Getting to know Chase


My grandma says that in the old days guys would ask her out just so that they could get closer to her twin sister.  UGH!  As a twin myself, I was repulsed by that idea- but I’m going to recommend it.  NOT for your dating life (that’s so not cool!)…but for your CHASE application life.

Let me explain.

I often draw my posts from conversations I’ve had with curious friends, and one friend told me excitedly that he had a nice chunk of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points saved up.  Awesome!  He wanted to know if his Chase Ultimate Rewards Points could help him get to Europe.  “Sure” I said…”but tell me about your card portfolio…”  Turns out these were CUR points earned with the Chase Freedom card.

Do you see how the advice applies?  Not yet?

I want you to date the Chase Freedom card just to get closer to the Chase Ink Bold or Chase Sapphire Preferred- Chase Freedom’s older sisters.

I’ll explain by pointing out a few things about Chase/Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

1.) If you are new to this credit card points thing and you don’t have that stellar of a credit score and have no previous relationship with Chase, your best starting point is the Chase Freedom Card.




a.) …because it has no annual fee and therefore you can keep it forever and ever and it can strengthen your length of history and in turn, strengthen your credit score.

b.) …because it earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points which will EVENTUALLY be valuable for you…(I’ll say more about that later)

c.) …because you can actually earn points pretty easily thanks to quarterly categories that earn 5 points per dollar.

This is their current schedule of categories…

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This card is popular not just for us travel folk.  Ordinary broke people get this card too because each point can be cashed out for a cent.  So if you have 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, you can cash them out for $100.  A nice pair of new running shoes on Chase.  Or a date to that expensive restaurant downtown.  Thanks Chase.  We like you.

Ok, but before you go getting those new running shoes or eating tiny plates of fancy food, let me tell you about the other cards in the Chase clan… the ones that help you get more value out of those Chase Ultimate Rewards Points.

2.) Let’s introduce the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.  This is the card I used to recommend all the time.

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a.) …because at times it has a 50,000 point sign-up bonus, but currently the bonus is only 40,000.  (This bonus pretty much determines whether I recommend this card or the one i’ll mention next…)

b.) …because you get 7% of your year’s earned points as an extra earning on top of that.  Including your bonus.  So if all you earn is that 40,000 point bonus, at the end of the year you get an extra 2,800 points tacked onto that.

c.) …because you earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining expenses.  Which makes up…most of my expenses lol

d.) …because this card offers an important benefit that the Chase Freedom Card does not offer: with this card you can transfer those Chase Ultimate Reward Points to miles.  For instance, CUR points transfer to United Miles at a 1:1 ratio.  Follow this link to learn more about Chase transfer partners.

This is NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH using Chase’s travel booking tools!!!!  DO NOT use Chase’s own system for “helping” you use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel.  (Drew has a great post spelling out why the Chase Ultimate Rewards booking portal is a ripoff.)

As you can see below, they tell you that the bonus can be used as “$500 towards airfare or hotels when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.”

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They say that like it’s a good thing. But if you transfer 40,000 points to United miles at a 1:1 ratio, that could be a round trip ticket to Peru instead.

A quick search on Kayak shows that’s worth about $760, not $500.

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So rather than following their queues for using your points for travel, look for this part…

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Or follow the link I provided in point D above.

Ok.  Now I’ve gotten that out there, we can talk about the card I recommend most to newcomers these days.

3.) Nowadays I tend to recommend the Chase Ink Bold card, even though it’s a business card.


a.) …because it currently has a bonus of 50,000 bonus points.

b.) …because you can get 5 points per dollar on some expenses (mostly businessy…lifey expenses like phone bills, tv bills, office supply stores, etc. More practical for stationary folks than constantly-on-the-road types like Drew and I.)

c.) …because this card also has the point transfer benefit mentioned above.

d.) …because the whole “business card” thing is not as exclusive as you may think.   It’s 2014. You don’t have to have a store-front to have a business.  Do you sell things on Etsy?  Are you a music performer on the side?  Everybody’s a freelance something or other these days and that is totally a business.


So, the takeaway here is that the Chase Freedom card definitely serves a purpose.  It’s good for someone who is too new to the credit-card thing to be approved for the Chase Ink Bold or the Chase Sapphire Preferred.  And it also helps you with that length-of-history portion of your credit score.

But in some senses, it doesn’t really serve you well as a traveler until you get the Ink Bold or Chase Sapphire Preferred to go along with it, because of that transfer perk.  So in a sense…it’s a way to get you closer to the card you really want.

A word of gratitude and honesty…

If you are applying for any of the cards mentioned above, Drew and I will love you forever if you use our affiliate links over at Travel is Free. We will love you forever and live another day as full-time travelers and bloggers.  No small thing and I wake up every morning immensely grateful for our readers.  So if you want to support us by using our links for your credit card applications, look for the banner at the bottom of Drew’s posts or click on his credit cards tab.

*Sidenote… if you ever date a twin, never EVER do so just to get to her twin.  You’re disgusting!*

**Another sidenote, my twin is an awesome musician and I am going to shamelessly plug her awesome music now.  Go check out Annie Yoder on youtube.**



19 Comments on “Getting to know Chase

  1. Thanks for this info! I just found your blog and have enjoyed reading the archives. I’m a newbie with miles, so your posts have been really helpful!! Will definitely use your link when applying (:

  2. Im new to the mileage program and I got the united explorer last sept. Ive accumulated 60k+ miles after the sigm up bonus and now I dont know what to do with it until i came across your page. Now all I have to do is come up with an awesome trip to use it before the devaluation. Thank you to both of you for your posts! Keep it coming :0

    • Thanks so much for your comment! Glad you’re inspired to come up with an awesome trip for your points!

  3. In looking at the 1:1 transfer program, I did not see Delta SkyMiles listed as one of the travel programs I would be able to use. Is that true?

  4. Sarah, you’re right Chase Ultimate Rewards do not transfer to Delta SkyMiles at a 1:1, but if you want to go a different route SPG points do transfer to Delta at a 1:1. Unfortunately I don’t collect with Delta enough to be able to suggest much more aside from their own card of course.

  5. I’m a newbie who wants to travel the world with my 5 kids. I got the American Blue Sky ( was given 20,000 miles) and the Capitol One Venture Card (also got 20,000 miles) to help offset the costs of airfare. What do you think of those cards? Is it worth the trouble getting a card with an annual fee?

    • I’m actually not familiar with the American Blue Sky card and I’ll have to say that the Capital One Venture Card hits my pet-peeve a bit in that I feel like they advertise themselves as a great rewards card but in reality they offer points that can reimburse travel expenses rather than actual airline miles or points that can transfer into miles. These reimbursement tactics get you way less than actual miles will. So it urks me that they misrepresent their product a bit.

      But don’t get discouraged! I definitely don’t mean to discourage you at all! The “Oh no I can’t get too many credit cards or my credit score will tank” thing is a myth! If you “play your cards right” (pun intended lol) then this hobby can actually help improve your credit score. So in other words, you can keep those cards if you’d like and go for the better cards too.

      So I will say this can be a bit of a complicated question to answer because it’s different for everyone, but it can definitely be worth getting a card with an annual fee depending on the annual fee and depending on the perks offered by the card. However, there are also a lot of great cards out there for which the first-year’s annual fee is waived.

      I would say about three months after you last applied for the cards you mentioned, apply for another card or two, but try to choose one that either has bank points that can be transferred into miles (like American Express Membership Rewards Points and some Chase Ultimate Rewards Points cards) or a card that is the airline’s actual card and therefore earns you that airline’s miles. For an idea of which cards we usually recommend, you can click on the “credit cards” tab on my husband’s site: His site is sort of a companion site to mine (or visa versa) so I frequently send people over there for more information.

      Also feel free to email me at caroline (at) travel is free (dot) com if you have more questions about all the info I just blurted out there!

      Glad you’ve come to my site!!

  6. I found your site through a BootsnAll facebook post. I have been planning a dream round-the-world trip for many years now, endlessly and tirelessly saving all my hard earned cash. I’ve only been reading your and Drew’s blogs for an hour or so, but I must say I’m considering giving up on the round-the-world trip and try this hacking thing instead! My significant other (and traveling partner in crime) has always been more fond of the multiple shorter trips than the months-long whopper of a trip I was trying to plan for our round-the-world getaway. With this type of approach, it seems like a perfect balance of amazing adventure for me and intermittent down-time for him. So thank you so much for all that you and Drew are blogging for us strangers who drool over your life! I will definitely be spending most of my waking hours (aside from those that I spend tied at my work desk) on both of sites for the foreseeable future and you will probably see my name pop up on a few more comment boards as I wrap my head around this. And as soon as I figure out which two (thats my limit for now) credit cards to sign up for, I will click on Drew’s banner!

    On this topic of plastic, I currently have an Alaska Airlines credit card that you have now convinced me to close. The Ink Bold will probably be it’s replacement. My significant other also just recently closed his Delta card after Delta screwed him over a bit, so he’s in the market for a new card (perfect timing for me to pitch this idea to him!).

    Thanks again and keep on being awesome! 🙂

    • So glad you found your way to the blog!! Welcome! 🙂

      If the round-the-world trip is something you’re still interested in doing some day, you can absolutely marry that dream with the hobby of points and miles. Drew just did a post about the different miles-purchased round-the-world tickets you can arrange. You can check that out here:

      With the Alaska Airlines card, you might as well ask them if there’s anything they can downgrade the card to before you cancel it. Or maybe they’ll try to get you to stick with them by lowering that annual fee or something. If not, no biggie.

      Yes Ink Bold!

      Thanks so much for your comment! So glad you found your way here to the Travel Venture!

  7. So are you identical twins? Did you both take singing lessons or just her? Maybe you can start a twin band together?

    • We are fraternal twins. But actually my DREAM in life would be simply to be her back-up singer. (I’m not much of a soloist) It is my favorite thing to do (second to travel) and was pretty much my plan for life before I met Drew. But being the good twin she is, Annie always wanted me to find something I loved as much as she loved singing. So she’s happy I’ve found travel. 🙂

  8. Hi Carrie,
    I will soon apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, but I first wanted to ask you about your experience redeeming points for airline miles. Chase lists the 4 airlines that you can redeem ‘chase’ points for miles, and I’m not sure if this was intentional, but each of the three airline alliances are represented and then Southwest is the curveball of the group. If I want to book a flight specifically on American Airlines with my ‘chase points’, do I need to have a British Airways Executive club frequent flier # AND an AA frequent flier # to then transfer the miles to or can I go directly from ‘chase points’ to AA miles? How many frequent flier accounts is too many, exactly? I can see how with the first technique you would begin to spin in circles with all the different membership numbers (not to mention the Best Western and Choice Privileges account number I have on top of it all).

    A second questions, sort of on the same topic. I have a good chunk of Alaska miles that I’m not sure what to do with. Alaska doesn’t fly to the places we’re looking to fly to this year (India, New Zealand and/or Europe), but they partner with a few airlines that do. Is it commonplace to be able to literally transfer miles from one airline to another without having to book a partner flight? In other words, if I am not yet booking a flight, can I transfer Alaska miles to British Airways and continue to build BA miles until I’m ready to book a flight?

    Gosh, I hope all of that made sense! Thanks!

    • Firstly I want to make sure and clarify that there is a difference between “redeeming” your Ultimate Rewards for flight and actually “transferring” the points into miles. I know it probably seems like semantics but hopefully it will all make sense in a bit. What I think may be going on is that you probably are looking at your Chase Ultimate Rewards account without possession of one of the cards that allows you to transfer (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold or Chase Ink Plus). The other more introductory cards do not offer transfer to miles as a perk. However, since you said you are about to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, that is good news as that card will indeed open up the possibility for transferring your points into miles instead of simply redeeming them through Chase’s travel options.

      Once you do have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you should then see a “Point Transfer” tab at the top of your Chase Ultimate Rewards page. (Something that if i’m correct about your card profile, is probably not visible with your current account.) Then you will see a number of airlines with whom you can transfer. (British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest, United, and Virgin Atlantic) Our favorite of those is United.

      To answer your other questions, you can have as many frequent flier mile accounts as you’d like! We keep a spreadsheet to keep all those account numbers straight! But when you transfer, you only need to worry about the mileage account your transferring to even if you plan on using those miles for a flight with a partner airline. For instance let’s say you transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United miles. Then, without messing with any other account numbers, you simply book a flight using United miles on any of their partner airlines. This all happens with your United miles though and you don’t need to move miles to a different account in order to book on a partner flight. It’s all part of the alliance agreements.

      So similarly with your Alaska miles, you cannot transfer miles from Alaska to BA, but you can book a partner flight WITH your alaska airline miles by calling in to do the booking.

      Hope that helps!

  9. Thank you Carrie for your blog! Valuable information you and Drew have on your posts. I have 2 questions about Chase:
    1. Is there a certain number of months that you need to wait between application for Chase cards? I got the Sapphire Preferred last October and am now thinking of applying for the United Explorer Card
    2. Right now they are offering 30k bonus for the United Explorer card, however in online forums I have seen people who have received targeted offers for the card for 50k bonus. If I call up Chase do you think there is a way to ask for the targeted offer and larger sign up bonus?

    • Thanks for checking out the blog!
      1.) for Chase we tend to wait at least 3 months between applications. You could probably do it sooner, but with Chase, I wouldn’t.
      2.) If you have never had the card before and you have points in your United account, then you will almost certainly be targeted for this offer, which you’ll be able to see via this link (after a certain amount of time). (Also you need to be logged in when you go to that link.)

      Hope that helps!

  10. It seems those advice are valid only for US citizens/residents. Being from Australia I don’t think I qualify for those cards.

    • Yes you’re definitely right. This article was written from a US perspective. I am not sure if there are bloggers covering the specific nuances of Australian travel hacking but I’ll keep my eyes open for such a blog.

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