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The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a popular travel rewards credit card, designed for anyone who plans to travel at least a few times every year. If you’re going to spend around $4,000 per year on dining and travel-related expenses it could be a good choice for you.
It offers 2X points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants. Those points are worth 25% more when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, bringing their value up to 1.25 cents each. That comes to an equivalent of 2.5% cash back, when earning 2X points and redeeming in that way. And you can earn 60,000 bonus points by spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, equal to $750 through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
That introductory bonus makes the Sapphire Preferred useful if you’re planning a big vacation or trip. You can pay with the card to get close to the bonus, and you’ll earn double points on those purchases too.
This card is much-loved for its ability to transfer points at a 1:1 rate to several popular airline and hotel travel partners. The value you get for your points will vary for transfers, but in many cases you can get a better deal than you would through the normal redemption methods. We’ve found transfers that provide as much as 3.3% cash back equivalent.
The Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee, but its benefits and signup 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 so you won’t be charged extra.
The Sapphire Preferred is made of metal, which means it can make quite the impression when you drop it on the counter. 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.
Read on to learn more, and see if the Chase Sapphire Preferred might be the right card to help you earn points and manage your travel spending.
Our Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
We give the Chase Sapphire Preferred 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 this card
- Earn 2X points on travel and dining
- 60,000 potential bonus points to earn when meeting the minimum spending requirement
- A 25% point bonus when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Point transfers at a 1:1 rate
- Lots of travel and shopping protections
Why this card could be better
- Annual fee of $95
- 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
Although many people rate the Sapphire Preferred highly among travel cards, it might not be the right card for you. Check out some other travel credit cards below, with different bonus categories and perks.
Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy
- Use this card for all your travel expenses and for eating out at restaurants, where you’ll get 2X points per dollar.
- Spend $4,000 in the first 3 months to earn an introductory bonus of 60,000 points, worth $750 through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- Be sure to use this card enough to make it worth the annual fee. It will take a minimum of $3,800 in spending to offset the annual fee, when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- 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.
- Invite friends to use this card to earn 10,000 bonus points for each approval, up to 50,000 bonus points per year.
- 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.
- Speak with your Visa Signature Concierge to get travel information and dining recommendations, have reservations made, and more.
- Understand the various protections that come with the card, like Price Protection and Trip Interruption Insurance. Be ready to use them if necessary.
The Sapphire Preferred provides the equivalent of 1.25%–2.5% cash back when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards, depending on which categories you’re spending in. And you can find better deals than that with point transfers, which can yield a 3.3% cash back equivalent or better.
- 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar spent on:
- dining at restaurants
- 1X Chase Ultimate Rewards point for every dollar spent on all other purchases
- 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening, worth $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 25% point bonus when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards
The 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 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 2.5% when spending on travel and dining, and 1.25% on all other purchases.
You can get $750 worth of value from the introductory bonus if you meet the minimum spend in the first 3 months after account opening.
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 with Chase Pay®: 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. We’ll discuss them below. 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 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 travel 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. Below, we go through an example showing how you can get a cash back equivalent of 3.3%. But the value you get will vary depending on where you transfer your points and how you use them.
CHASE ULTIMATE REWARDS TRAVEL PARTNERS
|AIRLINE TRAVEL PARTNERS|
|Aer Lingus AerClub||British Airways Executive Club||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 and dining, 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.
How to Offset the Annual Fee
You’ll have to pay a $95 fee for the Sapphire Preferred. So you want to make sure that it’s worth the cost, and that you’re getting more out of it than you’re putting in.
This can be done by earning enough points to offset that fee every year. That will ensure that the card doesn’t end up costing you money.
The amount you’ll need to spend will depend on the rate at which you earn points, and how you redeem them. Earn at a higher rate and redeem them for a better value, and you won’t need to spend as much.
Here’s how much you’ll need to spend when you earn at either the 2X or 1X rate, and when using different redemption methods.
|Chase Ultimate Rewards (1.25 cents per point)||$3,800||$7,600|
|Point Transfer (1.6 cents per point)||$2,970||$5,940|
|Statement Credit (1 cent per point)||$4,750||$9,500|
So you can offset the annual fee by spending as little as $2,970, but that’s only if you get a point transfer that provides 1.6 cents per point. In most cases it might be easier to redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards, where you know you’ll be getting 1.25 cents per point.
Most people will have a mix of spending, of course, so it won’t usually be as clear-cut as all this. But this should give you a good idea of how much you’ll need to spend with the card.
You’ll also get that 60,000-point introductory bonus for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, which is worth $750 through Chase Ultimate Rewards. That will offset the annual fee for almost eight years all on its own.
Remember that you want to actually profit with the card, not just use it enough to offset the fee. So you should aim to spend more than the minimum amounts we’ve mentioned here.
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.
Invite Friends for 10,000 Bonus Points
You can invite friends to apply for the Sapphire Preferred, and for every friend who’s approved you’ll get 10,000 bonus points. You can earn up to 50,000 bonus points per year in this way.
That’s $125 per friend, when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection is provided by Chase, and includes benefits at over 900 locations around the world. In addition to hotels and resorts, many lodges and spas can be found in the collection as well.
You’ll get five perks when booking rooms through this service, when available:
- Daily breakfast for two
- Complimentary WiFi
- Room upgrades
- Early check-in and late check-out
- A unique gift, like lunch or dinner for two, a spa treatment, or a golf green fee waiver
To access these benefits, you must book your stay through the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection with your Sapphire Preferred card, either online or by phone. You’ll be able to see the specific perks available at each property.
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.
The cash back equivalent you get for each deal will depend on how you redeem your points, as explained above. In the table below, the Points per Dollar column shows the total points you’ll get, of one base point plus some number of bonus points. The Ultimate Rewards column assumes you redeem at a rate of 1.25 cents per point, while the Point Transfer column assumes you redeem at a rate of 1.6 cents per point.
The deals available in Shop Through Chase include the following.
|Merchant||Total Points per Dollar (1 Base + Bonus)||Ultimate Rewards – Cash Back Equivalent||Point Transfer – Cash Back Equivalent|
|Norton by Symantec||16X||20%||25.60%|
|The Home Depot||3X||3.75%||4.80%|
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.
Some of the current experiences are:
- An exclusive invitation to the Chicago Theatre to listen to a live performance of R&B artist Leon Bridges’ new album.
- A VIP trip to meet the New York Rangers, and a chance to be a Rangers Stick Kid at a game.
- Special VIP packages to the 2018 PGA Championship and the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris.
- A special VIP preferred pricing package to the 2018 Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a higher-tier version of this benefit, called Reserve Experiences. However, as of now, the selection of experiences to pick from is the same.
Visa Signature Concierge
You can 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.
Call the concierge for help with:
- Travel research, like tourist attractions and the best hotels
- Dining recommendations and making reservations
- Finding rare items or sending gifts, like flowers
- Buying tickets at the best prices
Many higher-end credit cards offer a concierge of some sort, and in general they seem to be pretty similar. The Sapphire Reserve comes with a concierge that’s supposedly better, called Visa Infinite Concierge. But it’s unclear if there’s any difference between that and the Signature Concierge. It looks like they can both perform the same services.
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.
Some other cards offer a similar service, though it’s pretty rare overall. The Sapphire Reserve has the very same perk. And the Citi Double Cash (Review) claims you can just say “representative” to speak to someone, although it ends up taking a bit longer than that.
Trip Delay Reimbursement
You can receive up to $500 in reimbursement if your trip is delayed for an eligible reason. It must be a “Covered Trip”, as they call it, and it must be delayed by a “Covered Hazard.”
According to Chase, a Covered Trip refers to a period of round-trip travel to a destination other than your home, which doesn’t exceed 365 days in total. And Covered Hazards include:
- Equipment failure
- Inclement weather
- Labor strikes
- Hijacking or skyjacking (yes, this is almost like pirate insurance)
And there are quite a few terms and guidelines to satisfy to use this benefit:
- You must pay at least a portion of the cost of a common carrier fare with your Chase card.
- Up to $500 is available for “reasonable” expenses, like food, lodging, toiletries, medication, and other personal use items.
- Coverage is not available for any prepaid expenses, or any delay that was made public or known to you before departing — you were warned!
- Call the benefit administrator within 60 days of the delay to report it, and follow the instructions given to you.
- You, your spouse, and your dependent children under 22 are automatically covered by this benefit when the terms are met.
You might not make use of this benefit very often, although it could come in handy during airline delays. At the very least, you can assure your family that there’s no need to worry, you’re covered by pirate insurance.
Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance
This benefit is pretty similar to the Trip Delay Insurance above, but it covers cancellation or interruption of your trip. It covers yourself and immediate family members, like parents, grandparents, nieces, and nephews.
The Cancellation and Interruption benefits are actually separate, but they have most of the same terms and conditions. For these protections to apply, you must:
- Charge at least part of the cost of the travel arrangements to your card
- Be traveling to a destination greater than one mile from your primary residence
- Be planning to travel for no more than 60 days
There are quite a few situations that will be eligible for these benefits, making them pretty inclusive overall. Reimbursement may be available if your trip is cancelled or interrupted for any of the following reasons:
- Accidental bodily injury, loss of life, or sickness experienced by you or a traveling companion, or an immediate family member of you or a traveling companion
- Severe weather, which would prevent a “reasonable and prudent person” from beginning or continuing a trip
- A change in military orders for you, your spouse, or your domestic partner
- A terrorist action or hijacking
- A call to jury or a subpoena from the courts, which can’t be postponed or waived
- Finding your dwelling to be uninhabitable (Curtains don’t match the bedspread at your Airbnb? Get your money back!)
- Quarantine imposed by a physician for health reasons
- Financial insolvency of the travel agency or travel supplier
If a trip cancellation or delay occurs for a covered reason, reimbursement is available up to $10,000 per claim. Several situations are not covered, like if you do anything illegal, get sick from a pre-existing condition, or take a trip in a rocket ship. (We’re not kidding. According to the terms, you won’t be covered when “traveling or flying on any aircraft engaged in flight on a rocket propelled or rocket launched aircraft”)
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.
You can receive up to $100 per day for five days for the emergency purchase of essential items, such as:
- Charging cables for cell phones
But let it be known that ONE and ONLY ONE cell phone charging cable will be covered by this benefit. Just because your bags were delayed, that doesn’t mean you can stock up on free charging cables for the next five years.
Other so-called “essential” items that are not covered by this benefit, besides extra charging cables, include the following.
Essential Items That Are Not Covered
- Contact lenses, eyeglasses, or hearing aids
- Artificial teeth, dental bridges, or prosthetic devices
- Tickets, documents, valuable papers
- Money, checks, travelers checks, securities
- Jewelry and watches
- Business samples
- Cell phones, cameras, video recorders, and other electronic equipment
Call your benefits administrator to learn how to submit a claim for reimbursement. You must usually provide a written claim notice within 20 days of the incident. But if you have a really good reason you can submit it later than that.
You must include proof of the baggage delay, which may include written confirmation from the travel supplier, and a copy of the credit card statement that shows the fare. Copies of receipts must be included for the purchase of any items over $25.
This is a common benefit to see on many travel cards, although the Discover it Miles does not provide it (or many other protections, either).
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.
If your luggage is lost, stolen, or damaged during a trip you may be eligible for reimbursement. You’ll have to abide by certain terms, of course:
- You must report the loss or damage to the common carrier immediately as soon as you exit the carrier, and file a claim
- Up to $3,000 in coverage is available for each insured person
- Only $500 in coverage per person is available for jewelry, watches, cameras, video recorders, and other electronic equipments
- Certain items are not covered, like documents, valuable papers, money, tickets, checks, and furs
- If you do anything illegal that results in your bags being lost or damaged, don’t expect reimbursement
So most items will be covered by this benefit, unlike some of the other protections listed for the Sapphire Preferred, which tend to be more restrictive.
You must contact the benefits administrator, and provide a written claim within 20 days of the incident. Then you will receive instructions, and you’ll have 90 days from the date of the incident to submit any additional required documents. But you can take longer than that if you can make the case that you had no other reasonable choice.
Other Travel Protections
There are more travel protections available, covering you on the road as well as in the air. They include:
- Travel and Emergency Assistance: Call the benefits administrator for emergency help, like medical or legal referrals when you’re out of town.
- Travel Accident Insurance: Provides up to $500,000 in the event of accidental death or dismemberment, when traveling by common carrier.
- 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.
You’ll get a few protections to cover your purchases in several different ways, from the price you pay to the return policy.
- 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.
The Sapphire Preferred comes with a few other basic benefits that most cards have, like:
- Credit Journey®: Monitor your VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion credit report, and get advice to improve your credit scores
- Zero Liability Protection: You won’t be held responsible for unauthorized use of your card.
- Fraud Protection: Chase uses real-time fraud monitoring to check for fraudulent account activity.
- Fraud Alerts: You can get notified by text, email, or phone call if there’s any unusual account activity.
Be aware that sometimes the terms of these benefits may change, and your card features may not exactly match what we have here. Check your Guide to Benefits to see which benefits your card has, and how to make use of them. Or browse some of the details of these benefits on Chase’s site.
The Costs & Fees
|Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|18.24%–25.24% Variable||18.24%–25.24% Variable||27.24% Variable|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$95||None||5%, $5 minimum||5%, $10 minimum|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|None||Up to $39||Up to $39|
The fees of the Sapphire Preferred are easy to understand. You won’t get an introductory APR, so any purchases you make will start accruing interest at the rate above unless you pay off your balance in full each billing period. This will let you avoid interest and it will also be good for your credit utilization.
There’s an annual fee of $95. We discussed above how you can offset that fee by spending $3,800 per year when redeeming points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, or as little as $2,970 when transferring points.
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.
|Chase Customer Support||
1-302-594-8200 (outside U.S., call collect)
|Sapphire Preferred Customer Support||Call the number on the back of your card|
We’ve found Chase to have fairly decent customer support in general. Sapphire Preferred cardholders, however, will have access to a special customer support team that’s a bit different than the basic customer service.
Cardholders can call the number on the back of the Sapphire Preferred to be directly connected with a representative, rather than having to navigate through a phone menu. You just need to call and wait to be connected, no action from you is necessary unless you want to conduct your business in Spanish.
This should make it easier to get the help you need when you call. Credit card phone menus are notoriously annoying, so being able to speak with a human quickly is a great feature. It might not seem like much when everything is fine, but if you have a problem with your card account you’d be glad to have it.
We called the Sapphire Preferred phone line to try to learn a bit more about the benefits of this card, and it went directly to a representative. She gave us the phone number for the benefits department (1-888-320-9961) along with a URL where we could learn more. Unfortunately the page she sent us to is currently down, or the link was incorrect. But we did get the phone number, which we could use to learn more about the benefits.
This call was of limited usefulness overall. It was good that she directed us to the proper department, but it would have been better if we could’ve just used the link to easily browse the benefits online.
Chase’s customer support usually ranks a solid so-so, compared to other credit card companies. Every year, J.D. Power conducts their Credit Card Satisfaction Survey, and in 2017 Chase ranked 5th out of the 11 major credit card issuers. That’s where they placed in 2016 as well.
You can easily learn about most of the major features of the Sapphire Preferred on Chase’s website. But you won’t find much information there about the benefits that come with this card. Instead, we suggest checking out their separate Sapphire Preferred benefits page.
If you have a general question about this or a different Chase card, you can tweet them @ChaseSupport. Be sure not to reveal your personal or account information on Twitter, or other social networks like Facebook.
Chase cardholders can contact customer support online through their secure message system, where they can answer specific questions about your account.
The Bottom Line
The Chase Sapphire Preferred 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 $95 annual fee. But you’ll want to use the card more than that to actually profit from the points you earn.
You’ll have a nice introductory bonus of 60,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first three months. That would be $750 in bonus points value, but you’ll only get that offer during the first year with the card.
Be sure to look into your options for point transfers, as these could provide more value than the other redemption options. 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 cards, but they can help you out if something goes wrong (as long as your situation is eligible, of course).
Travel credit cards come in many shapes and sizes, with different rewards, benefits, and fees. Check out some alternatives to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card below.
How to Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
You can apply for the Sapphire Preferred by completing the application on their website. Chase will check your Equifax credit report when you apply.
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.
If you have a different Chase Sapphire card you may be able to request a product change to the Sapphire Preferred. Call the number on the back of your card to make this request, although there’s no guarantee you’ll be approved. Currently, the only other Sapphire card is the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
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.
Qualifications and Requirements
- Must be 18 to apply
- Personal identifying information, including SSN, email address, and phone number
- Total annual income, and source of income
- Monthly mortgage/rent payment
Alternatives to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve (Review): $450 annual fee; 3X points on travel and dining; better travel perks
- American Express® Gold Card (Review): $250 annual fee; up to 4X points on certain purchases; dining, airline, and hotel credits
- Airline and Hotel Credit Cards: Co-branded with specific airlines and hotels, where they provide brand-specific rewards and benefits
- Discover it® Miles (Review): No annual fee; 1.5X miles for every purchase; double miles for the first year
- 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on:
- travel (after using the full $300 travel credit)
- 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
- Introductory bonus: 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening
- 50% point bonus when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards
So you’ll have the same two travel and dining categories, but now you’ll be earning 3X points per dollar in them. And you’ll also be getting a 50% point bonus when redeeming through Ultimate Rewards, rather than 25% like you would with the Sapphire Preferred. So your points would be worth 1.5 cents each.
That means you’ll be earning the equivalent of 4.5% cash back in the travel and dining categories, when redeeming with Ultimate Rewards. And it will be a 1.5% cash back equivalent for all other purchases, which is not a bad deal.
In this case, your 50,000 points from the signup bonus would provide $750 when redeemed through Ultimate Rewards.
You can use this card for point transfers, just like the Sapphire Preferred. But the Sapphire Reserve provides a better bonus when redeeming through Ultimate Rewards, so there won’t be as much incentive to use point transfers. If you consider a good point transfer to provide 1.6 cents per point, that’s very close to the 1.5 cents you’ll get through Ultimate Rewards.
So point transfers may still be the most valuable way to use your points with the Sapphire Reserve, but you aren’t guaranteed to get a great rate with them every time. Redemptions through Ultimate Rewards will provide 1.5 cents per point every time, which will probably make it easier to get a good value for your points.
In addition to everything you get with the Preferred version, the Reserve card also includes:
- $300 Annual Travel Credit: You’ll get a $300 credit every year you can apply to any travel expenses, including airfare and hotel rooms
- Complimentary Priority Pass Select Membership: Free access to over 1,000 Priority Pass Select airport lounges around the world
- Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection: At participating properties, provides a daily breakfast for two, room upgrades if available, unique gifts, and more
- Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ Application Fee Credit: Get a repeating credit to pay for the application fee of either of these programs, providing expedited screening at airports
- Elite Hotel Benefits at Relais & Châteaux: Accelerated progress towards elite Club 5C member status at Relais & Châteaux luxury hotels and resorts
- Visa Infinite Concierge: This is probably pretty similar to (or the exact same as) the Visa Signature Concierge you get with the Sapphire Preferred
- Special Car Rental Privileges: Get perks and discounts with Avis, Silvercar, and National Car Rental when booking through Chase Ultimate Rewards
The Sapphire Reserve clearly has better benefits than the Sapphire Preferred. If you want premium travel perks, making your trips cheaper and more comfortable, you’ll want to go with the upgraded card.
Costs & Fees
All of the rewards and benefits of the Sapphire Reserve come with a price tag of $450 per year. So it’s only for people who know that they’ll be traveling every year, spending quite a bit of money as they go.
The fee is high, but you can actually offset it by spending as little as $3,334 through Chase Ultimate Rewards. That assumes you make full use of the $300 travel credit, leaving you with just $150 to offset.
That’s actually less than what it takes to offset the Sapphire Preferred’s fee, because the Reserve provides more points per dollar and you’ll get a bigger point bonus. Those features, combined with the $300 travel credit, make it relatively cheap to offset the Reserve’s annual fee.
This relies on you being able to make full use of the travel credit, which should be pretty easy to do because it applies to any travel expense. If you expect to spend around $4,000 or more on travel/dining per year, you can probably get more out of the Reserve than the Preferred. But if you’re not sure that you’ll be traveling consistently every year the Preferred card could be a better option, because it won’t cost as much if you don’t make good use of it.
Read more in our Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
The American Express® Gold Card (Review) has more bonus reward categories than the Sapphire Preferred, with a bias towards airlines over hotels. This is a metal credit card, like the Sapphire Preferred.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
You’ll earn the most points at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. restaurants with this card, but you’ll also get 3X points on eligible airline expenses. Take note that the 4X rate for U.S. supermarkets is limited to the first $25,000 spent per year, and after that you’ll earn 1X point per dollar.
The Membership Rewards points you earn will have different values depending on how you redeem them. The most valuable normal redemption methods are for airline flights or certain gift cards, which will provide 1 cent per point.
That means you’ll be earning the equivalent of 4% cash back for the 4X categories, 3% for the flight travel categories, and 1% for other purchases.
Points can also be transferred to a variety of partner airline and hotel loyalty programs, like you can with the Sapphire Preferred. In this case the transfers aren’t always at a 1:1 rate, and there’s a fee for transferring to U.S. airlines. But there are also occasional promotional offers where you can get a better transfer rate.
You may find point transfer deals that provide upwards of 2 cents per point. At that value you’d be earning an 8% cash back equivalent when spending at the 4X rate, and a 6% cash back equivalent for purchases at the 3X rate.
You’ll get a few valuable perks with the Amex Gold card, beyond the basic shopping and travel protections.
The most notable might be the $120 annual dining credit, which is broken up into $10 per month. This is pretty valuable, although unfortunately it doesn’t apply to every restaurant purchase. But some food delivery services are included — Grubhub and Seamless — which broaden your options quite a bit and make this credit easier to use. You can view the eligible restaurants and services here.
Another great perk is the $100 airline fee credit. This does not apply to ticket costs, unfortunately, and is only good for incidental fees like baggage or in-flight food and beverages. But if you fly several times per year you can probably use this credit up.
Cardholders get guaranteed lowest rates on hotels when booking eligible rooms through Amex Travel. You can also get up to $75 in hotel credits every time you make an eligible stay of two nights or more when booking through The Hotel Collection program. This is a great perk because it’s available every time you book an eligible stay, not just once. Cardholders also get room upgrades at check-in, when available.
There are several other benefits too, like access to the Amex Offers shopping portal. This lets you earn discounts at many merchants outside of the bonus categories, including TurboTax, Ray-Ban, and certain Hilton properties.
Costs & Fees
At $250 per year, the American Express Gold Card is more than twice as expensive as the Sapphire Preferred. It has no foreign transaction fees.
You can offset the annual fee with this card just by using the benefits effectively. The $100 flight credit and $120 dining credit add up to $220 per year, and, if you use The Hotel Collection to get $75 in value just once, you’ll be getting $295 in value overall, which is $45 more than the annual fee.
Or, if you only manage to use the flight and dining credits, you’ll have $30 left to offset. You can earn $30 worth of points by spending $750 at the 4X rate, earning 3,000 points. That assumes you redeem for 1 cent per point. If you get a point transfer that provides 2 cents per point, however, you’d only need to spend half of that: $375.
The Amex Gold is also a charge card, which is different than a regular credit card. With charge cards you need to pay off the entire balance in full every billing period, and you won’t have an option to revolve the balance at an interest rate.
Read more in our Review of the American Express® Gold Card
Airline and Hotel Credit Cards
There are many credit cards that are co-branded with a particular airline or hotel. They’re designed to be used primarily with that one brand, where they’ll provide their best rewards and benefits.
Co-branded cards can be very rewarding, because they provide more airline or hotel points on top of the member points you’d normally earn with that brand. If you prefer to fly with one airline or stay at one hotel, you should check to see if they have a co-branded card.
Let’s look at an example of an airline credit card, and then a hotel credit card.
Airline Credit Card
The Gold Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express is made for flying with Delta, of course.
- 7X or more SkyMiles per dollar for purchases made directly with Delta
- 2X SkyMiles per dollar for using the Gold Delta SkyMiles card
- 5X or more SkyMiles per dollar for being a Delta SkyMiles member
- 1X SkyMile per dollar on all other eligible purchases
- Introductory bonus: 30,000 bonus miles for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
- Value: $300–$450 (assuming 1–1.5 cents per point)
- Return on spend: 30–45%
- Introductory bonus: $50 statement credit after making a Delta purchase within the first 3 months
So you’ll get at least 7X SkyMiles per dollar with this card, and even more if you have an elite Delta Medallion member status.
The miles you earn will be worth around 1.25 cents each, depending on exactly how you redeem them (usually for award flights, either with Delta or a partner airline). That means you can earn a cash back equivalent of around 8.75%, which is pretty good. But that’s only when spending with Delta, and you’ll need to redeem your miles for air travel.
Cardholders also have some Delta-specific perks, like Priority Boarding and getting your first checked bag free. In-flight purchases are discounted by 20%. And you and up to two traveling companions can enter Delta Sky Clubs for a discounted fee of $29 each.
This card has a fee structure that’s similar to the Sapphire Preferred. It has a $95 annual fee, but unlike with the Sapphire Preferred, it’s waived the first year. And there are no foreign transaction fees.
See more options for other airlines in our post, The Best Airline Credit Cards
Hotel Credit Card
The World of Hyatt Credit Card, issued by Chase, is made for anyone who loves spending time in Hyatt hotels and properties.
- 9X World of Hyatt points per dollar at Hyatt hotels and resorts
- 4X bonus points per dollar from the card
- 5X base points per dollar from your hotel member status
- 2X World of Hyatt bonus points per dollar:
- for airline tickets purchased directly from the airline
- at restaurants
- on fitness club and gym memberships
- on local transit and commuting
- 1X World of Hyatt bonus point per dollar on all other purchases
- Introductory bonus: 25,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
- Introductory bonus: 25,000 bonus points for spending $6,000 in the first 6 months after account opening
You’ll be getting 9X points per dollar with this card when spending at Hyatt, and there are even some other bonus categories too. 4X points come from the card, and 5X points come from your complimentary Discoverist hotel member status. More points per dollar are awarded if you hold a higher World of Hyatt elite member status.
Hyatt points can be valued at around 2 cents each, if you find a good deal, which means you’d be getting a cash back equivalent of about 18% with this card. That’s an excellent deal, though you’ll only get it when spending and redeeming with Hyatt.
These hotel points can be used in several different ways, but the most common and rewarding method is typically for free night stays. Free night stays start at 5,000 points at Category 1 hotels, with higher categories requiring more.
Cardholders also get one free night stay per year after their cardmember anniversaries, at a Category 1–4 hotel or resort. That could be valued at around $200 or more, depending on the room. The complimentary Discoverist member status comes with free in-room internet, late check-out, and other perks at Hyatt locations.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card costs $95 per year. It’s only made for people that stay in Hyatt hotels or resorts somewhat regularly, but if that sounds like you this card could save you a tidy sum.
See more options for other hotels in our post, The Best Hotel Credit Cards
- 1.5X miles per dollar on every purchase
- Miles Match: your miles are doubled for the first year of use
There are no bonus categories. You’ll get the same 1.5X miles no matter what you buy, whether it’s related to travel or not. And for that first year you’ll be getting 3X miles per dollar, quite a nice boost.
Those miles are worth 1 cent each, no matter how you redeem them. This sets the Discover it Miles apart from other travel cards, which usually make you redeem for travel expenses to get the best value. With this card you can redeem miles for statement credits, travel expenses, gift cards, and in a few other ways, always getting at least 1 cent per mile. Gift cards will actually provide an extra $5 in value, at least, making them the most valuable redemption option.
So you’ll be getting the equivalent of 3% cash back with this card in your first year, and after that it will be 1.5%.
Discover recently discontinued their shopping and travel protections (like flight accident insurance and the auto rental insurance waiver).
You’ll be able to monitor your credit using Discover’s FICO Credit Scorecard, but this isn’t much of a selling point for a travel card. And many other card issuers offer something like it, including Chase.
Costs & Fees
There’s no annual fee to use the Discover it Miles, and no foreign transaction fees either. That means it can be completely free to use, as long as you avoid paying interest. Just pay your balance in full each billing period, and interest won’t accrue on purchases.
The Discover it Miles also has a 0% introductory APR for purchases for 14 months, unlike any of the other cards on this page. That will give you some time to pay off a vacation at no interest, for example, or any other purchases you might make. There’s also an intro balance transfer rate of 10.99% Variable for 14 months, but we don’t recommend using that because it’s not a very good offer. Check out other balance transfer credit cards with 0% rates if you’re looking to transfer a balance away from an account with a high interest rate. After the introductory periods end, the regular APR of 14.24%–25.24% Variable will apply to purchases and balance transfers.
With no annual fee, the Discover it Miles is a good option for anyone who may travel occasionally, but not very much. If you don’t use it for a year or two it won’t burn a hole in your pocket, begging you to make it worth the cost. Its main strength is the reward program, more flexible than the Sapphire Preferred but providing a smaller cash back equivalent.
Read more in our Review of the Discover it Miles Credit Card
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