7 Things to Know Before Getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred
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The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has long been a popular choice for both newbie and advanced travel credit card aficionados alike.
But as of summer 2021, the card got even better. Chase added a slew of new category bonuses, including 5x total points on all travel bought through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x points on dining (including qualified delivery services, takeout and dining out — up from 2x points) and 3x points on some streaming services.
That makes this card not only one of the best to keep in your wallet during a vacation, but also a good choice for spending while at home (particularly when ordering takeout and streaming movies to inspire your wanderlust).
Throw in the card’s relatively low annual fee of just $95, 25% bonus for points redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and other, less-sexy benefits like travel insurance, and it’s easy to see why people love this card.
Points enthusiasts are itching to get the most out of the card's current welcome offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Sure, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card sits in the shadow of its boisterous sibling card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, but that card commands a hefty annual fee of $550. If you like the idea of a travel card that can give a wide array of travel choices rather than tie you to one hotel or airline brand — but a $550 annual fee makes you turn green — then you may want to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
But before you do, here are seven things to consider 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
Though not as high as the $500+ annual fees you can expect from premium travel credit cards, you’ll still owe something for the privilege of holding this card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has an annual fee of $95.
Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card annual fee worth it? There are several reasons that go into making that call, but we’ll go with the most clear one: The value earned from spending rewards.
As a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card customer, you can redeem your points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal for 1.25 cents per point and you earn 5 points per dollar spent on travel bought directly through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Assuming you used the card for travel and nothing else, you’d still need to spend $1,520 within the Chase Ultimate Rewards® to earn enough points to break even on the annual fee.
Of course, that amount disregards the card’s other perks, including a $50 annual credit (which kicks in right away for new cardmembers or after their next account anniversary for existing cardmembers) on hotel stays bought through Ultimate Rewards®.
But still, if you don’t use the card often — particularly when it comes to the bonus categories — you might be better off with a no-annual-fee travel credit card.
» Learn more: The best benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
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.
Also, if you now have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and you were to downgrade your card to a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you wouldn’t qualify 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 vs. Preferred
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. Make sure you can meet the minimum spend to actually receive your bonus points.
For instance, if you’re planning to do a lot of travel or maybe just have some home improvement projects to do, it would be significantly more realistic to achieve within the set time frame than if you’re trying to conquer a no-spend month.
Ideally, a good chunk of your spending falls within the card’s bonus categories. Those are:
5x total points on all travel bought through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5x points on Lyft rides through March 2025 (that's 3x points plus the 2x points you already earn on travel).
3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out (previously 2x).
3x points on some streaming services.
3x points on online grocery purchases (except Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
Though it’s not a bad deal if you use your card for non-bonus category spending, too. You earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases — but it gets better. You also earn a 10% anniversary point bonus where — each account anniversary — you bonus points equal to 10% of total purchases made the prior year.
That means, $1,000 in spend will earn an extra 100 bonus points. That’s not huge, but it’s at least a nice cherry on top, especially if you’re putting a lot of general spending on the card to meet the welcome offer.
6. The amount you will travel
Before applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, consider your travel preferences and habits. Look, now is still kind of a strange time to travel.
Among the card’s greatest qualities is its high earning rate on travel spending, so this card is better suited if you actually plan to travel often this year.
Then again, it’s a balancing act. If you travel, like, really often, it may make more sense to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
While it commands a higher annual fee, it also comes loaded with a significantly higher earning rate: 10x total points on hotel stays and car rentals bought through Ultimate Rewards® and 5x total points on air travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®.
That’s on top of other travel benefits, including:
A free Global Entry, NEXUS or TSA PreCheck credit.
Complimentary airport lounge access into Priority Pass lounges and Chase’s own airport lounge brand (Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club).
A $300 annual travel credit.
A 50% point redemption bonus when booking through the Chase travel portal.
Do the math on your own travel spending to see which card’s point value makes the most sense.
While the upfront annual fee is brutal, you might find that you actually get more value from the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
7. Your Chase 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 bank), your chances for approval are slim to none.
» Learn more: The best Chase credit cards right now
If you're considering the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can be a useful 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 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 2023, 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