8 Reasons The Chase Sapphire Preferred Is The Best Mid-Range Credit Card

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The credit card industry is much more competitive now than it was several years ago, so it’s tougher to argue that there’s a single “best” credit card. Not only have sign-up bonuses increased significantly over the years, but so have bonus categories, as well as the ongoing perks offered by cards.

One card that has been highly regarded for years is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Last year Chase introduced the Sapphire Reserve, which is a more premium version of the card. It’s a great card that competes well against The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Citi Prestige® Card.

However, I’d argue that the Chase Sapphire Preferred continues to be the most well rounded mid-range credit card. When it comes to categorizing cards by annual fees, we have no annual fee cards, mid-range cards (with annual fees of ~$50-200), and then premium cards (with $200+ annual fee cards).

What makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card the best mid-range credit card out there?

A sign-up bonus of 50K+ points

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. On top of that, you can earn 5,000 additional bonus points if you add an authorized user and have them make a purchase within that same timeframe.

So that’s a sign-up bonus of up to 55,000 bonus points, which I value at ~$935 (since I think Ultimate Rewards points are worth ~1.7 cents each). That’s the best sign-up bonus of any mid-range personal card.

The first year’s annual fee waived

While the card has a reasonable $95 annual fee, the annual fee is waived for the first 12 months. This is a great chance to try out the card before you have to actually “buy” it.

No foreign transaction fees

This might sound like a given, but there are quite a few cards with ~$100 annual fees that still have foreign transaction fees. For example, as much as I love The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, it has a $95 annual fee and still has foreign transaction fees.

2x points on dining and travel

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers double points on dining and travel, which I find to be among the most useful bonus categories out there. These bonus categories apply for purchases in the US and abroad (some other cards restrict bonus categories to US purchases), and Chase takes a pretty broad definition of those categories.

“Travel” covers everything from flights to hotels to Ubers to parking to subway tickets.

CSP-Parking-Meter
Even parking qualifies for 2x points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Great travel & purchase protection

Often great travel protection is reserved for premium cards, though the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers all kinds of great travel protection in the event your flight is delayed, your bags get lost, etc.:

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
Purchase Protection• Receive up to $500 for personal property that has been stolen, damaged, or lost within 90 days
Return Protection• Receive up to $500 per item if you are dissatisfied with a purchase and the retailer won’t return the item

• There are lots of exclusions, including items purchased overseas, and all items have to be returned to Chase as part of the process
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

Primary CDW coverage on car rentals

One other perk I really value in credit cards is car rental coverage, given how much car rental companies often charge for this protection directly. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers primary coverage 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 fewer than seven passengers, and SUVs.


I‘m happy I used my Chase Sapphire Preferred when I got rear ended in my rental

Awesome travel partners

When collecting credit card points, I always recommend earning flexible points, which can be transferred to a hotel or airline partner. That’s useful because it protects you from any devaluation that a program may make. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns Ultimate Rewards points, which can be converted at a 1:1 ratio to the following transfer partners:

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

Among those, I find Air France/KLM FlyingBlue, Korean Air SkyPass, Singapore KrisFlyer, United MileagePlus, and World of Hyatt to be the most useful.


25,000 points is enough for a free night at the Park Hyatt Maldives

Unlock the full potential of no annual fee cards

Since the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns Ultimate Rewards points, it lets you greatly increase the value of the points you earn on some Chase no annual fee cards. Specifically, I have the following three no annual fee cards that earn points that can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio in conjunction with the Sapphire Preferred:

  • The Chase Freedom® Card offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 of spend per quarter; the card has no annual fee
  • The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers 1.5x points on everyday spend; the card has no annual fee
  • The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card offers 5x points on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each anniversary year on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services, plus 2x points on the first $25,000 spend in combined purchases each anniversary year on gas stations and restaurants; the card has no annual fee


The Chase Freedom 2017 5x points calendar

So having the Sapphire Preferred would let you earn 1.5x points per dollar spent on the Freedom Unlimited, 5x points in rotating categories with the Freedom, etc.

A word about getting approved for the card

There are two major restrictions to note when it comes to getting approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

First of all, the bonus on the card isn’t available to current cardmembers of this card, or previous cardmembers who have received a new cardmember bonus for the card within the past 24 months.

Furthermore, this card is subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule, meaning that you typically won’t be approved for the card if you’ve opened more than five new accounts in the past 24 months. So if you’re new to miles & points, that’s another reason to make this one of the first cards you apply for, since you may not be eligible for the bonus in the future.

If you’re not eligible for the card based on that, keep in mind that some Chase cards, like the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, don’t have that restriction, so you can be approved for them even if you’ve opened more than five accounts in the past 24 months.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is also worth considering

For many, the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card is going to be a better option. This is the premium version of the Preferred Card, and offers triple points on dining and travel, a $300 annual travel credit, and more. The card also has a $450 annual fee.

Bottom line

For someone looking for a single mid-range credit card with a reasonable annual fee, big sign-up bonus, great return on spend, and lots of travel protection, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is tough to beat, in my opinion. This is especially true if you combine it with some of Chase’s great no annual fee cards, which can earn you 1.5-5x points per dollar spent, all without paying any additional annual fees.

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Comments

  1. “If you’re not eligible for the card based on that, keep in mind that some Chase cards, like the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, don’t have that restriction, so you can be approved for them even if you’ve opened more than five accounts in the past 24 months.”

    Wouldn’t doing this set you back even further from getting one of the Sapphire cards?
    I’d love the Hyatt(before the change) and IHG cards but I’m a couple months away from falling below 5/24 and holding off getting them because of that.

  2. I love your Always Be Closing hustle, but the “no foreign transaction fees” is a canard. It’s a Visa. Do yourself a favor, and split all your transactions evenly between a Visa/MC/Amex on your next trip. Split restaurant checks, hotel bills. Buy train and museum tickets for yourself and your boyfriend with two different cards.

    Then report back.

  3. I think the Citi Premier card is the best mid-range card.
    Better earning rate for everyday spend and solid transfer partners.

  4. Unrelated, but PAL have released more details about their new business class product:

    http://www.esquiremag.ph/culture/lifestyle/practical-elegance-and-filipino-culture-philippine-airlines-a00204-20170717

    I’m not sure if you’ve tried the Thompson Vantage XL, but in case you haven’t, reviewing PAL’s new product might be a good excuse to. Even if you have, I’d still love to read your review of the aforementioned new product when it’s released.

    Hope you give it a shot!

  5. I think your missing the big picture here. The real difference in annual fees between preferred and reserve is $55 when you consider how easy it is to get back the $300 travel credit. So reall your looking at a $95 fee card vs a $150 fee card and in that case I’d argue the Reserve wins hands down.

    @Lucky if I’ve got this wrong please show me where.

  6. If you had to choose between this and the Chase Marriott as the 5th Chase card in 24, which would you choose?

  7. @ Peter B — You’re indeed correct, sorry for any confusion. My point was that if you’re not below 5/24 and don’t plan on being anytime soon, then those would be the cards to get.

  8. Did Chase just increase your commission on this card? Both you and Gary Leff wrote advertorials for the Chase Sapphire Preferred today – which seems a coincidence?

  9. Without going into too much detail, as I’m sure you’re not contractually allowed to, I’d love to know how Chase interacts with you guys. The fact that you and Gary put out a nearly identical article on the same day screams “dance monkey, dance” and is kind of offputting, tbh. I know you have a business to run and I certainly don’t begrudge it, but posts like this sort of show a dark underbelly.

  10. Surprised to see you touting the benefits of combining Ultimate Rewards points between Freedom cards and Sapphire cards the very same week that Chase is seeking customer inputs on three alternatives to devalue those transfers.

  11. This is kind of a dumb question but…

    Which credit cards can you transfer points at a good ratio to Alaska mileage plan and
    Therefore would be good for Someone loyal to alaska?

  12. Good benefits but doesn’t do me any good since I can’t transfer to Emirates lol.

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