- David Slotnick / Business Insider
Credit card points and frequent flyer miles can be incredibly useful, no matter what kinds of rewards you earn or what you eventually choose to do with them. While there are a few different types of credit card rewards, you benefit regardless of which kind your card earns by collecting a rebate on your everyday spending – as long as you practice financial discipline and pay off your statement in full each month.
Aside from rewards, a lot of credit cards come with perks, benefits, and complimentary services that can be extraordinarily useful and valuable. Think airport lounge access, roadside assistance, free primary rental car insurance, purchase protections, and more.
Here are our top picks for the best Chase cards in 2019:
- Best overall: Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Best with a lower annual fee: Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Best for everyday spending: Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Best for small businesses, freelancers, and side-gigs: Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
- Best for bonuses: Chase Freedom
Why you should consider a Chase card
Over the past few years, Chase has become a powerhouse in the credit card rewards and benefits space, growing its Ultimate Rewards program with the lucrative Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, and then launching the premium Sapphire Reserve in 2016 with a massive introductory sign-up bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points.
While that bonus has since dropped, the card remains a powerhouse of value, and the Ultimate Rewards program is fiercely competitive, with a ton of different ways to redeem points and a number of different cards available with varied benefits
If you’re looking for a new Chase card to boost your stores of Ultimate Rewards points, or you’re interested in getting access to new benefits or perks, it might be worth opening a new Chase card – just make sure that you know how opening a new card for the sign-up bonus or benefits can affect your credit.
Don’t forget about Chase’s 5/24 rule
Before you start applying for Chase credit cards, there’s an important restriction you should know about. Chase has something called the 5/24 rule, which prevents you from opening most Chase cards if you’ve opened five or more credit cards with any bank in the last 24 months. Due to this rule, many award travel enthusiasts focus on opening Chase credit cards before cards with other banks.
Take a look below at our choices of the best available Chase cards, including our overall winner, the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It’s important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.
The best Chase card overall
- David Slotnick/Business Insider
Why you’ll love it: The Chase Sapphire Reserve makes it easy to earn rewards for travel and more with a great sign-up bonus and a lucrative points-earning scheme.
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months)
Earning 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on dining and any travel, and 1 point per dollar on everything else, the Sapphire Reserve earns points quickly through your everyday spending, and it comes with a slew of perks.
Points are worth 1.5¢ each toward travel booked through Chase, but can also be transferred to a number of frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs – typically, this gets you the most value for your points. Benefits include access to airport lounges through the Priority Pass network, trip delay coverage, purchase protection, a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, and car rental primary coverage.
However, while the airport lounge access can be great, most Priority Pass lounges are in international terminals, which isn’t helpful when you’re flying domestically.
The annual fee is a hefty $450, but that’s offset by a $300 travel credit each year, good for things like taxis, subway fare, parking, tolls, and flights.
There aren’t many downsides to this card – besides the upfront annual fee. Chase has invested heavily in making the Ultimate Rewards program competitive. Booking flights by transferring points to frequent flyer partners is generally more lucrative – that’s usually how people use points to fly in first and business class – but it can be complicated because you have to decipher award charts, find availability, and work around complicated airline rules.
However, because the Sapphire Reserve allows you to get 1.5¢ for each point, if you use them to book travel through Chase’s online or phone travel agent, there’s a simpler and still-valuable option.
Pros: Solid sign-up bonus, easy to earn points, points work with frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, good airport benefits
Cons: High annual fee, Priority Pass lounges are typically in international terminals
The best Chase card with a lower annual fee
- Chase Instagram
Why you’ll love it: Chase Sapphire Preferred has a lower annual fee than the Sapphire Reserve and it’s easy to rack up points.
Sign-up bonus: 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months)
The Reserve’s older sibling, the Sapphire Preferred offers a number of similar features, and an even higher sign-up bonus, for a lower annual fee. The card earns 2x Ultimate Rewards points instead of the Reserve’s 3x points on dining and travel, and 1x points on everything else.
Points are worth a lower 1.25¢ on travel booked through Chase, but can still be transferred to frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. There’s no annual travel credit, but there’s still car rental primary coverage, as well as slightly less-generous trip delay coverage and purchase protection. The annual fee is a more manageable $95.
While the Sapphire Preferred was the all-around best card for a long time, the Sapphire Reserve has made it a harder choice. While the Preferred earns fewer points on bonus spending categories than the Reserve, and the value of the points on travel booked through Chase is less.
The no-hassle travel credit on the Sapphire Reserve makes the annual fee on that card effectively $150 (accounting for the $300 you get back through the credit), so – depending on your spending habits – it can be worth paying more up front for the Sapphire Reserve.
Pros: Good sign-up bonus, transferable points, travel perks, lower annual fee than the Sapphire Reserve card (and it’s waived the first year)
Cons: Lower point value when purchasing travel through Chase, no annual travel credit, earns points more slowly than the Sapphire Reserve
The best Chase card for everyday spending
- The Points Guy
Why you’ll love it: Chase Freedom Unlimited helps you earn points for normal purchases and get cash back with no annual fee.
Sign-up bonus: Double rewards for your first year: 3% cash back (or 3 points per dollar spent) for your first year with the card on up to $20,000 of spend
If you already have the Sapphire Reserve or the Preferred and are saving your points for something, the Freedom Unlimited can give your balance a nice boost. While Chase markets the card as “cash back,” it actually earns Ultimate Rewards points that you can redeem for cash (1 point = 1¢).
If you have a premium card like the Sapphire Reserve, you can pool your points from the two cards. The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5 points per dollar spent, so paired with a Sapphire Reserve, it’s a great card to use for purchases that aren’t made on travel expenses or dining.
The card used to offer a 15,000-point (or $150) sign-up bonus, but recently replaced that with something new. Now, for your first year, you’ll earn 3% back (3x points) on up to $20,000 of spend.
Best of all, the card has no annual fee and often has 0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, there’s a 17.24%-25.99% variable APR. If you have a major purchase ahead of you, that introductory offer can be useful.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a fantastic all-around card. However, to get the most value when it’s time to spend your points, you need the Sapphire Reserve or Preferred card, too, so you can pool your points. Otherwise, points are only worth 1¢ each no matter how you use them and they can’t be transferred to airline or hotel partners.
Pros: Decent sign-up bonus, earn points on regular purchases, no annual fee, 0% APR for first 15 months (and a 17.24%-25.99% variable APR after that)
Cons: One point only equals one cent for cash back; to get a better value you’ll need to pair it with a premium Sapphire card
The best Chase card for small businesses, freelancers, and side-gigs
- Shutterstock/Odua Images
Why you’ll love it: The Chase Ink Business Preferred helps small business owners rack up points quickly, and combine them with points earned on their personal cards.
Sign-up bonus: 80,000 points (after spending $5,000 in the first three months)
The Ink Preferred is an excellent rewards credit card – the bad news is that it’s only available for small business owners. The good news is that a lot of things you might not expect actually count as small businesses, including freelancing, side gigs, and even selling things on eBay.
The card, which has a $95 annual fee, earns 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 you spend each cardmember year in a few categories, including travel, shipping, internet/cable/phone, and advertising on social media sites or with search engines, such as Google Ads. Purchases after you reach $150,000, or in any other category, earn 1 point per dollar. Unless you operate a small business that’s on the larger side, chances are you won’t hit that cap.
Like with the Sapphire Preferred, you’ll get a 25% bonus when using points earned with the Ink Preferred to book travel directly with Chase. Of course, if you pool them on your Sapphire Reserve card, that bonus will be 50% instead.
The card comes with a handful of other perks, many of which overlap with the Sapphire Preferred and Reserve, such as trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary car rental loss/damage coverage, and various purchase protections. It also comes with cell phone insurance when you use the card to pay your phone bill, offering up to $600 for each covered claim.
Pros: Useful bonus categories, cell phone insurance, ability to transfer points
Cons: Caps on bonus earning which larger small businesses may reach quickly
The best Chase card for bonuses
Why you’ll love it: The Chase Freedom offers 5% cash back or 5x points on up to $1,500 of spending in a different spending category each quarter, helping you boost your point stash.
Sign-up bonus: $150 bonus (15,000 points) after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months
Just like the Freedom Unlimited, the regular Chase Freedom card is marketed as cash back, but actually earns Ultimate Rewards points that you can exchange for cash (1 point = 1¢). You can combine them with Ultimate Rewards earned from a different card, which gives you the option to get a bonus when redeeming them for travel or transfer them to travel partners.
The regular Freedom’s key feature is that it earns 1% cash back (or 1 point per dollar spent) across the board, except for a rotating quarterly bonus category that earns 5% (or 5x points). In the past, the quarterly category has included things like Amazon, pharmacies, Lyft, restaurants, “entertainment” like movie theaters and concert tickets, and purchases made through Apple or Android Pay. This quarter, the categories are gas stations and select streaming services.
Otherwise, the Freedom is pretty similar to the Freedom Unlimited. It doesn’t have an annual fee, and there’s an introductory 0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (with a 16.74%-25.49% variable APR).
Pros: Decent sign-up bonus, for a no-annual-fee card, great earning rate on quarterly bonus categories, 0% APR for first 15 months (and a 16.74%-25.49% variable APR after that)
Cons: One point only equals one cent for cash back, to get a better value you’ll need to pair it with a Sapphire card