This Is THE Best Card for Beginners

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Which credit card is BEST for folks new to miles & points?

There isn’t one magic answer for every single traveler.  With so many great deals out there, it’s tempting for folks who are new to this hobby to jump right in and start signing-up for cards.  But doing this could give you points in different accounts that are NOT useful for you.

It’s a good idea to start slow and thinking carefully about which card you’ll get first!

This Is THE Best Card For Beginners
Which Credit Card Is the Best for Folks Who Are New to Miles & Points?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is my favorite card for beginners.  I’ll explain why!

Before You Get Started

Link:   Beginner’s Guide

Link:   5 Dangers of Applying for Credit Cards

When you’re new to miles and points, the best place to start is our Beginner’s Guide.  It will give you an overview of how this hobby works, and help you understand the risks involved.

I typically apply for 3 to 5 cards each quarter, because credit card sign-up bonuses are the quickest way to earn Big Travel!

For folks who are just getting started, I recommend taking it slow with 1 or 2 cards, until you feel comfortable.  Make sure you can meet the minimum spending requirements so you don’t miss out on the bonus.  I have some tricks that will make it easy!

This Is THE Best Card For Beginners
Decide Where You Want to Go, and Determine Which Points Will Help You Get There Before You Choose Your First Travel Rewards Credit Card

To find the right credit cards for you, set travel goals and find cards that will help you meet them.  That way you don’t end up with miles & points that aren’t useful for your travel plans.

The Best Card for Beginners

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   My Full Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

I always recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for beginners.

One reason I advise new readers to open this card first is because of the Chase application rules.  If you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (NOT counting Chase business cards and these other business cards) in the past 24 months, it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

This card comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.  Chase Ultimate Rewards points give you a lot of flexibility.

This Is THE Best Card For Beginners
Visit Bucket-List Destinations Like Venice With Chase Ultimate Rewards Points!

Here are the top reasons I love this card.  And what you can do with the valuable sign-up bonus!

1.   $500 Cash Back

You can use your 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for cash back and get $500 (1 cent per point).

I do NOT recommend redeeming your points this way, because you can get much more value for your points when you use them for travel.  But you can know you have a guaranteed $500 in cash when you open this card and complete minimum spending requirements.  Who would pass up $500??

2.   Potentially $1,000+ in Travel With Airline & Hotel Transfer Partners

You can transfer your points to valuable airline and hotel partners for Big Travel.  Chase transfer partners include:

 Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfer Partners 
Aer LingusBritish AirwaysFlying Blue (Air France/KLM)
IberiaKorean AirSingapore Airlines
SouthwestUnited AirlinesVirgin Atlantic
 Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners 

So you could transfer the points you earn from the sign-up bonus to Hyatt for a 2-night stay at the Andaz 5th Avenue in New York!

This Is THE Best Card For Beginners
I Stayed at the Andaz 5th Avenue a Few Years Ago, and LOVED the Central Location

This hotel can easily cost $500+ per night, which gives you a rate of ~2 cents per point (~$1,000 for 2 nights / 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points).  That’s double the value you get with cash back!

I’ve used Chase Ultimate Rewards points to surprise my mom in Sydney for her birthday, for a weekend getaway on the West Coast, and for a special trip to Italy.

3.   Book Paid Travel With NO Blackout Dates!

You can use the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal to book paid travel (flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises) at 1.25 cents per point.

This gives you more flexibility because there are NO blackout dates, and you won’t have to worry about finding open award seats or available award rooms.  So it’s a great option for folks booking last-minute holiday travel.

You’ll sometimes even spend fewer points on cheap flights than if you booked an award ticket.

Plus, you’ll earn miles and points for your flight or hotel stay!

4.   Earn Extra Points With Bonus Categories

If you’re like me, you do a lot of spending on travel and dining.  When you use the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points in these 2 categories.  Even when you’re spending overseas!

This Is THE Best Card For Beginners
New Foods and Travel and Chase Ultimate Rewards Points – These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Spending money in these categories means you’ll be on the way to your next vacation much sooner!

5.   NO Annual Fee the First Year

The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.  So you can give the card a try for ~11 months to see if it works for you without having to pay anything.  If you like it, you’ll happily pay the annual fee in exchange for Big Travel (like I have for many years!).

Or, if you decide to cancel, you can call Chase and have them close the account without any hassle.

This Is THE Best Card For Beginners
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Is Well Worth the Annual Fee in My Opinion. But If You Decide to Cancel, It’s as Easy as a Quick Phone Call

6.   Save Money When Renting a Car

One great benefit of the Chase Sapphire Preferred (and a few other cards, too!) is that it offers primary car rental insurance coverage when you decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver (CDW) and pay in full with your card.  It’s not comprehensive coverage, but it’s still an excellent benefit that can save you tons of money.  Using a rental car agency’s CDW can easily cost $15+ per day!

Some other credit cards offer secondary rental insurance.  That means if you have your own car insurance, you have to file a claim with your own insurance company first.

This Is THE Best Card For Beginners
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Will Cover Damage to Your Rental Car. Your Insurance Provider Doesn’t Have to Know a Thing!

Keep in mind, primary rental car coverage with a credit card only pays for damages to your rental car, NOT damage to other cars, property, or injuries.  So don’t rely on this as your only coverage if you don’t have your own insurance!

7.   Make Charges Outside of the US Without Paying Fees

You can use your Chase Sapphire Preferred wherever you are in the world (as long as they accept Visa), and you won’t pay foreign transaction fees.  Lots of cards charge ~3% in foreign transaction fees.  So this perk alone will save you a lot of money, depending on how much you spend.

For example, if you spend $2,000 on expenses overseas, you’ll could save ~$60 in fees ($2,000 X 3% in fees).  Keep in mind that you’ll often be charged foreign transaction fees when you reserve international hotels online.  Even if you’re reserving from the US website!

Bottom Line

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is my favorite card for folks who are new to miles & points.  The card comes with 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after meeting minimum spending requirements.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points give you lots of flexibility.  The sign-up bonus is worth $500 in cash.  Or potentially $1,000+ when you transfer your points to airline and hotel partners like Southwest, United Airlines, and Hyatt!

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year, which gives you ~11 months to try the card out.

If you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (NOT counting Chase small business cards and these other small business cards) in the past 24 months, it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for this offer.

Be sure to check out the Beginner’s Guide before you get started, so you have an overview of how to get the most out of this hobby!