For many years the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card was basically the undisputed best credit card for maximizing miles & points. However, the past few years we’ve seen many new credit cards introduced, as well as additional perks added to existing cards, so perhaps the card isn’t as clear cut of a winner as before.
However, for someone just getting started with miles & points, I continue to believe that the Sapphire Preferred is the most well rounded card out there in terms of having a low annual fee, great welcome bonus, generous return on spend, and useful perks. So why is this the best option if you’re new to miles & points?
First let’s recap the basics of the card, starting with the welcome bonus and annual fee:Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Chase Sapphire Preferred Earning Rates
- 2x points on travel (includes airfare, hotels, car rentals, subway tickets, taxis, parking, etc.)
- 2x points on dining (includes restaurants, coffee shops, etc.)
- 1x point per dollar on all other purchases, with no limits
It’s also worth noting that unlike some other cards, the double points on travel with the Chase Sapphire Preferred includes not just airfare purchased directly with an airline, but also airfare purchased through online travel agencies, and I’ve found their definition of “travel” to be quite generous.
On the Chase Sapphire Preferred, travel includes the following categories:
airlines, airports, car rental agencies (including truck, trailer, and RV), cruise ships, hotels and motels, timeshares, local and commuter transportation (including trains, buses, taxis/limos, ferries, bridges, tolls and parking), travel agencies
Earn double points on hotel stays with the Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred Rewards Program
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Ultimate Rewards Points, which I find to be one of the most valuable flexible points currencies.
Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to the following programs, and in most cases transfers are instant:
|Aer Lingus Aer Club||IHG Rewards Club|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||Marriott Rewards|
|British Airways Executive Club||Ritz-Carlton Rewards|
|Iberia Plus||World Of Hyatt|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
Points are also worth 20% more when redeeming for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. So you can apply points towards any “revenue” ticket at a rate of 1.25 cents per point.
That means that a $625 flight will cost you 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points, though you’re almost always going to get a better value by transferring points directly to the airline or hotel partner.
Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for Singapore Airlines’ new Suites
Shop Through Chase
Having the Sapphire Preferred gives you access to Shop Through Chase, which is the card’s online shopping portal and can really accelerate the points you earn. By “clicking through” the portal you can earn extra points per dollar with purchases at dozens of online retailers.
I earn several thousand extra points each year on purchases I would have made anyway just by clicking through the Shop Through Chase portal first.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Benefits
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is issued as a Visa Signature, which gives you access to all of those perks, such as the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection. You also receive the following benefits with the card:
|Visa Signature Benefits||Details|
|Baggage Delay Benefit||• You can be reimbursed up to $500 when some or all of the cost of a common carrier ticket is charged to your card (therefore award tickets should be eligible if the taxes are charged to the card)|
• You can be reimbursed a maximum of $100 per day for emergency purchases of essential items at a destination other than your current residence
|Lost Luggage Reimbursement||• Receive reimbursement for lost or damaged checked or carry-on bags and personal property|
• Maximum reimbursement is $3,000
|Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance||• Receive the non-refundable amount of the passenger fare or $5,000 (whichever is less) in the event of a trip cancellation or interruption|
• The cancellation or interruption must be caused by death, accidental injury, disease, or physical illness of the passenger or immediate family member
• This also covers you if your airline goes out of business or tickets are otherwise cancelled by the carrier
|Trip Delay Reimbursement||• Receive up to $300 if your trip is delayed for more than 12 hours|
• The trip has to be delayed by an equipment failure, inclement weather, labor strikes, or hijacking
|Price Protection||• Receive up to $500 if you purchase a product and find it advertised for for less within 90 days of purchase (the difference in price is refunded to you)|
• The advertisement has to be printed, and doesn’t include internet retailers, so this won’t be useful for many of us
|Warranty Manager Service||• Extends the free repair period under the original manufacturers repair warranty up to one additional year|
• Motorized vehicles (boats, cars, aircraft, etc.) aren’t included
Other Cool Features Of The Chase Sapphire Preferred
Primary CDW Coverage On Rental Cars
This is a benefit which was introduced last year — coverage is primary as of July 20, 2014. The Sapphire Preferred offers insurance against damage up to the cost of most rental car vehicles provided you decline the CDW coverage offered by the rental agency. Includes economy through luxury class vehicles, vans that carry less than 7 passengers, and SUVs.
Chip & Signature Enabled For International Travel
This seems minor, but is a nice feature, particularly for travel to Europe. The added heft of the Chase Sapphire Preferred means it sometimes doesn’t swipe in foreign card readers, so being able to use the chip functionality at small merchants and train ticket kiosks is quite helpful.
Great Customer Service
This is advertised as “24/7 direct access to dedicated customer service specialists” and they mean it. When you call the number on the back of the card, a human picks up right away. Literally. There’s no phone prompt. There are very few credit cards that offer that kind of service.
Why You Should Apply For The CSP First
Not only is the Chase Sapphire Preferred a great card for people new to this hobby because it’s incredibly rewarding, but there’s another reason you’ll want to apply for it early on.
Chase has what’s referred to as the “5/24 rule.” With this policy, Chase typically won’t approve people for cards if they’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months. Once you get over that limit, you won’t be approved for that card anymore. So there’s really an incentive to apply for this card (and the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, which is the business version of the card) ASAP.
Also Consider The Chase Sapphire Reserve
A bit over a year ago the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card was introduced, which is the premium version of the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The card has a $450 annual fee, but offers triple points on dining and travel, a $300 annual travel credit, a Priority Pass membership, and more.
This is a very rewarding card as well, and for many it could be worthwhile. However, if you already have a Priority Pass membership (I have four of them right now), and if you don’t spend that much on travel and dining, the Sapphire Preferred could be the better option.
The Sapphire Reserve also has a slightly smaller welcome bonus. It also offers 50,000 points after spending $4,000 within three months.
So you could always apply for the Sapphire Preferred, see how you like it, and then after a year you could product change to the Sapphire Reserve if you think it better suits your needs.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred continues to be one of the most well rounded credit cards out there, and is one of the cards I highly recommend if you’re new to miles & points. Between the great welcome bonus, reasonable annual fee (which is waived the first year), solid return on spend, and great travel and purchase protection, this is a fantastic card to consider.