Up to now I've taken my credit cards pretty much for granted. They've been pieces of plastic which have simply done their job: paying for stuff I want to buy, and giving me frequent flier miles on Hawaiian or United Airlines.
But after Hawaiian dropped it's direct flight from Portland, Oregon to Maui (where we vacation frequently), the luster of our Hawaiian card dimmed dramatically. Even before that happened, I looked around for an awards card that could be used on any airline, for any sort of trip.
And settled on the Chase Sapphire VISA card, which I extolled in a 2010 post.
A few months ago, Chase sucked me into upgrading to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. The $95 annual fee was waived for the first year. I liked the benefits that come with the card, which include a 7% annual point dividend, and 20% off travel booked through Chase Ultimate Awards.
When the Preferred card arrived, I discovered another benefit (though some find it a drawback). The card is unusually heavy, because it is made of metal, not plastic. And the numbers are on the back, not the front.
It gets a lot of attention from credit card-familiar store clerks. More often than not, when I use it I hear "Wow, that's a heavy card," or simply "Cool."
But today I learned that the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is more than a pretty face. It can do some heavy travel-lifting also. My wife has been figuring out airline arrangements for a family reunion in Indiana this summer. This involves some complexities, as she is going to stop off in Wisconsin on the way back to see some old friends.
I told her that since we've accumulated quite a few points on our Chase credit card, we should try out the Ultimate Awards airline booking service. The result, after an initial glitch (apparently caused by the online reservation system being out of service for a while), was excellent.
Making reservations for both of us, including selecting seats on each flight, was at least as easy as any other online system I've used, whether through Orbitz or an airline. There's no extra booking cost. And we did indeed get a 20% discount when we paid for our tickets.
Meaning, Chase's Ultimate Rewards system adds on 20% to the points we redeemed for the airline tickets, thereby making my ticket 20% cheaper (because we had enough points to pay for all of my ticket, though only part of my wife's -- the difference being paid for through, of course, a charge to our Chase Sapphire Preferred card).
So I can heartily recommend this card to those who use a credit card a lot and want a highly flexible rewards plan. For us, the $95 annual fee is less than the monetary benefits we'll get every year from the card.