The Chase Sapphire Preferred, a flagship travel rewards credit card issued by JPMorgan Chase in the US, has just launched its best-ever welcome bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points.
This is a hugely exciting development for anyone who’s looking to rack up the points via US credit cards, especially if you’re currently in the “mid-game” of your US credit card strategy.
100,000 Ultimate Rewards Points
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is often considered the ideal introductory card in Chase’s overall credit card portfolio, and it’s a very popular starting point for Americans who play the game.
In the past, we’ve seen varying signup bonuses of 50,000, 60,000, or even 80,000 Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Indeed, I had personally applied for the card back when it was offering 60,000 UR points in late 2017, and the bonus reached a historic high of 80,000 UR points only a few months ago.
Now, however, with travel activity resuming in earnest in the United States, Chase has raised the stakes even further. You’ll earn 100,000 UR points upon spending US$4,000 in the first three months. The card has an annual fee of US$95, which is not waived for the first year.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has no foreign exchange fees, which means that you can meet the minimum spending through your Canadian purchases, and you’d only incur an FX impact if you need to convert Canadian dollars into US dollars to pay off your bill.
As of now, the welcome bonus isn’t yet available through refer-a-friend links from existing Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders; those links still show a bonus of 80,000 UR points.
However, in the past, it has often been observed that referral links tend to lag behind public links by a few weeks’ time, so there’s a chance that we’ll see the 100,000 UR points available on referral links in the near future. We’ll update this section if the time comes.
Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points program has a variety of frequent flyer partners, which generally represent the most valuable way to spend your points. A few redemption possibilities might include:
- World of Hyatt: Redeem points at a great value for Hyatt hotel stays
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: 60,000 miles would be enough for a one-way flight in ANA First Class
- Emirates Skywards: 85,000 miles would be enough for a one-way flight in Emirates First Class
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer: The only program that can book a vast majority of Singapore Airlines’s luxurious premium cabins
- Avianca LifeMiles and United MileagePlus: Alternative programs to book Star Alliance premium flights compared to the easily accessible Aeroplan points we have in Canada
Out of the above, I’d argue that the Hyatt partnership offers the greatest “comparative advantage” when redeeming Chase points.
That’s because Chase Ultimate Rewards is the only major transfer partner of the World of Hyatt program, whereas the other transfer possibilities can be accessed through alternative means.
Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, and Singapore Airlines miles can all be accessed through easier-to-earn Canadian and US points currencies, while Avianca and United miles would be redeemed towards the same flights that you’d book through the easier-to-earn Aeroplan program.
Personally, if I were collecting 100,000 UR points as part of this all-time-high welcome bonus, I would aim to redeem them for a high-value Hyatt hotel stay – say, five nights at a Category 5 hotel for 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
As a secondary option, I’d also consider transferring points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book an ANA First Class flight or two – simply because the price point of 60,000 Flying Club miles one-way is such an unbelievable sweet spot.
Again, let’s think back to the concept of comparative advantage. Converting Chase UR points to Aeroplan might not be the most value-adding opportunity, since we have plenty of methods for earning Aeroplan points here in Canada already.
However, if you’d like to concentrate your earning efforts in the Aeroplan program, the current signup bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred can also be viewed as a way to earn 100,000 Aeroplan points – perhaps in conjunction with the welcome bonus on a new Chase Aeroplan World Elite Mastercard, also launching towards the end of 2021.
Applying for Chase Cards for Canadians
While a record-high welcome bonus is always exciting, this one is a lot more exciting for US-based points enthusiasts than for those of us in Canada.
That’s because most Americans with a credit history can apply for a Chase Sapphire Preferred as the starting point in their credit card journey; however, for Canadians who dabble with US credit cards, we typically need to build at last one year’s worth of credit history (and often more) before Chase will approve us for a card.
Canadians are generally advised to begin with American Express US cards via Global Transfer or Nova Credit, beef up their credit history with another one or two Amex US products during the first year, and then apply for their first Chase credit card around the 12-to-18-month mark of their US credit card journey.
Unless you already have an SSN from living or working in the US, it’ll also be important to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in the meantime, since Chase requires either a SSN or an ITIN to process your credit card application.
Even then, the application may get declined initially due to your relatively new credit file. In these cases, a reconsideration request can often push the application through, especially if you’ve demonstrated consistent payment history and reasonable utilization across multiple credit lines.
At the same time, in the first 12 to 18 months of your credit history, you should also be careful not to open too many personal credit accounts if you’re interested in getting Chase cards down the line. That’s because Chase enforces the infamous “5/24 rule”, in which your application for a Chase card will be automatically declined if you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the past 24 months.
(Remember, business credit cards issued by Amex US do not report to your personal credit file, and so will not count towards your overall credit health. On the other hand, this means that Amex US business cards can be obtained without impacting your Chase 5/24 status, so it’s a bit of a double-edged sword.)
Altogether, this means that the welcome bonus of 100,000 UR points can be very exciting for those of you who had already started on your US credit card journey about one year ago, and you should absolutely go ahead and apply.
However, if you’re just starting out now, then it’ll still be a while until you’re eligible for your first Chase card.
US credit cards would continue to hold the promise of a wider range of signup bonuses and card benefits than the Canadian game, but there’d be no guarantee that this particular offer of 100,000 UR points will still be around 12 to 18 months from now.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: A Long-Term Keeper?
Having held the Chase Sapphire Preferred for a few years now, I’ve found it to be an excellent card for making purchases when travelling overseas.
As a Visa product, its acceptance rate is better than other no-FX US-issued cards by American Express, and I’m also able to earn more valuable rewards points on my foreign spending compared to, say, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite here in Canada.
(However, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard would be a worthy alternative here. Its HSBC Rewards points can be quite powerful, and you also won’t need to deal with the FX impact, if any, of paying off a US credit card with Canadian funds.)
Given its moderate annual fee of US$95, the flexibility of Ultimate Rewards points, the complimentary DoorDash DashPass membership which I’ve been able to use in Canada, and my desire to build a strong long-term relationship with Chase in the US, I’ve been more than happy to keep the card open year after year.
Now, it’s worth noting that Chase doesn’t enforce the once-in-a-lifetime rule on signup bonuses quite as strictly as American Express, instead using a combination of a 48-month rule (i.e., you can’t get a repeat bonus within any 48-month period) and the 5/24 rule as outlined above. In theory, you could also pursue a strategy of collecting repeat signup bonuses on Chase cards on a longer time horizon.
However, the 5/24 rule makes this somewhat difficult in practice. One would imagine that individuals who are keen on maximizing US credit cards would be interested in getting at least five new cards in a given two-year period, often resulting in having to play a waiting game to “get back under 5/24” before you can get your next Chase card.
Because of the limitations imposed by Chase’s 5/24 rule, I think it can be a wise strategy to keep the Chase Sapphire Preferred open in the long run and keep your UR points active before deciding how to use them, all while building a stronger relationship with the issuer.
There are always other sources of UR points that you can pursue, such as signing up for the Chase Ink business cards for their relatively high signup bonuses as well.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred, long considered the best starting point within Chase’s credit card portfolio in the US, is now offering 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points upon spending US$4,000 in the first three months.
That’s the best welcome bonus in the card’s history, and if you’ve built up a year of US credit history but haven’t applied for this card yet, now’s the time to take action and apply.
There’s no published end date on this offer, although my estimate is that we’ll see it sticking around throughout the summer months. In the past, we’ve often heard rumours swirling around the community when a big Chase signup bonus was set to end soon, so keep your ears close to the ground if you need to wait just a few more months to beef up your US credit file before applying.