This is a question that I have been starting to answer for friends and family now that I am knee-deep in the miles and points community. Many people seem to think that there is one credit card out there for everyone, which is definitely a false presumption. There is such a wide variety that many other bloggers have already offered their advice on this topic as well. You might want to maximize your hotel points gathering; you might be exclusively a flyer of American Airlines; or maybe you take Amtrak trains back and forth all the time. You need to consider all the options before knowing how to answer this question.
That being said, most of the friends I talk to are looking for a simple, overall use card that has a few benefits, a low annual fee, and that they can forget about looking for others. For them, the card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
This card has a simple list of benefits that are quite useful to a majority of my friends (and family) for how they use their credit cards:
1) When you sign up and complete their spending requirements, you will have 40,000 points with which to use. This is a generous standard offer since many airline-affiliate cards only come with 30,000 bonus points.
2) You can expand your points by adding an authorized user and having them spend only once in the first three months. I did this with my fiancée to maximize our own points-earning.
4) This is a big saver for people who travel abroad (even Canada is abroad, people!). This has probably already saved me in the $100s of dollars with the amount of money I have spent outside of the USA.5) This is the best benefit the card has: the points can transfer to a variety of airlines across the globe, hotels also, and Amtrak. I have transferred points to United Airlines and bought a roundtrip ticket from NYC->SFO for 25K miles and $11.20. Recently I transferred 4000 points to Amtrak and received a free train ticket from NY Penn Station to Ardmore, PA (usual cost $57.10 for that ticket). And you can see my previous post on using these points for British Airways partner award tickets.
6) It does have an annual fee but it is $0 for the first year. And, likely by the time you are going to pay it, you have already made that money back.7) Finally – and this is big – when you call their 800-number you are immediately transferred to a person to deal with your issue. I cannot tell you how much time I have saved on the phone with these folks instead of trying to deal with menu and menu. It is so nice.
For people who want a simple-to-use card that they don’t have to think about, this is the one. At the moment I don’t have any referral links but when I do I will post and request that if you read my blog, you apply through me. I’m trying to get more points for my honeymoon!