Key takeaways

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers various benefits and rewards that help make its annual fee worthwhile
  • It offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 points, if you meet the required conditions, which you can use towards travel with Chase or its travel partners, or redeem in other ways
  • It also offers other travel perks and an anniversary bonus of 10 percent of your previous year’s spending in points

I’m a flight hacker and frequent traveler, and I’m always on the lookout for good credit card deals. Last year, I set my sights on a round-trip flight to Istanbul, so I started looking for a card that would cover most of the cost of my trip.

It didn’t take me long to realize that the card I was looking for was the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, especially given its impressive welcome bonus at the time.

More than a year later, not only did that welcome bonus pay for my trip, but the card’s reward rates have made it my go-to for almost all of my daily expenses. Add in its unique 10 percent anniversary bonus and an annual $50 hotel credit (through Chase), and it’s easy to see why it quickly became one of my favorite rewards credit cards.

A great welcome bonus

When I applied, the Chase Sapphire Preferred was offering 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months when I signed up. The offer is now 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months, but that’s still a great deal.

I had considered getting the Chase Sapphire Reserve® instead, but the $550 annual fee was too high for me — plus, I got a much better welcome bonus with the Sapphire Preferred than I would have with the Sapphire Reserve. Bankrate values the current offer of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points at $750 (when used to book travel through the Chase travel portal), and up to $1,200 if you take full advantage of Chase’s transfer partners. The current baseline offering of 60,000 bonus points, at more than seven times the annual fee, is also a good deal.

To get the welcome bonus, I needed to spend a minimum of $4,000 within the first three months. In my case, I usually spend around $800 on food and groceries every month, so I put all of those expenses on the card. This was a sensible choice since I earn 3X the points on dining and online grocery purchases.

No foreign transaction fees and other perks

I live an international life, splitting my time between Canada, the U.S. and Istanbul. I frequently travel to Asia, too. I find myself using my credit cards abroad all the time. That’s why I always travel with a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, and the Sapphire Preferred fits the bill. The other benefits of the Sapphire Preferred — such as travel and purchase coverage and partner benefits with DoorDash and Lyft — make it more useful and more fun.

Transfer points to loyalty programs easily

One of the things I like most about the Sapphire Preferred is that it enables me to transfer my points to other loyalty programs, like Chase’s partner airlines and hotel chains, at a 1:1 rate. This allows me to get much more value out of my points.

When I redeem my points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, the most I can get is 1.25 cents apiece, which is pretty good. However, if I transfer them to a partner airline’s loyalty program, I will often get much more. For example, I can transfer my points to United Airlines’ MileagePlus and use them to pay for flights. When I do, I generally get a value of 2 or more cents per point — in line with Bankrate estimates that Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth around 2 cents apiece on average when used with the right transfer partner.

In my case, I booked a round trip from Houston to Istanbul in business class. The cheapest cash flight I could find cost $2,300, but I only spent 69,000 miles, plus $81.65 in taxes and fees. This means my points were worth over 3 cents each, making the welcome bonus worth over $3,000. I live for this type of deal.

Annual 10 percent bonus

With this benefit, I get 10 percent of my total spend back in points each yearly anniversary. If I spend $10,000 on my card throughout the year, I’ll get 1,000 bonus points. That’s an additional 10 percent bonus I wouldn’t earn with any other card — and one more perk that helps the Chase Sapphire Preferred pay for itself.

The bottom line

The welcome bonus alone makes the Sapphire Preferred well worth the annual fee. I accumulated more than 20,000 points last year from my everyday spending, plus some extra points I earned on a few large purchases. I also earned about $1,000 in rewards just by using my card.

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn’t offer premium travel benefits like airport lounge access, the money I save using the card easily offsets these small costs. As I wait for my annual 10 percent points bonus and prepare to spend the rest of the points I already have, I can’t help but feel that this is one of the smartest financial moves I’ve made in some time.