The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a popular choice for a travel credit card and comes with perks, a significant welcome bonus and a relatively low annual fee ($95). It makes sense to consider this card if you like to travel and get rewarded for your trip expenses, but want to keep your annual fee low.
If you’re thinking about applying for this card, you’ll want to look at a variety of factors before submitting your application.
1. Your credit score
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card isn’t a credit card for everyone. You’ll need to have good to excellent credit to have a chance at getting approved. We recommend having a FICO score of at least 690 before applying for this card. If you need to wait a bit and work on your credit, it’s a good idea to do that.
2. The annual fee
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a very affordable annual fee of $95. Compared to other travel cards that can cost several hundred dollars per year, this is a solid mid-level option. It’s important to be prepared for this so that you don’t have a surprise when you get your first statement.
If you decide that you don’t want to continue to pay the annual fee after the first year, you can always downgrade to a no-fee Chase card.
» Learn more: Benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred
3. Your eligibility for the welcome bonus
Chase has put rules in place to limit eligibility for their bigger welcome bonuses. You can only collect bonus points on Sapphire-branded Chase credit cards every 48 months. That means if you’ve received bonus points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve® within the last 48 months, you’ll need to wait.
Additionally, if you currently have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and you were to downgrade your card to a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you wouldn’t be eligible for the bonus points.
4. Your current Sapphire situation
Cardmembers are only able to have one Sapphire branded card at once. That means if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve® already, you’ll need to wait until you cancel or downgrade it to a no-fee card to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
However, considering No. 3 above, there’s really no sense in applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card if you can’t get a nice welcome bonus — which means you would want to wait 48 months before applying.
» Learn more: Chase Sapphire showdown: Reserve beats Preferred, mostly
5. Your spending plans
Before applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you want to think about your spending plans for the next few months. For reference, here's the current welcome offer: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
You'll want to make sure that you will meet that minimum spend so you get your bonus points. If you’re planning to do a lot of travel or have some home improvement projects to do, for example, it may be easier to reach the spend within the set time frame.
As you consider credit card options, you might also think about how you spend your money. This card is especially great if you spend a lot on dining out and travel expenses. You’ll earn 2 points per $1 on travel and dining purchases, so it’s a nice way to rack up points.
6. The amount you intend to travel
Before applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you should take some time to consider your travel preferences and habits. If you travel often, it may make more sense to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. While it has a higher annual fee, it also comes loaded with more perks like the ability to earn 3 points per $1 on travel and dining, DoorDash credits, a free Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit, complimentary airport lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit and a 50% point redemption bonus when booking through the Chase travel portal.
If you still travel a good bit but don’t need extras like airport lounge access or don’t want a card with a higher annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card may be the right fit for you.
7. Your 5/24 count
You won’t be able to get this card if you’re not under Chase’s unpublished (but widely known) 5/24 rule. That means if you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the last 24 months (from any issuer), your chances for approval are slim to none.
The bottom line
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can be a beneficial travel credit card to have if you’re ready to get one with an annual fee and you love to travel. Just be sure your ducks are all in a row when it comes to your credit score, 5/24 count and bonus eligibility. And as always, make sure you have a logical plan in place in terms of how to hit your spending bonus and how to make the most of the card's ongoing perks.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card