Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
ThisJustIn
Posts: 146
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:53 pm

Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by ThisJustIn » Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:16 pm

Any suggestions from travel hackers on whether I should get a Chase Sapphire Preferred card? I have an upcoming international flight in a couple of months which usually cost somewhere between $1000-$1500, and I'm doing this international flight every year? What is the chance that I will get enough returns despite paying $95 / year fee? Any other cards out there I should think about getting instead?

TravelGeek
Posts: 2208
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by TravelGeek » Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:27 pm

What is your overall spend on credit cards, and do you know the rough breakdown by categories (dining, groceries, travel, gas, ...) that may be subject to bonus points?

Personally, i don’t consider a once a year international trip to be “frequent”; do you also have domestic flights?

ThisJustIn
Posts: 146
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:53 pm

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by ThisJustIn » Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:33 pm

I also have 2-5 domestic flights / year on average, in addition to that international flight once a year on average.

Most of my spending is the rent and groceries, I do eat out but try not to do it often. I already have a BofA 2% cash-back rewards card, which gives me cash back for groceries, gas, dining.

In this case, should I still go with Chase Sapphire Preferred? And also, should I dump my BofA cash-back rewards card and use Chase Sapphire Preferred card for more bonus bonus in Chase, which includes travel bonus points as well?

student
Posts: 2504
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2015 6:58 am

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by student » Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:01 pm

If you are considering Chase Sapphire Preferred, I suggest you take a look at Chase Sapphire Reserve. Although CSR has $450 annual fee, you automatically receive a $300 refund per year on travel expenses. So it is effectively $150 and only $55 more than $CSP. For this, you get more benefits including access to priority pass club which is useful internationally. See https://thepointsguy.com/guide/chase-sa ... e-reserve/

ft2010
Posts: 63
Joined: Sun May 17, 2015 8:22 pm

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by ft2010 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:11 pm

Let me first say that, for people who don't travel frequently or need/desire premium class cabin on long-haul international flights, hacking is probably overrated. Most of such people probably benefit from a straight forward cash back credit card.

As far as I recall the Sapphire Preferred card has first year annual fee waived, so its at least worth applying, meet the spend requirement to get the sign-on bonus points and try it out for the first year. Then do some calculations to determine whether its good for keeping it for the long run, analyze your spend pattern, overall annual spend vs. annual fee, to at least see the break-even point. You know your patterns and wants better than anyone else, so its best to go thru this exercise yourself in your first year of card membership. If you are into Chase's reward system, you'll also take a look at their Freedom (5x points for rotating bonus categories) and Freedom Unlimited (1.5x points on everything) cards, respectively.

If your existing card does not charge an annual fee, there is no need to cancel it.

02nz
Posts: 470
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:17 pm

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by 02nz » Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:26 am

As a "travel hacker" myself, I'd say your travel pattern may be too infrequent to justify spending much effort with travel hacking or cards like the Sapphire Preferred. If your flights are often with the same carrier, though, it can make sense to get that carrier's co-branded credit card (e.g. MileagePlus Explorer, if you fly United). This will get you a lot of the benefits of the lowest level of elite status (e.g., checked bag free, priority boarding) for a relatively low annual fee.

Cop51
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:42 am
Location: NJ

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by Cop51 » Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:56 am

I had that card and upgraded to the Chase Saphire Reserve. Excellent card and the points add up fast and are worth more when booking travel. I’ve been happy with it and recommend it. Read up on the comparison between the two. You can find out what you need to spend to make the more expensive card worth it.

Brian2d
Posts: 210
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:04 pm

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by Brian2d » Tue Jun 26, 2018 12:29 pm

It is my view (and I've done the Math), that if you don't spend enough on dining/travel to make the Sapphire Reserve worth it over the Preferred, you're better off with a 2% cash back no annual fee card (Citi Double Cash, Fidelity card, etc).

I spend enough to make the Sapphire Reserve well worth it, and it's a great card for me.

investor997
Posts: 294
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:23 pm

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by investor997 » Tue Jun 26, 2018 12:45 pm

I recently went through this decision process and wound up going for the BofA Premium Rewards card. Outside of business trips, I usually fly domestically once or twice per year. This year was the first time I flew internationally in close to a decade. That's not enough to justify the CSP or CSR, IMHO. Better to take the cash back and have flexibility. The BofA Premium Rewards + Cash Rewards combo is pretty much unbeatable in this department so long as you have at least $100K in a Merrill Edge investment account (BofA/ME Preferred Rewards program).

I did throw down and get a Southwest Rapid Rewards card last year due to the promo they had for CA residents (free companion pass for a year). I've used the companion pass once but here I am six months into 2018 and I'm struggling to figure out a way to use it a second time, let alone a third.

rj49
Posts: 423
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:22 am

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by rj49 » Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:52 pm

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is essentially a $150 card, since you're getting credit for $300 of your travel expenses. You also get TSA Precheck/Global entry credit, which will save you plenty of time and hassle, especially returning exhausted from an international flight--I was through immigration and customs in 5 minutes last time, bypassing a line of a few hundred others. The other intangible benefit is access to Priority Pass lounges--you can go to their website and check out the lounges for your departure and arrival airport, as well as for other places you fly domestic. Between free booze, espresso, and food, it could save you money that way too. Thepointsguy.com has some good articles on the Chase cards and how to use the Chase rewards portal for booking travel and using miles.

If you just want simple cash back for your travel, the Uber VISA card gives 3% back on flights and hotels, and 4% back on dining/bars, and the new Wells Fargo card, open next month, will offer 3% back on all travel, I believe.

A simpler way to earn more on international travel is to see if Norwegian Air (or AerLingus or other deep discount airlines) is an option. Instead of paying over $1,000 to fly to Venice last month, I spent $160 on Norwegian to London on a new 787, spent the day enjoying free museums, and flew on to London the next day for $50 on British Airways. On the return trip I had my bid for premium economy upgrade accepted, so it cost an extra $200 for 10 hours in a comfy recliner.

User avatar
oldcomputerguy
Posts: 3222
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2015 6:50 am
Location: In the middle of five acres of woods

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by oldcomputerguy » Tue Jun 26, 2018 5:12 pm

02nz wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:26 am
As a "travel hacker" myself, I'd say your travel pattern may be too infrequent to justify spending much effort with travel hacking or cards like the Sapphire Preferred. If your flights are often with the same carrier, though, it can make sense to get that carrier's co-branded credit card (e.g. MileagePlus Explorer, if you fly United). This will get you a lot of the benefits of the lowest level of elite status (e.g., checked bag free, priority boarding) for a relatively low annual fee.
DW and I have the Delta co-branded American Express precisely for this purpose. It's probably not a "good deal" financially from a purely points perspective (we don't travel enough to get enough points to break even on the annual fee), but the free checked bags and early boarding are worth at least something for the PITA relief factor if nothing else. A single trip with two bags pays for half the annual fee, and the flight voucher goes a long way toward making the card a "break even" proposition.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

patrick
Posts: 1597
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 3:39 am
Location: Mega-City One

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by patrick » Tue Jun 26, 2018 5:25 pm

Hardcore travel hacking would involve repeatedly opening up new cards for the signup bonuses. If you are planning to stick with one card you'd need to calculate the amount of points you expect, along with their value, to see if it is worth it. One alternative might be the Uber card, which has no annual fee and in spite of its name has good rewards rates on many things beyond Uber, including 3% on hotels and airfare. If you travel more often, or stay in expensive hotels, the Citi Prestige card may be worth it -- this one charges a gigantic $450 annual fee, but gives a $250 airfare credit back, and also has a "fourth night free" hotel benefit which in some cases could exceed the fee by itself, in addition to a high reward rate on travel.

ElJefe302
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri May 18, 2018 7:35 pm

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by ElJefe302 » Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:26 am

If you’re going to be doing a lot of traveling the chase freedom reserved is an excellent card. The preferred is a good card for the occasional traveler especially with chase points being able to transfer to multiple airlines. I’d also look at the Chase freedom card which gives 5% back on certain categories every quarter. Those points can be transferred to your preferred card for airline/hotel transfers.

Cruise
Posts: 612
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:17 pm

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by Cruise » Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:54 am

The place where you can find a lot of threads on travel hacking, credit cards and points, etc. is Flyertalk.com

There is a ton of information there, and people who are happy to answer your questions.

Nate79
Posts: 3318
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:24 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by Nate79 » Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:56 am

Most of the value of "travel hacking" is from sign up bonuses I think. A lot of cards have some marginal benefits for flights but you are paying annual fees and such and so the payoff isn't really game changing. Some of the side benefits of the cards may be more valuable such as the AMEX platinum which comes with a lot of upgrade status at hotels, lounge access to Priority pass and Delta, etc.

But don't forget the normal credit cards. For example this quarter the Citi dividend card is giving 5% cash back at airlines. I don't know if any other credit cards does this but it could be a useful free option.

User avatar
JaneyLH
Posts: 390
Joined: Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:16 pm

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by JaneyLH » Thu Jun 28, 2018 12:05 pm

rj49 wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:52 pm
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is essentially a $150 card, since you're getting credit for $300 of your travel expenses. You also get TSA Precheck/Global entry credit, which will save you plenty of time and hassle, especially returning exhausted from an international flight--I was through immigration and customs in 5 minutes last time, bypassing a line of a few hundred others. The other intangible benefit is access to Priority Pass lounges--you can go to their website and check out the lounges for your departure and arrival airport, as well as for other places you fly domestic. Between free booze, espresso, and food, it could save you money that way too. Thepointsguy.com has some good articles on the Chase cards and how to use the Chase rewards portal for booking travel and using miles
Also, this card gives you the equivalent of trip insurance. This saves us a ton! We haven’t yet had to cancel a trip, but we did have to spend a night in Chicago due to missed connection and we were refunded our toiletries/OTC medication costs, and our meal costs in excess of the $10 coupon United provided. We got a decent hotel from United, but learned if we had a problem due to weather and the airline wasn’t liable for our hotel expense we could have been reimbursed up to $500 for one night’s stay. Awesome card!

ft2010
Posts: 63
Joined: Sun May 17, 2015 8:22 pm

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by ft2010 » Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:18 pm

The original poster has not chimed in for days, and subsequent posters are just talking with and among themselves...

ThisJustIn
Posts: 146
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:53 pm

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by ThisJustIn » Sat Jun 30, 2018 12:32 am

Thank you all for your very detailed answers. This is a great group of knowledgable people.

For my case, it looks like I can start Chase Sapphire preferred, then after 1 year, I can think of extending it to Chase Sapphire Reserve.

But as someone pointed out, with my 1 international flight / year and 2-3 domestic flights / year, especially given that I avoid eating out a lot, it will be hard for me to really get back what those cards are worth.

2% cash back no annual fee card (Citi Double Cash, Fidelity card, etc) also makes sense, but not sure how this will be different from my 2% cash-bak BofA Cash Rewards card. Are these cards giving 2% for travels?

I may try repeatedly opening up new cards for the signup bonuses as well, because it looks like with my travel frequency, it will be hard to make these travel cards worth it.

Regarding Uber card, probably just by the name of the card, I would pass.

5% for Chase Freedom is really good, but as far as I know it has high fees.

Thank you for the Flyertalk.com tip.

Thank you all for your suggestions.

richardglm
Posts: 260
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:42 pm

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by richardglm » Sat Jun 30, 2018 1:01 am

The real value of the sapphire cards are their insurance products. If you usually buy comparable trip insurance or auto collision damage waiver separately then you can easily make up the annual fees.

student
Posts: 2504
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2015 6:58 am

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by student » Sat Jun 30, 2018 5:00 am

ThisJustIn wrote:
Sat Jun 30, 2018 12:32 am
2% cash back no annual fee card (Citi Double Cash, Fidelity card, etc) also makes sense, but not sure how this will be different from my 2% cash-bak BofA Cash Rewards card. Are these cards giving 2% for travels?
Both Citi and Fidelity are straight 2% card, this means you get 2% back on everything including travel. I am unaware of a straight 2% BoA Cash Rewards card. The only one that I am aware of is https://www.bankofamerica.com/credit-ca ... edit-card/ which is only 1% but gives 2% and 3% on certain categories.

motorcyclesarecool
Posts: 509
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2014 7:39 am

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by motorcyclesarecool » Sat Jun 30, 2018 6:09 am

I had big estimated tax payments last year that I put on Chase Sapphire Preferred for the sign on bonus. I also racked up a nice bonus on the JetBlue card (we already had a bolus of air miles there).

For ~$400 in annual and convenience fees, I flew my family of 4 to Florida in February/March and we had 10 nights in a Hyatt Place. Breakfast included. We paid out of pocket for our rental car and 2 meals per day (really 1.5).

I was able to find a great hotel value for my Ultimate Rewards (UR) points using the Award Mapper website. Using UR points for hotel stays is really easy.

The Award Hacker website shows what is theoretically possible for airfares, but it’ll be a significant effort to book a dream redemption. (For instance, transfer UR points to Korean Air, then use their website to book a flight from NYC - Hawaii on a Delta flight. Lots of moving parts; plenty to go wrong.) I find it easiest to simply transfer points to Southwest and get a reasonable redemption.

Travel hacking bloggers have the time to hyper-optimize their redemptions. I don’t, but feel I’ve gotten good value. The Chase Portal is usually not a good value proposition for using your points.
Understand that choosing an HDHP is very much a "red pill" approach. Most would rather pay higher premiums for a $20 copay per visit. They will think you weird for choosing an HSA.

pindevil
Posts: 61
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:04 am

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by pindevil » Sat Jun 30, 2018 9:53 am

I'm going through this right now. Signing up for BOTH sapphire cards using the double dip strategy. Basically if you want both cards you have to apply on the same day otherwise you are limited to a single sapphire card.

This link has been helpful navigating the chase approval process. I have my credit frozen so I have to call them every time I apply. This link tells you what number to call and when.
https://chaseflowchart.info

blackcat allie
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:54 pm

Re: Travel hacking for frequent international flights: Chase Sapphire preferred or any other card?

Post by blackcat allie » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:48 pm

Chiming in here, a few months later....

Anyone considering opening Sapphire Banking account, with upcoming offer of 60,000 bonus points?
I'm wondering if there are negatives, aside from having to bring minimum required "new" money.

(there's also of course the Definitive Thread on Brokerage Transfers, but wondering if anyone here had particular insights or thoughts on this new Chase service.)

Post Reply