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Credit Cards

I opened a Chase Sapphire Preferred card last year to pay for a trip to Greece, but I changed my mind during the pandemic

Last year, I planned on using a welcome bonus to offset up to $1,000 worth of travel. Here's what I did instead.

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card just launched a massive 100,000 point welcome bonus, which has me reminiscing about pre-pandemic days and the big plans I had for spending my credit card points.

Last year, I opened a Sapphire Preferred card shortly before the first case of coronavirus hit the U.S. I was planning a move to New York City, and I wanted to use the new card to cover the cost of renting a U-Haul, buying a few new pieces of furniture and paying for all those obligatory new apartment purchases like curtain rods, shelves and cleaning supplies.

The welcome bonus last year was 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. The current offer increases the welcome bonus by 20,000 points.

My moving expenses were almost enough to meet the bonus spend requirements without even trying, and since Chase gave new cardholders an three extra months to meet the bonus spend requirements during the pandemic, I used the card to buy everyday household items for my first few months in New York until I spent $4,000.

The Sapphire's 80,000-point bonus is worth up to $1,000 when you redeem the points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® or as a statement credit with the Pay Yourself Back feature. Point redemptions are worth 25% more this way. If you redeem points for cash back outside of Pay Yourself Back, 80,000 points are worth $800 — which is still a considerable chunk of change. The Pay Yourself Back benefit ends Dec. 31, 2022.

Originally, I planned on using the welcome bonus to offset up to $1,000 worth of travel costs for trip to Greece. My middle school friend was planning a wedding on the dreamy island of Hydra for September 2020.

But then the pandemic upended all my plans. And while I could have held on to my points (the Chase Ultimate Rewards points don't expire as long as your account remains in good standing), I decided to use mine to reimburse myself for groceries and takeout.

With Chase Pay Yourself Back, your points can be redeemed as a statement credit for purchases made at select merchants within the 90 days. Each point you redeem for a statement credit toward eligible purchases via Pay Yourself Back is worth $.0125, which means that 100 points equals $1.25 in redemption value.

Over the course of the pandemic, I was able to get $1,000 worth of food — basically three months of groceries — completely covered thanks to the welcome bonus. This was a big help, considering the cost of moving to a city like New York is so high.

As for future travel, my friend's wedding was postponed to August 2021. I've got my eye on similar credit card deals to see if I can open another card and potentially earn enough points to pay for a flight. Currently, there are a number of credit cards offering bonuses of 100,000 points or more, so I'll probably start my search there.

But since I don't have any major expenses on my horizon, I might just pay for travel the old fashioned way, by starting to save now using my favorite free budgeting tool — my trusty Google spreadsheet — to keep me organized.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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