Part 3 – The Credit Card Travel Game: Cars, Hotels, Activities

For Everything Else – Chase Ultimate Rewards (Sapphire Preferred, Reserved, and Freedom)

Can I just say that I love these too? They’re super transferable points to any participating partner, so they’re extremely robust. These are how we paid for the Car Rental, SeaWorld tickets, and hotels recently. But to be honest, we never ended up transferring them, they were best spent through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal. Here’s what we’ve gotten so far from each of these:

  • Round-trip airline flights to Alaska (Southwest didn’t have any Alaska options).
  • San Diego Hotel for 3 nights.
  • San Diego car rental for 4 days.
  • SeaWorld tickets for 3 (our two-year-old was free).
  • Phoenix car rental for 4 days.

Sapphire Reserve

This is the cool-daddy-slick-breeze of cards, it’s actually made of metal instead of plastic. But who cares? What are the perks!? First of all, this one can be hard to swallow – It comes with a whopping $450 annual fee. The first perk, is the 50,000 point bonus. This isn’t as good as the 100,000 point bonus when the first introduced the card, but it’s nothing to blink at either.

The first $300 you spend on travel are refunded as “travel credit,” and that renews every December. So when my wife and I got this card in November, we quickly bought a $300 gift card to our favorite hotel. That expense was immediately refunded, then in December on our next statement we had another $300 to spend which would also be immediately refunded. That’s $600 in refunds for spending $450 so far, and we haven’t even mentioned the points sign-on bonus.

Once we got the point bonus, those are redeemable through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal at 1.5x the value. In other words, you can get cash back for 50,000 points ($500 worth), or you can book through Chase and get $750 worth of value on those points. Their system has several options, including major theme parks, car rental agencies, and hotels. All in all, for the $450 fee, you can get $1,350 worth of travel (net gain of $900) right now. Still, I may suggest waiting until the 100,000 point offer, or at least a better one than 50,000 comes back for this one.

To summarize the Sapphire Reserve:

  • $450 annual fee
  • 50,000 point sign on bonus
  • $300 travel credit (which can be used twice before you need to pay the annual fee again).
  • Each point is worth 1.5x more when booking through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Sapphire Preferred

This is similar to the Reserve, but is a bit easier to swallow out of the gate. For starters, there is no annual fee in year one. In all, for no first-year fee you can get $625 worth of travel. I’ll summarize it below:

  • $0 annual fee in year one, $95 thereafter (cancel before you have to pay the $95 fee).
  • 50,000 point sign on bonus
  • No travel credit
  • Each point is worth 1.25x more when booking through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Between the two Southwest cards, and the Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, and Ultimate Rewards cards, that was 5 Chase-branded cards in a single calendar year. Chase will blacklist us for two years. We’ll cancel the cards before any annual fees pop up again, and then in 2019 we’ll be eligible for the rewards again. My credit will have rebounded, and I’ll be ready to take advantage of the same awesome sign-on bonuses again.

If you happen to be a business owner, your ability to play this game just doubled! Your business can also sign up for credit cards with amazing bonuses as well. Good luck!

Best Ultimate Rewards Referral Links

Right now you can get the same offer on the Sapphire Preferred card that Chase is offering by using the referral link below. Yes, Chase gives me some kickback – so if you’re into that kind of thing, go ahead and use the link. Or if you’re not into that kind of thing, just go straight to Chase and they’ll hook you up (and nobody will get a bonus).

View Sapphire Preferred Card Offer
Back To Part 2


  1. Steve September 26, 2017 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    How did you link 2 cards to the same southwest account? One card in your name and one in your wife’s name?

    • KirkSalisbury November 12, 2017 at 7:11 am - Reply

      Hi Steve,

      Yep, you’re right. On the credit card application it has you input a Rapid Rewards number, and we just input the same number on both applications.

Leave A Comment