A Beginner’s Guide to Chase Travel Cards

Chase has its own line of travel cards, as well as plenty of co-branded cards.
May 6, 2022

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Chase travel credit cards are some of the most popular and beginner-friendly cards. Perhaps you’ve heard a friend or family member totaling up all the great rewards they’re redeeming and you want in. Even if you’ve already got a co-branded card, such as those offered by Hyatt and United, Chase’s own travel credit cards are well-worth investing in. Let’s take a look at the different types of cards, why they’re valuable and the different benefits they provide.

What are Chase travel credit cards?

Chase has two very distinct categories of travel credit cards. The first is Chase’s own branded cards, like the Chase Sapphire cards or the Chase Freedom cards. These can earn either cash back or points, depending on which card you hold. Chase’s travel cards earn Ultimate Rewards®. These points can be used in many different ways, including:

  • Cash back.

  • Gift cards.

  • Reward travel.

  • Transfers to other partners.

The second type of travel credit card that Chase offers is the co-branded credit card, which is a partnership between Chase and an airline or hotel. This includes options such as the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card and the United Quest℠ Card.

These cards will earn points in the currency of its respective program. For IHG, you’ll earn IHG points. For United, you’ll earn United MileagePlus miles.

Earning Chase points

When you sign-up for a new credit card, you’ll usually be able to earn a welcome bonus. This bonus is a lump-sum deposit of points into your account once you’ve met a certain spend threshold.

Two of Chase’s most popular travel cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, both come with a welcome bonus in points:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

You’ll also keep earning Chase points after you receive your sign-up bonus, though the number of Chase points you’ll earn will depend on which card you hold.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, for example, will earn 10x points on dining and 5x points on airfare purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You’ll also earn 3x points on all other travel purchases, including dining purchases, though you’ll be on the hook for a hefty $550 annual fee.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, meanwhile, will charge you a $95 annual fee and earns 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and 2x points on all other travel.

Nerdy tip: The more expensive Chase Sapphire Reserve® card allows you to redeem your points for 1.5 cents in value via the Chase travel portal, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card will give you a value of 1.25 cents per point.

The value of flexible point currencies

So why would you pick a Chase card rather than a co-branded credit card, especially if you’re pretty loyal to one chain? Say you really like to stay at Hyatt, so you’re trying to decide between the World of Hyatt Credit Card ($95 annual fee) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card ($95 annual fee).

The World of Hyatt Credit Card earns up to 9x Hyatt points at Hyatt and 2x points on dining, transit, flights and gym memberships. It earns 1x points everywhere else.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, meanwhile, earns 5x points on travel booked with the Chase travel portal and 3x points on dining. It also earns 3x points on all other travel — after spending your first $300 on travel purchases annually — and 1x points for all other purchases.

On its face, you can see that World of Hyatt Credit Card will earn you more points than a Chase card, at least when spending at Hyatt. But if you’re into dining out and making normal travel purchases, you’ll outearn the Hyatt card with the Chase card every time.

And using the Chase card won't stop you from getting Hyatt points, either. This is thanks to the status of Chase Ultimate Rewards® as a transferable point currency.

Chase Ultimate Rewards® transfer to 14 different hotel and airline partners, Hyatt included. These points transfer over at a 1:1 ratio so one Chase point becomes 1 Hyatt point.

Even more important than earning Hyatt points is the ability to transfer to other partners. Chase Ultimate Rewards® can be turned into United miles, which you can use to book flights. You can transfer them over to Marriott for a luxurious stay in Europe or even send them to Southwest for cheap flights to Hawaii.

With a whole host of different partners, your Chase Ultimate Rewards® have far more versatility than any single airline or hotel credit card can provide.

Maximizing your benefits

Chase’s travel cards do more than just earn and transfer points. Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, for example, come with additional benefits simply for being a cardholder.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card features an annual $50 hotel credit, good for hotels booked through the Chase travel portal.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides even more benefits to support its $550 annual fee:

Although other travel cards also come with handy benefits, the $300 credit the Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides effectively knocks a major chunk off the annual fee.

If you’re looking to get a Chase travel card

Is there a best Chase travel credit card? The answer depends on you. If you’re looking for a moderately priced card that’ll provide solid benefits, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card may be a good option for you. If you’re wanting some perks at the airport and don’t mind shelling out more for an annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® may be a better fit.

Whether you’re looking for your first travel card or already have half a dozen under your belt, Chase’s travel credit cards offer excellent earnings and solid perks for any potential traveler.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

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