Update: This offer for the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express has expired. Learn more about the current offers here.
On Monday I wrote a post entitled “Which Credit Card To Use For Airline Ticket Purchases?”
The post was intended to just provide:
- A direct comparison between the number of miles airlines offer on their co-branded credit cards for airline ticket purchases
- And the non-airline affiliated cards which offer bonuses for airfare purchases.
So not surprisingly the answer as to which credit card to use to purchase airfare varied on the circumstances.
However, some great points were made in the comments section, and I think if there’s a single “best” card for airfare purchases, it would be the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Double points on airfare
The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers double points on all travel purchases, which includes airfare. It’s worth nothing that unlike with American Express, it’s not just airfare purchased directly with an airline, but also airfare purchased through online travel agencies, etc.
Regardless of which airline you’re purchasing your ticket with, that’s 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent.
No foreign transaction fees
The Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, so regardless of whether you purchase a ticket with a US or foreign airline, or in USD or a foreign currency, you’re not paying any extra fees. On an American Express card, that would add ~3% to the total.
Extra point per dollar when making ticket purchase through Chase mall
If you book your ticket through Chase’s online portal, you earn an extra Ultimate Rewards point per dollar spent.
Prices through the portal should be the same as directly with the airline, and you’re still eligible for mileage accrual, upgrades, etc. — for all practical purposes it shouldn’t be any different than if you purchased the ticket directly with the airline. The portal is easy to use as well, with a similar interface to most online travel agencies.
For what it’s worth American Express also offers an extra point per dollar when you book airfare through their portal, though their credit cards which offer bonus points for airfare only offer that when the airfare purchase is made directly with the airline. So that kinda negates the benefit of earning an extra point for booking directly through American Express, since you’re giving up two points per dollar in order to do so on cards like the American Express Premier Rewards Gold.
Chase Sapphire Preferred baggage delay benefit
While it’s not the most extensive coverage in the world, baggage delay protection is included on the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I actually took advantage of this benefit this past December, when my bag was delayed on a trip to Brazil.
The basic details of the benefit are as follows:
- You can be reimbursed up to $500 when some or all of the cost of a common carrier ticket is charged to your card (therefore award tickets are eligible if the taxes are charged to the card)
- You can be reimbursed a maximum of $100 per day for emergency purchases of essential items at a destination other than your current residence
- For tickets purchased before November 1, 2013, your first day for purposes of reimbursement begins 18 hours after you arrive at your destination
- For tickets purchased starting November 1, 2013, your first day for purposes of reimbursement begins six hours after you arrive at your destination
- The benefit is in excess to all other valid and collectible insurance
- You have to file your claim within 20 days and provide proof of loss within 90 days.
So even if you just put the taxes from an award reservation on your Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’re eligible for this benefit.
There are specific circumstances under which it could make more sense to purchase airfare with a different card. For example, I still use the Alaska Airlines Visa for purchasing Alaska tickets, since I value their miles so greatly and they offer three miles per dollar spent on Alaska airfare.
However, for a vast majority of people I think the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the most rewarding for airfare purchases, between the bonus points, lack of foreign transaction fees, bonus points for booking through their portal, and baggage protection. It’s as close as it gets to a single perfect card for all your airfare purchases.