Chase offers many different credit cards for the US market – each with different features and offers. These range from cards with no annual fee but still some good reward offerings, up to premium cards with extensive travel benefits but with a high fee. This articles look at the best of this range of cards and discusses what we think are the most beneficial cards for different users.
Best overall travel rewards card – Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of our favorite travel rewards credit cards on the market in 2019. This is a mid-range card with an annual fee of $95. Chase offer cards with more benefits that will appeal to some – but considering the fee paid versus the benefits offered, we think this is their best overall value travel rewards card. Most mid-level spenders will be able to get great value from it.
The card rewards spending with Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. This is one of the best financial rewards programs around, with a strong reputation, good value for points use and an excellent set of transfer partners.
There is a welcome bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months. This is worth $750 when spent on travel (through the Chase travel portal at a rate of 1.25 cents per point), and likely more if transferred to partners to book airline or hotel rewards.
The travel benefits offered are excellent considering the annual fee of just $95. These include:
- No foreign exchange fees on purchases with the card
- Double points earning on travel and dining spend globally. Spending on all travel and dining earns two Ultimate Rewards Points per dollar, all other spending earns one point per dollar.
- The option to transfer points to nine airline programs and three hotel programs. This offers more choice than many other schemes, and all partners offer an excellent 1:1 transfer rate.
- Baggage and trip cancellation and delay insurance, for travel purchased using the card
- Free Collision Damage Waiver for car rentals
- Included purchase protection and warranty extension (see our guide for full details on this and other benefits)
Best card for premium benefits – Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is an excellent premium card from Chase offering top level packaged benefits, but at a higher price of $450 a year. With such a high fee, this card is not for everyone. But if you can make use of the excellent benefits offered, and the higher rewards earning, then this card is definitely worth a look.
The card offers rewards in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. This gives the same great access to rewards as the Sapphire Preferred Card, with nine airline and three hotel partners. Earning however are better with the premium Sapphire Reserve Card – three points per dollar on all travel and dining spend, and one point per dollar elsewhere.
Points also have a higher value when redeemed for travel through the Chase portal – 1.5 cents per point (as opposed to 1.25 cents per point if you hold the Preferred card). Note too that points can be combined from any other Chase cards you hold, and redeemed at this same rate.
There is a sign up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, for total spending of $4,000 within the first three months. This may be lower than that offered by the Sapphire Preferred Card, but keep in mind that points are worth 25% more with the Reserve Card when redeemed for travel!
Premium benefits on offer
The added benefits of the Sapphire Reserve card lie in its premium travel offerings. These are what justify the higher annual fee and include:
- A $300 travel expenditure allowance per year. This is an automatic reimbursement of up to $300 spending on the card on any travel purchases. This goes a long way to justifying the annual fee!
- One Priority Pass membership, offering unlimited lounge access in 1,200 global locations.
- A $100 application fee credit for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment. This is offered once every four years.
- Better included insurance. This includes trip delay cover starting at six hours (instead of 12 hours with the Sapphire Preferred card cover), enhanced medical cover and free roadside service calls (four per year).
For those that travel regularly and can use the benefits, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is an excellent choice. It is quite rightly often compared with the lower cost reward card, the Sapphire Preferred Card.
The higher annual fee is offset by the $300 travel credit, and the remaining extra that is paid over the cost of the Sapphire Preferred Card is well worth it for the travel and insurance benefits, Priority Pass membership and increased Chase Ultimate Reward points earning rate. A frequent traveler can make great use of this card!
Best card for cashback – Chase Freedom Unlimited® card
Chase offers two great cards paying cashback on purchases– the Chase Freedom® Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. You won’t earn points or airline miles with these cards, or receive additional premium travel benefits. Instead you will get a simple to use card offering easy and reliable cashback on all your spending.
Of the two, we prefer the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. This pays cashback on purchases at the following simple, fixed rates:
- Three per cent on all purchases (up to $20,000 total spend) in the first year
- 1.5 percent cashback after the first year (with no limit)
Additionally, the card features:
- No annual fee
- A sign up bonus of $150 cashback with spending of just $500 within the first three months
- A zero percent APR offer on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months of card ownership (balance transfer has a three percent fee for the promotion period, five percent after this)
- Extended warranty for card purchases (extends a US manufacturer warranty by one year on warranties of three years or less)
- Purchase protection. (covers card purchases up to $500 for 120 days against damage or theft)
Best card for high rate cashback – the Chase Freedom® Card
The Chase Freedom card is a good alternative to the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card which can reward diligent spenders well.
It features a category based cashback earning structure:
- Five percent cashback on bonus categories (up to $1,500 spend per quarter qualifies). These categories change each quarter, and you need to register online for the bonuses
- One percent cashback on all other spending
This is a much more complicated to use earning system, but if you can spend enough in the right categories, it can be very rewarding. Such category based cards offer some of the best possible rewards in the market. If you are prepared to keep track of categories, register online and perhaps plan your spending accordingly, this can be a good option. To give you an idea, categories for 2019 include:
- Quarter 1 (up to March 31st) – Gas stations, road tolls and drugstores
- Quarter 2 (up to June 30th) – Grocery stores and home improvement stores
- Quarter 3 (up to September 30th) – Gas stations and select online streaming
Keep in mind, of course, that you don’t have to use one card for all your spending. Combining the bonus categories of this with spending on other cards as well can be a good strategy.
Most of the other features of the Freedom card are the same as the Freedom Unlimited card – zero annual fee, zero APR on purchases and balance transfers (with a three percent transfer fee) for 15 months, purchase protection and extended warranty, and a sign up bonus of $150 cashback with spending of just $500 within the first three months.
With no annual fee, an easy to reach spending target, and good direct cashback rates on all purchases, cashback cards make a lot of sense! To get the best cashback value look carefully at where you will spend and choose the most appropriate card.
Note that these cashback cards both have a transaction fee of three percent for purchases overseas in foreign currency. This is a shame, as many other Chase cards do not charge this, and for regular overseas travelers this can make quite a difference.
Best card for business use – Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Chase offers some great credit cards designed for small business owners – the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card is our top choice.
This comes with an annual fee of $95, but provides some excellent benefits for this. Spending is rewarded with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. There are no transaction fees on overseas spending either, helping this stand out as a great card for business travel.
First of all, there is a huge welcome bonus of 80,000 points for initial spending of $5,000 within the first three months. This is one of the highest bonuses on the market, worth at least $1,000 if redeemed for travel through the Chase portal.
Ongoing points earning is also very good if you pay attention to the rates:
- Three points per dollar are earned for spending (up to $150,000 per year) in certain categories – including travel, shipping, online advertising and internet / phone services
- All other spending earns one point per dollar
As the card earns Ultimate Rewards Points, it offers full access to the redemption options of this scheme. This includes redeeming points for 1.25 cents each for travel, and the option to transfer to airline and hotel partners at a great 1:1 ratio. They can then be used for flight awards or hotel night redemptions, and if used well can achieve a value exceeding 1.25 cents per point. See our guide to redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points for more details and ideas here.
Some of the other useful benefits of the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card include:
- Included phone cover for employees of up to $600 (with a $100 deductible excess) for theft or damage (when the phone account is paid using the card)
- No fee for adding cards for employees (earning the same rewards)
- Travel and emergency assistance services
- Extended warranty for card purchases (extends a US manufacturer warranty by one year, on warranties of three years or less)
- Purchase protection, which covers card purchases up to $500 for 120 days against damage or theft
- Free Collision Damage Waiver when you rent cards with the cards, both in the US and overseas.
Overall, this is a great card for small business with higher expenses. If you will spend enough to trigger the sign up bonus, and have high expenses in the bonuses categories this will be a very rewarding card for just $95 per year. Business with high travel expenses will especially benefit from the zero transaction fees overseas, and the triple points earning for travel.
A cashback alternative for businesses
The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card is also worth considering for small business owners. In general, this offers good rewards for businesses with smaller expenses – the bonuses and spending limits are much lower than with the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card.
This is a cashback card, with no annual fee. It offers a sign up bonus of $500 cashback for initial spending of $3,000 in the first three months. As this is a cashback card it cannot be used with the Chase Ultimate Rewards Points program if it is the only card held.
Ongoing cashback earning is at the following rates:
- An excellent five percent for spending (up to $25,000 per year) at office supply stores, and on internet / phone services.
- Two percent cashback for spending (again up to $25,000 per year) at restaurants and gas stations.
- One percent cashback on all other spending
And if the categories of either of these two cards really do not align with your business spending, there is a third option too. The Chase Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card is a similar offering with the same zero fee and sign up bonus as the Ink Business Cash Credit Card. There are no bonus categories with this card, however. All spending earns a simple 1.5 per cent cashback.
These business cards all come with the same additional services, including purchase protection, extended warranty, travel and emergency assistance services, free Collision Damage Waiver for car rentals and ability to add additional business cardholders for free.