Courtesy of Chase

Be honest — are you going to redeem those travel perks? 

Molly McArdle
March 30, 2018

Chase Bank issues several credit cards, all of which earn cardholders its branded Ultimate Rewards points — one of the most valuable credit card perks available.

With new transfer partners Aer Lingus and Iberia airlines, Chase Ultimate Rewards cardholders can now transfer points to nine airlines and four hotel programs, including Hyatt and Ritz-Carlton. Ultimate Rewards can also be used to redeem cash back (at a flat rate of one cent per point on your statement) or to book travel, including plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, and experiences.

Chase currently offers six Ultimate Rewards cards, though only four are available to consumers (the remaining two are exclusively for businesses). Which one is right for you? Travel + Leisure breaks it down.

Chase Credit Cards Without Fees

No-fee cards generally have fewer perks than their fee-charging alternatives but, well, they’re free. (As long as you pay off your balance, of course.)

Best For: Cardholders Who Don’t Really Want to Figure Out How It All Works

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a no-sweat, no-fee card perfect for cardholders who don’t want to decode a complicated rewards system. Cardholders earn a flat rate of 1.5 points per dollar while enjoying plenty of useful perks, like rental car insurance. Because there are foreign transaction fees, this card isn’t great for frequent international travelers.

Benefits:

  • Earn 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases
  • Damage and theft protection on new purchases
  • Guaranteed 90-day returns on new purchases
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Rental car insurance
  • Zero Liability Protection, which means you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges made with your credit card

Sample Sign-Up Bonus: Get $150 (15,000 points) back after you spend $500 in the first three months.

Annual fee: $0

Best For: Cardholders Who Really Strategize

The Chase Freedom card is another no-fee card, but this one rewards strategy-minded cardholders. With a flat rate of one point per dollar, its default earning rate is lower than the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card — but it also offers a significantly higher earning rate of five points per dollar on select spending categories that rotate quarterly. Because it charges foreign transaction fees, this card is also not ideal for frequent international travelers.

Benefits:

  • Earn five points per dollar on rotating spending categories
  • Unlimited one point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Damage and theft protection on new purchases
  • Guaranteed 90-day returns on new purchases
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Rental car insurance
  • Zero Liability Protection

Sample Sign-Up Bonus: $150 (15,000 points) back after you spend $500 in the first three months

Annual Fee: $0

Chase Credit Cards With Fees

You get what you pay for. Credit cards that charge annual fees almost always offer up commensurately more reward options. The real question is whether or not you’ll use them. For frequent travelers, the rewards from these cards can more than make up for their annual fees. But if those rewards go unused, these cards are not so cost effective.

Best For: Cardholders Who Travel Often

A great option for cardholders who want the extra perks, but not a hefty fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card waives its $95 annual fee in the first year. With no foreign transaction fees, this is an easy pick for cardholders who frequently find themselves abroad. The card also includes delayed baggage insurance, trip cancellation insurance, and rental car insurance, making it an even more attractive option for travelers. Cardholders earn double on travel and dining purchases and see their Ultimate Rewards points go 25 percent farther when spent in the Ultimate Rewards online travel portal.

Benefits:

  • Earn two points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases
  • Earn one point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Sapphire Preferred points are worth 25 percent more when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards online travel portal
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Delayed baggage insurance
  • Trip interruption or cancellation insurance
  • Rental car insurance
  • Access to exclusive events and experiences like Sundance cast parties and lounges at music festivals

Sample Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months, plus another 5,000 points if you add an authorized user who also makes a purchase of any value in the first three months.

Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)

Best For: Cardholders Who Travel All the Time 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card has the biggest annual fee of all the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards — $450 — but for frequent travelers, the perks add up very quickly. First, there let's talk about the points. Not only do cardholders earn three points per dollar on all travel and dining purchases, but those points go 50 percent farther when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards online travel portal. Then, there’s the annual $300 travel credit, which is automatically applied to any travel purchases. And if you don’t already  have it, Chase will foot the bill for your Global Entry application. But perhaps the best perk is its Priority Pass Select lounge access, which gets the cardholder and a guest access to more than 1,000 lounges in airports around the world.

Benefits:

  • Earn three points per dollar on travel and dining purchases made worldwide
  • Earn one point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Sapphire Reserve points are worth 50 percent more when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards online travel portal
  • Receive an annual $300 travel credit
  • Rental car insurance
  • Trip interruption and cancellation insurance
  • Receive a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • Priority Pass Select lounge access
  • Access to exclusive events and experiences

Sample Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

Annual Fee: $450

Interested in applying for a Chase credit card? Be sure to confirm the latest sign-up bonuses with Chase directly, as they can change often.

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