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In 2012 I jumped on a bandwagon, signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to take advantage of what seemed like a pretty good sign-up bonus to earn some extra Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. At the time, I wasn’t well versed in points programs outside of airline and hotel rewards.
Though my understanding of the Ultimate Rewards® program was limited, I was able to extract some serious value from that bonus, and I’ve had the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card ever since.
A few years later, I signed up for this card’s more premium cousin, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, to seize a limited-time 100,000-point bonus offer. But that card didn’t earn a permanent place in my wallet. I canceled it a year or two later.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, on the other hand, is one of the few cards I still use regularly. Here are some of the reasons I love this card.
Reasonable annual fee
Keeping the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card was a no-brainer for me. The card has a $95 annual fee, which is pretty standard. Meanwhile, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a $550 annual fee, which is partly offset by a $300 travel credit.
While it’s a safe bet that I’ll spend more than $300 on travel in the year, I may not want to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for every travel purchase — especially if I can earn more rewards using another card. So worrying about maximizing that $300 travel credit can be stressful.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s $95 annual fee better suits my travel spending habits.
» Learn more: Chase 5/24 rule explained
Double points on dining
Everyone spends differently. For someone with an 80-mile round-trip commute and kids to chauffeur all over town, a card that earns extra points at the gas pump might be ideal. For a freelancer whose office is the corner café, dining charges rack up a lot faster than gas. So the 2 points per $1 spent on dining with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card works great for me.
» Learn more: The best dining rewards programs
1:1 point transfers to travel partners
When you book a flight through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal, the number of points you pay is tied to the cash price of the ticket. Many airlines, on the other hand, use standardized award charts to determine how many miles you’ll pay for a flight.
A United flight booked through the Chase travel portal may cost fewer points than the same flight booked with United MileagePlus miles. The opposite could also be true: United could be offering a better points deal than you'd get booking through Chase. When it does, I can just transfer Chase points to United at a 1:1 ratio.
That’s why I love Chase’s points transfer options. I can book flights directly or transfer Ultimate Rewards® points to United, British Airways, Southwest, JetBlue or eight other airline and hotel partners.
» Learn More: Travel loyalty program reviews
Points can be transferred to a household member
A nice perk I gave up when I canceled my Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the 50% redemption boost on Ultimate Rewards® bookings. That’s double the 25% boost for holders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This means that 60,000 points are worth $750 in travel for a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholder. But someone with a Chase Sapphire Reserve® needs just 50,000 points to book $750 worth of travel.
I found a way to still take advantage of the 50% point transfer. Chase lets you transfer points to a qualified member of your household who also has a Chase Ultimate Rewards® account. Since my husband has the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, we pool our points in his account whenever we’re ready to book. That way, we always enjoy his 50% spending boost when we redeem through Chase.
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 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card