The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has increased its sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. That also means you have a chance to earn $750 worth of travel compared with the $625 you could have gotten with the older, 50,000-point offer.
But there’s a downside: Chase is ending one of the card’s longtime perks. The $95 annual fee, which was waived the first year, kicks in right away.
Here’s what to consider when weighing whether the new Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offer is a good opportunity for you.
Is this the same Chase Sapphire card I’ve been hearing so much about?
Actually, two Chase Sapphire cards have been getting lots of attention in recent years: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which has a $95 annual fee and pays 2X points for every $1 spent on dining and travel, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which has a $550 annual fee offset by a $300 annual travel credit and which pays 3X points on dining and travel.
When redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards® for travel, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Cardholders get a 25% value boost, but Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders get a 50% value boost. So think of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card as the option tailored to more frugal types, with scaled-down rewards corresponding to its lower cost.
Is this a good deal?
The new sign-up bonus points are worth $125 in travel, but you’ll pay $95 for them in the form of a first-year annual fee. So you’re ahead of the game by $30.
If there’s a chance you’ll want to redeem your points for cash, gift cards or merchandise, the benefits shrink considerably. For non-travel redemptions, Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are worth only 1 cent each. The 10,000-point increase is worth $100 for these rewards — a scant $5 benefit over the old deal.
Why are points worth more when redeemed for travel than for cash back or gift cards?
Chase Ultimate Rewards® has its own web portal, connected to the bank website, where you can redeem points for a number of rewards, including cash back, merchandise and gift cards. You can also book flights, hotels, rental cars and cruises on the site. Chase wants you to use their travel booking engine, so they offer Chase Sapphire Preferred® Cardholders a redemption boost: Trade 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for cash and you’ll get $600. Or you can redeem them for a $750 flight or $750 in hotel, cruise or rental car bookings.
» Learn more: How to earn and use Chase Ultimate Rewards
How do I earn the bonus points?
The sign-up bonus is as follows: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Cash advances and balance transfers don’t count toward the $4,000 minimum spend. Along the way, you’ll earn 1 point for every $1 you spend in most categories or 2 points per $1 spent on dining or travel.
How else can I use Chase points?
Besides redeeming them for travel, cash back, merchandise or gift cards, you can also transfer points at a one-to-one rate for miles or points in a dozen loyalty programs including United Airlines, Southwest, JetBlue, British Airways, Air France, Marriott Bonvoy, IHG Rewards and World of Hyatt. This can be a great opportunity when you want to top off points you already have in one of those partners’ loyalty programs or when you find a better deal through the airline or hotel than you can find through Chase’s portal, but the 25% boost in redemptions you get from Chase means these transfers are often not as lucrative as booking through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
» Learn More: Travel loyalty program reviews
Is this card good for travel abroad?
Yes. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card charges no foreign transaction fees.
» Learn more: Chase 5/24 rule explained
What travel protections does the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offer?
If a trip you booked with your card is interrupted by a covered situation like illness or severe weather, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per person for nonrefundable travel. The card also comes with an auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance and trip delay reimbursement. And if you encounter an emergency while traveling, a Chase benefit administrator is available to provide legal or medical referrals or similar assistance.
How to maximize your rewardsYou 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: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Chase Ultimate Rewards: How to earn and use them
NerdWallet’s top travel credit cards
How to pick the best credit card for you