The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) and Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review) are two of the most popular travel rewards cards. In 2021, the cards underwent a significant refresh, including the introduction of some new bonus categories.
There’s sometimes confusion about what’s included with these bonus categories, so in this post I wanted to break that down. This can especially be worth understanding in light of the current excellent welcome bonus on the Sapphire Reserve.
Chase Sapphire bonus category definitions
Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve offer bonus points on a variety of purchases. It can be tough to make sense of exactly what’s included with these categories, so let’s take a closer look at that.
Upfront I should note that:
- Unlike with some other card issuers, the bonus categories generally apply globally; the cards both offer bonus points on dining and travel, and that applies whether you’re making a purchase in the United States or abroad (and there are no foreign transaction fees, so these cards are great abroad)
- There are no limits to how many bonus points you can earn with the Chase Sapphire bonus categories
- It’s up to individual merchants to categorize themselves correctly, and in some cases businesses may not have the categories you’d expect
These bonus categories are just one of the many reasons to consider picking up these cards. With that out of the way, let’s look at how many bonus points each card earns in various categories, and how those categories are defined.
Dining & restaurants — earn 3x Chase points
- This includes merchants with sit-down or eat-in dining, including fast food restaurants and fine dining establishments
- Merchants that sell food and drinks located within facilities such as sports stadiums, hotels and casinos, theme parks, grocery and department stores, will not be included in this category unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in a restaurant category
- Purchases made at bakeries, caterers, or gift card merchants are not included in the category
- Delivery service merchants will be included if they classify as a restaurant merchant
Travel — earn 2-3x Chase points
- 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
- Some merchants that provide transportation and travel-related services are not included in this category; for example, real estate agents, educational merchants arranging travel, in-flight goods and services, on-board cruise line goods and services, sightseeing activities, excursions, tourist attractions, RV and boat rentals, merchants within hotels and airports, public campgrounds and merchants that rent vehicles for the purpose of hauling
- Purchases from gift card merchants or merchants that sell points or miles will not qualify in the travel category
Select streaming services — earn up to 3x Chase points
- Merchants in the select streaming services category specialize in delivering music and video content over the internet
- Only subscriptions paid for or purchases made with the following select merchants will qualify for this category: Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Netflix, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify and YouTube TV
Online grocery stores — earn up to 3x Chase points
- The online grocery (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs) category includes purchases for grocery pickup and delivery that are placed online with grocery stores, specialty food stores or delivery service merchants that classify as grocery store merchants (excluding membership and subscription fees)
- Meal kit delivery services are included
- Some merchants that sell grocery items are not included in this category; for example, larger stores that sell a wide variety of goods and groceries like Walmart and Target, wholesale clubs such as Costco and BJs, liquor stores and merchants that specialize in only a few grocery items
- Pharmacies contained within supermarkets will not earn bonus points, regardless of if it is pickup or delivery
- Purchases of gift cards, gift baskets and boxes that include grocery items will not earn bonus points
Chase Travel — earn 5-10x Chase points
Chase Sapphire Cards offer bonus points for purchases through the Chase Travel Portal, beyond the 2-3x points you earn on all eligible travel purchases with the cards. Specifically:
- The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 5x points on airfare, hotels, car rentals, vacation rentals, and cruises, booked through Chase Travel
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 5x points on airfare, and 10x points on hotels and car rentals, booked through Chase Travel
When it comes to earning these bonus points:
- The Chase Travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards category includes prepaid travel purchases made on ultimaterewards.com or by booking through the Chase Travel center via the number on the back of your card
- The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection will not qualify
- Any items or charges not paid for on the Ultimate Rewards site will not qualify
- Any portion of your Ultimate Rewards travel purchase paid for using points will not qualify
Lyft — earn 5-10x Chase points
Through March 31, 2025, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 5x points on Lyft, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve offer 10x points on Lyft. This is thanks to an awesome partnership between Chase and Lyft:
- Qualifying Lyft products and services include rides taken in Classic, Shared, Lux, or XL modes, bike and scooter rides, and subscription and membership products
- Purchase of gift cards, car rentals, vehicle service centers, miscellaneous fees, and other Lyft products and services, are excluded from this promotion
10% anniversary bonus points
The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 10% anniversary bonus points:
- Each account anniversary year, cardmembers will receive bonus points equal to 10% of the total spending in points from purchases made with the card during the previous account anniversary year
- The 10% bonus doesn’t apply to the sign-up bonus or any bonus categories, but rather just to base spending
- In other words, if you made $50,000 worth of eligible purchase in an anniversary year, you’d receive 5,000 bonus points
This is an awesome perk, and it’s not something offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This means that in some categories the Preferred is more lucrative than the Reserve.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve have a variety of awesome bonus categories. While the broadest categories are for dining and travel, there are other bonus categories that are a bit more niche, and could prove useful. Hopefully the above is a useful summary of what is and isn’t included with these categories.
In the past the Sapphire Reserve’s bonus categories were significantly more compelling, but with the changes to the Sapphire Preferred in 2021, that’s no longer the case, at least not for all consumers.
What has your experience been with Chase Sapphire bonus categories?