So, you’re ready to open your first travel rewards credit card. You can’t wait to start earning points, miles, and other perks that can help you visit your favorite destinations for free. There’s just one problem. With so many credit cards to choose from, you’re not sure which account to pick.
Should you apply for the card with the biggest sign-up bonus or the one with the highest reward earning potential? And what about the cost of annual fees, the ease (and potential value) of reward redemptions and additional card benefits?
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card may not hold the top spot in all of the categories above (or perhaps any of them). But when you consider the card’s numerous advantages and its low $95 annual fee, the combination starts to make a lot of sense for travel rewards beginners.
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Annual Fee: $95
Bonus: 100,000 Points
APR: Variable Rate
Rewards Rate: 1X-5X Points
Details: Full Review
Terms and restrictions apply
Annual Fee: $95
APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.
Rewards Rate: The card offers 5x points per dollar on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining (including eligible takeout and delivery services), 3x points on select streaming services, 3x points on online groceries (excluding Target and Walmart), 2x points on all other travel spending and 1x point per dollar everywhere else. Chase broadly defines travel to include not just airfare, hotels and rental cars, but expenses like parking, tolls and public transit too. Also, the card earns 5x points per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March 2022.
Sign-Up Bonus: New applicants can earn 100,000 bonus points after using their card to spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. That’s $1,250 when redeeming points for eligible purchases with the new Pay Yourself Back tool, or for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Who Should Use This Credit Card? People who are beginning with travel rewards cards.
Why We Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred actually works like having over a dozen different rewards credit cards. That’s because this credit card allows you to transfer your rewards points into miles with 11 airlines and points with three hotel programs.
Although the Chase Sapphire Preferred might not be ideal for the most frequent travelers and highest spenders, it’s part of a family of Chase cards that has a built-in upgrade path. So when it comes time to take your travel rewards game to the next level, you won’t have to start from scratch with an entirely different credit card and rewards program.
The card has a $95 annual fee, but the $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit effectively reduces that fee to $45. Plus, the credit card allows you to continue earning points through bonus categories and a 10% anniversary points boost. But when it comes time to redeem your rewards for travel, this card really shines. You can take advantage of some really strong transfer partners such as United, Southwest, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Hyatt. Similarly, you can just book any reservation you want through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel center.
Here are five big reasons why the Chase Sapphire Preferred might be the perfect starter travel rewards credit card.
1. You Can Earn a 100,000-Point Sign-Up Bonus.
Chase is offering its biggest sign up bonus ever on the Sapphire Preferred—and one of the best credit card bonuses you can find today. The card gives you a chance to earn a whopping 100,000 points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months from account opening.
You can cash in these points for $1,250 worth of travel reservations brought the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Or you can transfer the points to Chase’s airline and hotel partners and possibly get even more mileage out of the exchange.
2. The Annual Fee is a Low $95.
Aside from the fantastic sign-up bonus, the Sapphire Preferred’s low $95 annual fee is one of its best features. It’s easy to redeem enough rewards and benefits to offset this cost each year, and that can make the card a wise choice for those who are new to the world of travel rewards.
However, this annual fee is reduced to only $45 when you factor in the annual $50 hotel credit cardmembers enjoy.
Now, it is true that you can find travel rewards cards that offer more in the way of rewards and benefits. But those cards often come with sizable annual fees—sometimes five or six times higher than the Sapphire Preferred. The Platinum Card® from American Express, for example, is amazing, but features a steep $695 annual fee.
3. Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Are Valuable, Flexible and Easy to Redeem.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred gives you the opportunity to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. These points are some of the most desirable credit card rewards on the market. Here’s why.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points:
- Are worth an impressive 2.1 cents each according to our points and miles valuation.
- Never expire.
- Are redeemable at a rate of 1.25 cents for travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
- Can be transferred to 14 hotel and airline partners at a 1:1 ratio.
- Are redeemable for gift cards, cash back, experiences and more.
The Sapphire Preferred also plays well with other Chase credit cards. If you hold other Chase accounts, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card, you can transfer those points to your Sapphire Preferred and access the enhanced redemption options detailed above.
4. Earn up to 5X Points on Everyday Spending.
Earning rewards from purchases you need to make anyway is one of the most appealing benefits of having a rewards credit card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card gives you the opportunity to earn the following points:
- 5x points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3x points on dining, select streaming services and online groceries (excluding Target and Walmart)
- 2X points on any eligible travel-related purchases
- 1X points per dollar you spend on all other eligible transactions
- 5X points on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
If you want a card that can earn more travel rewards, you might consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card. The annual fee is $550, but it does offer a higher rewards rate, better redemption value and other attractive benefits. You can also start out with the Sapphire Preferred and ask the issuer to upgrade your account to the Reserve at a later date.
5. Enjoy More Benefits.
On top of all of the great features mentioned above, the Chase Sapphire Preferred can offer you several more meaningful benefits, including:
- $50 annual hotel credit
- 10% anniversary point boost
- Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
- Trip Delay Insurance
- Baggage Delay Insurance
- Auto Rental Insurance Coverage
- Extended Warranty Protection on Eligible Purchases
- Purchase Protection
- No foreign transaction fees
- Complimentary DoorDash DashPass
Even if you only take advantage of one or two of these perks, it can add onto the value you’re already receiving from the account.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card can be a great choice for travel rewards beginners and veterans alike—especially when you take the 100,000-point sign up bonus into account. If you’re considering this card, you should probably check your three credit reports and look over other available rewards credit card offers first. You want to make sure your credit is in good shape before you apply, and comparing offers is always a smart idea before completing any financing application.