Guess how much an all-expense paid 7-day trip to Italy costs a family of 6? I’m almost embarrassed to tell you. For a guided tour, the cost comes to just over $18,000, and that doesn’t include a few meals and spending money. Gulp!
Well, my wife and I are planning such a trip with our two children, my mom, and my wife’s mom. Yes, I’m dragging along an in-law. Now we haven’t decided on our final trip, and we will undoubtedly pick a less expensive option. But the trip will still cost some serious money. Fortunately, there is some good news in all of this – we have over one year to plan the trip. And that means I have over one year to figure out how to get as much of this trip for free as possible. And that brings me to the Chase Sapphire® Card.
I’ve been hunting for the best travel rewards credit card to help pay for some of our trip to Italy. There are several good options, but the Chase Sapphire® Card has risen to the top of the list. There are several reasons why, and I thought it would be good to share them with you. We’ll start with the most important feature, the card’s travel rewards. But first, here’s a summary of what the card offers:
- 10,000 bonus points after you spend $500 in the first 3 months – that’s $100 toward travel rewards!
- 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
- Points never expire and there are no limits on how many points you can earn
- Redeem points for travel, gift cards, merchandise, cash back and more
- Direct access to expert service advisors anytime
- No Annual Fee!
The first and obvious reason is the travel rewards offered by the Chase Sapphire® Card. The card rewards 2 points on all dining purchases and 1 point for all other purchases. And for air travel booked through Chase’s Travel Booking Tool, you earn double rewards. And finally, you earn up to 10 bonus points per dollar when you shop online at over 300 merchants featured at Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall. In addition, Chase will add 10,000 bonus points after spending $500 in purchases during the first three months.
These points can be used to pay for air travel or hotels. In our case, we are focused on air travel because the hotels are part of a separate package. But that’s actually good news. Back in the day, credit card travel rewards were tiered, such that a certain number of points earned you a certain class of air ticket. The problem was that many of the busiest travel days of the year did not qualify (the dreaded blackout dates) and airlines reserved only a few seats on every plane for free travel rewards.
That’s not how the Chase Sapphire® Card works. Instead, you can purchase any air ticket with the card, and pay in cash, points, or a combination of both. The conversion rate is 100 points equals $1 (standard 1% reward). So, for example, with the 10,000 bonus points, we already have $100 to use toward our trip to Italy. This means that there are no blackout dates, and you don’t have to accrue a certain number of points before using them.
While the travel rewards are by far the most important feature for us, there are several other features of the Chase Sapphire® Card worth noting. Earning points is just half the battle. Once you’ve earned your free travel, you want a credit card to take on your trip that offers enhanced travel benefits. As a Visa Signature card, the Chase Sapphire® Card offers several of them.
- Trip Cancellation Insurance: The Chase Sapphire® Card offers reimbursement for travel due to covered cancellations, losses and emergencies when you purchase tickets with the Chase Sapphire® Card.
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Receive coverage for covered damage due to collision or theft up to the actual cash value of most rental vehicles. Remember to charge your entire rental transaction to your Chase Sapphire® Card and decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver.
- Travel Accident Insurance: Receive coverage for covered common carrier accidental death or dismemberment when you charge your travel fare on your Chase Sapphire® Card.
- Trip Delay: When a covered trip is delayed more than 12 hours due to a covered event, expenses incurred as a result of the delay, such as meals and lodging, are reimbursed.
- Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Carry-on or checked luggage may be covered if lost or stolen when you purchase your common carrier ticket with your Chase Sapphire® Card.
- Baggage Delay: If your checked bags are delayed for a period of 18 hours or more by a common carrier, you will be reimbursed for the emergency purchase of covered essential items.
- Travel and Emergency Services: Get help coordinating medical, legal and travel services while you’re away from home.
- Roadside Dispatch: Referral service for convenient towing and locksmith services in the U.S. and Canada are available 24/7.
- Dedicated Customer Service: Every call you place to Chase will always be answered by a live customer service representative. No exceptions.
- NO ANNUAL FEE
All-in-all, the Chase Sapphire® Card offers a wealth of features and benefits. And if we use it wisely, we could end up paying for a significant portion of our trip just from the credit card’s travel rewards. For more information on this card, the intro bonus or to fill out an application, visit the secure application page for the Chase Sapphire® Card using a link inside of this article.
Published or updated May 9, 2013.