Category

Chase Sapphire

Return Of The Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard

Limited Options

Update: As of 6/6/13, the MasterCard link is currently down. It may come back at some time in the future but not exactly sure.

As a person new to the game of frequent flyer miles and credit cards, it is fairly easy to rack up 500,000 miles / points in a single round of applications without breaking a sweat.

However, if you are someone who has been doing this a while, it gets a bit more challenging as you saw in my post yesterday concerning my most recent round of credit card applications.

The reason for this is because over the past few years, I have gotten all the low hanging fruit (mostly Chase Cards with HUGE sign up bonuses). 

Since I already have 21+ open credit cards, when I went to do last week’s round of applications, I had to pick up some obscure cards like Bank of America’s Alaska Airlines card, US Bank’s Club Carlson, and American Express’s Delta Card (not exactly obscure but not really very valuable).

While there are some cards you can apply for and get the bonus repeatedly (like US Airways), with most cards you either have to wait a long time (2 years) to get the bonus again or for many cards you simply are not allowed to get the bonus again.

If the bank enforces the mandatory waiting period or “once in a lifetime” sign up bonus per a card, there isn’t really much you can do to work around it.

Surprise, Surprise

A FFU Reader and friend who I first met on the Star MegaDO 3, Kathy from WillRunForMiles.com, sent me an email today asking which new cards to get.

I sent her a laundry list of the typical cards I recommend, but she had all of them.

She then asked about the Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard.

Last October, I talked about the Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard in my post about which Chase cards earn Ultimate Rewards Points. I was under the impression that the MasterCard link was dead because I tried to sign up for the card last week.

She sent me back a link to FlyerTalk, where apparently someone had dug through FFU and found a working MasterCard link in that post from October!

So to my surprise, it looks like that the Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard link is back up and working!

Link To Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard

Why This Is Important

The reason why this is important is because Chase considers the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa and Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard, 2 SEPARATE CARDS!

Although the cards look identical, have the same earning features, sign on bonus, etc, because one says MasterCard and one says Visa, Chase allows you to get the 40,000 Point Sign Up Bonus for each “flavor” of the Card.

This means you don’t have to wait 2+ years to sign up for it again, or worse, not be able to get the sign up bonus again!

Although the application in the above link doesn’t say Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard, Kathy went ahead and signed up for it and called Chase to confirm.

There are also other confirmed reports of it being a Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard in the FlyerTalk thread.

So if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck…

The only caveat is that if you currently have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa, you CAN’T also get a Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard at the same time. Kathy tried!

That being said, you certainly should be able to downgrade your Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa to a Chase Sapphire (regular) or Chase Freedom, and then apply for a Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard without issue.

Recap

The fact that the Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard link is back is great news because it was MIA (missing in action, not Miami), for a long time.

Even on Chase.com, they don’t promote or link to the Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard version!

That being said, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the absolute best cards out there and Ultimate Rewards are the most valuable currency in terms of miles / points.

Had I seen this MasterCard link last week, I certainly would have signed up for it again!

If you are thinking about getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard, I’d do it sooner rather than later because the link might disappear again!

-Parag

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Taking Advantage of Fifth Freedoms

For anyone that has tried to redeem miles to Europe during the Summer, you know what a huge pain it can be because there is such limited Award availability!

This past weekend I was trying to help a Friend use United Miles to get to Barcelona in August and unfortunately we ran into that exact problem.

While there was quite a bit of availability going to Barcelona (just as long as it wasn’t a Friday), coming back to Chicago was a different story.

Without any Award availability on United, it looked like the only option would be to buy a Revenue Ticket.

While tickets to Europe can be reasonable during the Winter off season, during the Summer the prices for Economy tickets go thru the roof due to high demand.

The cheapest flight on Kayak that didn’t involve 20+ hours in transit was a whopping $1,479 for an Economy ticket!

While I am normally pretty good at finding solutions to sticky situations like this, with no Award Availability or a $1,500 Revenue Ticket, it seemed like my Friend had reached a dead end…

Fifth Freedoms

While the situation looked dire, in a twist of fate, my Friend somehow inadvertently came across a “Fifth Freedom” route.

For those of you not familiar, a Fifth Freedom is where an Airline not based in the Country they are serving, flies Passengers as part of a connecting flight. You typically find these Fifth Freedoms on long Asian routes.

In this case, my Friend found a flight on Pakistan Airlines that goes from Chicago -> Barcelona -> Lahore.

Lucky had actually posted a thing about Pakistan Airlines and Fifth Freedoms earlier this month, but I had completely forgot about it until my Friend found the Pakistan Airlines fare.

As Lucky talked about in his post, some other Fifth Freedom Routes include:

In the case of the Pakistan Airlines fare, it was only $888 dollars roundtrip and non-stop!

The thing I found most surprising was that Business Class on Pakistan Airways was cheaper than an Economy ticket on most of the other Airlines, not to mention they are flying a 777 on the route!

Getting Reimbursed With Credit Cards

While $888 for a round trip ticket to Europe is certainly a better deal than spending $1,497, at the end of the day it is still $888 that is coming out of your pocket.

To cut that $888 down, there are 2 easy options:

1. One Way Award + One Way Revenue Ticket

Since there was Award Availability on United going to Barcelona, my Friend could burn 30,000 United Miles on a one way ticket and then spend $474 on the Return Flight via Pakistan Airlines.

So instead of spending $888, she would only spend 30,000 United Miles & $474 out of pocket which is not as terrible!

2. Sign Up For Chase Sapphire Preferred

When most people think of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, they think of it as an easy way to get Ultimate Rewards Points to transfer to United, Hyatt, Southwest, British Airways, etc.

I’d guess that is what 95% of Sapphire Preferred Cardholders use it for and that can be a great deal, however in the above case, there isn’t any availability for Award Tickets.

As I have talked about in the past, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can ALSO use your Ultimate Rewards Points to get “reimbursed” at 1 Cent per a Point for travel purchases. If you purchase your Ticket via the Ultimate Rewards Portal, you can even get a 20% bonus or 1.2 Cents per a Point!

Link To Chase Sapphire Preferred

In my friend’s case, if she was to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, she could redeem 30,000 Miles for the ORD-BCN leg, and then charge the $474 Pakistan Airlines BCN-ORD ticket to her Chase Sapphire Preferred. By redeeming 47,400 Ultimate Rewards Points via reimbursement, it would save her $474 in out of pocket expenses.

Another option would be to save her 60,000 United Miles and just charge the entire $888 round trip Pakistan Airline ticket to her Chase Sapphire Preferred. She could then redeem her 50,000 Ultimate Rewards for $500 in reimbursement, thus cutting her out of pocket costs from $888 to only $388. What is nice about this option is that the $888 she will be spending on the ticket also counts towards the $3,000 minimum spend requirement!

Although reimbursement doesn’t necessarily offer the best “value”, as compared to transferring the Points over to United, at the end of the day getting reimbursed helps cut the cost of your out of pocket expenses substantially. In the example above, redeeming Miles for an Award Ticket wasn’t really an option, so reimbursement was probably the best bet.

Recap

Although I never would have thought to look for a flight to Barcelona on Pakistan Airlines, it turned out to be the quickest and cheapest way to get to there!

Not only will Pakistan Airlines save my friend around $600 compared to if she had to buy the $1,479 United Revenue ticket, but Pakistan Airlines is the only Airline that flies directly to Barcelona from Chicago (crazy I know!), so it will save my Friend from having to layover in Europe!

Although United Award availability was not exactly an option in this example, by getting a Chase Sapphire Preferred and using the reimbursement feature, my Friend could easily get to Spain during peak season for around $388 out of pocket instead of $1,479!

-Parag

Best Cards To Have While Traveling

Chip & Signature

Prior to my trip to Madrid and Istanbul last week, I had heard that AMEX Platinum Cardholders were eligible to get a Chip & Signature Platinum Card for free.

For those of you not familiar with Chip & Signature (or EMV) technology, it is a variation on Chip & Pin technology. Basically when they run your Chip & Pin Credit Card, you have to enter a Pin (similar to what we have to do for a Debit Card). With the Chip & Signature, you just have to sign (no Pin).

In the US, we don’t really use Chip & Pin or Chip & Signature Cards, but abroad Chip & Pin is used almost exclusively.

While most Restaurants and Hotels abroad will allow you to use a regular US Credit Card, many of the automated kiosks at the Train Stations, etc, will only take Cards that have Chips. 

In Montreal, I could not get my Chase INK Bold to work at any of the Train or Bike Stations and it was horrible.

When I saw that AMEX Platinum Cardholders could get a Chip & Signature Card for free, I jumped on it and simply called AMEX to request one. AMEX was great and overnighted me the new Card.

None of my other Cards have Chip & Signature technology, so I was excited to try out my new AMEX Platinum in Europe.

Overall, I was EXTREMELY HAPPY to have a Chip & Signature Card because I had ZERO issues using it at the automated kiosks at the Train Stations in London or Madrid.

At the kiosks, I just popped in my AMEX, and even though you are suppose to enter a Pin, it worked without issue.

It was also useful to have at Restaurants, since the Waiters were far more accustomed to running Chip Cards than having to physically swipe the US Cards.

If you don’t have a Chip & Signature Card, it isn’t the end of the World (unless you don’t have any Cash and are at a Train Station), but it is a nice feature to have.

If you have a AMEX Platinum Card, I’d strongly suggest getting the new Chip & Signature Card since it is free.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

While I did have my AMEX Platinum and Chase INK Bold with me during my trip, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t really maximizing my Points earned while traveling because I didn’t have a Chase Sapphire Preferred!

Once upon a time, I did have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa but downgraded it to the free Chase Sapphire Card when the Annual Fee came due.

If you haven’t had a Chase Sapphire Preferred before, I highly suggest getting one.

Link to Chase Sapphire Preferred

The reason for this is simple.

On my last trip, I concluded that 95% of my purchases were either related to Food, Lodging, or Transportation!

All of those categories earn 2x Ultimate Rewards with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

While my INK Bold earned me 2x at Hotels, we spent quite a bit at Restaurants and on London Cabs, etc and it would have been nice to earn 2x UR on those purchases too.

While the difference between 1x or 2x on your purchases may not sound earth shattering, you do have to factor in that Ultimate Rewards Points are some of the most valuable “Points” out there.

The Chase Sapphire also has a whole host of other features, like no Foreign Transaction Fees, that make it extremely worthwhile to have while traveling. A full breakdown of the Card can be found here,

As I said earlier, I already had the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa, so after I apply for the Hyatt Card this month, the next Chase Card I get will be the Chase Sapphire Preferred Mastercard.

Even though both the Visa & Mastercard Sapphire Preferred Cards are issued by Chase, apparently the Visa & Mastercard distinction qualifies them as “different Cards”, so you can get the 40,000 Point Sign Up Bonus again without issue!

More information on how to get the Mastercard version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred can be found here.

Hopefully this will work out perfectly because my Chase INK Bold’s Annual Fee will be coming due around April, so I will downgrade that Card and get another Chase Sapphire Preferred in the process!

Recap

Although you don’t have to get an AMEX Platinum (there are other Chase Cards that have the same Chip & Signature technology), if you are traveling abroad, I’d highly recommend getting at least 1 Credit Card that doesn’t have Foreign Transaction Fees AND also has Chip and Signature technology.

While the majority of foreign retailers will accept your regular U.S Credit Card, I have found myself in situations where my Credit Card wouldn’t work because it didn’t have a Chip and I couldn’t get any cash out of the ATM. Let me just tell you that it isn’t a fun experience!

Even if you don’t plan on using your Chip & Pin Card as your “everyday” Card while traveling, it is always good to have it as a back-up option in the event that you need it.

In a perfect World, the Chase Sapphire Preferred would come with Chip & Signature technology, but at this current time that is not an option!

In the mean time, as a consolation prize, feel free to sign up for another Chase Sapphire Preferred Mastercard to get another 40,000 Ultimate Rewards Points!

-Parag

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