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Published: April 14, 2014

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Last week we talked about the Chase Freedom credit card. Chase Freedom is a fantastic card for more than one reason.
  • It does not require a very high credit score to apply.
  • It does not have an annual fee.
  • It often has a sign up bonus, sometimes as high as $300.
  • Most importantly, while you always get 1% cashback on every purchase, Chase Freedom also offers a 5% category bonus (different for every quarter). For the second quarter, every purchase at Lowe's home improvement stores and restaurants of your choice will earn you 5% cashback.
Well, it is not really cashback, it is actually better than that.

As much as I like Chase Freedom-which is indeed one of the best reward credit cards in existence--there are ways to make it even more valuable by pairing it with another credit card from Chase: Chase Sapphire Preferred. It's like pairing gourmet food with some fine wine, although in the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit, I wouldn't know anything about it. I am a beer kind of guy.

Both Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards (from now on we'll call it CSP) belong to Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) program. However, having the Chase CSP card unlocks some premium features that you cannot use with Freedom alone.

The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is an excellent tool if you love to travel. First of all, if you book your travel with UR points on their website, they give you 25% extra. Thus, a flight that would cost you $500 or 50,000 points can be yours for only 40,000 points.

But that is not the only way to stretch your UR points power. If you have the CSP card, you can transfer your points that you earn from both Freedom and CSP into Chase UR partner airline and hotel programs. That will give you a much better bang for your points. Here is the list of the partners.
  • United Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Korean Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hyatt
  • Marriott and Ritz Carlton
  • IHG (Inter Continental, etc.)
  • Amtrak
Of course, redeeming your points for cash remains an option, too. In fact, Ultimate Rewards must be the most versatile reward program in the world. Its closest competitor, the American Express' Membership Rewards program does not have an easy cash redemption option.

Here are other reasons why you should consider adding the Chase CSP card to your portfolio.
  • You can easily transfer points between both cards.
  • CSP offers 2% cashback for restaurants and travel year round.
  • CSP doesn't have a foreign transaction fee-so feel free to use it abroad.
  • And last but not the least: CSP has a 40,000-point sign up bonus after you spend $3,000 in three months! That is at least $400 cash in case you are not interested in travel.
The Chase CSP card does carry a $95 annual fee, but it is waived for the first year. No one prevents you from canceling the card or downgrading it to the Chase Sapphire card that doesn't have an annual at the end of the first year. The bonus is still yours to do with it as you please.

Why not get Chase Sapphire (not Preferred) in the first place? Because, it lacks premium features of the Ultimate Rewards program and it only has a $100 sign up bonus. So CSP is a clear winner between the two, at least for the first year.

This is a post by Andy Shuman, a credit and travel expert who blogs at He writes and blogs during and between trips that he enjoys free of charge mostly due to creative use of credit card offers. He believes that credit cards are much more than just a convenient way to pay for a purchase, and that the benefits of responsible credit habits can go far beyond getting the best rates for loans and mortgages.

Andy is the author of bestselling books from Lazy Traveler Handbook Series available on Amazon. When he's not traveling, he lives with his beautiful wife and daughter in Brooklyn, NY.

Questions? Suggestions? Keep them coming!

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