Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred worth it?

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There comes a time in every credit card holder’s life when they start noticing the benefits of their rewards credit card and wonder, “Are there better cards out there?” Perhaps you hear stories about friends redeeming rewards points for great deals on travel or shopping and think it might be time to graduate to a new card.

If you’ve come to the limit of your no-annual-fee credit cards and have the confidence that you’ll get a great deal of value from a more premium credit card, your first stop might be to explore the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It’s a mid-tier credit card that carries many perks and benefits that could make it a worthwhile option for the right person.

So, is the Chase Sapphire Preferred worth it? Keep reading to find out more about this card and what you can get for its relatively low $95 annual fee.

What does the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offer?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is somewhat of an entry-level travel credit card that could help you get the hang of using rewards to garner great deals and discounts on your travel spending.  For those who want to take a deeper dive into earning credit card rewards (especially for travel), the Sapphire Preferred could open a whole new world. In August 2021, Chase made some changes to the card’s bonus rewards structure, and these updates cater to lifestyle spending categories like streaming services and online grocery shopping. The card now also comes with increased rewards rates for travel and dining (see further details below).

Along with a generous rewards structure, the Sapphire Preferred allows you to redeem rewards at a boosted rate (25 percent) for travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. The card also comes with travel protections that could more than make up for the annual fee.

For a welcome bonus, you can earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account. This bonus can be redeemed for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards, where your points will be worth $750 instead of $600.

Card highlights

Rewards rate: 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022), 3X points on dining (including eligible delivery services), 3X points on select streaming services, 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs), 2X points on other travel and 1X points on everything else

  • Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening—worth $750 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Purchase intro APR: None
  • Balance transfer intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: 15.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable

Benefits

The Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with a number of valuable perks and benefits for cardholders. For starters, this card comes with a complimentary, yearlong DashPass membership (must be activated by Dec. 31, 2021), which gets you unlimited deliveries with no delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders of $12 or more.

Recent changes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred also include an annual $50 credit on hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards after each cardmember anniversary and a 10 percent anniversary point bonus. On the account anniversary date, cardmembers will earn bonus points equal to 10 percent of the total purchases made in the previous year.

The Sapphire Preferred also comes with purchase protection, extended warranty coverage and trip cancellation coverage. Trip cancellation and interruption insurance shields up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip and covers nonrefundable travel costs such as flights, hotels and site-seeing tours.

If you travel frequently, these other perks may also appeal to you:

  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Primary car rental insurance (must be charged to your Sapphire card to take effect)
  • 24/7 travel and emergency assistance services

Earning points

At first glance, you might wonder if the 3X on dining, 2X on general travel and 1X on everything else is a good enough deal—especially when you think about other Chase credit cards that earn up to 5 percent back in certain categories (like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or Chase Freedom Flex℠).

However, if you feel like you won’t earn as many rewards by using this card for dining and travel, you could pair it with another Chase credit card that offers cash back in more categories or categories you feel you can get more use out of.

For instance, the Chase Freedom Flex earns 5 percent cash back for spending in activated rotating bonus categories like groceries, gas stations and wholesale clubs (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1 percent). The only catch is that the categories change each quarter, and you have to activate them in order to earn cash back. However, with two or more Chase cards, you have the potential to increase your rewards earnings.

Redeeming points

Redeeming points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred is not difficult, and there are many options to choose from:

  • Travel booked through Ultimate Rewards (worth 1.25 cents)
  • Charitable contributions through Chase’s Pay Yourself Back tool (worth 1.25 cents)
  • Cash back in the form of a statement credit (worth 1 cent)
  • Cash back in the form of a direct deposit (worth 1 cent)
  • Travel (worth 1 cent)
  • Gift cards (worth 1 cent)
  • Apple purchases (worth 1 cent)
  • Shop with Points on Amazon.com (worth 0.8 cents)

You’ve already heard about combining Chase cards to earn more rewards, but using one or more Chase cards has an additional benefit; you’re able to move points and redeem with Chase travel partners or get up to 25 percent more value when booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Additionally, new Pay Yourself Back categories have been added to the Chase Sapphire cards. Through March 31, 2022, Sapphire Preferred cardholders get a 25 percent boost on points redeemed toward statement credits for Airbnb and Away purchases made within the past 90 days (through awaytravel.com).

Annual fee

The big question is, is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card worth the $95 annual fee? To get your money’s worth out of this card, you need to get savvy and make sure you’re utilizing all of the benefits it has to offer. If you combine the welcome bonus, $50 hotel credit, 10 percent anniversary bonus, travel deals, discounts and perks along with the DoorDash membership, you’ll come out ahead after the $95 annual fee. To make this work, you’ll have to spend enough on the card and take advantage of the benefits to reap enough rewards. Before you sign up for this card, take some time to look at your typical credit card spending and determine if you’re likely to spend enough to really take advantage of the benefits.

Perhaps one of the biggest draws of this card is how much it can complement other Chase credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. If you like boosting rewards, especially when it comes to redeeming them for travel, this is an ideal card for a pairing strategy.

If you aren’t partial to Chase cards, you could explore how a similar no-annual-fee, cash back credit card like the Citi® Double Cash Card compares to the Chase Sapphire Preferred. There’s also a Citi trifecta that can help you rack up rewards. Either way, research your credit card options and choose the best credit card or strategic card combination that will help you earn the most rewards based on your spending habits.

How to counteract the Chase Sapphire Preferred annual fee

If you’re looking to counteract the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s annual fee, one of the best things you can do with this card is to pair it with another Chase card or even explore the possibility of using it as part of the Chase trifecta. In either case, your goal is to combine points to maximize both the way you earn your rewards and how you redeem them.

For instance, if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll have the option of transferring your rewards points from other Chase credit cards to this card, then to Chase travel partners. These partners include Southwest Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, British Airways, Marriott Bonvoy, IHG Rewards and more. Plus, you’ve got the added benefit of combining points from both cards and redeeming them for 25 percent more value by booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Consider pairing the Chase Sapphire Preferred with an Ultimate Rewards card that earns better bonus category rewards, like the Chase Freedom Flex. If you don’t feel like you spend enough on dining and travel to earn significant rewards, one of these cards could help you earn more rewards in other spending categories.

Suppose you want to go the trifecta route. In this case, you could also throw in the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, which has generous rewards for travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services and select online advertising. From here, you can pool points from all three cards to your Chase Ink or Sapphire card to use with Chase travel partners.

The bottom line

So, is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card worth the $95 annual fee? It most often is, but it’s important to take advantage of partnership perks like the free DoorDash DashPass membership and additional bonus point-earning opportunities with brands like Airbnb and Away.

When you combine these perks with the welcome bonus, 10 percent anniversary bonus, $50 hotel credit and a variety of deals and discounts, it’s very likely you’ll come out ahead.