Need Travel CC for 1 year - suggestions?

I am beginning my application cycle for medical residency programs this year and anticipate 10-15 round trip flights domestically. I plan to use Southwest when possible (for ease of cancellation/rescheduling), but need to use United/AA/Delta for some destinations.

I currently have a Citi Double Cash (limit $9600), Capital One QuickSilver (limit $7000), and a Amex Blue Cash (limit: $7000, not used). Current FICO is 780.

I am considering getting a Chase Sapphire Preferred for a year. Annual fee is waived for first year, and I believe it has a 1:1 transfer to United and Southwest.

After this year, I do not wish to keep a card with an annual fee, so plan would be to cancel Chase in a year.

My question: Is getting the chase worth it for a year? What are the disadvantages to getting it and cancelling in a year? Other advice for someone in my situation?

Thank you all.

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I’d recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Yes, it’s $450, but your first $300 in travel charges is covered. Got global entry yet? If not, that’s covered too. Travel pays 3 points per $1. Chase points are worth approximately 1.5 times when booking through their portal.

Don’t cancel it after a year, just downgrade to a no fee card.


Chase freedom standard for 5% points categories. Easy ~ 15k extra points a year. That you can then transfer when you get another csr, csp (most wait 2yr for another csr or a csp) or ink.

Yeah, it’s handy having either Chase Freedom (5% categories) or Unlimited (1.5% on everything) in combination with CSR because you can increase the value of your points by transferring to CSR. And if you have a Player Two, I mean a spouse, the spouse can transfer points to you as well.

You’re under the Chase 5/24 rule? Go for Chase!

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Thank you all for the advice.

So if I downgrade a CSR/CSP to chase freedom/unlimited after a year, do any remaining points also transfer?

For the CSR, it seems that the $300 travel credit is applied at each anniversary; so if I were to downgrade at my first anniversary, would I still get the reimbursement?

As for global entry/pre check, I hold dual citizenship with a country that has poor relations with the US, so not sure I’d qualify…

Pre-check is for domestic flights. Assuming your dual citizenship is a real problem (as opposed to an imaginary one), you may have a better chance with Pre-check than with GE. You won’t know if you don’t try, and for 10-15 r/t flights I highly recommend it. Especially if you don’t have any other disqualifying factors (like arrests).

If you’re only gonna get one new card, I also recommend CSR (free lounge access!). But if you can get multiple, why not also get Citi AA (usual offers 50-70K for personal/business) and/or Chase UA (usual offers 30-70K). The miles and the free bag check are worth the annual fees for frequent flyers. Here’s a couple must read-s before applying: Things Everybody Should Know About Chase and Citi Credit Cards.

Delta amexes also have signup bonuses, but the miles are less valuable than UR/SWA/UA/AA for domestic use, so I don’t recommend it.

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Yes, they do but they lose a little value. You get a 50% bonus if you book travel via the Chase portal if you hold the CS Reserve card, but 25% if you hold CS Preferred. I don’t recall right off hand if Freedom and Freedom Unlimited gets you a bonus for booking through their portal or not. If they do, it would be less than 50%. So yes, you can transfer your points to the downgrade card, but if at all possible to redeem for travel, do that first.

If you have less than 5 new credit cards in the last 24 months, and you think you might get to like the rewards game, you should definitely do Chase cards first. Search “Chase 5/24 rule” for the reason.

I wouldn’t say they ‘lose a little value.’ The points are always worth $.01 per point for cash out regardless of if you hold a freedom or a CSR.

Only for travel booked through Chase do you get more than 1cent per UR. Freedom do not get a bonus for booking travel.

OP: Who pays for the 10-15 flights? If you–get the card of the carrier you’re flying on the most. If someone else just get whatever has the best bonus.

Are you saying “little” overstates or understates the impact? RIght, there is no change in value if redeeming for cash or transferring to travel partners (I don’t think). But if you are optimizing your reward by redeeming travel through their portal you go from …

Your 60,253 points are worth $903.80 towards travel when you book through Ultimate Rewards.


Your 60,253 points are worth $753.16 towards travel when you book through Ultimate Rewards.

I’d call that losing a little bit of value. But if you don’t redeem for travel, then no, it doesn’t matter.

You lose redemption options, not value. They remain UR points. If you don’t spend them, you can transfer them to one of Chase’s premium cards at a future date and make use of the better redemption options. OP indicated a Southwest preference, op might transfer some points out to Southwest (if remaining) at the end of the year.

Sw points are usually worth slightly under 1.5c/$ after the most recent devaluation this year. SW points ARE more flexible for cancellations, but I’d hesitate to transfer many extra points early from UR due to SW’s history of ~annual devaluations.

On the travel portal topic, I’ve only used it for non Southwest flights myself. Airline prices in the travel portal tend to match public prices. IME Cars have been more expensive or poorer providers than through Costco portal. Hotels have been more expensive (for like cancellation terms) and lose status benefits vs booking direct. I am mainly comparing with Hilton’s though, which usually have between 12-36hr notice required for penalty free cancellation and 20%+ value in rewards earned when you pay with money booking directly.

That brings up a second credit card suggestion I have to consider. A good card on an ongoing basis until they cut benefits. Amex Hilton Aspire. $450 annual fee. Opening reward:100k points (worth ~$400 at lower end properties or a little more at an expensive one) plus one weekend night at almost any Hilton. Yearly benefits: $250 airline fee reimbursement (works on Southwest giftcards, at least as of last I checked), $250 refund from a Hilton “resort” stay - most Hilton or higher places, must show up on a website portal they have, Hilton Diamond Status, and a free Weekend night (no spending requirements). I received a credit for a hampton inn stay only after calling in because I didn’t realize it was only a limited list and the portal they point you to has an entry field where All Hilton properties will show up. So it technically was on the page they linked to.

The one night stay is worth $100 even at a low end place. Airline reimbursement currently works for GC, so worth around $225. Plus a refund of $250 from a Hilton stay that I’d value at $225. So, on an ongoing basis you get $550-$750 and you also get Hilton Diamond status if you value that at anything, which exceeds the annual fee. I have had good experiences at Hilton Garden Inns in the past, and I place a value on the Diamond only (partial for Gold) free breakfasts. Whereas I place no value on the “included with all rooms” Continental breakfasts at Hampton Inn or similar.

I will be paying for the flights.

I was initially considering getting the Southwest card, but it seems like the CSR (or even CSP) are better deals?

As for CSR, when a few of you have mentioned that global entry / pre-check “are covered”, how does that work exactly? Do I just apply for and get pre-check then use the $300 travel credit to “offset” the cost?

Last point I wanted to clarify: Would I still be able to get the $300 travel credit if I downgrade from CSR to Chase Unlimited at my one year anniversary (i.e. before paying the annual fee a second time).

EDIT: I should mention also that my lodging during these trips will be essentially covered. So I won’t be needing to stay at hotels.

You charge the Global Entry $100 fee to the card (or the lesser charge for pre-check if you will never do any international flights). Chase credits you to offset the $100 charge. This is separate from the $300 travel credit.

You are not supposed to be able to get the $300 for the second year. You may have a short window to do so.
If you apply in the early part of a month, near the 1st, the annual fee will not post until the 1st of the following month. That means you want to convert before the 1st of that same month the following year. You may have a window between your actual anniversary date and when the next annual fee would post where you could get an extra travel credit.

Example: Card approved on July 2, 2018. First annual fee posts Aug 1, 2018. You must use and receive 1st year’s $300 travel credit sometime before July 2, 2019.
You may be able to then use $300 and receive the 2nd year’s $300 travel credit between July 2, 2019 and July 29, 2019. As long as you convert the card by July 30, 2019, the next year’s annual fee should not post. You’d want to convert at least several days before the end of the month, but you still might reasonably have a week to make a charge and see the credit show up. Easy for something like a gift card or (not advisable, but possible) refundable airfare. You actually have up to 30 days after the annual fee is billed to receive a refund. But you’re much better off converting after the 1 year mark but before the fee is billed. Otherwise you’ll likely contribute to Chase’s metrics for a potential future blacklist. AFAIR there have been reports that people have been blacklisted after repeated annual fee refunds.

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You will be reimbursed by Chase for the cost of Global Entry/TSA PreCheck. I’ve not been through that process since I already had GE when I got the card. But my guess is that the charge to your card is coded to indicate what it is for, and the reimbursement is automatic. Maybe you have to call them to ask them to reimburse. But this is in addition to the $300 travel reimbursement that you’ll get. Between the two, you’ve nearly had the $450 fee recovered.

The $300 travel credit used to be based on calendar year. I got my card at the end of a calendar year and thus actually got $600 in travel credit in the first month of having the card. It doesn’t work that way any more. But you do get the $300 credit immediately after paying your annual fee … and then another after your anniversary date and another fee. They also made a change recently that you don’t earn points on that $300, so that’s $9-$13.50 that you don’t realize.

Re the Southwest card … it’s biggest bonus is getting a companion pass after earning a certain threshold of point, which you will surely make, including the sign-up bonus you’ll receive the first year. If having a companion fly free with you is of value, consider the Southwest card but do your research on it.

You probably should hold an airline card for an airline that you fly frequently (other than Southwest) to get free baggage. But beyond that, it could very well be the case that CSR is a better place to put your travel expenses. With CSR, you’ll have access to Priority Pass lounges/restaurants which could come in handy. Trip insurance, etc. But a lot of this depends on whether you or someone else is picking up the tab for your travel. I

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Is this new? Are you saying that if you get a new card but haven’t been assessed the fee yet, then the travel credit won’t qualify until the fee has been assessed and paid and not the actual approval date/anniversary date? Or have they started assessing the fee on the opening date rather than the 1st of the following month?

I’ll have to say I don’t know the specifics on that since it has changed significantly since I opened my card. Looking back at my records, I opened my card mid-November and got a $300 credit on 11/20 and again on 12/20 (they used to reset on 12/1). My $450 fee was billed on 12/1. So it sounds like what you describe.

As long as you don’t cancel and you downgrade to a freedom you will get a pro-rated refund of your annual fee. That makes year 2’s $300 travel credit easy to do.


Currently looks correct. There was misinformation on reddit/DoC/etc last year referencing chase ending prorations like Amex, but it appears they have not ended prorations on downgrades (yet, anyways.).

You definitely don’t want to downgrade before a year (and they usually won’t let you anyways), as the terms on the offer in the application usually explicitly calls this out. And chase calls it out on UR terms. There really should be no issue with getting pro-rations or fee refunds within policy, but it seems like something they might point to when applying their loosely defined guidelines if anyone manually looks over your account activity. The UR rules has the unspecific “You’ll immediately lose all your points if […] we believe that you’ve misused the program in any way, for example: […] by repeatedly opening or otherwise maintaining credit card accounts for the purpose of generating rewards”.

The “or maintaining” is the really funny part. The whole point of rewards programs is to be attractive enough for customers to maintain accounts. But if you maintain them for the purpose of generating rewards??? That’s misuse!