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I’ve written in the past about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which over the past several years has reliably proven to be my all around favorite credit card. While I hold onto a ton of credit cards long term, if I could pick just one card it would be the Sapphire Preferred. While there are other great cards out there, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has withstood the test of time.
So it’s the card I’ve always recommended to people who are new to the hobby, but now there’s even more reason than before to make the Chase Sapphire Preferred among the first credit cards you apply for.
First let’s recap the basics of the card, starting with the sign-up bonus and annual fee:
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Sign Up Bonus|
|50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months|
|Additional 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you add an authorized user to the card that makes a purchase within three months|
|Annual Fees||Foreign Transaction Fees|
|$0 for the First Year, then $95||None|
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.)
- 1 point per dollar on all other purchases, with no limits
It’s rare to find a card that offers double points on dining, which is a key expense for many people, so that’s a win right away. You also earn 3x points on dining on the first Friday of every month, though that’s of limited utility for most in practice.
It’s also worth noting that unlike some other cards, the double points on travel with the Chase Sapphire Preferred include 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
Even paying for a parking meter can count as “travel”
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|
|Korean Air SkyPass|
|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.
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.
Seriously, I don’t remember the last time I made a purchase with it and didn’t get a comment of pure admiration. It even occasionally gets me numbers (or something like that).
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.
I don’t have any other credit card or elite status with any airline or hotel program that gets me service that quickly.
Why You Should Applying For The CSP First
Not only is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 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.
Anecdotally, it seems like Chase has updated the way they approve their non co-brand cards, which include the Chase Sapphire Preferred. They seem to not be approving people for these cards if they’ve applied for more than five cards in the past 24 months (even if they’re non-Chase cards). This is a pretty big development, and something to be aware of if you’re eying one of these cards.
So that’s another reason you’ll want the Chase Sapphire Preferred to be among the first cards you apply for. It was already among the first cards I’d recommend applying for if new to the hobby, though now there’s even more reason to.
For what it’s worth, this restriction doesn’t seem to apply to co-branded cards, like those issues in conjunction with Hyatt, Southwest, United, etc.
How Does It Compare To The Citi Premier?
As I explained above, I do consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred to be the all around most compelling credit card out there. That being said, Citi has really been giving Chase a run for their money with the refresh of the Citi Prestige Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.
The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is the most direct competitor to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and is the card that’s getting the most spend of mine at the moment. That’s because the card offers the following bonus categories on spend:
- 3x points on travel
- 3x points on gas
- 2x points on dining at restaurants and entertainment
- 1x point on all other purchases
But big picture, for the average traveler, I do still consider the Sapphire Preferred to be a more well rounded card than the Citi Premier, and that’s simply because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are more versatile than Citi ThankYou points.
As I recently explained, I think the best uses of Citi ThankYou points are for paid travel on American (each point can be redeemed for 1.6 cents towards the cost of a ticket, assuming you have the Citi Prestige Card) or for transfers to Singapore KrisFlyer. Now, for my personal uses that’s incredibly valuable, since I’m primarily an American flyer and love Singapore KrisFlyer.
Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou points for Singapore Suites Class
But for someone wanting a more “well rounded” currency, I do think Chase Ultimate Rewards still wins. You can transfer to British Airways, Hyatt, Korean Air, United, and more, which are some great programs.
This has been my go-to credit card for a few years now, and for a vast majority of people I think the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the all around most rewarding card, between the bonus points, lack of foreign transaction fees, car rental coverage, and baggage protection.
And now there’s even more reason to make this one of the first cards you sign-up for, given that they anecdotally don’t seem to be approving people who have applied for many cards recently.