the account.
  • On June 22, 2012, a reader wrote "I have transferred Ultimate Rewards to Southwest Airlines and Hyatt and they do transfer instantly."
  • Note that Korean Airlines has an interesting list of non-alliance partners, including Alaska, Hawaiian, and Emirates. I am told there are no fuel charges for flights on these airlines, that the number of Korean miles for flights on them can be less than the number of miles charged by the airline operating the flight, and that stopovers may be allowed. (Open jaw too?) How about round-trip ticket from New York to Honolulu for 30,000 miles in coach or 60,000 miles in first, plus $5 tax, for example? Check first (800-438-5000, and then prompts 2, 4, and 0), confirm what I say and check for availability, then do the transfer. I am not sure if the transfer is instant while you are still on the phone. (Thanks to dansdeals.com for this information.)

You may transfer any number of points to another Ultimate Rewards member for free. The terms and conditions say that the person to whom you transfer must be your spouse or domestic partner. (Caution: This Flyertalk thread indicates that Chase is enforcing the spouse or domestic partner rule for points transfers and is closing accounts of those who violate it.) So if you have some extra leftover points when you decide to close your account, you may transfer them to someone else instead of losing them. Or if you need a certain number of miles in say, your United Airlines account, combining Ultimate Rewards points first then transferring them might help.

After you get your card, be sure to check out the shopping deals on the Ultimate Rewards website in its shopping section. Log in, then click on Earn Points in the menu to the left, then on Shop the Ultimate Rewards Mall. People rave about the mega extra point given for shopping at certain popular merchants. On January 25, 2012, I saw on deal for 25 extra points/$1 spent, a few for 15 and several 10 points extra, and a very large number of merchants with extra points for purchase. The number of points from specific merchants vary over time.

Caution: If you close all of your cards earning Ultimate Rewards points, all of your points will disappear. So use them first before cancelling that last card, or, better still, about two months before you have to pay the fee on your current card, apply for another, different card. For example, when I decided I would close my Chase Sapphire Preferred (SM) Card to avoid paying the fee, I first successfully applied for the Ink Plus® Business Card, put a charge on it, immediately paid off that charge, then checked to see that the points posted to the same Ultimate Rewards account before closing my current card. You may have to contact Ultimate Rewards (via secure message after you log in) and ask them to link your two accounts and confirm that this will keep your points alive.

After you get the Chase Sapphire or Chase Ink Plus cards, you may be able to earn points by referring people to it. The usual offer is 5,000 points, but sometimes more are offered.

Chase Sapphire Preferred(SM) Card

  • This card is my favorite for travel expenses, as it gives double points for such things as airline tickets, cruises, hotels, and dining (even locally, and even MacDonald's). It even gives 2X points for local and other toll charges.
  • The card does not charge a foreign transaction fee.
  • 50,000 points are given after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. There are reports of offers for more points at your local Chase branch office. interesting article on how we might get a 65,000 Ultimate Rewards Points offer for this credit card by becoming a Chase Private Client. There are also other goodies useful to travelers. Apparently this is free for qualified people, but please tell me if I am wrong about this. Thanks.
  • 5,000 additional points for adding another authorized user and making a purchase within the first 3 months.
  • No foreign transaction fee.
  • The card includes potentially useful travel insurance for trip cancellation, baggage delay, and trip delay. Its auto insurance is primary.
  • I particularly appreciate their sending me an email instantly after any foreign transaction, telling me the amount of the charge in U.S. dollars. You have to sign up for this. Log into your account, then Thing you can do > Update settings and preferences > Account alerts > Protection and security.
  • After you receive the card, you could then refer others to it for those 10,000 points per successful referral, up to 50,000 points.
  • If you are subject to the 5/24 restriction and have any kind of account with Chase Bank, try this. It worked for both me and my S.O. in July 2017 for Sapphire Preferred card.
    • Sign into your account.
    • In Account management > Profile & settings > Income, tell them your income.
    • Wait a week a so, then stop by your local branch. Ask what credit cards for which you are pre-approved. Any of those waive the 5/24 rule for you if you apply in-branch.
  • Chip and Signature technology
  • The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.
  • After you receive the card, you could then refer others to it for 10,000 points per successful referral, up to 50,000 points.

I like transferring points to United. View from the wing suggests transferring them to Korean Air for Skyteam flights or flights on Alaska or Hawaiian Airlines. But Million Mile Secrets likes transferring the points to certain hotel programs, an opinion about which it would be well worth reading, along with subsequent comments. It all depends on how you would use the points or miles.

The Million Miles Secrets blog has compiled an excellent list of over 40 ways to meet the minimum spend requirement. Its readers added more.

Be sure you apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred (SM) Preferred Card, not the Chase Sapphire card.

Please tell me about any substantial changes in this offer. Thanks.

Ink Business PreferredSM credit card

    Last I looked the offer included

    • 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. But first stop by your local Chase Bank to see if you qualify for a better offer. You may have to actually go into your local branch to see this - they may not discuss it with you over the phone. Ask for the rep handling business credit cards. This worked for me in November of 2017. I was given a 100,000 points offer.
    • If you can't get that better offer, please use this link to apply for the 80,000 points offer. This helps me at no cost to you. Thanks.
    • 3X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year.
    • 2X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel each account anniversary year.
    • 1 point per $1 on all other purchases-with no limit to the amount you can earn
    • 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points for referring friends to INK Preferred.
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Chip-enabled for enhanced security at home and abroad when used at a chip card reader
    • Free employee cards
    • The $95 Annual Fee is not waived the first year, but you may be able to get this offer with the annual fee waived the first year at your local Chase branch office. Call to ask.

    This flyertalk wiki tracks the offers for this card.

    If may be possible to pay the annual fee for the second year, earn points, then close the account and get a refund of the fee up to 6 months after it was charged. Chase had this policy for the old Chase Ink Bold card in February 2016. Ask to find out if this is still true. Then carefully plan ahead to be sure that you have a multiple of 1,000 points and that those points are transferred out of the account before you close the account.

     

 
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