2021 Review: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – The Best General Travel Card?
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The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a well-loved travel card that earns 5X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides, 2X points on travel and dining, and allows 1:1 point transfers to airline and hotel travel partners. Benefits include various shopping and travel protections.
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Our Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars
We give the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 5 out of 5 Stars because it’s one of the best general-use travel credit cards, providing a good overall value and features for the fee.
Why We Like It
- 5X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides and travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3X points on dining, select streaming, and online grocery purchases
- 2X points on other travel
- 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
- 25% point bonus when redeeming for travel through Ultimate Rewards
- Point transfers at a 1:1 rate
- A free DoorDash membership
- Lots of travel and shopping protections
Why It Could Be Better
- Annual fee: $95
- Online grocery category doesn’t include Walmart, Target, or wholesale clubs
- No travel credits, like for airfare or hotels
- Statement credits provide a poor point value, you must redeem for travel expenses or with point transfers to get the best value
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a popular travel rewards credit card, designed for anyone who plans to travel at least a few times every year.
It offers Ultimate Rewards points in a wide variety of categories, which were recently expanded to include more points on certain travel expenses, streaming services, and online grocery delivery.
Those points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, bringing their value up to 1.25 cents each. And you can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, equal to hundreds when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
This card is much loved for its ability to transfer points at a 1:1 rate to several popular travel partners. The value you get for transferred points will vary, but you can often get a better deal than you would through the normal redemption methods.
The Sapphire Preferred has an annual fee, but its benefits and welcome bonus make it easy enough to offset. You can spend with ease outside the country because this is a Visa, and there are no foreign transaction fees.
The Sapphire Preferred is made of metal, which means it can make quite an impression. In some cases, however, it can get stuck in certain readers; if you’re worried about this, you can order a plastic version from customer service.
Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card
- Pay for travel and dining out: Use this card for all your travel expenses and for eating out at restaurants, where you’ll get 2X points per dollar.
- Be sure to reach the welcome bonus: Spend enough in the first few months to earn the welcome bonus, which provides a wealth of points to get you started.
- Add your Sapphire Preferred to your DoorDash account: Remember to activate your offer to get a free DashPass for at least a year — that gives you free delivery and reduced service fees on orders over $12 (more about Chase DoorDash perks here).
- Earn up to $50 per year for hotel bookings: Find a hotel with Chase’s travel portal, Ultimate Rewards, to get up to $50 in statement credits. Remember to comparison shop with other services, as rates can vary. The $50 credit is available once per account year. You won’t earn rewards on hotels booked through Ultimate Rewards until you use up the $50 credit, so don’t be surprised if you earn fewer points than you expect.
- Redeem points for travel: Redeem your points for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards to get 1.25 cents per point, or look for an even better value with a point transfer.
- Refer your friends: Invite friends to use this card to earn 20,000 bonus points for each approval, up to 100,000 bonus points per year.
- A direct line to customer service: Call the number on the back of your card to speak directly with a customer support representative, rather than having to navigate through a phone menu.
- Take advantage of the concierge service: Speak with your Visa Signature Concierge to get travel information and dining recommendations, have reservations made, and more.
- Save money with your primary auto rental insurance: Check out the protections you’ll get, like the primary auto rental collision damage waiver. That could help you in a pinch, especially because it applies before your normal insurance.
For the 2X categories below, the Sapphire Preferred typically provides the equivalent of 2%–2.5% cash back when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards. And you can find better deals than that with point transfers, which can yield a 3.3% cash back equivalent or better.
In the 3X categories, you’re seeing a 3%–3.75% cash back equivalent for normal redemption methods, or 4.8% or better for point transfers.
And at the 5X rate, things are looking good with a 5%–6.25% cash back equivalent for normal redemption methods, or 8% or better for point transfers.
The “other travel” category includes the types of expenses you’d expect, along with some others you might not expect. In all, it covers:
|Airfare||Hotels||Car Rental Agencies||Taxis||Buses|
|Toll Roads||Parking Lots||Garages||Travel Agencies||Discount Travel Sites|
So it’s a pretty broad category.
The restaurant category covers merchants whose primary business is eat-in dining, including fast food and fine dining. Take-out and delivery will generally be included, as long as the merchant is categorized as a restaurant.
The points you earn will normally be worth 1 cent each. But when redeeming for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards you’ll get a 25% bonus, so they’ll be worth 1.25 cents each.
That means you can earn a cash back equivalent of 3.75% when spending on dining, 2.5% on dining, and 1.25% on all other purchases.
Points can be transferred to a variety of frequent traveler programs, including airlines and hotels. They might be worth more when transferred, but their value will vary, and they may be worth more or less than what you can get through Chase Ultimate Rewards. We’ll cover point transfers in the next section.
If you cancel your Sapphire Preferred card, be sure to transfer out the points you’ve accumulated through Chase Ultimate Rewards so you can still make use of them. If you or a member of your family have another Chase credit card that provides Ultimate Rewards points, you can transfer your points to that card.
There are several options for redeeming the Ultimate Rewards points you’ll earn with the Chase Sapphire Preferred:
- Ultimate Rewards travel portal: Chase gives a 25% point bonus when you redeem points for travel bookings, giving you an effective value of 1.25 cents per point.
- Transfer to travel partners: You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 rate to a number of travel partners, where their value will vary.
- Statement credit: When you redeem your points as a statement credit you’ll get a value of 1 cent per point.
- Gift cards: Gift cards will provide different values for your points, usually 1 cent per point or less.
- Pay with points: You can use your points to pay for purchases at certain merchants, like Amazon, but you’ll only get 0.8 cents per point.
The most valuable ways to redeem your points will be the first two methods, through Chase Ultimate Rewards or point transfers. The last three methods aren’t recommended because they don’t provide as much value.
Chase Ultimate Rewards is probably the easiest way to redeem, letting you use points to book a variety of travel expenses:
- Hotel rooms
- Car rentals
- Select activities
Every booking through Ultimate Rewards will provide 1.25 cents per point. There are no blackout dates or travel restrictions when booking through Ultimate Rewards, although you may find blackout dates with some travel transfer partners.
Using your points to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards will be pretty simple. Just log in to your Chase Ultimate Rewards account, and search for your travel arrangements as usual. Then you’ll be able to book using your points. You can also pay in part with points and make up the rest some other way, if you don’t have enough points for the full booking.
The Ultimate Rewards portal might be the best way to redeem points for many people, but you could get more bang for your buck with a point transfer. But the value you get will vary depending on where you transfer your points and how you use them.
|Airline Travel Partners|
|Aer Lingus AerClub||British Airways Executive Club||Emirates Skywards||Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM||Iberia Plus|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards||United MileagePlus||Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
|Hotel Travel Partners|
|IHG Rewards Club||Marriott Bonvoy||World of Hyatt|
Point Transfer Example
Imagine you want to fly from Denver, Colorado, to Portland, Oregon. You could use the points you’ve accumulated with your Sapphire Preferred card to book a flight. And then when you arrive you can use the card to earn rewards for any car rentals or restaurant visits, earning 2X points.
We’ll take an economy class, round-trip flight with Southwest Airlines, leaving May 1st and coming back on May 8th. This trip would cost $132 to get to Portland, and another $191 to get back to Denver, for a total of $328.
Or, you could book the same set of flights using Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points. It would take 7,982 points one way, and 11,900 points back, for a total of 19,882 points for the trip. These award flights would also cost a fee of $11.20 ($5.60 each way).
So, how much would you need to spend if you want to earn enough points for this flight? Let’s assume you only spend on travel purchases, so you can earn at the 2X rate.
At that rate you’d need to spend $9,941 to get the 19,882 points you need. Then you can convert them to Rapid Rewards points at a 1:1 rate, although there may be an additional fee at this point. And then you can book the flights.
This probably won’t be the most relaxing trip, with two stops and a plane change each way. But these tickets will give you the best value for your points, compared to other flights on the same days.
Your points were worth about 1.6 cents each here. In this example you spent a total of $9,952.20, after adding in the award flight fee. For that you get a round-trip flight valued at $328. That comes to a cash back equivalent of 3.3%, which is better than the 2.5% you can get through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Total spend: $9,941 + $11.20 = $9,952.20
Cash back equivalent: $328 is about 3.3% of $9,952.20
Keep in mind that the value of your points will vary with transfers, depending on which partner you transfer to and how you use the points. The points would be worth less if we took a flight with no stops, for example, or booked tickets in the Business Select class.
The Sapphire Preferred doesn’t have the most valuable extra benefits, like airline or hotel credits. But it does have a comprehensive set of shopping and travel protections, covering your purchases and trips in a variety of ways.
Be sure to check your card’s Guide to Benefits for details on the exact benefits you have, and how to make use of them. To contact the benefits administrator for more information, call 1-888-320-9961.
- $50 annual hotel credit: Get up to $50 in statement credits per account year for hotel accommodations booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; the first $50 in Ultimate Rewards hotels purchases will not earn rewards.
- DoorDash membership: You’ll get a free DoorDash membership for at least a year, known as a DashPass. This gives you free delivery and reduced service fees on orders over $12, which could help you save quite a bit if you tend to order out.
- Shop through Chase: Cardholders can get more points at select retailers with the Shop through Chase marketplace. The points you get will be in addition to the one Ultimate Rewards points you would normally earn on those purchases. You’ll find deals that come and go over time, which let you earn a good reward rate outside the bonus categories.
- Chase Offers: Receive exclusive offers from a variety of different merchants through Chase.
- Chase Preferred Experiences: As a Sapphire Preferred cardholder, you’ll have access to exclusive events and experiences provided by Chase. There aren’t very many available at a time, and they’re only available at select locations around the world.
- Visa Signature Concierge: Call 1-800-953-7392 to speak with your Visa Signature Concierge, 24/7. This service will probably be most useful when traveling and wondering where to eat, or perhaps if you don’t have time to shop around for a particular purchase.
- Direct access to a customer support specialist: Call the number on the back of your card to be directly connected with a customer support representative. This is a nice change of pace from most cards, which make you work through a phone menu before you can speak with a human.
- Trip Delay Reimbursement: You can receive up to $500 in reimbursement if your eligible trip is delayed for more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay.
- Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance: Provides reimbursement if your trip is cut short by sickness, severe weather, and other covered situations.
- Baggage Delay Insurance: If your bags don’t show up on time you can be reimbursed for certain essential purchases. You and your immediate family members are covered.
- Lost Luggage Reimbursement: When traveling by common carrier, you and your immediate family are covered for the eligible loss of your luggage. Your immediate family will be covered even if you’re not with them, as long as a portion of their fare was paid with your Sapphire Preferred card.
- Travel Accident Insurance: Provides up to $500,000 in the event of accidental death or dismemberment when traveling by common carrier.
- Travel and Emergency Assistance: Call the benefits administrator for emergency help, like medical or legal referrals when you’re out of town.
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Provides primary auto coverage against damage and theft of rental vehicles, as long as you decline the rental company’s insurance.
- Roadside Dispatch: Call 1-800-847-2869 for any roadside emergency, and get help finding services like towing, tire change, lockout, and gas delivery.
- Purchase Protection: Eligible purchases are covered for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $500 per claim.
- Extended Warranty Protection: Adds up to one additional year to eligible manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less.
- Invite your friends: You can invite friends to apply for the Sapphire Preferred, and for every friend who’s approved you’ll get 20,000 bonus points. You can earn up to 100,000 bonus points per year in this way.
- Credit Journey: Monitor your VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion credit report, and get advice to improve your credit scores.
- Fraud Protection: Chase uses real-time fraud monitoring to check for fraudulent account activity.
- Fraud Alerts: You can be notified by text, email, or phone call if there’s any unusual account activity.
The Terms & Fees
|Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|15.99% - 22.99% Variable||15.99% - 22.99% Variable||24.99% Variable|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee|
|Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater||Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|Up to 29.99%||See Terms||See Terms|
You won’t need to pay an extra fee for foreign transactions, making the Sapphire Preferred good for booking travel and also bringing along with you outside the country. Some other cards will charge a fee of up to 3%, though many travel cards have no fee. This is a Visa too, meaning it will be accepted at any merchant that takes credit cards.
The Bottom Line
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great card for anyone who travels several times per year, or for funding an upcoming vacation.
If you can expect to spend about $3,800 per year on travel and dining you’ll be able to offset the annual fee (when redeeming at 1.25 cents per point). But you’ll want to use the card more than that to actually profit from the points you earn.
Be sure to look into your options for point transfers, as these could provide more value than the other redemption options, and it’d take less spending to make the card worth the fee. Use the 1:1 transfer rate to find great deals with the airline and hotel partners. Remember that you can hold on to your points until you can redeem them for a great value.
The extra benefits are not bad, although they mostly consist of travel and shopping protections. They aren’t as valuable as the travel perks you can get with some premium travel cards, but they can help you out if something goes wrong (as long as your situation is eligible, of course).
How Do I Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card?
You can apply now by following the link below.
Many applicants will get an instant decision, but for some people it could take a bit longer. Chase may request more information from you to process the application.
The Sapphire Preferred comes as a metal credit card. That can be pretty cool, but it’s also thicker, which means it may get stuck in certain card readers. If you’re concerned about this you can request a plastic version of the card.
What Credit Scores Do I Need to Qualify for the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is designed for people with good credit.
To qualify for good credit, your FICO score needs to be at least 670 and your VantageScore needs to be at least 700.
However, credit card issuers will look at additional criteria when figuring out your creditworthiness. Factors like income and monthly rent and mortgage payments play a part. This makes approval possible even if your credit scores are lower than what’s recommended. But it also makes denial a possibility with higher scores as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s benefits?
The benefits include a year-long DoorDash membership and a nice collection of shopping and travel protections. The travel protections include the coveted primary rental car insurance, travel accident insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and more.
You can check out a more in-depth look at the card’s benefits right here.
Can I upgrade from one Chase Sapphire Card to another??
Yes, depending on your account status, you may be able to upgrade from one Sapphire card to another, like the Sapphire Preferred to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review). And you can downgrade from the Reserve to the Preferred, or possibly to the basic Chase Sapphire card (which isn’t available for new applications).
You can also product change the Sapphire cards with other consumer cards in the Chase Ultimate Rewards family:
- Chase Freedom Flex℠ (Review)
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® (Review)
- Chase Freedom® Student credit card (Review) (get this card as a student, then upgrade!)
Call the number on the back of your card to make this request, although there’s no guarantee you’ll be approved.
What’s the difference between the Sapphire Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve?
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review) is the upgraded version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred. As such, it comes with better benefits, higher rewards, and a larger redemption bonus. But it also comes with a higher annual fee of $550.
The extra benefits include:
- A $300 annual travel credit
- Priority Pass Select membership
- Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit
- Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
The value from those benefits helps soften the blow of the annual fee. If you travel quite frequently, you’d get more from the Reserve than you would from the Preferred.
What rental car insurance does the Chase Sapphire Preferred offer?
The Sapphire Preferred provides primary rental car insurance, which is pretty rare. Primary coverage takes effect before your private insurance, meaning the rental car insurance can save you quite a bit of money.
To take advantage of the Sapphire Preferred’s rental car insurance, be sure to decline the rental car provider’s insurance and charge the full amount to your Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
What’s the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s annual fee?
The Sapphire Preferred has an annual fee of $95. But you get quite a bit for your money with this card. Its 1:1 transfer rate to Chase’s travel partners could give you an impressive return on your spending if you can find the right deal, and you get a 25% redemption bonus if you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
There’s also a nice selection of travel protections that could save you money given the right circumstances.
Curious about the card’s other terms & fees? You can see them all right here.
Alternatives to the Chase Sapphire Preferred
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For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
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