Life, Love & the Pursuit of Travel Hacking Part 1B (June 2021 Credit Cards/Sign Up Bonuses)

Now that the world is starting to open up again and many of us are thinking about traveling (well I am always thinking about traveling and food).  The sign up bonus is too good not to share as it’s the largest sign up bonus for the Sapphire Preferred card that Chase has EVER offered – this is really an incredible deal and a pretty great travel credit card to have in your wallet.  The last time that I was excited enough to write about a sign up bonus was with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card offering the same 100,000 bonus points but there’s a few major differences between the two cards starting with the Sapphire Preferred card’s $95 annual fee vs the Sapphire Reserve’s $550 annual fee (then it was $450)!   Because it has been some time since I have talked about travel hacking, let’s start with what that even means. For me it’s how you are able to travel cheaply or for free (or close to free with just a small amount for taxes and fees) but also how to travel better such as upgraded cabin on a flight / upgraded hotel room. (Here’s my travel money saving post ).  And so why are credit cards my favorite travel hack?  Because they really make your money work for you with the benefits that they offer especially when you take into account the large sign up offers.  And right now, credit card companies are rolling out some incredible deals – such as for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

In case you don’t read my other posts on this subject, I must stress to please only consider if you can pay off the credit card IN FULL every month because no reward amount can justify interest charges!  And it may help you to know that it took me some time to get on board with this hack because I didn’t understand why someone would pay an annual fee for credit cards when so many of them are free until I really started diving into the numbers and reading up on the why and hows and now I am one of the loudest converts raving on about this!  When you get the RIGHT rewards card for you even when accounting for the annual fee, you will still end up saving money and allowing yourself to travel better for less!

A few guidelines to help you figure out what is the best travel credit card for you: 

First, figure out how you travel.  If you are loyal to an airline/hotel and use them exclusively, a credit card tied to that company may make the most sense by elevating your elite status and the perks that come with the highest levels.  But if you want more flexibility with how to spend your reward points, a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred would be your best bet.  With this card, you earn 2X points on dining and TRAVEL and 1x for all other spending.  But what does that really translate to: 100K points are worth $1,000 (per Chase’s calculation) but when you redeem your points through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel, you get a 25% more so that those same 100K points are then worth $1,250 (also true with Chase’s Pay Yourself Back when your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories).  Or with this card type, you can transfer your points to leading frequent travel (air and hotel) programs at 1 to 1 value such a Emirates, Singapore Airlines, etc which is how I personally prefer to use my points.

Second, make sure to get a card doesn’t have an foreign exchange fee if you’re traveling abroad and again the Sapphire Preferred meets this criteria. In almost all cases, the best exchange rate I had when traveling was when I used my credit card for purchases plus I earned rewards on those purchases as well!

Third, when you are putting all of your purchases especially travel expenses on a credit card, look for one that offers purchase and travel protections and it’s pretty amazing what the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers for its $95 annual fee: Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Baggage Delay Insurance, Trip Delay Reimbursement, Travel and Emergency Assistance Services, Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty Protection!  Side note: Depending on the location and the activities that I will be doing, I do sometimes purchase a standalone travel insurance policy since it’s very costly to be injured overseas and/or I need more robust travel protections based on the activities I will be engaging in. 

Fourth, look at the other perks that the card offers.  For example, American Express Centurion and Platinum card offer access to Priority Pass and most importantly Centurion airport lounges (an incredible add on for me!).  For the Sapphire Preferred card, it is more limited with DoorDash, Lyft and Peloton but if you use those services, they add on to balance the annual fee.  For me, the $60 back on Peloton that I am already spending brings the costs of the card down to $35 for the annual fee.

This is part of the perks of the card but really is impressive and deserves a fair bit of attention.  For $95 per year, you also receive a Visa Signature card (why there are so many travel and purchase protections) which can be a really big deal when it comes to travel when you book stays through the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection.  You get elite-like benefits such as 

  • Automatic room upgrades upon arrival, subject to availability
  • Complimentary in-room Wi-Fi, when available
  • Complimentary breakfast for two
  • A $25 food or beverage credit
  • VIP guest status
  • Late checkout upon request, when available

So if you have not been loyal to a hotel chain this card and these benefits offer an exceptional deal at brands like the Peninsula, Park Hyatt and Shangri-La.  Some of these perks you would have to be at one of the upper elite levels in a reward program to get such as the breakfast option or room upgrade. It is important to note that this is considered a non-direct channel so if you are pursuing elite status, you would want to book through the hotel’s website/app!

Lastly, I suggest that you wait for a LARGE sign up bonus and then make sure you meet the requirements in time to get the bonus and reminder that this is a HUGE sign up bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred!  For this offer, you must spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.  One thing that I do love about the Chase app is that they have made it very transparent with their credit card offers as seen below:  The top part of the photo details my Chase Sapphire Preferred as you can see The date that I opened my card 6/10/2021 and three months from that date would be 9/10/2021 to earn 100K bonus rewards and then a bar graph showing my progress towards the spending amount. The bottom part of the photo is for the new account bonus for another credit card I had opened at the beginning of the year ~ before my injury (I’ll do another post about what credit cards I currently have and why and go more into depth about why I originally got that card).  


It makes sense to put all of your purchases on your credit card to maximize the number of points that you will earn and also to help you meet the spending requirement.  Here’s a few tips for how to get this done without spending more than you normally would.  I typically get a credit card every year in February/March because I don’t escrow my house insurance or property taxes and make those payments myself.  Neither my insurance company nor the City and County of Denver charges any fees to pay with my credit card so I know that I will be able to hit a spending requirement for any large credit card sign on bonuses with those two charges alone!  My parents’ county does charge a fee to use their credit cards so it is really important to check for your specific area.  Depending on the fee, it may make sense to still use your credit card if this is one of the ways to meet the spending requirement without having to make purchases you wouldn’t otherwise have ($2,500 x 1.5% fee is $37.50 is better than spending $2,500 you were not going to get the bonus). I am also able to charge all my medical expenses on a credit card without any fees with my healthcare provider (Kaiser) and this has been huge for me this year – there’s a positive about my leg.  I will be paying the remainder of my medical bill (also awesome that Kaiser allowed me to have a no interest payment plan for my surgeries which I luckily decided to take advantage of!) so that will allow me to hit the Sapphire Preferred spending requirement this month.  So look at all the expenses and purchases that you already have and see what you can put on your credit card (utilities/insurance/etc) –  I am looking forward to the day that I can put my mortgage on there but I have heard of a few leasing places that will take credit cards for no fees – a perk of renting!  Also be creative – I recently went on a girls’ road trip and I put everything on my card – meals, drinks, etc and was reimbursed by my friends…with Zelle, Venmo, Paypal this option is really convenient for everyone especially the servers who didn’t have to split checks and run multiple cards!  

And if you are wondering what to do with all of those points, one of my favorite resources about credit cards/travel hacking The Points Guys wrote this post with some very impressive ideas.  

And lastly, if you are going to apply to the card – I can get a referral bonus (to be 100% transparent, it is 20K bonus points) if you are approved so please consider reaching out to me for a referral link.  If you are in Colorado, I can literally sweeten the deal with a $40 credit for my baked goods.  Because life should be beautiful and delicious – Rosemary


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