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By kerrirenzulli
September 22, 2014

Chase Sapphire Preferred

APR: 16%

Annual Fee: $0 first year, then $95

Sign-Up Bonus: 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months

Rewards: Two points per $1 spent on travel and dining; one point on everything else; 5,000 bonus points after you add an authorized user who makes a purchase in the first three months. Plus 20% off travel when booked with points through Chase

Why It’s a Winner: Flexible rewards and a sweet sign-up bonus. Think of this as two cards in one. You have the option to transfer points to frequent-flier mileage programs on partner airlines like Southwest and United at a 1-to-1 rate. (Used that way, the sign-up bonus alone is worth a one-way ­business-class ticket to Hawaii on United.) But this card also lets you apply your points as a credit on your card statement for any kind of travel you charge, at one point to 1¢. With the 20% discount for booking through Chase, the sign-up ­bonus is worth $500.

Caveats: You’ll need excellent credit. The $95 fee is steep. And since the Barclaycard offers a greater potential rewards haul—with two points across the board—the Sapphire is best for those who will transfer to mileage partners.