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Chase Sapphire Preferred Review: A Must-Have for Any Traveler

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Review

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has one of the best sign-up bonuses in the business, potentially clocking in at 45,000 Ultimate Rewards Points. You’ll earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Earn another 5,000 points when you add an authorized user in the first three months and they make a purchase.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also offers ongoing rewards and perks that’ll capture your attention. It turns out 45,000 points can be worth a lot more than $450.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
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on Chase's
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At a glance
Annual fees Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Foreign transaction fee None
Rewards program Ultimate Rewards Points, worth 1 cent each when redeemed for cash back or gift cards or 1.25 cents when redeemed for travel booked through Chase
Sign-up bonus earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Verdict: When redeemed for travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is among the highest earners out there.
Good for:
  • Someone looking for a large sign-up bonus
  • Someone who flies United, Southwest or Virgin Atlantic
  • Someone who travels and has the Chase Freedom®
Bad for:
  • Someone who wants more flexible travel booking options
  • Someone who isn’t a big spender

 

We value Ultimate Rewards points at a very conservative 1 cent apiece, but if you redeem for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards site, your points are worth 25% more. Award-flight mavens can get even higher rates by transferring their points to airline mile programs. This means that the sign-up bonus is worth more than $500, if you redeem it right.

In this article:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: The basics

Ultimate Rewards Points: They make the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card special

Where the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card shines

Where the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card falls short

Bottom line: Should I get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card?

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: The basics

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point on everything else.

Example image of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Has annual fee

Sign-up Bonus

earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee

Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

Intro APR Promotions

None

APR

  • APR: 15.99% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%, Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 19.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $500 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees, plus chip-enabled for enhanced security and wider acceptance
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value – that means 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points
  • Premium Travel and Purchase Protection Benefits, including Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Purchase Protection and more
  • 24/7 direct access to dedicated customer service specialists
  • Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

The card has an Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95 and no foreign transaction fees. There’s also an EMV chip for safer transactions domestically and internationally, making this a great card for all of your overseas excursions.

Ultimate Rewards points: They make the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card special

1 cent per point: Standard cash back or gift cards. 

If you want cash or gift cards, you can redeem your points at a rate of 1 cent per point. However, you can get better value out of your Ultimate Rewards points if you use them for travel.

1.25 cents per point: Travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards

The Ultimate Rewards Booking Tool is similar to Kayak. You input a departing airport and destination, plus your preferred flight dates and compare prices across several airlines. When it comes time to book, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders have the option to pay in cash or redeem with points at a 20% discount. For example, if you want a $100 ticket (taxes and fees included), you can:

  • Pay $100 in cash
  • Pay 10,000 points (for non-Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders)
  • Pay 8,000 points (for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders)

Only the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Ink Plus® Business Credit Card have this 20%-off perk.

1.25 to 5 cents per point: Transfer to an airline or hotel program

Your last redemption option is to shift your Ultimate Rewards Points to one of Chase’s transfer partners:

  • Airlines:
    • British Airways
    • Korean Air
    • Singapore KrisFlyer
    • Southwest
    • United
    • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hotels
    • Hyatt
    • Marriott
    • Priority Club/InterContinental Hotels Group
    • Ritz-Carlton
  • Amtrak

As you can see, Ultimate Rewards points hold more value when you’re redeeming with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. With the exception of the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card, no other Chase card gives the 25% points bump or lets you transfer your points 1:1 to partner loyalty programs.

Keep in mind, if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and another Ultimate Rewards-earning card — like the Chase Freedom® — you can transfer the points you earn on the Chase Freedom® to your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card account and redeem for more than 1 cent per point.

Where the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card shines

The Nerds’ love for this travel card runs deep. Here’s why:

High sign-up bonus: You’ll be hard-pressed to find a personal credit card with a better sign-up bonus: earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening That, plus the additional 5,000 points you’ll get if you add an authorized user and make a purchase within three months, is worth $562.50 if you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Extra points on your dining and travel spending: If you travel frequently, you’re likely eating out often as well. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has you covered with extra rewards on both purchases. Remember, the dining and travel merchants must be coded as such for you to get the bonus point on each dollar spent.

Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards bonus mall: Online shoppers can also enjoy extra rewards by shopping through the Chase Ultimate Rewards bonus mall. You’ll get additional points on purchases from your favorite stores, including Apple, Starbucks and Nordstrom.

Discounted travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards: A 20% discount on travel is no joke. Let’s say you put $1,500 on your credit card each month, $800 of which is dining out and travel. This will earn you 27,600 points per year, assuming you don’t use the bonus mall for online purchases. That’s $345 of free travel for making your regular purchases. Add that to your sign-up bonus for the first year, and you’re looking at more than $900 in free travel the first year you have the card.

Even better rewards coupled with Chase Freedom®: If you’re spending within the 5% bonus categories of the Chase Freedom®, you’ll enjoy serious rewards by using both cards.

Let’s say you hit the spending caps of $1,500 for 5% categories each quarter. You’ll earn 7,500 points per quarter, or 30,000 points per year. Transferred to your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card account and used to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, that’s $375 worth of free travel instead of $300 in cash.

Where the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card falls short

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card isn’t ideal for everyone. Consider a different travel rewards card if you’re:

Someone who wants more flexible travel booking options

If you want to book through the travel site that gives you the best deal, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is a better option. It offers 2 miles on every dollar spent and a killer sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 or more on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. You can redeem miles for travel statement credit on almost any travel expense, including flights, hotel stays, campground stays, cabs and more. You’ll also receive 10% of your redeemed miles back.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® has a slightly smaller annual fee — $89 - Waived first year — than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It has no foreign transaction fees and comes chip-enabled with PIN capability for overseas purchases.

Someone who isn’t a big spender

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
Apply Now

on Bank of America's
secure website

If you love travel, but don’t spend enough to justify the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s high annual fee, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® card is a good option. It offers 1.5 points on every dollar you spend and a sign-up bonus: Online exclusive 10,000 bonus points if you make at least $500 in purchases in the first 90 days- that can be $100 towards travel purchases. Points are redeemable for travel statement credit on the travel expenses of your choice. The BankAmericard Travel Rewards® card has no annual or foreign transaction fees.

Bottom line: Should I get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card?

If you spend a lot on travel and dining at restaurants, and typically fly on one of Chase’s travel partners — like United, Virgin Atlantic or Southwest — this is a fantastic card. You’ll also enjoy the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card if you have an authorized user because you’ll get an even better sign-up bonus and if you have and use the Chase Freedom®. If you want more flexibility in booking travel or don’t spend enough to outweigh the annual fee, check out our alternate card recommendations. Now go get your new travel card — adventure awaits.

Erin El Issa is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @Erin_Lindsay17 and on Google+.


Image via iStock.

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  • Linda

    What exactly constitutes “travel” other than airfare purchases?

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

      Hi Linda,

      According to Chase’s website:

      Earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel from airfare, hotels, cruises and rental cars to train tickets, taxis, tolls and more.

      Hope this helps!

  • Steve Smtih

    I have given up on doing any business with Chase. I got the Chase affinity card for IHG. I spent the required amount but no increase in status level and no bonus points, OK, so I call Chase and they say call IHG. I contact IHG and they say (you guessed it) call Chase. One big circle. Have I been scammed? All I know is that when I have taken advantage of offers from AmEx or Citi, there has never been a hassle. The hassle factor with CHASE and IHG is too much.

  • Steve

    Hi there – I’m almost at the trigger point to either get the Sapphire Preferred Card or the Barclay Arrival World Master Card. From what I can tell these cards are pretty neck in neck?! Can you provide me your professional opinion on what card edges out the other? I also have heard from a previous Chase employee that Chase won’t even offer you a card unless you have a 750 or higher score which is where I’m at now. I dont know too much about Barclay. My other big question is I have 20,000 points on my USAA Amex along with a small $1,500 balance. Will I be able to transfer all my points onto either the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Barclay card or will I only get points from the balance tranfer soley??

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

      Hi Steve,

      You can’t transfer your USAA points, unfortunately – your best bet is to cash out on those and start afresh. However, I’d advise against transferring your *credit card balance *to the Chase Sapphire or Barclaycard Arrival. If you have credit card debt, you should be looking for a card that has 0% interest on balance transfers, so you aren’t bleeding money in interest payments. Rewards cards like the Sapphire and Arrival tend to have very high interest rates, so if you don’t pay off your balance every month, you should look for a 0% APR card.

      Cheers,
      Anisha

  • louise von Hasseln

    Thanks for all the info.! I’m still confused about one difference between Capital One and Sapphire Preferred. Can both be used on other airlines, such as Virgin America? Where does one find a list of participating Airlines?

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

      Hey Louise,

      Capital One miles can be used against any travel expense – any airline or hotel, as well as gas, car rentals and other travel purchases. Chase Sapphire Preferred miles can be transferred to any one of the programs seen here. Hope this helps!

      Anisha

      • louise von Hasseln

        Thanks so much for the info.!!! I’ll look into it!

  • Tiff Duncan

    Hi,

    I used to have the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Then I downgraded to the fee free card. I still have the card now. Will I ever be able to get the sign up bonus again? Like, can I cancel my card, sit out a blackout period, and then apply after 12 months and get the bonus again? Thanks!

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

      There’s almost no chance, unfortunately – they exclude you from getting the bonus if you’re a previous customer. From the Sapphire Preferred terms and conditions:

      This one-time bonus offer is valid only for first-time cardmembers with new accounts. Previous and existing cardmembers/accounts are not eligible for this bonus offer.

  • John Parker

    Do you know if foreign transactions also earn points? So, if I use my card at McDonald’s in, say, France or India, will I also earn 2x the points on the dollar equivalent of the total amount?

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

      Yes and no. You’ll earn the base rewards rate at the current exchange rate, so if you make a purchase of 1 euro and the exchange rate is 1 euro to $1.32 USD, you’ll earn 1.32 Ultimate Rewards Points (1 point per $1).

      However, bonus rewards is based on how the merchant categorizes itself. If a merchant tells Visa (or Amex, or MasterCard, or Discover) that it’s a restaurant, you’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent. But foreign merchants typically aren’t as good about categorizing themselves in the American system as stateside retailers. So chances are you’ll only earn the base rate overseas, even if you’re at a restaurant.

      • John Parker

        Thanks.

        I have another question – although you may not know the answer unless you have used the card internationally: How is the exchange rate for foreign transactions? Of course, there is no foreign transaction fee; however, banks can be sneaky and instead make money by offering a not-so-competitive exchange rate, can they not? I suppose I could compare Chase’s exchange rate for a transaction with that of the market the next time I travel abroad.

  • M S

    What are different ways to redeem the points? Is it possible to pay with points back to card or use points to purchase at amazon?

  • http://www.chauzer.com chauzer

    You only get the 20% discount when using points to “pay” for your flight

  • http://www.chauzer.com chauzer

    yes