Chase Sapphire Preferred Review: The Best Starter Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Review: The Best Starter Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Earn 60,000 bonus points | Annual Fee: $95
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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Earn 60,000 bonus points | $95
5x total points on travel purchased through Chase Travel
3x points on dining
2x points on travel purchases
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Link: Apply now for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card with 60K bonus points offer

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards cards out there, and for good reason. The card has a reasonable annual fee, great rewards structure, and offers valuable travel protection. In this post, I wanted to take an in-depth look at this card, and share why this card can be worth having in your wallet.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Basics For June 2024

While a lot of people nowadays talk about the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review), this card was built on the basics of the Chase Sapphire Preferred. For many, the Sapphire Reserve has overshadowed the Sapphire Preferred in recent years, but I’m not sure that should consistently be the case.

I consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card worthy of consideration for travel rewards experts and novices alike, thanks to the value it can unlock with a low annual fee. Let’s go over everything you need to know about the card.

Earn 60K Chase Points ($750 Worth Of Travel)

THe Chase Sapphire Preferred is offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months.

At an absolute minimum, Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each toward a travel purchase, meaning that 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points will get you $750 worth of travel.

While that’s the minimum value you should get, as I’ll explain below, there are ways to get way more use out of the points than that. Based on my valuation of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, this bonus is worth $1,020.

Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for a flight in Singapore’s A350 business class

Welcome Bonus Eligibility

You can only earn the bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred if you don’t currently have any Sapphire card, and haven’t received a new cardmember bonus on a Sapphire card in the past 48 months (this includes the Sapphire Reserve). It’s fine if you had this card or the Sapphire Reserve in the past, you just can’t currently have it, and can’t have received a bonus in the above timeframe.

Here are general rules on applying for Chase cards, and here are the Chase Sapphire Preferred eligibility requirements.

It’s also worth being aware of that Chase will often let you product change from one card to another, assuming you’ve had a card for at least 12 months. For example, if you apply for the Sapphire Preferred, you could later upgrade it to the Sapphire Reserve. Just keep in mind you wouldn’t be eligible for the bonus on a card if you get it through a product change.

Chase may let you product change between cards

$95 Annual Fee

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a reasonable $95 annual fee, making it one of the best low annual fee cards. You can add authorized users to the card at no extra cost, and any spending they put on their card will contribute toward the points you earn.

Earning Points With The Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is an industry-leading card in terms of its rewards structure. When picking a credit card, I always recommend getting one that has bonus categories that match up with your spending profile, and I think the categories on the Sapphire Preferred will prove useful to a lot of consumers.

5x Points On Chase Travel Portal Bookings

The Sapphire Preferred offers 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal. This includes prepaid travel purchases made online or by phone, as long as they’re done through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards travel department. Eligible purchases include airline tickets, hotels, car rentals, vacation rentals, and cruises. The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection won’t quality.

I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me that’s the equivalent of an 8.5% return on travel spending, but only through the Chase Travel Portal. While some people will no doubt benefit from that, I do find this to be somewhat limiting, since there are downsides and opportunity costs to not booking direct with an airline, hotel, etc.

Earn 5x points on Chase Travel Portal bookings with the Sapphire Preferred

5x Points On Lyft Rides

Chase and Lyft launched a partnership in 2020. As part of that, the Sapphire Preferred earns 5x points on Lyft rides through March 2025. To me, that’s the equivalent of an 8.5% return on Lyft spending, making this one of the best cards for ridesharing spending.

3x Points On Dining

The Sapphire Preferred offers 3x points on dining purchases globally. The dining category includes sit-down and eat-in dining, ranging from fine dining, to fast food, to cafes. On top of that, takeout and delivery also qualifies. To me, that’s the equivalent of a 5.1% return on dining spending.

Earn 3x points on dining with the Sapphire Preferred

3x Points On Online Grocery Purchases

The Sapphire Preferred offers 3x points on online grocery purchases, excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs. This includes purchases for grocery pickup and delivery that are placed online with grocery stores, specialty food stores, and meal kit delivery services.

While admittedly not everyone orders groceries online, this is an excellent bonus category. To me, that’s the equivalent of a 5.1% return on online grocery store spending.

3x Points On Select Streaming Services

The Sapphire Preferred offers 3x points on select streaming services. Select streaming services include Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Netflix, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube TV. To me that’s the equivalent of a 5.1% return on streaming services spending.

2x Points On Travel

The Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on travel purchases globally. Of course, you can earn 5x points on travel purchases directly through Chase, but all other travel purchases are eligible to earn 2x points. To me that’s the equivalent of a 3.4% return on travel spending. The travel category includes the following:

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 2x points on travel with the Sapphire Preferred

10% Anniversary Points Bonus

The Sapphire Preferred offers a 10% anniversary points bonus. The way this works, each account anniversary year you’ll earn bonus points equal to 10% of the total spending in points from purchases made with your credit card during the previous account anniversary year.

You won’t receive the 10% anniversary points bonus based on any sign-up bonuses or bonus categories, but rather the 10% bonus applies to base spending. In other words, if you had $50,000 in eligible purchases on the card in an anniversary year, you’d receive 5,000 bonus points.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

The Sapphire Preferred has no foreign transaction fees, so this is an excellent card to use for purchases globally since you can earn valuable rewards while not being stuck with those fees, which can be as high as 3%.

Earn bonus points on international train tickets with the Sapphire Preferred

Redeeming Chase Sapphire Preferred Points

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:

Airline Partners
Hotel Partners
IHG One Rewards
United MileagePlus
Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

Points are also worth 25% more when redeeming for travel through the Chase Travel Portal. You can apply points toward flights, hotels, car rentals, and more, at the rate of 1.25 cents per point. Note that when you book flights through the Chase Travel Portal, you’ll generally still earn miles, and those flights will still count toward elite status.

That means that a $750 flight will cost you 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points, though you may get better value than that if transferring points to an Ultimate Rewards partner, especially if you’re looking for a first and business class flight, or a luxury hotel.

For example, you could transfer 25,000-35,000 points to World of Hyatt for a free night redemption at the Park Hyatt Maldives.

Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for a stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives

Or you could transfer 72,500 points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club for a redemption in All Nippon Airways first class between the west coast of the United States and Japan.

Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for a flight in ANA first class

Chase Sapphire Preferred Benefits

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers quite a few benefits that make this card even more valuable, from car rental coverage, to benefits that can earn you more points, to other travel and purchase protection. Let’s take a look at how those benefits work.

$50 Anniversary Hotel Credit

The Sapphire Preferred offers a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards hotel credit. The way this works, you receive a statement credit for a hotel accommodation purchase made through the Chase Travel Portal, up to $50. There’s no minimum spending required, so in theory, you could book a $50 hotel room, and then get a $50 statement credit.

This benefit is based on your account anniversary year, and you even receive this in the first year that you have the card.

Receive a $50 annual hotel credit with the card

Visa Signature Benefits

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is issued as a Visa Signature, which gives you access to many additional perks, including the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection.

Travel & Purchase Coverage

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers quite a bit of valuable travel and purchase protection, including the following:

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
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

Primary Car Rental Coverage

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers primary collision damage waiver coverage against damage up to the cost of most rental car vehicles, provided you decline the CDW coverage offered by the rental agency.

This includes economy through luxury class vehicles, vans that carry fewer than seven passengers, and SUVs. You’ll want to check your cardmember agreement for full details.

Coverage on rental cars is a valuable perk

Complimentary DoorDash DashPass Membership

The Sapphire Preferred offers a DoorDash DashPass membership, valid through December 31, 2024.

With DoorDash DashPass, you pay a $0 delivery fee when placing eligible orders with thousands of restaurants and grocery stores nationwide. You just need to place an order of at least $12 from an eligible restaurant, or $25 from an eligible grocery store, and you’ll get a $0 delivery fee and a reduced service fee.

Save on DoorDash with this Sapphire Preferred benefit

Complimentary Instacart+ Membership & Credit

The Sapphire Preferred offers some perks with Instacart:

  • Receive a six month Instacart+ membership, enroll by July 31, 2024; this ordinarily costs $9.99 per month, and offers waived delivery fees on most orders of over $35, reduced service fees, and 5% back on eligible pickup orders
  • Receive a $15 Instacart credit once every quarter

If you place orders with Instacart with any frequency, then the value of this could be significant.

Chase Offers

One of the great features of Chase cards is access to Chase Offers, which provides savings on purchases with all kinds of retailers. This program has saved me a significant amount of money, as I’ve seen offers with retailers I’d make purchases with anyway.

Is The Sapphire Preferred Worth It?

Let me answer this question very simply — if you don’t have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and are eligible, then yes, the card is worth getting. The card’s welcome bonus is excellent, the bonus categories are great, the perks are awesome, and this is also a fantastic “hub” card for Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Beyond that, let’s take a look at some of the factors to consider, ranging from a comparison to the Sapphire Reserve, to other cards to consider in place of this, to cards to consider as complements.

Comparison: Sapphire Preferred Vs. Sapphire Reserve

The Sapphire Reserve is an even more premium version of the Sapphire Preferredwhich of these two cards is better? Let’s compare them across a few categories:

  • Welcome bonus: Welcome bonus on the Sapphire Preferred is the same as the welcome bonus of 60,000 points that you’ll earn on the Sapphire Reserve (after spending $4,000 within the first three months)
  • Annual fee: Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee, Sapphire Reserve has a $550 annual fee
  • Points earning: Sapphire Preferred offers 3x points on dining, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services, 2x points on travel, and 10% anniversary points bonus, while Sapphire Reserve offers 3x points on dining and travel
  • Other perks: The cards have some overlap in terms of benefits, though the Sapphire Reserve has the edge of offering a $300 annual travel credit, a Priority Pass membership, access to Chase Sapphire Lounges, a TSA PreCheck, NEXUS, or Global Entry fee credit every four years, the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each, Visa Infinite perks, and more

Long-term I think the Sapphire Reserve could be worth it if you value lounge access or the ability to cash out your points for 1.5 cents each toward travel. However, if you don’t value that as much, I think there’s a case to be made for the Sapphire Preferred. The card offers some better bonus categories on spending (plus the 10% anniversary points bonus), and a $50 hotel credit, all with a lower annual fee.

I think there’s no right or wrong answer as to which card is better. It all comes down to whether you value the incremental perks of the Sapphire Reserve, including lounge access. You can always apply for one card, and once you’ve had the card for at least a year, you could product change to the other card.

If you value lounge access, the Sapphire Reserve may for you

Complements: Freedom Flex & Freedom Unlimited

If you have the Sapphire Preferred, then it’s totally also worth picking up the Chase Freedom FlexSM (review) and Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review). These cards have no annual fees and can hugely supercharge your points earning, and you can combine them with Ultimate Rewards points:

  • Both cards offer 3x points on drugstores, so you can earn more Ultimate Rewards points using those cards for another category
  • The Freedom Flex offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 of spending per quarter
  • The Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5x points on all purchases, making it one of the best cards for everyday spending

Both cards offer you better rewards on drugstores than the Sapphire Preferred directly does, and then the Freedom Unlimited offers more points on everyday spending, while the Freedom Flex offers more points in rotating categories.

Alternatives To The Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has some cards in its competitive set, so let’s take a look at how they compare, and how to decide which card is best for you:

Citi Strata Premier Card

I’d argue that the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card (review) is the most direct competitor to the Sapphire Preferred. The big benefit of the Citi Strata Premier is that the card offers 3x points on dining, gas, groceries, air travel, and hotels. I’d argue that makes this the best mid-range card purely in terms of the bonus categories.

Here’s a detailed comparison of the Chase Sapphire Preferred & Citi Strata Premier.

Earn up to 3x points on supermarkets with the Citi Strata Premier

Amex Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card (review) offers 4x points at restaurants, 4x points for purchases at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 of spending per year and then 1x), and 3x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines. Those are some spectacular bonus categories.

The Amex Gold has a $250 annual fee (Rates & Fees), though offers up to $120 annual dining credits, and Uber Cash and Uber Eats benefits, which should help offset the annual fee (Enrollment required). This is an awesome card for those who love to eat.

Earn up to 4x points on dining with the Amex Gold

Capital One Venture X Card

Admittedly the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card (review) (Rates & Fees) has a much higher annual fee than the Sapphire Preferred, at $395. Even so, I’d consider this card to be a pretty close competitor, given the perks.

The card offers a $300 annual travel credit10,000 anniversary bonus miles, a Priority Pass membership, Plaza Premium lounge accessaccess to Capital One LoungesHertz President’s Circle elite statusprimary rental car coveragecell phone protectionamazing authorized user perks, and more. It’s actually kind of hard to justify not picking up the card.

Access the Capital One Lounge DFW with the Venture X

Bottom Line

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the most well-rounded credit cards for beginners and those looking for travel rewards.

From the 2-5x points bonus categories, to the 10% anniversary bonus points, to the $50 annual hotel credit, there’s a lot to love about this card, especially with such a reasonable annual fee.

Given Chase’s rules for approving new cardmembers, this is a card you’ll want to apply for early on, if possible. Even if you’re someone who otherwise avoids cards with annual fees, it can make sense to have at least one premium card for things like no foreign transaction fees, car rental coverage, etc.

To learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred or to apply, follow this link.

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees).

Upon enrollment, accessible through the Capital One website or mobile app, eligible cardholders will remain at upgraded status level through December 31, 2024. Please note, enrolling through the normal Hertz Gold Plus Rewards enrollment process (e.g. at Hertz.com) will not automatically detect a cardholder as being eligible for the program and cardholders will not be automatically upgraded to the applicable status tier. Additional terms apply.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

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  1. Rico Gold

    I've been a OMAAT reader for about 10 years and a Chase Sapphire card holder almost as long. I have read and re-read articles about the Sapphire card on this blog at least once a year.

    I was reading this one today and thinking, "Why am I reading this again?" And lo and behold I learned something new. I did not know about the Instacart benefit. Thanks, Lucky.

  2. Jon Guest

    You will earn 10,000 more points by signing up in a Chase branch but Ben won’t tell you that because he wants his commission. The honest blogs like Frequent Miler call this out.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Jon Guest

You will earn 10,000 more points by signing up in a Chase branch but Ben won’t tell you that because he wants his commission. The honest blogs like Frequent Miler call this out.

1
Rico Gold

I've been a OMAAT reader for about 10 years and a Chase Sapphire card holder almost as long. I have read and re-read articles about the Sapphire card on this blog at least once a year. I was reading this one today and thinking, "Why am I reading this again?" And lo and behold I learned something new. I did not know about the Instacart benefit. Thanks, Lucky.

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