Here’s how to easily get free flights with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards cards. It's especially popular for people getting their first travel card, in part because of its affordability. The annual fee is only $95, but there are many benefits.

When you're new to travel credit cards, you might not be entirely sure how to use them to save money. Don't worry – it's easy, and this Chase card is perfect for beginners. Here's your guide to earning points, earning enough points to buy a flight, and booking a flight.

1. Apply for a card and get approved

If you already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, skip this step. If not, there are a few things you need to know before applying.

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You may need a good credit score to get approved. If you frequently open new credit card accounts, be aware of Chase's 5/24 rule. This is Chase’s unofficial policy for applicants. In almost all cases, Chase will automatically deny your application if you opened five or more credit cards in the past 24 months.

2. Get the welcome offer

Once you receive your card, the next step is to get your welcome offer. This card earns 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Once you've spent enough, reward points will be posted to your account within six to eight weeks.

Since the spending requirement is $4,000 over 3 months, you would need to spend approximately $1,334 per month. This is a strict requirement and paying the annual fee does not count towards it. If your purchase costs $3,950 and the annual fee costs $95, you're missing out.

I always recommend approaching welcome offers with caution. Spend a little more money and try to finish it at least a week or two before the deadline. If you're not sure how much time you have or how close you are to a spending requirement, call Chase and ask.

3. Redeem these points for your next flight

At this point, you have 75,000 bonus points, plus any points you earned through regular purchases. This requires at least 4,000 points more, since you need to spend $4,000 to get the welcome offer. But this card has a lot of bonus categories, so you'll probably have more.

Now, here comes the fun part: booking a flight without paying cash. There are two ways to do this using Chase Points. One is simple, the other is more complex but may get you a better deal. I'll explain both and you can decide which one you want to do.

The easy choice: Book with Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase has an online travel portal where you can book flights, restaurants, car rentals, and more. You can pay cash with a Chase credit card or pay with points. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you get $0.0125 in value per point. By traveling this way, those 75,000 bonus points are worth over $900.

Here’s how to book flights through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal:

  1. Log in to your account on the Chase Ultimate Rewards website.
  2. Select “Travel” and then “Book a trip.”
  3. Select “Flights” and fill out the flight search form.
  4. Select your flight.
  5. Complete the checkout process and select the option to pay with points.

It’s just like booking a flight online through any airline or travel booking platform. The difference is you pay with Chase points. This also means that if you have enough points to purchase a ticket, you don’t have to spend any cash.

High-value option: Transfer points to one of Chase’s partners

Chase also lets you transfer points to its travel partners, and it has a lot of them. Its airline partners include Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada, British Airways and several others. You can find a complete list in your Ultimate Rewards account or in The Ascent's Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Guide.

When you transfer Chase points to an airline, those points become miles in that airline's loyalty program. You can then use those miles to book flights. You can do this:

  1. Log in to your account on the Chase Ultimate Rewards website.
  2. Select “Travel” and then “Transfer points to a partner.”
  3. Select an airline from the partner list.
  4. Enter your membership number with the airline. If you don't have an account yet, create one on the airline's website.
  5. Confirm the transfer and use the miles when they arrive in your airline loyalty account. Transfers are irreversible, so you should only make them if you already know what trip you want to book using your miles.

The advantage of this approach is that you get more value from your points. As mentioned before, Chase allows you to redeem them for $0.0125 per point. I typically earn $0.03 per point or more by transferring money and booking travel.

This is best for expensive travel bookings. Such as international flights, business class flights and luxury hotel bookings. So if you're planning to fly abroad, especially if you want to fly business class, transferring points may be your best option.

Save on airfare with a Chase card

I’ve booked many flights using Chase points the same way. This is a great way to cut down on travel costs, as airfare is often one of the biggest expenses. When you pay with points, you'll have more travel savings available for the rest of your trip.

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