Beginners Series – From Zero to 100K Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

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These series of posts are meant for people who are newer to points and miles.  If you have several rewards credit cards already, please ignore this post.  

How Can I Go From Zero to 100K Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Travel for Free?

Most people who are interested in traveling for free ask me how they can get started.   I usually recommend two credit cards that can get you from zero to 100K Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points. Why Chase UR points?  Because they are the most flexible points that can be transferred to United, Southwest, British Airways, Hyatt, and more.  However, my first question is if they have a decent credit score and if they are able to pay their credit card in full and on time. Here are some additional posts about credit score that may help you.  I updated the following posts here, and also in my permanent content on the drop down menu.

The two credit cards I recommend for most beginners are the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K points) and Chase Ink Bold (50k points).  Here are the details of each card:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Personal Card – 40,000 Ultimate Rewards (Sign up link through banner)

  • 40,000 Ultimate Rewards Points after Spending $3,000 in 3 months.
  • 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Receive a 7% Annual Points Dividend on all new points earned on purchases – even on points already redeemed
  • 1:1 points transfer to United, Hyatt, SouthwestBritish Airways, Korean Air, Marriott, Priority Club, Virgin Atlantic, Ritz Carlton, and Amtrak.
  • NO foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for first year, $95 thereafter

Rom’s Analysis: See the below analysis on Chase Ink Bold. The 7% annual dividend includes the sign up bonus, and 2X on restaurants is pretty nice too. If you don’t feel comfortable signing up for the Chase Ink Bold, then this is the card I recommend to all my friends starting out in the points and miles game because of the flexible transferable Ultimate Rewards program. I value each Ultimate Reward point conservatively at about 1.5 cents a piece when transferred to airlines and hotels. Therefore, the total sign up bonus is worth at least $600 in travel.

Chase Ink Bold Business Card – 50,000 Ultimate Rewards (Sign up link through banner)

  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points after Spending $5,000 in 3 months.
  • 5X points per $1 spent in select categories
  • 1:1 points transfer to United, Hyatt, SouthwestBritish Airways, Korean Air, Marriott, Priority Club, Virgin Atlantic, Ritz Carlton, and Amtrak.
  • NO foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for first year, $95 thereafter

Rom’s Analysis: I transfer a majority of my Ultimate Rewards (UR) points to United for international business or first class, Hyatt for 5-star hotels (22,000 per night), Southwest for short domestic flights, and British Airways Avios for short distance flights on American, such as LAX-Hawaii for 25K roundtrip. Each UR point can be redeemed for 1 cent cash or 1.25 travel cash. However, I value each Ultimate Reward point conservatively at about 1.5 cents a piece when transfered to airlines and hotels. Therefore, the total sign up bonus is worth at least $750 in travel. 

What About Annual Fees the 2nd Year?

I would downgrade the Chase Sapphire Preferred and keep the Chase Ink Bold.  The CSP card usually doesn’t give a retention bonus, an offer to waive the fee or free points when calling to cancel.  The Chase Ink Bold often gives free points or waives the fee.  I was able to get 5,000 UR points from the Chase Ink Bold when I called in and 0 points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I know that paying an annual fee may suck, but you can transfer all your UR points from Chase Sapphire Preferred to Chase Ink and you would just have to pay one $95 fee.  However, $95 for 5,000 UR points isn’t a terrible deal since I value 5,000 points close to $95.  You could also cancel Chase Ink Bold and sign up for Chase Ink Plus.

How Can I Get a Business Credit Card?

Chase Ink Bold is a business credit card.  However, you don’t need a tax ID to have a business.  You can apply as a sole proprietorship under your social security number and don’t even have to state you make income.  Even thinking about starting a business is a legitimate reason to have a business credit card.  I was able to apply for several business credit cards so far using my very small eBay/Amazon business and my blog site Romsdeals to pay for hosting fees.  All they really care about is your ability to pay your bills on time and decrease the chance of default payments.

Should I Apply for Both Cards at the Same Time?

I personally have applied for a personal and a business Chase card and been approved for both at the same time as I discussed here.  It is not something I strongly recommend if you are new because the spending requirement can be quite daunting. I would suggest just obtaining one credit card first until you are comfortable for applying for another credit card.  However if you want to use some tricks and manufacture spending, you can reach the spending requirements quickly.  If you feel like you can manage multiple credit cards, see below.

Meeting $8,000 Spend in 3 Months

Spending $8,000 in 3 months for someone to reach in 3 months to obtain 100,000 points is difficult.  However, with the first two tricks below, you can meet the spend without spending any money. Here are some tricks you can use to meet $8,000 spend in 3 months:

  • Amazon Payments – I tend to apply for credit cards during the middle of the month because you can transfer $1,000 each calendar month as I talked about in this post.  If I applied for a credit card on March 15, I would expect to get my credit cards in a week around March 22.  I could then transfer $1,000 to my spouse before end of March, and then $1,000 again beginning of April.
  • Chase Gift Cards – You can buy fee-free Chase gift cards up to $2,500 per credit card to accelerate your spend.  These can also be liquidated by loading them onto Bluebird as shown in my post here.  
  • 5X Gift Cards with Chase Ink Bold – Stock up on gift cards at Office Depot or Staples and earn 5X on points and accelerate your spend.  Amazon and Gas gift cards are my favorite.
  • Everyday spend – Everybody’s everyday spend may differ.  I charge everything onto credit cards, even $.50 parking meter fees.  Groceries, dining, and gas are our biggest everyday spend expenses.
  • Cell Phone, Cable TV, Internet – You can pay all these bills monthly to meet minimum spend on credit cards.  It is possible to prepay some of these bills to credit your next month’s bill.
  • Utility Bills – I can pay my electricity bill via Visa/Mastercard each month.  Check with your provider to see if you can pay credit card.  You can prepay these too.

After obtaining both credit cards are fulfilling both spending requirements, you should have about 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points.  You would receive 90,000 points from sign up bonuses, 8,000 points from $8k of spending, and a couple thousand more due to 2X dining from Chase Sapphire Preferred and 5X office supplies/cable/phone bill from Chase Ink.

What Can You Do With 100K Ultimate Rewards Points?

Here are a few things you can do with 100K UR Points:

  • One round-trip business class to anywhere in Europe when transferred to United miles – worth $6,000+ retail! 

    New Lufthansa-747-8 Business Class for 100K Miles RoundTrip!

    New Lufthansa-747-8 Business Class for 100K Miles RoundTrip!

  • Four round-trip economy tickets from west coast to Hawaii when transferred to 100,000 Avios miles – worth $4,000+ retail!

    Three tickets from LAX-HNL using 75K Avios + $15 total!

    Three tickets from LAX-HNL using 75K Avios + $15 total!

  • Eleven short trips under 650 miles using Avios at 9K round-trip, such as Miami to Carribean, Los Angeles to San Francisco or Vegas, New York to Toronto, Taiwan to Hong Kong
  • At least 4 nights at the Park Hyatt Vendome for 22K points per night – retail $800+ per night!

    Park Hyatt Vendome

    Park Hyatt Vendome

  • Tons of Southwest flights, or tons of free cheap Hyatt hotel stays.
  • Roundtrip in economy from USA to Asia at 65K roundtrip per ticket.

I’ve used my Chase Ultimate Rewards for almost all the examples above and more.  They are probably the most useful and flexible transferable points to use.  No matter what your travel goal is, you can find Ultimate Rewards useful.  That is why I recommend UR points to almost any person starting in the hobby who wants to experience free travel. By signing up for both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Bold you can go from zero to 100K Chase Ultimate Rewards points and start traveling for free around the world!

I am happy to help anybody new to collecting points and miles, just post below or send me an email at romsdeals@gmail.com.

 

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