With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, a travel credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, you’ll get more rewards on dining and travel. With the Chase Freedom®, you’ll get a generous introductory 0% APR offer and earn extra cash back on rotating categories — and historically, that bonus category has included gas stations at least three months out of the year.
Here are the best times to use each card when you hit the road.
If you’re renting a car: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The feature: Primary car rental insurance
If you’re worried about taking your car on a long road trip, or if you’re looking for a more spacious and fuel-efficient ride, consider a rental. Rental cars are generally well-maintained and offer unlimited miles at no extra cost, making them ideal for long road trips.
Put your rental car on your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and decline the car rental company’s collision damage waiver, and you can take advantage of the card’s primary car rental insurance. If you get in an accident, you won’t have to rely on your personal car insurance policy, as you would with secondary car rental insurance. Instead, you’ll be able to use your card’s coverage.
If you’re at a gas station: Chase Freedom®
The feature: 5% cash back on rotating categories, up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter
The Chase Freedom® offers 5% cash back on rotating categories that, in past years, have included gas stations. The 5% cash back is good on up to $1,500 in spending in the quarter, and you get 1% cash back on all other spending. When the 5% bonus is in effect, maximize your cash-back rewards by purchasing snacks at the gas station, instead of stopping at a grocery store.
If you’re at a hotel, Airbnb or restaurant: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The feature: 2 points per dollar spent on dining and travel
Chase classifies hotels as travel costs, so you’ll earn 2 points per dollar when you book stays with your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. When redeemed for travel, these points are worth 1.25 cents each
You can also earn extra points for nontraditional lodging, such as the peer-to-peer vacation rental website Airbnb, which is classified as a travel agency.
You’ll more points from your card when you pull over for a meal, too. Whether you’re going to a sit-down restaurant or a drive-through, you can use Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to earn 2 points per dollar spent on dining.
Want a credit card that gets you free hotel stays? Read about NerdWallet’s Best Hotel Credit Cards.
If your car breaks down: Chase Freedom®
The feature: 0% APR
Car problems happen, and footing the bill for towing and repairs can be expensive. But if you still have a 0% APR deal, it can be a little less painful. The Chase Freedom® comes with a generous 0% APR offer that could come in handy on your trip: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.99% - 25.74% Variable APR.
If your introductory 0% APR offer is still active, you can make smaller interest-free payments on the repairs instead of coughing up the money all at once.
Nerd note: Both the Chase Freedom® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offer towing services through the Visa Signature benefits program, too. Call 1-800-VISA-TOW to use this service.
Read about NerdWallet’s Best Low-Interest Credit Cards to learn about other 0% APR offers.
Once you’ve finalized your road trip credit card strategy, make sure your wallet’s ready for your trip by going through this list:
- Check your rewards balances. If you’ve stashed up a lot of points or cash back over the past few months, consider redeeming them for your upcoming trip to trim expenses.
- Set up a travel alert. If you’re driving cross-country, log onto your Chase account and set up travel alerts, noting the days you plan to be in each state. This way, you can avoid triggering an accidental fraud alert.
- Use auto-pay. If you’re hitting the road for a few weeks, avoid getting saddled with late fees by setting up auto-pay before you leave. Make sure you have enough in the bank to cover the charges without overdrawing.
With some planning, you’ll get the most out of your Chase Freedom® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and enjoy a successful road trip.
Image via iStock.