Why The Chase Sapphire Preferred Is Still The Must-Have Travel Credit Card

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Arguably the best way to earn miles & points right now is through credit cards, both in terms of maximizing your return on everyday spend, and also in terms of taking advantage of great sign-up bonuses. Most people simply aren’t maximizing their credit card rewards, which is probably a blessing, since it leaves more points for us. šŸ˜‰

I’ve been blogging for well over eight years, and almost since day one I’ve been talking aboutĀ theĀ Chase Sapphire PreferredĀ® Card. It’s one of theĀ all-around most lucrative cards.Ā TheĀ very generous sign-up bonus, double points on dining and travel, andĀ other benefits make it a must-have card for travelers.

And ifĀ you’re new to miles & points, it’s also the first card you should apply for.

For those of you already familiar with the card, by all means skip this post (after all the card has been around since 2009, and I know many of you have this card already). But this remains one of the best cardsĀ for travel rewards, and it always amazes me how many people don’t have this card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Sign-Up Bonus

The details of the best cards are constantly changing, be it the sign-up bonus, perks, etc.Ā TheĀ Chase Sapphire Preferred has been offering its best publicly available sign-up bonus forĀ some time now, with a very generous welcome offer:

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

Beyond that,Ā the card’s $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Assuming you earn all 55,000 Ultimate Rewards points, those can be redeemed for $687.50 towards a travel purchaseĀ when you redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.Ā As I’ll talk about below though, the better value is generally transferring the points to one of the Ultimate Rewards hotel or airline partners.

Why You Should Apply For This Card First

Not only is the Sapphire Preferred a great product for getting started with travel rewards, Chase has tightened approvals over the years. They’ve recentlyĀ implementedĀ what’s referred to as a “5/24” rule, where they generally won’t approve someone who has applied for more than five cards in the past 24 months.

For many peopleĀ this is of course not an issue. But it’s something to be aware of, and is a reason to apply for theĀ Chase Sapphire PreferredĀ ahead of other cards.

Chase Sapphire PreferredĀ Earning Rates

Back in the day thisĀ card was a true trendsetter, and one of the only travel rewards cards to offer bonus points on dining. American Express and Citi have since added similar products, but the earnings rates on the Sapphire Preferred are still solid:

  • 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

Itā€™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 Iā€™ve found their definition of ā€œtravelā€ to be quite generous.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the following categories are included as “travel:”

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

CSP-Parking-Meter

Chase Sapphire PreferredĀ 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:

Air France KLM Flying BlueIHG Rewards ClubSingapore KrisFlyerUnited MileagePlus
British Airways Executive ClubKorean Air SkyPassSouthwest Airlines Rapid RewardsVirgin Atlantic Flying Club
Hyatt Gold PassportMarriott RewardsThe Ritz-Carlton Rewards

Points are also worth 20% more when redeeming for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. So you can apply points towards any ā€œrevenueā€ 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 youā€™re almost always going to get a better value by transferring points directly to the airline or hotel partner.

For example, you could transfer 25,000 points to Hyatt Gold Passport for a free night redemption at the Park Hyatt Maldives.

Or for as little as 57,375 KrisFlyer miles plus some mild carrier-imposed surcharges you can book Singapore Airlines Suites Class between New York and Frankfurt.

Singapore-Suites-1

Or for 80,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles plus some mild carrier-imposed surcharges you could book Korean Air first class between the US and Korea.

Korean-Air-First-Class-103

Chase Sapphire PreferredĀ 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 Benefitā€¢ 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)

ā€¢ 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 Reimbursementā€¢ Receive reimbursement for lost or damaged checked or carry-on bags and personal property

ā€¢ Maximum reimbursement is $3,000
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insuranceā€¢ Receive the non-refundable amount of the passenger fare or $5,000 (whichever is less) in the event of a trip cancellation or interruption

ā€¢ The cancellation or interruption must be caused by death, accidental injury, disease, or physical illness of the passenger or immediate family member

ā€¢ This also covers you if your airline goes out of business or tickets are otherwise cancelled by the carrier
Trip Delay Reimbursementā€¢ Receive up to $300 if your trip is delayed for more than 12 hours

ā€¢ The trip has to be delayed by an equipment failure, inclement weather, labor strikes, or hijacking
Purchase Protectionā€¢ Receive up to $500 for personal property that has been stolen, damaged, or lost within 90 days
Return Protectionā€¢ Receive up to $500 per item if you are dissatisfied with a purchase and the retailer wonā€™t return the item

ā€¢ There are lots of exclusions, including items purchased overseas, and all items have to be returned to Chase as part of the process
Price Protectionā€¢ 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)

ā€¢ The advertisement has to be printed, and doesnā€™t include internet retailers, so this wonā€™t be useful for many of us
Warranty Manager Serviceā€¢ Extends the free repair period under the original manufacturers repair warranty up to one additional year

ā€¢ Motorized vehicles (boats, cards, aircraft, etc.) arenā€™t included

Other Cool Features Of The Chase Sapphire Preferred

Primary CDW Coverage On Rental Cars

The Sapphire Preferred offers primaryĀ insurance against damage up to the cost of most rental car vehicles provided you decline the CDW coverage offered by the rental agency. This includes economy through luxury class vehicles, vans that carry less than 7 passengers, and SUVs.

Silvercar-LAX-4

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 ā€œclicking throughā€ 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.

Great Customer Service

This is advertised as ā€œ24/7 direct access to dedicated customer service specialistsā€ and they mean it. When you call the number on the back of the card, a human picks up right away. Literally. Thereā€™s no phone prompt.

I donā€™t have any other credit card or elite status with any airline or hotel program that gets me service that quickly.

Bottom Line

TheĀ Chase Sapphire PreferredĀ is a “must have” for anyone looking to maximize theirĀ spend and get started with travel rewards.

The card has a great sign-up bonus, excellent return on dining and travel spend, great customer service, and some useful perks, like primary collision coverage. About 90% of my discretionary spend is onĀ travel and dining, so you can bet I’m earning double points on most of my purchases. šŸ˜‰

Furthermore, given Chase’s rules for approving new cardmembers, this is a card you’ll want to apply for early on, if possible.

For those thatĀ already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, what’s your favoriteĀ benefit of the card?

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Comments

  1. Travel insurance is my favorite benefit. I use my Chase Sapphire card to buy United tickets rather than buying their trip insurance. You get the same number of points (2x).

  2. I’ve held the CSP as my first card and I still have it. To me, it just feels reliable to have the card, but I just see myself using it less and less. Recently there are just better alternatives for earnings points on travel with Amex PRG, Citi Premier/Prestige. Even with dining, 2x isn’t really exclusive to CSP, and the Freedom’s 5x bonus during this quarter is more compelling. The only reason to hold this card is mainly to have keep the Ultimate Rewards balance. Once Citi acquires more useful partners, I think CSP is in due for a revamp as they have slowly chopped away at some real cool benefits (eg. 7% dividend).

  3. I’m curious, @Lucky, with all the new cards you tend to get, how does this affect your average age of accounts? Does the ding on the score stay there for long or does a month or two of payments generally fix it?

  4. Agree with Pete. I have Amex PRG and Citi Premier, so I really see no reason at all to get this card.

  5. It’s amazing how people who’ve been doing this for awhile seem to forget that some people are just starting out and find this kind of info useful. It’s also hypocritical, given that any posts with “beginner” information are derided as obvious and useless, but posts with “inside” information are maligned for supposedly killing the deal through overexposure. Also, I don’t get all the people calling out blogs like OMAAT for pushing credit cards, when there’s a prominent disclosure on EVERY PAGE saying that that’s exactly how the blog makes money. Do you go to a car dealership and talk shit to the salespeople for trying to sell you cars? Anyway, the me from two years ago thanks you for helping beginners get started.

  6. Rental cars and keeping the UR’s transferable. Otherwise it sits.Other cards are now more compelling in almost every category.

  7. If you’re close to the 5/24 limit like I am, I would suggest holding out for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card which is rumored for release later this month!

  8. If i already have a chase card (ink business plus) do i still get the 50k bonus points for signing up?

  9. @ Ben — Why the Chase Sapphire card is a must have? Because YUGE blogger referral bonus.

    I’m sorry, but IMO, this card is completely overrated. I have this card, and I NEVER use it. In fact, as a churner, Chase cards are generally pretty useless, with the exception of Ink and Freedom 5x categories , the IHG annual free night, the 10% off BA booking discount (sadly I don’t have this card and guess I won’t as long as 5/24 lives on), and the United PQD waiver (although I’ve never utilized that benefit). I get far more value out of the Citi Prestige card (for the 4th night free), AMEX Delta Reserve cards (for the DL MQMs and MQD waiver), the City National Bank Infinite VISA card (for the multiple annual travel fee rebates and $50 off r/t airfare for two), and the whatever soon-to-be-in-my-sock-drawer-not-from-Chase cards I have in my wallet this month.

    Chase really needs to innovate and/or drop the stupid 5/24 rule.

  10. @Lucky are you saying you do not use your Prestige for travel purchases?

    “About 90% of my discretionary spend is on travel and dining, so you can bet Iā€™m earning double points on most of my purchases.”

    Why wouldn’t you earn 3x on travel on the Prestige, especially since it has better travel protection?

    I don’t care what you pump, but if your story changes month to month, it becomes a credibility issue.

  11. @Gene, your comment is ripe for a meme. “Says chase cards are pretty useless…. lists several reasons why they are not”. People really feel the need

  12. @Rui N Not sure why you are misquoting Gene. He didn’t post ‘chase cards are pretty useless’ (sic)
    He actually posted “Chase cards are generally pretty useless”.

    Generally pretty useless…then goes on to mention a few exceptions to the rule. I fail to see any contradictions there. I agree with several points on his list of the exceptions, especially IHG. And I also agree with Joachim that I’d use my Prestige and Premier cards rather than a CSP nearly every time.

    Which is a good thing, since Chase imposed the 5/24 rule a week before I was qualified for reapply for a CSP, and I can’t get one now. Then a little bit later Citi improved the benefits of the Premier and now I could care less that Chase doesn’t want to let me spend $30K a year on the CSP like I used to do. šŸ˜‰

  13. The Chase Sapphire is absolutely a great starter card. 55,000 exceptionally valuable points for signup, and a very easy earning structure. Travel/dining. Easy enough!

    As a more seasoned veteran, do I use it as much as I used to? No, not as much. Losing the 7% dividend was a drag. And sure, Citi’s high end cards are good too. But until Citi points transfer to AA, they’re just not worth as much for me. So the CSP will retain its value beyond the signup.

  14. Ironic that he pushes this card so much, especially since he’s banned from UA. Oh wait that fat commission talks!

  15. Oh, and I just realized that I NEVER use my CSP because I closed it it a couple months ago when the annual fee came due. Really useless to me! šŸ™‚

  16. I have both the Sapphire Preferred and Barclay Arrival + Credit cards and I am curious about your thoughts on the Barclay Arrival + Master Card…as it appears to be of a higher value with 2 points for every $1.00 on ALL purchases, among other benefits. I would be curious to hear you address this in your blog in the future…

  17. I feel like all of the CSP roolz/CSP sux claims are pretty meaningless. Whether or not a card’s points are valuable depends substantially on what airlines you like to fly, and in what categories you are likely to spend. And if you’re a churner, Chase is a bad option because of 5/24.

    I’m new to all of this, and I’m not going to be a hardcore churner — I just wanted to be on the smartest passive earning platform for flying United, since I like them, and Newark is a good home base for me. So for me, the CSP is a no-brainer, but if you’re into Delta, not so much. Also, I take a LOT of taxis, so for me, 2X means thousands of points a year I wouldn’t otherwise be earning. So the CSP is not one size fits all, but it certainly fits me pretty well. And having the CSP/CFU/CIP combo doesn’t preclude me from using a Citi Prestige for 4th night free or plane tickets (for its unusual medevac perk, which seems like it might be a nice thing to have if things go south).

    As for whether or not Ben’s repeating himself with this post, he invites you not to read it. While I was doing my research, this blog was invaluable, so as far as I’m concerned, he’s doing a service to noobs like me. However, I’d add one critical omission, which is that no CSP should go without a Freedom Unlimited. It makes the CSP a much more compelling prospect (especially for the United flyer) than it was even a few months ago, as the combo means no circumstance in which you ever earn less than 1.5 point per dollar spent. And if you put your telecom on an Ink Plus, you’re really cooking with gas. (The original Freedom seems like too much work for me, and I don’t like the 5X earning caps.)

    As far as points currencies go, while there aren’t as many transfer partners, UR really is more flexible than MR, TYP, and SPG — not only is it possible to earn UR at a minimum of 1.5X, and transfer them 1:1, and book travel at 80:$1, but it’s trivial to combine them between family members, which is no small thing, and you can cash the points out at 100:$1 if there’s something travel related that Chase can’t book. Nothing else comes close to that. And United’s domestic award tickets aren’t (yet) based on ticket price, so I consider points that I can transfer to United, but also use for other things, more valuable than points that I can transfer to Delta.

    If you want to hear me rant about this at length, I did so on my own blog, here: http://ivanx.nyc/2016/07/06/ok-fine-ill-look-at-amex-and-other-crap-too/ [Ben: if you have a policy against external links or self-promotion, please delete this paragraph. Thanks for all you’ve taught me, though!]

  18. I think once this preferred card gets upgraded getting 3.75% on redemption from travel is going to be hard to beat if the rumors are true and you can get 3x in travel and 3x on dinning I think it will give amex preffered which I primarily use a run for its money.

  19. @Lucky I know you’ve already written about the speculated features of the forthcoming Chase Saphire Reserve (or whatever it’s actually going to be called), but given the timing and the name of this article I assumed this was going to be a more in depth look at whether to hold out (which I recall you recommending) or not. Do you think that if one gets for the Preferred now there’s likely to be a special 5/24 exception (a 6/24?) or perhaps simply the option to upgrade? Do you think the Preferred will be eliminated once the Reserve shows up?

  20. Haven’t you all noticed, when it’s a full
    advertisement post Lucky won’t respond to any comments. Hence this one. It’s the same reason why he has yet to say any cc is ‘not worth it’ after a devaluation. It hurts his revenue stream.

  21. Question: What percent are airbnb charges (are they Travel) – 1% or 2%? I would hope 2% as travel, but would like to know.
    What about airbnb on the Citi Prestege card? I’m trying to decide which card to get since I use for airbnb to charge up to $35,000/year Thanks in advance for the help.

  22. Ben, is the primary CDW insurance on this card the same (or as good) as the Amex Platinum? Does Chase add a fee for each rental like the Amex Plat?

  23. @ coutureguy — It’s the best free coverage I’ve found on any card, and there’s no fee to use it.

  24. Jeff Airbnb is 2x points on chase sapphire. I’d imagine if the rumors are true on the new cars rumored o come out it would be 3x points.

  25. Lucky – (or anyone else who can answer)
    What is your experience with the rates offered via the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel collection? Are they actually better rates than what you would find elsewhere, or just the same as the BAR directly through the hotel/a discount travel site but with extra perks? Also, I assume you don’t get the 20% rebate on travel bookings made through it that you get for other travel booked the Ultimate Rewards portal?

  26. @Joachim – “Why wouldnā€™t you earn 3x on travel on the Prestige, especially since it has better travel protection?”

    Prestige is 3x only for airfare and hotel. Premier card is 3x on airfare, hotel, car rental, gas, cruise, travel agency. Recently charged over $10K on Premier for a cruise booked through Costco, and received 3x. I don’t think I would have gotten 3x if I used Prestige.

    I don’t have CSP card, but am considering it. I appreciate all the comments – both positive and negative.

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