While the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been around for years, the card is arguably more compelling than ever before — not only does the Sapphire Preferred have its best-ever welcome bonus, but it has also been refreshed with new benefits, and is now significantly more rewarding.
Even if you wouldn’t have considered this card in the past, it’s most definitely worth another look. In this post I wanted to write an in-depth review of this popular travel rewards credit card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Basics For September 2021
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 think that trend is about to change.
I consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to be one of the most useful cards out there, and also one of the best cards for beginners, given that it has a low annual fee, good return on spending, excellent perks, and a massive welcome bonus (significantly better than the one on the Sapphire Reserve). Let’s take a closer look at the details of the card.
Earn 100,000 Chase Points ($1,250 Worth Of Travel)
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a best-ever bonus of 100,000 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 towards a travel purchase, meaning that 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points will get you $1,250 worth of travel. Chase also currently offers a “Pay Yourself Back” feature, whereby you can redeem points towards everyday expenses, so you could get the same value with that redemption option.
To me, the bonus offers an absolute minimum value of $1,250, though as I’ll explain below, there are ways to get way more value out of the points than that. Based on my valuation of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, this bonus is worth an incredible $1,700.
Chase’s 5/24 Rule
Chase has something that’s known as the 5/24 rule. With this, you typically won’t be approved for a Chase card if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months. If you do apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, make sure you’re under that limit.
Card Bonus Eligibility
If you’re applying for the Sapphire Preferred, you can only be approved 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.
It’s worth being aware 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, one strategy could be to apply for the Sapphire Preferred, use it for 12 months, and then later you can upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve, if you’d like.
You’ll have to call Chase to find out the options available on your account. This could be a great option, especially when you consider that the Sapphire Preferred bonus is much bigger than the Sapphire Reserve bonus.
$95 Annual Fee
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a reasonable $95 annual fee. You can add authorized users to the card at no extra cost, and any spending they put on their card will contribute towards the points you earn.
Earning Points With The Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a fully refreshed rewards structure, now making this an industry-leading card for your spending. 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 Sapphire Preferred’s categories will prove useful to a lot of people.
5x Points On Chase Travel Portal Bookings
The Sapphire Preferred offers 5x points on travel boked 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 a 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.
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. As of now, this benefit is valid through March 2022, though I imagine it has the potential to be extended beyond that. To me that’s the equivalent of an 8.5% return on Lyft 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.
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 new bonus category, since previously the Sapphire Preferred didn’t offer bonuses for grocery purchases. 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 includes Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Netflix, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, 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
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%.
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:
Aer Lingus AerClub
Air Canada Aeroplan
Air France-KLM Flying Blue
World of Hyatt
British Airways Executive Club
Southwest Rapid Rewards
Virgin Atlantic FlyingClub
Points are also worth 25% more when redeeming for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. You can apply points towards flights, hotels, car rentals, and more, at the rate of 1.25 cents per point.
That means that a $1,000 flight will cost you 80,000 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 30,000 points to World of Hyatt for a free night redemption at the Park Hyatt Maldives.
You can find more about all the ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards points and why I value them so highly in my guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Chase Pay Yourself Back Feature
Ordinarily, the most efficient way to redeem Ultimate Rewards points is for travel experiences. However, for a limited time, there’s an efficient way to redeem your points for non-travel purchases, known as “Pay Yourself Back.”
Through September 30, 2021 (and this could very well be extended beyond that), Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards a statement credit to offset purchases in the following categories:
- Dining establishments
- Grocery stores
- Home improvement stores
In other words, you can redeem points at the same rate towards everyday essentials as you can towards travel.
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 Ultimate Rewards, 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 — new cardmembers get this immediately, while existing cardmembers receive it starting with their next account anniversary year.
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
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.
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.
Complimentary DoorDash DashPass Membership
The Sapphire Preferred offers a DoorDash DashPass membership, valid for at least 12 months.
With DoorDash DashPass, you pay a $0 delivery fee when ordering from thousands of restaurants nationwide. Just place an order totaling at least $12 from an eligible restaurant, and you’ll get a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fee.
$60 Peloton Credit
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is offering up to a $60 Peloton credit through December 31, 2021. This is valid towards Digital and All-Access Peloton memberships, and you can activate the benefit at this link.
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.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred features contactless pay technology. This means you can pay using your card without even swiping it whenever you see the contactless pay symbol.
Great Customer Service
While I try to do as much as possible online, I find that in situations where I have to call Chase, the customer service is excellent. Chase doesn’t have some of the annoying phone prompts that other issues have, and I’m almost always connected to an agent quickly.
I’m not sure this is necessarily a selling point anymore nowadays, but the Sapphire Preferred was one of the first mainstream credit cards to be metal. That’s something that a lot of people like.
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 unarguably worth getting. The card’s welcome bonus is huge, 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
- Welcome bonus: Sapphire Preferred offers 100,000 points, Sapphire Reserve offers 60,000 points
- 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 a 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, a TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry fee credit every four years, the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each, Visa Infinite perks, a $60 annual DoorDash statement credit in 2021, and a Lyft Pink membership for 12 months
Long-term I think the Sapphire Reserve could be worth it if you value lounge access. However, with the recent changes to the Sapphire Preferred, I think the card is more compelling overall — it offers a much better welcome bonus, some better bonus categories on spending (plus the 10% anniversary points bonus), and a $50 hotel credit, all with a lower annual fee.
Personally I’d recommend trying the Sapphire Preferred no matter what, given the much better bonus. If after a year you decide that the Sapphire Reserve is better for you, you can always product change to the card, giving you the best of both worlds.
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
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
Nowadays the Chase Sapphire Preferred has some cards in its competitor set, so let’s take a look at how they compare, and how to decide which card is best for you:
Citi Premier Card
I’d argue that the Citi Premier® Card (review) is the most direct competitor to the Sapphire Preferred (and it’s also offering a best-ever bonus). The big benefit of the Citi Premier is that the card offers 3x points on dining, gas, groceries, air travel, and hotel. I’d argue that makes this the best mid-range card purely in terms of the bonus categories.
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 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 a $120 annual dining credit, and Uber Cash and Uber Eats benefits, which should help offset the annual fee.
Amex Green Card
The card has a $150 annual fee (Rates & Fees), and offers a $100 annual CLEAR credit and $100 annual LoungeBuddy credit. The major downside of this card compared to the Sapphire Preferred is that it doesn’t offer travel or car rental coverage, which is an important perk for many.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Summary
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has been around for about a decade, and continues to be one of the most well-rounded credit cards for beginners and those looking for travel rewards. If you don’t yet have this card, this is absolutely the time to apply, given the massive bonus of 100K points (worth a minimum of $1,250 in travel), which is the best we’ve ever seen on this card.
With the latest refresh to the Sapphire Preferred, I also think the card is once again extremely competitive, and one of the most well-rounded out there. 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 given the 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.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees), and American Express® Green Card (Rates & Fees).