Maximizing cashback and rewards using the Chase credit card ecosystem

I’ve been a Chase Banking customer for decades, mainly because they have branches in most states.  Their banking products are pretty consistent with what you see in most national banks (read: little benefits), but they do have an extensive credit card ecosystem that are both travel-branded and self-branded with their own points system.

The quick outline to Chase points

Chase points can be redeemed at face value as statement credits (one point = one penny).  If you hold the Sapphire Preferred card, you can redeem points for travel at a slightly higher rate (one point = 1.25 pennies).  Many of the Chase cards offer a multiple of points for points spent (anywhere from 1% back to 5% back).  This by itself makes the cards valuable. 
The significant value to Chase points comes from being able to consolidate points among all of your cards and transfer the points to hotels and airlines.  Sometimes you can get hotel rooms that cost $500 for the equivalent of $150 using points, or even airline tickets that cost several thousand dollars for a few hundred bucks. 

However, the bottom line for those of us who don’t view the credit card game as an extreme hobby is that you ought to get at least 1-2% back on your purchases using credit cards, and significantly more if you are willing to sign up for credit cards for their bonuses.

No fee Chase cards

The main two personal Chase cards that I recommend holding onto are the Chase Freedom Flex ($) and Chase Freedom Unlimited ($) cards.  I have both of these cards.

The Freedom Flex card is a no-annual fee card that has rotating categories of purchases that return 5% back.  Common ones include gas stations, wholesale clubs, Paypal, and Walmart.  Take it for what it’s worth.  The signup bonus is often $100 back after $500 in purchases, so that by itself is a good rate of return.

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The Freedom Unlimited card offers 1.5% back on all purchases and 3% on restaurants for the first several months of use.  There is also a business-equivalent to this card–this is high yield if you have to purchase supplies for your practice or pay vendors.  These points can be consolidated to your personal account.

Chase Sapphire Preferred and  Sapphire Reserve Cards

The Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards are premium cards with annual fees of $95 and $550, respectively.  The Preferred card currently offers 2x points on restaurants, travel, and grocery stores (grocery until April 2021).  The Reserve card receives 3x for those same categories.  Both of these cards have no foreign transaction fees, and offer certain travel and purchase protection benefits that are somewhat more difficult to quantify.  The Reserve card also offers $300 back in travel credits each year, effectively lowering the annual fee to $250.

The value in these cards, however, is that owning them allows you to pool together your Chase points from your other cards (Freedom/Unlimited) so that you can use them to transfer to hotels and airlines for supersized value.
I’d recommend holding onto one of the two cards long term just for that.

This brief summary only covers the tip of the iceberg on the Chase cards. If you have any questions about them, please feel free to ask in the comments below.

Head back over to the main credit card guide to start from the beginning.

I am not a paid advertiser to any of the credit cards mentioned on this website. Most of the links on this page are publicly available. The ones that are affiliate links are marked with a $.

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