With travel picking back up, you may be wondering which travel credit card you should use for your upcoming trips. We highly recommend considering the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, a top-rated travel credit card.
The card offers a robust rewards program, a relatively high sign-up bonus, and no foreign transaction fees. The Chase Sapphire Preferred also has a low-cost annual fee compared to similar travel cards and comes with some great secondary perks, including primary rental car coverage and trip cancellation insurance, among other benefits.
Below is everything you need to know about the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Review Summary
The Chase Sapphire Preferred travel card is a well-rounded and valuable choice for frequent travelers. Whether you are a credit card novice or an experienced rewards geek, you can find ways to reap value from the card and maximize your benefits.
With the Sapphire Preferred, you can earn Ultimate Rewards® points for select purchases and redeem them strategically for travel, including with transfer partners like Hyatt and Southwest Airlines, as well as with complementary Chase Ultimate Rewards® cards like the Chase Freedom Flex. Chase’s Pay Yourself Back program also provides a 25% increase in redemption value in eligible categories, which could significantly boost your earnings.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Review Highlights
Hefty Welcome Bonus
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can earn a generous welcome bonus of 60,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening, or roughly $1,333.33 a month. That’s $750 you can put towards travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards® or $600 towards statement credits.
For some cardholders, the minimum spend requirement may not be feasible, especially if you are a light spender. While the sign-up bonus is fairly competitive, it may be worth waiting to see if the card’s bonus increases in the future since the current bonus is a far cry from the card’s peak of 100,000 points (or roughly $1,250 towards Ultimate Rewards® travel).
Previously, the Chase Sapphire Preferred rewards program was primarily geared toward travelers. But, following significant upgrades to the card back in August 2021, it has become a more well-rounded, tiered reward card. You can now expect to earn:
- 5X points per dollar on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, excluding hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit
- 3X points per dollar on dining (including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out)
- 3X points per dollar on select streaming services
- 3X points per dollar on online grocery purchases (not including Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs)
- 2X points per dollar on other travel purchases not through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 1X point per dollar on all other purchases
Another new perk introduced in the upgrade was a $50 statement credit on hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® for each account anniversary. After you make an eligible purchase, the reward will automatically get applied to your account each year.
If you do not plan on traveling anytime soon, Chase’s Pay Yourself Back program is a lucrative alternative to get additional value out of your points. With this program, you can redeem your rewards at a 25% increase for eligible categories, though these categories may change over time.
Another way to maximize your gains is to strategically pair the Chase Sapphire Preferred with another complementary card under the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program, such as the Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited. With these other cards, you can pool all your points together and redeem them at the Sapphire Preferred’s elevated level.
And finally, during each account anniversary, you can earn bonus points equal to 10% of your total purchases made the previous year or 1 point for each dollar spent. So, if you spent $25,000 on purchases, you would receive 2,500 bonus points. Note that the 10% is calculated from the dollars spent rather than points earned, so you will not receive additional points by leveraging the bonus categories.
If you are a frequent travel program member, you can potentially transfer your points to over a dozen hotel and airline transfer partners at a 1:1 value in increments of 1,000. For example, if you see a great deal with one of Chase’s airline transfer partners, you can take your points and apply them to that airline’s loyalty program to secure the deal.
Airline Transfer Partners
- Aer Lingus, AerClub
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- British Airways Executive Club
- Emirates Skywards®
- Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
- United MileagePlus®
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Hotel Travel Partners
- IHG® Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy®
- World of Hyatt®
While most transfer partners offer more bang for your buck, they are not all created equal. Some programs may provide less value than if you were to redeem the points for cash or through Chase’s travel program. Check the terms before you make a transfer.
Various Secondary Benefits
Using the card to pay for travel bookings, such as car rentals, flights, hotels, and cruises, will give you access to comprehensive travel and purchase protections. You can expect the following:
Primary Rental Car Coverage
As a cardholder, you get access to the card’s auto rental collision damage waiver. So, whenever you rent a car using your Chase Sapphire Preferred card, feel free to decline any collision insurance coverage the rental agency may provide.
Since the card comes with primary rental car coverage, if you get into an accident or your rental car gets stolen or damaged, you will not need to use your personal insurance first to submit a claim. Instead, the card’s benefits will kick in first. As long as the cardholder is the primary renter, the coverage covers them and any additional drivers listed on the rental agreement. But the coverage only applies to rentals of up to 31 consecutive days or less.
Trip Delay Insurance
Travel is hectic and unpredictable these days, especially with rampant flight-related issues. If you are facing a lengthy delay of more than 12 hours or one that requires an overnight stay, you are eligible for up to $500 in reimbursements per ticket with the card.
However, keep in mind that this coverage is secondary, so it only applies after you have received compensation from the primary entity or the airline. This benefit also only applies to reasonable expenses incurred, so if you attempt to charge $500 for room service to your hotel, for example, you might not get reimbursed for that.
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
In the unfortunate event that your trip gets canceled or cut short, you may be eligible for reimbursements of up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses. That includes purchases like passenger fares, tours, and hotels.
You will only be eligible for reimbursement if certain events lead to your trip getting canceled or delayed. That includes circumstances such as sickness, accidental bodily injury, severe weather, jury duty, and changes in military order. However, it does not include circumstances like changes in your plans, failure to obtain necessary visas or other travel documents, and civil unrest.
Baggage Delay And Lost Luggage Insurance
If you check your bag, there’s a small chance your luggage won’t be there when you reach your destination. Even if the airline successfully locates your luggage, it may take some time for you to get your things back. In the meantime, you may be left without essentials like toiletries and a change of clothes.
With the card’s baggage delay protection, you can get reimbursed for the cost of purchasing necessary personal and business items while you wait for your bag to get returned to you. You and your immediate family are eligible for up to $100 of expenses per day for up to 5 days if your bag gets delayed for 6 or more hours. If your luggage is lost, damaged, or destroyed, you are eligible for up to $3,000 per passenger thanks to the card’s lost luggage insurance.
Purchase Protection And Extended Warranty Protection
If a purchase you made recently gets damaged or stolen, you could be eligible for up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account. As long as you used the card to make the purchase, the item should automatically qualify for purchase protection. But, you may need to confirm with the lender to determine if the item is eligible.
If your item breaks or gets damaged after its manufacturer’s warranty protection period ends, you may be eligible to receive reimbursements for repair or replacement costs via the card’s extended warranty protection. The warranty protection would extend the manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year on eligible warranties of 3 years or less.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with partnerships with several notable companies, including Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, and Peloton. The benefits include:
- 5X points on Lyft rides through March 31, 2025
- Complementary access to DashPass, a membership subscription for DoorDash and Caviar, for at least one year
- 6 months of complementary Instacart+ and up to $15 in statement credits each quarter through July 2024
- 5X points on Peloton equipment and accessory purchases over $150 with a max earn of 25,000 total points through March 31, 2025
Chase Sapphire Preferred Drawbacks
The Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with a $95 annual fee, which can be costly if you are tight on money. However, the cost is much more affordable than other comparative cards with annual fees. A study by ValuePenguin found that the average price tag for credit cards with annual fees is $147.
If you are new to using credit cards, keeping track of all the different reward categories and options may be overwhelming and hard to manage. With the tiered bonuses and partnerships, you may need to do some legwork to set up a system to maximize the points earned.
Additionally, to get the most out of your rewards and redemptions, you need to go through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal or transfer your points to a transfer partner. You may also need to use this card in conjunction with the Chase sister cards to get the most value.
Unfortunately, for most consumers, there will be a learning curve when you try to optimize the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, as well as additional work to juggle the various benefits. If you don’t want to deal with any of this, you may be better off with a more straightforward cashback credit card.
Requires Good/Excellent Credit
You will need to have good credit if you want to get approved for the card. If you have a credit score of 700 or higher, your approval odds are pretty high. But, if your credit is on the lower end, we recommend taking steps to rebuild your credit first before applying for the card.
In addition to having a good or excellent credit score, you will need to have enough income to afford your monthly financial obligations. While there is no specific income requirement, it’s a good idea to have enough money to at least make the minimum payments at the end of the billing cycle.
Fees & Rates
High Regular Rates
The ongoing APR (annual percentage rate) for the card is 21.49% to 28.49% variable APR, slightly higher than the current average national rates.
No Purchase Intro APR or Balance Transfer Intro APR
There is no purchase intro APR or balance transfer intro APR. That means you will end up paying the 21.49% to 28.49% interest rate if you miss payments or carry a balance. You will also get charged $5 or 5% of the amount per transaction, whichever is greater, when you try to transfer your balance.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
The good news is that the card has no foreign transaction fees. That means when you travel abroad or make purchases from international merchants, you will not get charged any additional fees.
Other Details to Consider
Rewards Earning Details
When you earn rewards for purchases made using the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you will get them in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. For example, when you purchase flight tickets with the card via Chase’s travel portal, you will earn 5 points per dollar spent. As long as you do not close your account, your points will not expire. But, if your account gets closed for fraud, misuse, bankruptcy, or other reasons, you will likely lose your points.
Another way you can earn extra points is by referring a friend or family member. If you know anyone considering the card, you can take advantage of the 15,000-point referral bonus for each friend that gets approved for the card. With this method, you could earn up to 75,000 points per year or 5 referrals.
Rewards Redemption Details
Chase’s rewards program is reasonably versatile and flexible, giving you various options to redeem your earnings:
- You can use your points to purchase flights, reserve hotel rooms, and rent a car through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal. When you use their portal, you get a 25% bonus, an effective value of 1.25 cents per point. You do not need to worry about blackout dates since you can book travel at anytime.
- You can transfer your points at a 1:1 rate to any of their airline and hotel partners, which may net you a higher redemption value depending on the partner. Some of the best Chase transfer partners include Singapore Airlines, Hyatt, and Southwest.
- You can redeem your points as statement credits and get a value of 1 cent per point.
- If you prefer shopping, you can exchange your points for gift cards. Depending on the store and purchase amount, the gift cards will provide different values for your points, though it will typically be 1 cent per point or less.
- You can use your points to make purchases with certain merchants, such as Amazon, at 0.8 cents per point.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
There are many ways to maximize your rewards for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. By leveraging other Chase sister cards and transfer partners and using them for higher bonus categories, you can earn big rewards that justify the annual fee.
If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and another Chase credit card, you can transfer points to several different loyalty programs at no cost. For example, if you have the Freedom Unlimited® Card, you can transfer your points to British Airways (BA) Avios at a 1:1 ratio (1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards = 1,000 BA Avios).
Alternatively, if you have any other Chase credit card (like the Freedom or Freedom Unlimited) that earns Ultimate Rewards® points, you can transfer those points over to your Sapphire Preferred account at no cost. That allows you to pool your points and redeem them at a higher value.
Another way to get more out of the card is to use it for purchases that will net you higher bonuses than 1 point per dollar spent. For instance, booking travel through the Chase travel portal will earn you 5X points, while swiping the card at restaurants will earn you 3X points.
Who This Card is For
Designed for frequent and casual travelers alike, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is best for people who want to earn rewards on their travel expenses. At an annual fee of $95, it’s a relatively affordable travel card, especially given the benefits you could potentially gain. It offers a high sign-up bonus and has no foreign transaction fees, so it’s a good choice for international travelers.
With the tiered rewards structure and secondary benefits, the card is also a great choice for anyone who wants to earn rewards on their everyday expenses. You can earn 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases, 2X on travel purchases not through the Chase portal, and 1X on all other purchases.
How Does the Chase Sapphire Preferred Compare to Other Similar Cards?
Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. American Express Gold
If you spend more on dining than travel, the American Express Gold Card is a solid alternative to consider. You can earn:
- 4X points per dollar on groceries and restaurant purchases
- 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel
- 1X on all other eligible purchases
Additionally, you can earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first 6 months of opening an account, or roughly $666.67 per month. Cardholders can also enroll in the $120 dining credit benefit to earn $10 per month in credits at participating partners, including Shake Shack and Cheesecake Factory, and $10 a month in Uber Cash, or $120 annually, to use towards Uber Rides or Uber Eats.
While the card comes with a higher annual fee of $250, you get a substantial welcome bonus and more value for dining purchases and groceries. But, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2X points on a broader travel category.
Ultimately, your spending habits will help determine which card is a better fit. If your biggest expenses revolve around dining, takeout, and supermarkets, then the Amex Gold may be a better deal. But, if you travel frequently, you may be better off with the Sapphire Preferred.
Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Freedom Flex
The Chase Freedom Flex is a free alternative that people often consider alongside the Sapphire Preferred. With the Chase Freedom Flex, you’ll earn:
- 5X points in quarterly bonus categories
- 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3X points on dining and drugstore purchases
- 1X points on all other purchases
It also comes with a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months from account opening and a $200 welcome bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months. If you strategically leverage the rotating categories, you could potentially out-earn the rewards you make from the Sapphire Preferred.
Alternatively, you could apply for both cards and potentially move the rewards you earn from the Freedom Flex to the Sapphire Reserved. That allows you to get more value out of your points by moving them to other loyalty programs or redeeming them through the Chase travel program.
Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Capital One Venture Rewards
The Capital One Venture Rewards credit card is a competitive alternative to the Chase Sapphire Preferred. If navigating through complex reward structures seems too much of a hassle, you may have better luck with the simple, flat-rates rewards system that the Venture Rewards offers. With the Venture Rewards credit card, you will earn the following:
- 2 miles per dollar on every purchase
- 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
Aside from travel, you will earn the same rate on all eligible purchases and redeem miles through Capital One or for outside travel purchases. Similar to the Sapphire Preferred, the Capital One Ventures Reward has a $95 annual fee and a welcome bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
With the Ventures Rewards, you can also transfer miles to airline and hotel partners and get access to travel and purchase protections. There are no foreign transaction fees and you can get up to $100 statement credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®.
Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a higher-end version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It is a well-known premium card that comes with elevated benefits. And, because it is a Visa Infinite rather than a Visa Signature like the Sapphire Preferred, you get additional Visa benefits. With this card, you will earn the following:
- 5X points on flights when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® after spending $300 on travel annually
- 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® after spending $300 on travel annually
- 3X points on other travel worldwide after spending $300 on travel annually
- 10X points on Chase Dining purchases with Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3X points on all other dining, including delivery services, takeout, and dining out
The main downside of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is that it carries an annual fee of $550, which may be outside most people’s budgets. However, the card comes with an annual $300 travel credit, lounge access through Priority Pass, and an additional 50% points value boost when you book travel through Chase or use the Pay Yourself Back program.
After you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, you will earn 80,000 bonus points as part of the welcome bonus. That’s $1,200 you can apply toward travel if you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Despite the high price tag, the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a broad range of benefits that may justify its price if you can fully utilize them. If you travel extensively, the premium price of the Chase Sapphire Reserve may be worth it.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card has a well-earned reputation as a highly-coveted travel rewards credit card with its breadth of perks and benefits. With its latest upgrades in 2021, the Sapphire Preferred’s updated dining rewards, bonus categories, and annual bonuses make it one of the top travel cards available in the market.
If you’re a beginner, you can use it as a starter or low-cost travel card. You can also pair it with another Chase card, such as the Freedom Flex, to maximize your gains. Its rewards structure makes it easy to earn points that can get transferred to numerous airline and hotel loyalty programs. Plus, its annual fee is reasonable at $95, and it comes with a bonus offer worth up to $750 that will pay for 6+ years of your card membership dues.
If you’re a frequent traveler, we recommend that you consider adding this card to your wallet. With the 60,000-point sign-up bonus, travel and purchase protections, and range of rewards, you can get more than $95 in value from the rewards and benefits.
The Bottom Line
The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is a fantastic choice for those looking for maximum value for their rewards credit cards. With a host of valuable benefits, this card is hard to beat at its current price tag. To fully appreciate the card’s outstanding value, you will need to take advantage of its flexibility and versatility. That means making the most out of the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program, transfer partners, bonus categories, and sister cards. If you can leverage all of this, this card is an excellent choice for you.