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- Earning credit card sign-up bonuses is the fastest way to get credit card points or frequent flyer miles to put toward free travel.
- Because you typically need to spend a certain amount of money in the first few months in order to get a sign-up bonus, one of the best times to open a card is when you have planned expenses coming up.
- With summer travel season coming up, now is an ideal time to open a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Between the bonus and the rewards on your spending, you’ll earn enough to cover a big part of your next trip.
- You can also take advantage of the card’s benefits during your trip, including airport lounge access, trip and baggage delay insurance, trip interruption/cancellation coverage, and primary rental car insurance.
Opening a credit card and earning the sign-up bonus is one of the easiest and quickest ways to amass a ton of points or frequent flyer miles – you can even help build your credit history and improve your credit score.
Usually, these enticing sign-up offers require you to spend a specific amount within a certain timeframe. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a bonus of 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months (that’s on top of the points you earn from the purchases, of course).
Because of the spending requirement – plus the fact that you only have one shot to get the bonus – it’s best to open up a card if you’re planning to spend that amount of money anyway. Alternatively, you can take advantage of times that you’re planning to spend more than normal and open a credit card then – for instance, before you book a vacation, before you pay taxes, or before you pay a down payment for a new car.
With summer travel season coming up soon, now is a good opportunity to consider opening a new credit card so that you can earn the sign-up bonus. The return can potentially be enough to cover some – or even all – of your next trip.
If you’re new to credit card rewards, the Sapphire Reserve is Personal Finance Insider’s suggestion for the best card to open before your summer vacation.
That’s because it can earn you a ton of points quickly, and gives you the best option of any credit card rewards program we know to redeem those points.
According to Credit Donkey, the average person spends around $1,145 on vacation per year, meaning $4,580 for a family of four. That includes everything, like transportation, food, lodging, and activities.
Assuming you’re an average family of four, here’s what will happen if you put the whole thing on a new Sapphire Reserve.
Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make this card a great option, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.
When you’re working to earn credit-card rewards, it’s important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.
You’ll get $300 back right away
The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with an extremely high annual fee of $450. However, the benefits offered by the card more than offset that fee over the course of a year.
One of the most direct benefits is an annual $300 travel credit.
Each year, you’ll receive statement credits to cover your first $300 in travel purchases. “Travel” is defined broadly, and includes everything from taxis, parking, tolls, subways, and Uber rides, to airfare, hotels, Airbnbs, cruises, tours, car rentals, and much more.
When you use your new Sapphire Reserve to cover vacation costs, you’ll get that $300 back quickly.
Taking the travel credit’s value into consideration, the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee is effectively just $150, not the full $450.
You’ll earn the sign-up bonus
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months. If you have a family of four and spend the average vacation amount, you’ll hit the minimum spend requirement easily.
If you don’t expect to spend that much on vacation, you can still hit the minimum by using your card for everyday expenses. If you’re worried that you won’t hit the minimum amount, read our list of seven easy ways to meet credit card bonus requirements without spending more than you would otherwise.
You’ll earn 3x points on your vacation spending
One of the things that makes the Sapphire Reserve such a compelling card is that it offers 3x points on all dining and travel purchases. The travel category includes everything that’s also eligible for the travel credit, while dining includes restaurants, bars, cafes, bakeries, delis, ice cream shops, food trucks, restaurant delivery services like Seamless and GrubHub, and more.
Just about everything that Credit Donkey includes in its vacation cost calculations would be eligible for the triple points. That means that if you spend the estimate for a family of four – $4,580 – you’d get just under 14,000 points. Combined with the sign-up bonus, within three months of getting the card you’ll have around 63,000 points (you don’t earn points on the purchases covered by the travel credit).
There are a few ways to use that many points, including a free round-trip flight to Europe. You can read more about the ways to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points here.
There are a ton of other benefits offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve, including travel delay coverage, rental car insurance, access to over 1,000 airport lounges, and more. You can read our full review of the card here.
Other card options
If the $450 annual fee is more than you’re willing (or able) to front – even though you get the value back – there are plenty of other cards to consider so that you can get a new sign-up bonus for your next vacation. Check out our guide to the best credit card offers this month.