You are currently viewing I’m 74 and just got my first new credit card (and big bonus) in years — here’s why

I’m 74 and just got my first new credit card (and big bonus) in years — here’s why

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A pleasant but persistent voice followed me around for the last couple of weeks, saying, “You really should apply.”

It was reminiscent of the scene in “Field of Dreams,” where Kevin Costner’s character keeps hearing a voice admonishing him to “build it and they will come.” After multiple encounters with this persistent suggestion, I decided this 74-year-old had sat on the sidelines long enough — it was time to get back into the game.

I brushed off the dust, shook off the cobwebs, recalled my social security number and pulled my seat up to the computer to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. I was told this increased welcome bonus — which is 20,000 points higher than normal — wouldn’t last much longer.

SWANETTE SMITH/THE POINTS GUY

It was easy to get back into the flow of using a new card to reinfuse my points supply with some life. It was like riding a bike — you quickly remember how once you get going. The online application process was straightforward, uncomplicated, quick and easy. It ended with the outcome I was hoping for: approved (thank you, excellent credit score).

Within minutes, I received an email informing me the new card would arrive in three to five days. I’d then need to charge $4,000 on the card in the first three months. After reaching the spending threshold, I would receive 80,000 bonus points which can be used at a value of 1.25 cents each towards booking travel via the Chase site or worth up to $1,600 toward travel when used with Chase transfer partners like United and Hyatt according to TPG’s valuations.

Here’s why I applied for my first new credit card in years and why I purposefully chose the Sapphire Preferred.

Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a limited-time increased 80,000-point bonus.

After years of action, years of sitting on the sideline

I can’t remember exactly the last time I sought out a new credit card or its bonuses and benefits. I do know for certain it was more than three years ago, pre-COVID-19. I hate even writing that phrase, COVID-19. From this point on, I will refer to it only as y.k.w. (you know what).

Before y.k.w., my wife and I had become pretty efficient at the credit card rewards game. We would separately apply for various high-value cards, often with increased bonuses, that fit our travel preferences and lifestyle. At various times, we had airline-specific cards such as those from United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines. We also had a host of hotel cards for such brands as Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton.

In the mix was also a wide variety of bank cards from Chase, Barclay, Capital One and American Express.

Between the two of us, we have had as many as 15 cards active at one time. Depending if you’re a points and miles beginner or an advanced TPG reader, that may either sound like a credit disaster waiting to happen or a modest approach.

From our very conservative financial background, it represented quite a leap of faith. It was a big departure from a wallet mostly void of credit cards in earlier decades of our lives. As we hit our golden years, it represented a commitment to a dramatic shift in the economic transactions of everyday life.

We were “cash is king” kind of folks and thought charging a purchase was simply voodoo/doodoo economics that meant you were buying something today with the income you hope to generate tomorrow. And, of course, you were paying interest for that “privilege.”

Once we got over the shock of charging everything possible and established the routine of paying the total amount due upon receipt of the monthly bill, we became total converts to the world of points and miles. Getting rewarded for the money we were spending anyway — and paying the balance off before it could rack up interest — worked.

Cheap travel became our mantra, so we kept our backpacks ready and our attitudes in the go position.

Related: Embracing credit cards after decades of ‘cash is king’

BUDDY SMITH/THE POINTS GUY

We traveled often — and as retirees, often on short-notice whims. For six to eight action-packed years, we were traveling more and spending less than we knew was possible, thanks to points and miles. That was until y.k.w. brought travel to a halt. Planned trips were refunded, and their points and miles re-deposited.

So our points sat. And sat.

Our adventures stopped, and our credit card rewards dabbling was more or less suspended as well. We still racked up some points on everyday spending, but why apply for more miles when you are not using the ones you already have? Why acquire a new card with an annual fee when there is no corresponding travel benefit?

Related: A golden-age traveler looks back, and forward 

Getting back in the game

Fast forward to now (and you really can’t fast forward quickly enough to get past y.k.w.).

Travel is back to pre-pandemic levels, but now the prices are even higher. Much higher. So, we started to again look for ways to offset the inflated fees and enhanced charges.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card was highly recommended and caught our attention because of several factors, the most significant being its limited-time offer of 80,000 bonus points (worth $1,000 when used for travel redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards). In fact, the bonus can potentially be more if you transfer the points to use with its partners.

It also offers 5 points per dollar on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 2 points per dollar on travel booked elsewhere, a $50 annual hotel credit, 3 points per dollar on dining, a 10% anniversary points boost and benefits including auto rental collision damage waiver and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.

THE POINTS GUY

If those were not enough reasons, my wife will get 15,000 points added to her account as a referral bonus for getting me to apply (cue that persistent voice I referenced earlier).

We’re retired and pretty simple people. To get the 80,000 bonus points, the card comes with a $95 fee and a $4,000 spending requirement in the first three months of account opening to earn the bonus. That is a hurdle. However, as luck would have it (if a costly car repair can be considered good fortune), some mechanical work on our vintage car had to be delayed in the shop due to difficulty locating a part.

The bill will now come after my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card arrives. Voila, the car is fixed, the bill has been paid, and the spending requirements are well underway.

Related: Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best rewards credit card to get first

Bottom line

I am the proud owner of a once-again-working, blue, classic 1964 1/2 Mustang convertible as well as this heavy, classy, blue credit card.

SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

It will add a certain gravitas to my wallet and, more importantly, allow us to pursue more affordable travel and fun in the year ahead. It sounds like a win, win to me.

Maybe, a voice will now tell us where to go next. Wait, what was that? Do I hear Crater Lake in Oregon, the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway or the northern lights even? Chase Sapphire Preferred, with your rewards so dear, won’t you guide our sleigh this year?

Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a limited-time increased 80,000-point bonus.

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