Sapphire Preferred vs UA/CO cards for UA miles

Discussion in 'Other Credit Card Programs' started by tpmgpeds, Dec 18, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. tpmgpeds

    tpmgpeds Active Member

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    My question was "moderated" off another blog so perhaps I can ask it here.

    For the person solely interested in earning UA miles, isn't a UA Explorer or CO OnePass Plus card a better vehicle than the Sapphire Preferred because of the 10,000 mile bonus at the $25k spend threshold?

    From what I understand, if you accumulate 50,000 UR points by whatever means, you get a 7% bonus of 3500. But with the UA/CO cards you get a 10,000 mile bonus after $25k spend. That's a 40% bonus. Even if you spent $50k, that would still be a 20% bonus.

    I've read all the stuff about how to earn >1 UR point/$ with merchant & category bonuses, transferring points from the Freedom card, etc, etc. But as I see it, it's not until you've racked up 142,857 UR points per year (10,000/.07) that the Sapphire 7% bonus becomes advantageous. That's a lot of points to earn every year, even with all those bonuses.

    So for the UA miles earner, the airline cards seem a better deal than the Sapphire Preferred, right? Does that make sense or am I off somewhere? I know UR points can be transferred to many other partners and even other people, but I'm strictly making an apples-to-apples comparison regarding UA miles here.

    Appreciate your feedback.
     
  2. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I don't think you need to reach a point threshold to the 7% bonus.

    The UA card gives you travel benefits that would be useful if you don't have elite status.
     
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  3. infamousdx

    infamousdx Silver Member

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    HaveMilesWillTravel is right. You get 7% dividends on the Sapphire Preferred every calendar year no matter what your spend.

    I think the only benefit of a UA-branded card would be the Elite benefits (security line and boarding) and upgrades on domestic reward travel. Otherwise, the Sapphire Pref is always superior earning-wise.
     
  4. TAHKUCT
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    TAHKUCT Gold Member

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    + earn 2 points for Travel and Dining on Sapphire Preferred.
     
  5. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    You can't forget about the initial sign-up bonuses. Let's take an imaginary spender who spends $25k/year and see what they would earn with each card:

    Chase Sapphire Preferred:
    50,000 points for spending $3k in 3 months (only once)​
    25,000 points for base spending (we'll ignore category bonuses for now)​
    5,250 points for the 7% dividend​
    Total: 80,250 points.

    United Mileage Plus Explorer
    25,000 miles after first purchase (only once)​
    5,000 miles for adding an authorized user (only once)​
    25,000 miles for base spending​
    10,000 miles for spending $25k in one year​
    Total: 65,000 miles.

    In the first year, including the sign-up bonuses the Chase Sapphire Preferred wins. However, if you keep either card after the first year and you only earn the bonuses once. In that case, $25k/year gets you 26750 UR points or 35,000 UA Miles. So in the second year and beyond then you're analysis is correct: the UA Explorer card may be better if you spend $25k+ annually and none of your spending is in a bonus category. But if $3.5k of your spending falls into the bonus categories then the Chase Sapphire becomes a better card again.

    If you're likely to hit high spending thresholds annually, though, the Chase Ink Bold Card might be the best since you earn bonuses for hitting certain thresholds:
    So if you spend $100k, you get 47,500 points in addition to your 100k base spending.
     
  6. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    Also, bear in mind that if you book your flight/hotel through ultimaterewards.com you get an extra point per dollar, totaling 3 points per dollar.

    "You will also earn an additional 1 point for each $1 of eligible airfare and hotel net purchases made online through the program booking tool (for a total of 3 points)."
    https://creditcards.chase.com/credit-cards/sapphire-preferred-card.aspx

    Those bonuses might make Sapphire Preferred a better option for you depending on how you spend your $25k -- and if you already will have status benefits on UA.

    I personally like the old UA Select Visa Card -- up to 5,000 EQMs per year for each dollar spent on flights at united.com.
     
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  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I have the slightly cheaper successor card (forget the name) that gives 5000 EQM for $5000 in united.com purchases (but not 5000 EQM for $35k annual spend). It also offers 3 redeemable miles/$ for *A purchases. Looking at Chase's website, it appears to no longer be available for new accounts.

    I also have the Sapphire Preferred card, buy I'll hold on to the UA card for the EQMs as long as possible.
     
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  8. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    I think we have the same one -- is it $95 per year? I'll also hold onto it for the EQMs for as long as possible -- 5,000 EQMs for $95 is totally worth it.
     
  9. harvson3

    harvson3 Silver Member

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    Or 4 points/$ when booking Travelocity through the UR mall.

    And agreed, more cards need EQM-earning opportunities.
     
  10. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Seems they are getting away from that on the UA side. Probably more profitable to sell EQM outright through the Maximizer thingie.
     
  11. FlyingBear
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    FlyingBear Silver Member

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    If you are looking at totality of benefits, there are also two United Club passes that you get with your UA card. Also, if you are at Premier 1K level, you get $60 statement credit for MileagePlus Chase Credit Card.

    I think those two benefits can juggle the numbers a bit between the two cards for some people.
     
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  12. harvson3

    harvson3 Silver Member

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    Being elite with UA/CO would also change the numbers for yaychemistry's calculations above. Of course, the numbers mean less without spending patterns as input.
     
  13. FlyingBear
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    FlyingBear Silver Member

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    How so? I don't see anything in his calculations based on elite level.
     
  14. harvson3

    harvson3 Silver Member

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    Elite members on UA/CO (and, rumored, soon, for a brief time, the public) can get the other sign-up bonus for 50K initially, then a bonus of 10K from spending $25K. Again assuming no bonus category spending, that works out to 85K at the end of a year of $25K spending.
     
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  15. FlyingBear
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    FlyingBear Silver Member

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    True that, I was stuck on the spending structure, forgot about signup bonus. I got 50k spend and additional user bonus myself on UA card. That said, you don't have to be a 1K level, any level would do.
     
  16. infamousdx

    infamousdx Silver Member

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    Even then, it's pretty random. Not all Elites have been targeted. I'm Premier Exec and was targeted.
     

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