Should the Chase Sapphire Preferred be your next card? – The Points Guy
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is the card that made travel rewards accessible to the masses. You don’t have to be rich or a business traveler to earn some of the most valuable and versatile points. With the Sapphire Preferred, all you had to do was build a solid rewards strategy, and free flights and hotels would be yours.
But with increasing competition and more premium card options, we wanted to see how well the Chase Sapphire Preferred has stood the test of time. Here’s what we found.
Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card review
Earning and redeeming points
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a mid-tier travel rewards card with a $95 annual fee. However, it comes with a sign-up bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, making this offer worth $1,600.
In addition to the sign-up bonus, you’ll earn rewards at the following rates:
- 5 points per dollar on travel when booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
- 3 points per dollar on dining purchases.
- 3 points per dollar on select streaming services.
- 3 points per dollar on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
- 2 points per dollar on all other travel.
- 1 point per dollar on everything else.
Chase is known for how broadly it defines these bonus categories. For example, travel purchases aren’t limited to flights and hotels — they also include ride-hailing, public transit and some parking fees. Similarly, the dining category includes meal delivery services, giving you plenty of opportunities to rack up points.
You have two main options when redeeming your points for travel. If your goal is simplicity, you can use your points to book any travel directly through the Chase travel portal at a fixed rate of 1.25 cents per point, turning your 80,000 points into $1,600 worth of travel purchases. You can mix points and cash if you don’t have enough points to cover your entire trip.
Another benefit of booking directly with Chase is that you can rack up bonus and elite qualifying miles with the airline you’re flying, as these redemptions code as cash tickets and usually earn miles.
If, on the other hand, your goal is to squeeze maximum value out of your Chase points, you’ll often be better off moving your points to one of Chase’s 11 airline and three hotel transfer partners:
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These partners cover all three major airline alliances (Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam) and three of the biggest hotel chains. So no matter where you’re traveling, your points will help you get there and stay there.
Related: How long do Chase Ultimate Rewards take to transfer?
Beyond Chase’s travel booking options, this card offers many benefits. First and foremost, there are no foreign transaction fees on this card.
It’s nice when your travel plans go off without a hitch, but delays and cancellations are inevitable. When things don’t go as planned, your Preferred card can come to the rescue with some generous travel benefits.
At the top of the list is trip delay insurance. If your flight is delayed by 12 hours or more or requires an overnight stay, you can be reimbursed up to $500 to cover food, lodging and local transportation.
And if your trip is canceled by illness, weather or other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per trip for nonrefundable, prepaid expenses such as tours, hotels and plane tickets. Finally, if your bag is delayed six hours or more, you can be reimbursed up to $500 ($100 a day for five days) for essential purchases such as clothing and toiletries.
Related: Your guide to Chase’s trip insurance coverage
There are other lesser-known Sapphire benefits, such as primary rental car insurance, but the bottom line is that this card has your back when things go wrong on the road.
Chase also offers limited-time partnerships on the Sapphire Preferred, such as a complimentary DoorDash DashPass membership where you’ll enjoy at least a year of unlimited free food delivery. Normally valued at $9.99 a month, DashPass customers receive lower service fees and free delivery on all orders of more than $12. Sapphire cardholders can register anytime before December 31, 2024.
Related: Hungry for miles? Use these tips to maximize earnings on your next food delivery order
Pair with other Chase cards
You may have already started collecting Ultimate Rewards points, one of the most valuable and versatile loyalty currencies. As long as you’re eligible to apply for the Preferred (more on that below), owning this card can strengthen your existing collection of Chase cards.
The no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited are valuable cash-back cards. But if you also hold an Ultimate Rewards-earning card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, your Freedom cards get even more rewarding.
The Freedom Flex earns 5% cash back (5 points per dollar) on your first $1,500 spent in rotating quarterly bonus categories (activation required). Meanwhile, the Freedom Unlimited earns at least 1.5% cash back (1.5 points per dollar) on purchases, making it a great card for those new to the world of credit cards and award travel.
The cash back earned from these cards is issued in the form of points worth one cent each. You can redeem your points for cash back or move them over to your Chase Sapphire Preferred and turn them into full-fledged transferable Ultimate Rewards points, doubling their value.
You’ll find that the Preferred also pairs well with the no-annual-fee Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card, which earns 5% back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellphone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year. Earn 1% on all other purchases. Once you move those points over to your Preferred, that brings your return to 10%, based on TPG’s valuations.
Related: Maximize your wallet with the perfect quartet of Chase credit cards
Who should wait to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
TPG director of content Nick Ewen has made a compelling case for why the Chase Sapphire Preferred should be your first card. Unfortunately, not everyone can get this card, so let’s examine who should hold off getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The infamous 5/24 rule
Chase introduced the 5/24 rule a few years ago to combat credit card churning and attract long-term customers. Simply put, you’ll be automatically rejected for any Chase cards — including the Sapphire Preferred — if you’ve opened five or more cards in the last 24 months. If this applies to you, don’t waste time applying for the Sapphire Preferred. You won’t qualify and will receive a hard inquiry on your credit report.
Current Chase Sapphire cardholders
If you’ve received a sign-up bonus from another Chase Sapphire card in the last 48 months, you won’t be eligible for the current bonus on the Preferred:
“This product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card or (ii) previous cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card who received a new cardmember bonus in the last 48 months.”
If this applies to you, you shouldn’t apply until you’re outside this 48-month window.
Is Ultimate Rewards the best program for you?
As mentioned before, the Ultimate Rewards program provides access to a broad range of airline and hotel loyalty programs. However, there are certain circumstances where one of those programs might not be right for you.
For instance, if you live in an American Airlines hub such as Miami (MIA) or Charlotte (CLT) and primarily fly long-haul international flights to Europe, you might not get great value out of British Airways Avios, which is the only Oneworld transfer partner in Ultimate Rewards. Similarly, if you’re a die-hard Hilton loyalist, the ability to transfer points to Hyatt might not excite you that much.
On the other hand, I’m a loyal American Airlines flyer who’s never redeemed Ultimate Rewards for hotels, but I still find immense value in the program. Remember, you can always book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal and snag the 25% points redemption bonus. So, analyze your travel habits and see if branching out could add value to your points and miles strategy.
Related: Four easy strategies I use to earn over 500,000 points and miles a year
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is highly recommended as a well-rounded rewards credit card for travelers. It offers great value with a reasonable annual fee of $95 and no foreign transaction fees. The card’s sign-up bonus alone makes it a no-brainer for the first year. Furthermore, the Chase Sapphire Preferred‘s double points on travel and dining, along with its valuable perks, such as trip insurance and car rental coverage, make it a worthwhile choice for any wallet into the second year and beyond.
Application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with 80,000 bonus points.
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox and Stella Shon.