Chase Sapphire Preferred: An Easy Start To Earning Ultimate Rewards Points

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Before the launch of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card was pretty much the card for beginners who wanted to start earning Ultimate Rewards points. For many, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still the preferred starting point.

Let’s be clear. Not only is this the first card many people get that earns Ultimate Rewards points, it’s the first card many people get that earn any kind of points. In fact, it was my first rewards card so I guess you can partly credit (blame?) it for my obsession with award travel.

If you’re considering it, make sure read up on the Chase 5/24 Rule to ensure you are eligible.

Let’s dive into some of the reasons why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is so popular and see if it’s the right card for you.

To be clear, this post is designed to be accessible to those new (or newer) to miles and points, and long-time OMAAT readers may not find as much valuable info in this post as in some others.

The easiest way to start earning Ultimate Rewards points

Getting a credit card is a commitment. If this whole miles and points thing is new to you, I get it. You might not feel comfortable jumping into a relationship with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and its $450 annual fee. There’s nothing wrong with that.

If this sounds like you, give the Chase Sapphire Preferred a look. It has an annual fee of $95 but it’s waived your first year with the card. This gives you time to decide whether you want to continue the relationship beyond a year without committing to an annual fee off the bat.

Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points with bonus categories

What’s the number one reason to start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred? The points, of course!

For a card that waives the annual fee the first year, you can get a solid sign-up bonus to kick things off right. The card also earns 2X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on dining and travel purchases.

Considering how often people go out to eat, this is a great bonus category. The travel category is also very broad and provides lots of opportunities to earn bonus points. If you’re wondering what Chase will count as travel:

Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.

Uber and Lyft also count as travel purchases. Even better, Uber Eats is considered a travel purchase so you can get lunch or dinner delivered to your door and earn 2X on the purchase. I don’t know about you, but I’m more than happy to earn bonus points while being lazy.

Other purchases will earn 1X point per dollar so all of your purchases will help you earn points toward your next — perhaps, first — redemption.

Stretch your points with airline and hotel transfer partners

Air New Zealand 777

Chase Ultimate Rewards have long been the standard bearer for flexible points currencies thanks to partnerships with airlines and hotels as well as a 1:1 transfer ratio. As a Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholder, you’ll have access to all of these partners:

Aer Lingus Aer ClubIHG Rewards Club
Air France/KLM Flying BlueMarriott Rewards
British Airways Executive ClubRitz-Carlton Rewards
Iberia PlusWorld Of Hyatt
JetBlue TrueBlue
Singapore KrisFlyer
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

With such valuable points, you’ll want to be sure you get the most out of them — really, this is a solid guideline for all points and miles. It breaks my heart to hear stories of people redeeming 100,000 Ultimate Rewards for a statement credit at 1 cent per point. Just don’t. While we’re at it, stay away from the gift card redemption offers no matter how many times you get an email about them.

So, how do you want to use your Ultimate Rewards points? Well, this depends on your travel goals. If you want to book business or first class flights, transferring your points to an airline partner is almost always necessary. If economy class flights are what you’re looking for, transferring might be the smart play but, as we’ll discuss later, you might want to book through the Chase travel portal.

Transferring points to your United MileagePlus account provides an easy way to book business class flights to Europe on several Star Alliance partners (and Aer Lingus) for 70,000 miles. You could try Austrian Airlines’ world famous catering in business class where flight attendants will plate your appetizer at your seat based on your preferences. Who doesn’t want to see that in action?!

If you want to venture outside traditional airline alliances, Chase partners with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club which can provide some awesome redemption opportunities. You could transfer 90,000 points to United MileagePlus to fly business class between Los Angeles (LAX) and Auckland (AKL) on Air New Zealand, but you shouldn’t. For 62,500 Flying Club miles, you could book the exact same flight.

Even better, neither of these examples requires significant taxes and fees so you’ll save a ton of cash!

If you already have flights booked to places such as Hong Kong, Brazil and Australia, you can also transfer Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways and use Avios to hop around a region. You’ll want to watch out for surcharges when booking through British Airways, but there are some great ways to use Avios to help you see a number of fun cities.

On the hotel side of things, you can transfer points to World of Hyatt to book some great hotel stays including the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui for 15,000 points per night. It’s conveniently located, has a great staff and a lovely club lounge if you have Globlast status or choose to upgrade your room.


With access to hotels and every major airline alliance — Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance — you’ll have plenty of options to use your points for hotel award stays and award flights.

Use the Chase Travel Portal for economy fare deals and hotels

Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Center

If you prefer to use your points for economy flights (and lots of them), you can certainly find some great value with transfer partners. However, before you transfer points to book an economy award, make sure you check the Chase travel portal first.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, your Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each. When used through the travel portal, you can redeem points for a cash booking. With cheap economy fares to Europe and even parts of Asia, this is a vital step to ensuring you get the most for your miles.

Chase Travel Portal Economy Example

In the example above, an economy flight on Delta from Seattle (SEA) to Beijing (PEK) would cost $469.51 or 37,560 Ultimate Rewards points. If you were to book this flight with Korean Air SkyPass (one of Delta’s SkyTeam partners), you’d need to transfer 70,000 Ultimate Rewards. That’s over 30,000 more points!

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen opportunities to use Ultimate Rewards points in the travel portal for economy tickets that are far better deals than booking awards. As an added perk, you’ll even earn miles as you are booking a cash ticket.

To round things out, you can also book hotel stays at big chain hotels and boutique hotels. Occasionally, you’ll even find that you can save points on hotel bookings by using the portal. If you don’t have elite status at Hyatt or aren’t concerned with elite status perks — it generally isn’t unless you book directly with hotels, this could be a great move.

Primary coverage on rental cars

If you’ve ever rented a car, you’re probably familiar with the hard sell to get their collision damage waiver (CDW) coverage.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can book your rental car with the card and enjoy primary coverage so you can turn down their sales pitch with a smile on your face.

Trip delay insurance that covers weather delays

Flight delays are never fun, especially when they’re super long or even overnight. The only thing that makes them even worse is when an airline refuses to pay for a hotel room, food, transportation to said hotel and other necessities.

Perhaps you know where I’m going with this…weather delays. While the airlines might blow you off and leave you to fend for yourself, booking your flight with the Chase Sapphire Preferred — even if it’s just award taxes and fees — gives you access to trip delay insurance.

To qualify, the delay must be more than 12 hours or overnight. This means that if you have a flight at 10PM that is pushed to the following morning at 8AM, you’re covered. Rather than sleep on the floor by your gate, you can get yourself a hotel room and a meal on Chase.

Other travel protections

On top of trip delay coverage, you’ll also have a few other travel protections. If your bags are delayed or lost, you could be eligible for reimbursement. Additionally, if your trip is canceled or interrupted by the death of an immediate family member, accidental injury, disease or physical illness, you can be reimbursed for non-refundable fares.

Visa Signature BenefitsDetails
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
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

Bottom line

If you’re just starting to get into miles and points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred should be a top priority consideration. With the annual fee waived the first year, it’s a great way to ease yourself into a new world.

With a solid sign-up bonus, the Ultimate Rewards program and its great transfer partners, plus several travel protections, you’ll start to understand all the fuss about this card.

If you’d like more perks—lounge access, annual travel credit, etc. — along with amped up bonus categories and an improved portal redemption rate, you may want to consider the numerous benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

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  1. @Eddie – Such is life, my friend. Perhaps, some will recognize it’s meant for people new to the world of miles and points who haven’t spent a lot of time digging through blogs, FlyerTalk, etc.

  2. Thank you. There’s a similar article on TPG but I found this more informative. Lately , I’ve been trying to figure out what the rules are with stopovers and layovers when booking rewards. I’m so confused with that .

  3. The post isn’t useless, but there is a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve post just about every day on the blog. Seems like you guys are trying to hit some kind of monthly or quarterly bonus on your referral income.

    BTW, my first points earnings card was the old AMEX Gold card (before the Preferred Rewards Gold). I was first an AU on my parents’ card, then got my own shortly after graduating college. Switched to Platinum a couple of years ago. I’m currently at 4/24 and will add one of the Sapphire cards later this year.

  4. @Anthony perhaps. IMO at least here they don’t grossly inflate the value of the benefits and the points like they do elsewhere. I’m sure this blog gets new readers daily, many of whom would find this information useful. Might as well use the links here to pay for the content we consume.

  5. I can’t afford a car but was able to fly in Biz class back from Asia to LAX thanks to posts like these. Keep it up.

  6. @kingnero living in tent city and saving up for Cathay Pacific First. That’s commitment.

  7. Thanks, Spencer. I recently signed up & started using the Preferred card (mostly after being convinced by this blog!) and it’s my first real attempt to start earning points via credit card. I read this once & I already know I’ll read it again (albeit maybe a bit more carefully!) when I’ve racked up enough points for a redemption. As someone stated above, this blog posts a lot about this card but I’m glad to see this info consolidated into one post. Now if only I could pay my student loans via credit card I’d have that bonus offer in the bag in no time…

  8. Such a disappointment that Spencer seems to have been hired exclusively as a credit card salesman to post the same basic junk while James blows our mind away with interesting content. If we wanted to read the stuff in this article, we would stick to TPG or god forbid Frugal Travel Guy, which is even worse than TPG. Meanwhile, this blog continues to say nothing about the awesome AMEX Hilton Aspire presumably because you don’t have a referral link for it. So disappointing.

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