Full Review of Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Generous rewards for travel and dining, with ways to further boost their buying power
Outstanding one time bonus for new cardholders
25% point bonus on travel booked through Chase
$95 annual fee
No introductory 0% APR offer
Fewer travel credits than some competing cards
- Generous Rewards on Travel and Dining: This card offers 2 points in rewards per dollar spent for travel-related expenses and dining at restaurants, a very lucrative payout. (Its sibling, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, pays a point more per dollar spent in these categories, but costs a hefty $550— $455 more than this card.) Both cards pay 1 point per dollar on other purchases. In many circumstances you can also transfer points earned on other Chase points-rewards cards you may have in your wallet (such as Freedom or Freedom Unlimited), which allows you to charge a purchase to the card that best rewards that transaction and then transfer the points to the Sapphire Preferred to maximize your redemption value.
- Outstanding One-Time Offer for New Cardholders: New members can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening an account. That's $1,000 when redeeming points for eligible purchases with the new Pay Yourself Back tool (currently, groceries, dining, home improvement and select charities), or for travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Few cards in the travel category provide a one-time offer that substantial.
- 25% Points Bonus on Travel Booked through Chase: Points redeemed for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises get 25% more value, rising from 1 cent per point to 1.25 cents, when cardholders book their travel through Chase's Ultimate Rewards. That boost gives you an effective rewards rate of 2.5% on travel and dining purchases. While that portal allows points to be redeemed for cash back, gift cards, and transfers to Chase points partners, the 25% bonus applies only to using points to make travel redemptions through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
- $95 Annual Fee: It's hardly out of the norm for a travel card to come with an annual fee; indeed, several competitors to this card also charge $95 per year. Still, paying a fee creates a risk that you won't recoup your investment, especially if you don’t take advantage of a card's optimal redemption options—in this case receiving the points bonus when you book travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, cardholders who redeem points for cash back will need to spend $4,750 per year in the high-rewards travel and dining category in order to break even on the annual fee. Even those who redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards will need to spend $3,800 per year to recoup the $95 fee.
- No Introductory 0% APR Offer: Unlike many cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn't offer an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers or purchases, and there’s also a hefty fee for transfers to the card (of $5 or 5% of the transferred balance, whichever is greater). The regular—and relatively high—variable APR of 15.99% to 24.99% applies, making this card a less than ideal choice for transferring a balance or making a large purchase that you plan to pay off over time.
- Fewer Travel Credits Than Some Competing Cards: While the Chase Sapphire Preferred has a few other travel pluses, such as above-average car-rental coverage, it has almost none of the premium benefits for frequent travelers of other travel cards, including some with the same $95 fee as it requires. For example, the Capital One Venture card comes with a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or $85 credit for TSA Precheck, and other cards provide those same credits along with other credits for incidental airline fees, as well.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
Flies often for business or leisure
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
This Chase Sapphire Preferred is first and foremost a card for those who travel, and quite a lot. Its rewards are richest for travel spending (as well as for dining out), and it offers the biggest bang for points earned if you use them to make travel purchases from the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
It's an even better bet for those who also hold, or are open to getting, other Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points. If you're willing to expend a little effort to make the most of those points, you can transfer them to your Chase Sapphire Preferred account and use them to buy travel from the Chase portal at the bonus rate.
Even if you prefer not to book travel through Chase, this cards respectable 2 points-per-dollar-spent rewards rate, along with a point per dollar for other purchases, might be lucrative enough to justify paying the fee to get the card. For one, you can transfer points to Chase's travel partners, such as airlines and hotels, at a 1:1 ratio. That allows the possibility of getting even more for your points, provided you’re prepared to hunt down great redemptions deals from those partners.
Chase Sapphire Preferred One-Time Offer
New cardholders can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 or more in purchases within the first three months of opening an account. Those points are worth approximately $1,168 according to Investopedia's average valuation of 1.46 cents for Ultimate Rewards points or, when redeemed through Chase's booking portal for travel, the bonus is worth $1,000; otherwise, its value is $800. Bonus points will post to your account six to eight weeks after you qualify.
After accounting for the annual fee, this bonus offer represents a little over a 16% return on the card's initial spend. And that calculation doesn't count the additional points you'd earn for spending the required $4,000 to get the bonus.
Rewards Earning Details
This card offers 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar on every other purchase.
Chase is fairly liberal with how it defines travel and restaurants. Travel expenses, for example, encompass not only airlines, hotels, and motels but timeshares, discount travel sites, campgrounds, car rental agencies, and cruises (not counting purchases made on board the boat). Public transportation, limousines, taxis, ferries, highways, toll bridges, parking lots, and garages are also included, though not spending on gasoline or other fuels.
Chase's restaurant category includes nearly all types of restaurants, running the gamut from fine dining establishments to fast food outlets.
Rewards Redemption Details
This card shines in offering diverse ways in which to redeem its rewards. Any points you earn can be used directly to book travel and a range of other experiences using the Chase Ultimate Rewards. But points can also be redeemed for cash back, gift cards, Amazon.com orders, and Apple purchases.
Points have an average potential value of 1.46 according to our latest valuation but are worth 1.25 cents per point when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and at 1 cent per point for cash back, experiences, and gift cards. You make a little less, 0.8 cents per dollar, on redemptions for Amazon.com and Apple purchases, making this redemption method a dubious one unless you can’t wait to convert points into cash back before making a purchase from these companies.
Ultimate Rewards points don't expire as long as your card is open.
If you're a member of a travel loyalty program, you can transfer your points to one of Chase's airline or hotel travel partners at a 1:1 value.
You'll get the most value when you find a deal being offered through your loyalty program. As long as it's a Chase travel partner, you can use your Chase rewards points to pay for a partner-discounted flight or hotel stay, essentially increasing the value of each point.
Chase's airline travel partners, with their programs, are:
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- British Airways Executive Club
- Emirates Skywards
- Flying Blue Air France KLM
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United Mileage Plus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
The hotel partner programs are:
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy
- World of Hyatt
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You can begin getting the most value out of this card by ensuring you take advantage of its introductory bonus. That may take some planning, such as moving up some anticipated big purchases, since you need to spend at least $4,000 in your first three months with the card in order to earn the 80,000-point bonus reward. (Just be careful to consider when and how you will pay back the purchases, to avoid having interest charges eat into your net gain from the bonus.)
Next, if you carry any other Chase cards, look carefully at the points rewards you receive from those. Compare them to the rates you're making with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Because you can often transfer points from those cards to this Sapphire Preferred, for any particular purchase consider using the Chase card that offers the best reward. In the long run, you may even want to acquire other Chase cards that offer higher points in some categories so as to make the most of this helpful points-transfer capability.
If you're a member of a loyalty program, look into transferring points to Chase's travel partners. While using points to buy travel at Chase Ultimate Rewards portal earns you a 25% bonus in their value, you may get greater value still by transferring points to partners. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, which increases the possibility that using them in a partner program might pay off.
Remember to use this card's money-saving benefits as well. It offers trip cancellation and interruption insurance, for example, which isn’t part of the benefits packages for all other travel cards.
Finally, families can really maximize this card's rewards by adding each family member as an additional user at no extra cost. Points add up fast if numerous individuals are using the card, particularly for their daily travel and dining needs.
Let's estimate spending and rewards for an average household which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, spends $3,459 on dining out annually. Those meals would earn about 7,000 points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Adding a vacation per year that costs $1,500 in airfare and lodging would log an additional 3,000 points.
In total, then, our family might earn about 10,000 points with this card in travel and dining rewards. Exchanged for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, those points would, with the 25% bonus at that site would be worth $125 at the 1 cent per point rate. If they were instead redeemed for cash back rather than travel, they would be worth $100.
In either case, a typical family could justify—if just—the $95 annual fee for the card on dining and travel rewards alone. Earnings on all other purchases at the 1 point/$1 rate, not to mention the points bonus in the first year, should take you firmly into the black for using this card.
Let's imagine a household that spends double those typical amounts on both dining and travel. Exchanged for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the 20,000 or so points they’d earn would, with the 25% bonus at that site be worth $250 at the 1 cent per point rate. If they were instead redeemed for cash back, the points would only be worth $200.
Chances are that such frequent diners and travelers would also spend more than the norm in other areas that earn only a point per dollar spent, such as entertainment, and so benefit even more than most households from even more modestly rewarded spending. They'd also probably have an easier time meeting the fairly steep minimum spending requirement for the introductory points offer, and have a lower chance that the value of the bonus might be offset by interest charges from carrying over some of the balance.
Chase Sapphire Preferred's Outstanding Benefits
- Primary rental car coverage
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
- No foreign transaction fees
- Trip delay reimbursement
- Baggage delay insurance
- Travel and emergency assistance services
- 24/7 access to customer service specialists from anywhere in the world
- Purchase protection
- Extend warranty protection
Chase is tied for third in J.D. Power's 2019 credit-card customer satisfaction survey, on a par with Capital One but behind Discover, which was in first place, and American Express, which ranked second.
Cardholders get a number of free features that are also standard with most other cards, including 24/7 access to a customer service specialist from anywhere in the world and a free credit tool, in this case called Credit Journey, that automatically alerts you of potential fraud. There's also a free credit score with the card.
Customers can use Chase's self-service toolkit on its website to perform tasks like replacing a card, adding authorized users, paying credit card bills, signing up for automatic payments, receiving account alerts, verifying their card, and setting up travel notifications.
Chase's online customer service information for credit cards indicates no email or chat options for customer service, only assistance by phone or physical mail. The customer service call center is available 24/7 at 800-432-3117. Customers can also message Chase on Twitter at @ChaseSupport.
Credit card customers at Chase get a number of security perks, all fairly standard among card providers. At a high level, Chase offers safety precautions like multiple authentication checks when you're logging in via the website or mobile app. It also monitors your profile in order to detect fraud and encrypts your username, password, and other personal account information.
For its credit cards, Chase provides 24/7 fraud monitoring—the bank will text, email, or call you if any unusual activity occurs on your account. It also provides card replacement services in case your card is lost or stolen, and it doesn't hold you responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card.
This card comes with chip-enabled technology in order to provide enhanced security when making purchases.
Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Sapphire Reserve
Anyone seriously considering a travel rewards credit card should review a list of the best cards in the market and Chase Sapphire Preferred is a perennial favorite that should be on or near the top. However, since late 2016 there has been another Chase Sapphire card that bears serious consideration - the more luxurious sibling of Preferred called Sapphire Reserve.
Compared to Sapphire Preferred the Sapphire Reserve card ups offers more across the board - in terms of points earning (3X vs. 2X points for global travel and dining expenditures) and greater redemption value for travel through Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal (1.5 cents per point vs.1.25). The Sapphire Reserve Card also provides a $300 annual credit toward travel expenses and lounge access through Priority Pass along with other travel benefits like a Global Entry/TSA Pre-check every four years along with annaul credits for Doordash and Lyft.
However, all the extra benefits come at a steep price - by way of a $550 annual fee. While the $300 flight credit softens the blow it's still a very expensive card to carry unless you spend enough to justify the cost through the extra rewards you earn and perks you enjoy.
Surprisingly, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card presents a more compelling one-time bonus of 80,000 points after its initial spending requirement as where Sapphire Reserve only offers 50,000 points. Both cards offer primary auto rental insurance coverage, though. Regardless, whether one is better than the other is a matter of calculating the value of the relative rewards earned and redeemed from the one-time bonus, likely annual spending along with the value of the travel credits and airport lounge access. Once you arrive at the number for each card using your annual category spending simply subtract the cost of the annual fee in each scenario to see where you come out to see which better fits your situation and rewards aspirations.
Below is a head to head comparison of rewards and benefits of each:
|Chase Sapphire Reserve Vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred|
|Features||Sapphire Preferred||Sapphire Reserve|
|One-time Bonus||80,000 Points||50,000 Points|
|Bonus on Travel/Restaurant Spend||2X Points||3X Points|
|Bonus on Lyft Spending||5X Points||10X Points|
|Points on All Other Spending||1X Point||1X Point|
|Point Value for Travel Redemption and with Chase's Pay Yourself Back tool||1.25 cents||1.5 cents|
|Annual Travel Credit||None||$300|
|Global Entry/TSA Pre App Fee Credit||N||Yes|
|Airport Lounge Access Credit||None||Priority Pass Select|
|Additional Credits||None||Lyft Pink, DashPass|
|Authorized User Fee||$0||$75|
If you're trying to decide on which Sapphire card to apply for start by determining on how your likely annual rewards earning will compare between the two cards and whether the combination of the one-time bonus and any other perks justify the cost of the annual fee.
The rewards rate and bonus offer for the Chase Preferred are very strong indeed, but the true distinction to this card lies in the versatility with which you can use your rewards, and the ways in which you can enhance their value.
Points can be redeemed for nearly any type of purchase. And not only are points worth 25% more when redeemed with Chase Ultimate Rewards, but you can move points to a range of loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio. Some other card issuers have more partners, but Chase’s list includes major names such as United, British Airways, and Marriott that don’t always make those longer lists.
Pairing this card with another in the Chase family can make rewards even more valuable. Chase allows you to move points to this card from other cards that earn Ultimate Rewards or that earn cash back rewards. The Chase Freedom card, for example, offers 5% cash back on rotating categories up to the first $1,500 in purchases each quarter, while all other purchases earn 1%. With the Freedom, you could earn high cash back rewards on rotating categories each quarter and then transfer that cash to your Preferred card to redeem for travel. Chase Freedom Unlimited, which offers a flat 1.5% cash back structure on all purchases also provides the option to transfer earned rewards to the Chase Sapphire Preferred when paired together.
A few other pluses to this card: Where many credit cards only offer secondary collision damage waiver coverage on rental cars, this card offers primary rental car coverage. That means you can submit the claim directly to Chase instead of going through your insurance company. And it imposes no penalty APR on late payments, the all-too-frequent higher interest rate imposed after payments are missed.
While this card is for frequent travelers, road warriors and other perpetual nomads may want to consider its cousin, the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The annual fee is now $550 per year, but this card comes with a $300 annual travel credit along with such benefits as complimentary airport lounge access at eligible lounges and a $100 credit for Global Entry every or TSAPre-check every four years.