Why You Want The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card If Starting In The Hobby

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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 FeesForeign Transaction Fees
$0 for the First Year, then $95None

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 ClubIHG Rewards Club
Air France/KLM Flying BlueMarriott Rewards
British Airways Executive ClubRitz-Carlton Rewards
Iberia PlusWorld Of Hyatt
Korean Air SkyPass
Singapore KrisFlyer
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
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 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
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.

It’s Sexy

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.

Bottom Line

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.

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  1. Ben–

    Both my spouse and I have Sapphire cards (and have gotten our sign-up bonuses). When the first card come up for renewal, my plan is to cancel that one and add the “cancelee” as an authorized user on the remaining card … and ask Chase to transfer the credit line from the cancelled card to one or more of the cancelee’s existing Chase accounts. Any downside to that approach from your perspective?

    Maybe another way to ask the question is “When authorized users use their card, do they get all the same benefits as the primary card holder?”

  2. I don’t know that I’ll be getting this card any time soon. The $4K in 3 months spending requirement is way over my budget in most cases. I might be able to do $3k in 3 months, but $4K would bust my budget in most cases. If I COULD do it, I’d get it in a heartbeat, but I’m not willing to wreck my bank account for it. I’ll look at the Citi ThankYou cards, or the AmEx PRG with their addition of 2X points for dining.

  3. @Brian L. – you could always pay your rent (assuming you rent) with a service like RadPad. It costs 3%, so you’d have to look at it like you’re paying X amount in order to hit the spending requirement and “buy” the points you otherwise wouldn’t earn. I’m thinking of doing that with the Citi AA card offering 75,000 miles with a $7500 spend in 3 months. In general, I’d never pay extra to put things on my credit card, but paying $50 or $100 (plus the annual fee, I know, I know) seems like a reasonable amount to get 75,000 miles. I guess all the manufactured spend people probably have ways to get up to the minimum spend with gift cards and stuff, but Chase seems pretty wise to churning/hacking strategies, so I’d be worried about forfeiting my points if I did that. MS experts would probably say otherwise, though.

  4. Jordan, yes. And Brian, you don’t have to ruin your budget or do fancy “manufactured spending” stuff. Just buy a plain (for example) Target or other grocery store gift card. They’re free; they never expire; and all you’re doing is prepaying a month or two or more of grocery expenses.

  5. @ Brian L. — As noted by others, if nothing else there are pretty easy ways to generate additional spend for only a couple of percent. On an extra ~$1,000 of spend that would be like $20.

  6. @ jmd001 — Authorized users do get many of the same benefits, but not all of them. So there are still some benefits to having both spouses have the card.

  7. Ben, if I’m correct you could get over 5% value with the Citi Prestige card if you use it for flight tickets and hotels only.

    For instance if you spend $5,000 a month on travel expenses that earns 15,000 points. It’s 180,000 points a year. If you’re a Citigold customer then you will get 15% additional points, so it’s 207,000 points.

    If you redeem these points for 1.6 cents each with AA then it’s worth $3,312. That’s 5.552%.
    That’s really good!

  8. 31583: Except that it’s unclear (at least to me) if you get the 15% “relationship” bonus on just the base 1x points or on the full 3x points. Either way, it’s over 5%. Does anyone know?

    Also, with a private account it’s bumped up to 25%. If you care.

  9. @Jordan – “you could always pay your rent (assuming you rent)”

    I live with family – no rent.

    “I guess all the manufactured spend people probably have ways to get up to the minimum spend with gift cards and stuff, but Chase seems pretty wise to churning/hacking strategies, so I’d be worried about forfeiting my points if I did that.”

    That’s one reason I don’t MS.

    @Tom – “Just buy a plain (for example) Target or other grocery store gift card.”

    Except I don’t have any spare money that I can just park on a gift card. And I don’t shop enough at places that issue gift cards, anyway.

    “prepaying a month or two or more of grocery expenses.”

    As noted above, I live with family, so no grocery expenses.

  10. You get the 15% bonus for all the points you’ve earned in that year. Isn’t that 30% for private accounts? Btw what’s the min. requirement for a private account? 1m?

  11. Have you actually used the chip + sig in a automated machine abroad like a train station? I called Chase before when they transferred one of my other cards to chip + sig and they said it wouldn’t work in machines.

    Chase is also >> Citi because of the customer service factor and their web UI is much better.

  12. @Nat I have used my CSP in London Underground ticket vending machines with no issues whatsoever

  13. Brian L buy stuff for your family and have them reimburse you. Buy the groceries for 3 months and have them give you the cash…plenty of ways to get around it.

    Can use redbird to do $1000 in spend that will cost you $12. You can use redbird to pull cash right back out of the ATM or pay your credit card.

  14. @Mark O – “buy stuff for your family and have them reimburse you. Buy the groceries for 3 months and have them give you the cash”

    I’ve asked them about this, and they said no. 🙁

  15. I hate to break it to ya Brian, but if you can’t float $1k, then the travel hacking game is probably not for you. Start with the Freedom and ease your way into it.

  16. @Stannis – “I hate to break it to ya Brian, but if you can’t float $1k, then the travel hacking game is probably not for you.”

    I’ve actually done reasonably well with AS (BoA Visa) and AA/US (BofA debit, before it was dropped) for the past few years. Both of those cards gave miles upon approval or first purchase (can’t remember which). I’m not interested in “hacking” so much as I am in earning miles for purchases I’d normally make anyway. It’s very rare that I will do something for miles that I wouldn’t do otherwise (last time I did it was when US had their last grand slam). And as I said above, while I can’t meet the spending requirements for the CSP, I can for the TYP cards and the AmEx PRG.

    “Start with the Freedom”

    I have zero interest in this card, as you can’t turn the points into miles 1:1 without the CSP.

  17. @jmd001 – Maybe this comment is stupid/overkill, but don’t forget to “clean out” via transfer all the existing URs on the cancelee’s account before cancelling.

    Just because someone remains an AU on another account, that doesn’t mean the points are protected. As an AU, all further earnings are on the Primary Holder’s UR account.

    I mention this because you spoke of transferring the credit line, but didn’t speak to accrued URs.

    Apologies if I misunderstood.

  18. @Brian — quit whining.

    Send $4,000 to someone on PayPal. You’ll pay a $116 fee, but you’ll have 44,000 Chase points. Use some of the Chase points as a statement credit to cover the fee if you must. You’ll still be left with 32,000 points.

  19. @Lucky

    “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.”

    In what world besides affiliatelandia is that rare? I can think of tons of cards that bonus dining, it’s quite common.

  20. @stvr – “quit whining.”

    Please show me where I’m whining. Did you not see where I said I could meet the spending requirements for the TYP & PRG cards? I could earn just as many points with those cards (actually more when you consider that the signup bonuses for those cards are bigger), so I’m not sure how that’s whining.

    “Send $4,000 to someone on PayPal.”

    Did you not see where I said that I don’t have spare money lying around? Did you not see where I said I earn miles/points for normal day-to-day spending? Where do you suggest I get this money that I don’t have?

  21. You use your credit card for the $4000 and then pay it off when your friend gives you the money back. So you really only spend the $116 which he is saying you can cash in the points you earn for and end up with 32000 points for free.

  22. @MarkO – Except none of my family is willing to go along with this. Neither are my friends (at least, the ones I’d trust to pay me back aren’t).

  23. @Lucky – if I open a CSP card and make my wife an authorized user when opening the account, can she also then open her own account and make me an authorized user so we get 90k points from all bonuses? Is this allowed? Do we need to stagger signing up? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

  24. @Lucky – Thanks so much for the quick reply. As someone new to this, does that seem like a good starting strategy to you? Is there another card that would make a good compliment to the CSP?

    We have been using a Venture card for years and have gotten a lot out of it, but I know there is more to be had.

  25. @ stvr — How many great cards can you think of? I can think of Citi Premier, AmEx Premier Rewards Gold Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Ink Cash.

  26. @Brian — I’m sorry I lashed out. A lot of injustice has conspired against you to keep the magic of Ultimate Rewards from you.

  27. The CSP is a good card and for those who got in when the spend was 1k it was a good value and I have kept it ever since but redeemed few of the rewards points. Chase is going through a periord when they are not interested in those beginners collecting points and miles and I consider the 4k spend requirement on the CSP to be extremely high and a non-starter for those entering the collection game now. The Citi TY card is the better choice now. The Citi Premier is really for those in the upper 5 percent of the population and personally I would not consider it at all. I have about 28 cards now and would only acquire more in the co-branded bank cards at present.

  28. The Chase shutdown is real. I applied for the Hyatt card and was denied. I have a 780 FICO and six-figure income and was denied due to too many new credit cards. They absolutely grilled me on the recon call and refused to move any of my existing Chase credit lines. Chase is freezing out the churners.

  29. Does anyone know when the three month period starts? It says upon account opening, does that mean the day you’re approved or some other date?

  30. @Curious – I applied, and was approved, for the Chase Sapphire Preferred on Oct. 24, the same day you made your post, and I asked the Chase rep that same question. She told me the three month period begins on the date of approval. I hope to get my card in the mail soon. My rent is due on Nov. 1. 🙂

    On a side note, I had more than five credit card inquiries on my credit reports from the past 24 months. I guess Chase’s five-inquiry limit isn’t as hard and fast as I thought. Also, I was once told by a Chase rep that they won’t issue a CSP card to you if none of your other cards have $5K limits (which was my case). Still, they approved me. Maybe the fact that I opened a Chase checking account a few months ago helped me.

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