If I can have only one credit card, which one should it be? And why?

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I often get a simple request from readers in the US:

Question: If I am going to get just one credit card, which is the best?

So, let me make it simple for you. For most people:

Answer: Chase Sapphire Preferred

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The go-to card for those new to the game. Photo courtesy of wendyperrin.com

The benefits

  • 50,000 bonus points: you get this sign-up bonus after you spend $4000 in the first three months. When you redeem these points, it equates to $625 in travel value
  • 5,000 bonus points: when you add an authorized user and they make a purchase within three months
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Adding an authorized user gets you more points. Photo courtesy of travelwithgrant.com

  • $0 annual fee for first year: then goes to $95 thereafter. Of course, you could always cancel the card before the first year is up, but the general consensus in the frequent flyer community is that it is worth paying the annual fee for. I have heard that if you call up just before the end of your first year and threaten to cancel the card, they will sometimes waive the second year’s fee
  • Primary rental car insurancethis card will cover damage to your rental car and theft in the US and all claims outside of the US when you do not have insurance in that foreign country. Just make sure you use this card when paying for the rental car
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Chip-enabled card: offering increased security when traveling abroad. Some countries only accept chip-enabled cards
  • Travel cancellation and interruption insurance: if you get sick or severe weather interrupts your travel plans, this card will cover you for up to $10,000 in non-refundable travel costs
  • Travel delay expenses: if your trip is delayed by more than 12 hours, this card will cover your meals and accommodation for up to $500
  • Purchase protection: this benefit covers theft, damage or loss for up to 120 days after purchasing an item (up to $500 value)
  • Named the ‘Best Credit Card’ for travel rewards by MONEY Magazine in 2015

How to best make use of the card

  • The best earning value is found when spending money on travel and dining, as you will earn two points for every dollar spent (2:1). For other purchases, it is one point per dollar (1:1).
  • The best redemption value is found when using Chase Ultimate Rewards to make travel bookings on one of the program’s partners. For customers in the US, this will most commonly be used for United, Virgin Atlantic or Southwest flights.
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Southwest is now the third-largest carrier in the US by passenger numbers and is expanding into Latin America. Photo courtesy of onemileatatime.com.

Things to be aware of

  • The best value is to be found for those spending over $10,000 a year as the reward yield is generous
  • For those spending less, it may be beneficial to opt for the 2.5% cash back reward
  • Note that bonus points can take 6-8 weeks to post, so keep this in mind if planning an upcoming trip

How to apply

Simply follow this link to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and you are on your way to making your money work harder for you!

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