Heather Bertels, a 37-year-old financial professional from Olympia, Washington, had several credit cards for earning travel rewards over the years.
If you’re interested in signing up for a Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Bertels has some tips and advice that could help you make your decision.
The sign-up bonus
Between the card’s welcome bonus (Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® .) and other points she earned from early spending, Bertels was able to redeem points for a ticket to Peru that was worth $1,400. She was able to easily transfer her Chase points to the airline with the best flight price.
» Learn more: How to get started with frequent flyer programs
Bertels mainly saves her points for airline tickets. Her husband has family in Germany, so she redeems points with Lufthansa to travel there once or twice a year.
When Bertels had a charge for Netflix even though she wasn’t a subscriber, Chase caught the charge before she did.
They texted her a message to ask if she authorized the charge, she texted back “no,” and within minutes fraud protection called her, canceled her card and had a new card sent overnight. The one or two times she called customer service herself, someone directly answered without having to be redirected via an automated system.
Don’t fear the annual fee
The annual fee of $450 was much higher than Bertels’ previous card. But, she gets a $300 travel credit each year. Plus she gets free TSA Precheck, Priority Pass lounge access and redemption versatility for many airlines and hotel chains. That’s in addition to bonuses she’s received. All this makes the annual fee worth it to her.
» Learn more: Which credit cards offer airport lounge access?
Gathering points is a family activity
Bertels charges everything from lunch to utilities on her card. Her husband does the same with his card as an authorized user.
Bertels and her husband transfer mileage and points strategically based on how close they are to rewards on each other’s frequent flyer accounts. Chase lets them transfer points across accounts. Right now they are saving up for first-class upgrades to Germany.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Chase Ultimate Rewards: How to earn them and how to use them
How I flew for free: Round trip NYC to India using Chase Ultimate Rewards
This strategy is how I started earning major travel rewards