Chase Southwest Bonus Vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

The main goal of my blog is to address the needs of a regular family when it comes to miles and points. I’ve said many times that if you are looking for complicated 10-step strategies, you  won’t find them here. Mainly because  I have an undiagnosed case of ADD/OCD, and I’m not even kidding!

When I write  posts, I try to  visualize families I know, normal people who simply will not consider 99% of the methods which to most hobbyists are child’s play. And I always encourage folks to not bite more than they can chew. But occasionally, I break my own rules as was the case in my latest email exchange with one of my husband’s relatives.

She asked me for advice on signing up for Southwest card. They have specific plans for points and have 6 tickets to worry about. The trip would be in the summer, and Southwest has non-stop flights for this particular route. So, of course, Rapid Rewards credit card seems like the perfect fit, right? Maybe, maybe not.

Her first choice was Chase Sapphire Preferred, but she said there is no way her family could comfortably put $4,000 on credit cards in 3 months. Southwest offer, on the other hand, was way more palatable with only $2,000 in minimum spending. I didn’t mention the Companion Pass because she only wanted to sign up for one credit card (read about both bonuses as well as this perk here)

I knew they have a sizable mortgage to pay each month, so my advice was to consider applying  for Chase Sapphire Preferred instead. Here is  my email to her and hopefully, some of you will find it helpful:

“Both Southwest versions require $2,000 spending in 3 months. But  the annual fee is not waived. If you do end up going with Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you’ll get 55,000 flexible points rather than 50,000 points tied to just one program. Plus, you can always use this bonus for paid airfare on other airlines and get 1.25 cents per point. Basically, this card would give you more flexibility. If your plans change, you can even cash out the bonus for $550.

Let’s say you have to spend $4,000 instead of $2,000. That extra 2 grand will cost you $50 in fees if you pay your mortgage through service like Plastiq (see my post on ways you can prepay certain expenses). But you would  get 1 point per dollar on everything, 2 on dining. So, you will earn 2,000 points on mortgage payments which can be cashed out for $20. In reality, you will only pay $30 extra to get this bonus. Plus, you won’t have to pay $69 annual fee and you will get a total of 55,000 flexible points instead of 50,000 Rapid Rewards. If you end up flying Southwest, you have the option of transferring UR points instantly.

BTW, points from CSP can be transferred to Hyatt and several other programs. It might be much harder or impossible to get Chase Sapphire Preferred  later on  if you end up more involved in this hobby. Plus, the bonus on Southwest card is regularly increased to 50K points. CSP usually comes with 45K points, but right now it’s 55K. It may stay that way or it may not. Of course, it’s your call. I’m here to help no matter which way you go. This card does pay me commission, but it’s not why I’m recommending it.”

So, which one  of those two offers did she end up getting? Neither. She saw a good deal on Allegiant Airlines and didn’t feel like getting another credit card and waiting for sign-up bonus to post. And there is nothing wrong with that. If getting a new credit card will cause you stress or problems in your marriage, it’s probably (definitely!) best to pass on it.

Sign-up bonuses will still be there later on. For most normal families who may get few new cards per year, this hobby is very much alive. In fact, it’s better than ever because many churners like myself will now be eliminated from competition for award seats and hotel rooms.

Last Southwest hoorah?

Of course, there are many reasons why Southwest offer may be preferable for your particular situation. One of them is Companion Pass, an extremely valuable perk for family. If you are like me, you might not be able to get Chase Sapphire Preferred due to 5/24 rule. In fact, I just applied for Southwest card in my husband’s name and he was approved. Yay! I actually sent out  referral link from my sister-in-law to three email addresses. Well, only one came so far and it took 10 days. Slow boat referral?

I plan to apply in my name as well within the next few weeks. I will probably have to prepay our power bill and buy some Walmart gift cards for future usage. Normally, I stick to our everyday expenses, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

If you are looking for referral on Premier version ($99 fee), you can use this direct link from my sister-in-law (which in a roundabout way will benefit me). I simply copied  and pasted the landing page. You will get 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in 3 months, but you have to apply by March 23rd.

Bottom line

The decision on which card to get will depend on your needs and circumstances. In general, flexible points are best because they give you more options when it’s time to “sell.” Your ability to get specific sign-up bonus will be limited by how much you can spend each month. Fortunately, there are ways you can increase that number if you don’t mind paying modest fees now and again.

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