Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review
Best for beginner travelers
- Rewards Rate: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants, 1X points on all other purchases and 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022 (3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel)
- Welcome Offer: 80,000 points to new cardholders after spending $4,000 within the first three months
- Annual Fee: $95
- Purchase Intro APR: None
- Balance Transfer Intro APR: None
- Regular APR: 15.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the best beginner travel credit cards on the market thanks to its low annual fee, generous rewards structure and various travel protections.
Though it lacks some of the robust perks found in more premium travel cards, such as priority boarding, lounge access and free checked bags, the card may be a good fit for novice travelers looking to earn rewards on their flights and hotel stays without a hefty annual fee.
Read on to see whether the Chase Sapphire Preferred would make a good addition to your wallet.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Current welcome offer
The current welcome offer for the Chase Sapphire Preferred sits at 80,000 points after spending $4,000 within your first three months of card membership. That adds up to $1000 toward travel when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. The Preferred’s bonus is notably 30,000 points higher than that of its sister card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, although the Reserve is considered a higher-end travel card.
In order to receive the Sapphire Preferred’s welcome bonus, you need to spend just over $1,333 a month for the first three months. Note, this level of spending may not be feasible for some cardholders, especially in the current climate of restricted travel.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns an easy 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1X points on everything else, and points don’t expire as long as your account is open.
Both the Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards have added a bonus rewards category related to rideshares. For the Sapphire Preferred, you can earn a total of 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022 (3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel); this includes qualifying Lyft products like bike and scooter rides.
In the travel and dining category, the Sapphire Preferred earns you 2X points on airfare purchases, hotel stays, eating out, spending at your local coffee shop and more.
You earn 1X points on any purchases that fall outside of travel, dining at restaurants and qualifying Lyft purchases. There’s no cap on the number of points you can receive in all three of these categories, so feel free to spend as you can afford to.
You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Sapphire Preferred for travel, 1:1 airline and hotel transfer partners, cash back, statement credit, gift cards, merchandise and experiences.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Chase is offering a 25 percent boost on points redeemed toward past grocery, dining and home improvement store purchases. The offer — also known as Chase Pay Yourself Back℠ — is valid through September 30, 2020. Note: You have 90 days from when you make a purchase to redeem points toward it.
How much are points worth?
Chase Ultimate Rewards points redeemed for cash are worth 1 cent apiece, whereas points redeemed toward travel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal are worth 25 percent more (1.25 cents apiece).
According to The Points Guy’s August 2020 point and mile valuations, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth as much as 2 cents per piece when used toward transfer-partner travel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Either way, Chase guarantees a 1:1 value when you transfer your points to a partner airline or hotel loyalty program, including:
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- British Airways Executive Club
- Flying Blue
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy
- World of Hyatt
You can learn more about maximizing your points’ value via Chase transfer partners by reading Bankrate’s Chase Ultimate Rewards guide.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Benefits
The Sapphire Preferred offers less in the way of travel-specific perks than its sibling, the Sapphire Reserve — but that doesn’t mean what perks the card does offer should be ignored.
Here’s what you need to know about the Sapphire Preferred’s travel coverage, boosted points value for travel redemptions and added bonus category for Lyft purchases.
Travel coverage and protections
The Sapphire Preferred includes a wealth of travel-specific coverage and protections, including:
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance of up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip. This covers nonrefundable travel costs like flights, hotels or site-seeing tours.
- Baggage delay insurance of up to $100 per day for five days, which covers any essential purchases needed (i.e., clothing, toothpaste, shampoo) for baggage delays of six hours or more.
- Auto rental collision damage waiver for rentals purchased with your Sapphire Preferred card. This covers theft and collision damage for up to the cash value of the car being rented.
- Trip delay reimbursement of up to $500 per ticket for travel held back more than 12 hours (or that which subsequently needs an overnight stay).
- 24/7 travel and emergency assistance services for the Sapphire Preferred cardholder, their spouse and any children under 22. You can read the full list of services provided under this benefit, here.
25 percent points-value boost for travel redemption
One of the top perks of the Sapphire Reserve is the value you can extract from the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
By redeeming your points for travel via the Chase portal — including plane tickets, hotels, car rentals and cruise vacations — your points are worth 25 percent more. For example, if you took your 80,000-point welcome bonus (earned after spending $4,000 in your first three months) and redeemed it for airfare via Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points would be worth $1000, rather than $800.
When you factor in the additional option to transfer points to partner airlines and hotels, your points’ potential value only increases.
Added points on Lyft rides through March 2022
As discussed above, Sapphire Preferred cardholders can earn an additional 3X points on Lyft rides through March 2022 (on top of the 2X already earned in the travel and dining category) for a total of 5X points per qualifying Lyft purchase.
If you do a lot of commuting via rideshare services, this added category can bring you immense value. During COVID-19, your reliance on rideshare services like Lyft may have dwindled, but bear in mind Lyft bikes and scooters also count toward this category.
Rates and fees
The Sapphire Preferred has a fairly low $95 annual fee, meaning you’ll owe $95 each year you hold the card. This makes the card much more accessible than the Sapphire Reserve, which carries a $550 annual fee.
The card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees for purchases made outside of the U.S., unlike some other cards that charge 3 percent per foreign transaction. This means if you take any trips overseas, you won’t rack up additional charges each time you use your Sapphire Preferred card.
You won’t receive an introductory 0 percent APR on purchases or balance transfers, but that’s to be expected with travel-focused credit cards. The card’s variable APR, which you’ll be charged should you carry a balance month-to-month, is 15.99 percent to 22.99 percent.
How the Chase Sapphire Preferred compares to similar cards
When taking annual fees, rewards structures, welcome bonuses and introductory APR offers into account, the Sapphire Preferred has a handful of competitors — but which card is best for you will depend on your lifestyle and spending habits.
|Card||Annual fee||Rewards||Welcome bonus||Other details|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||$95||Unlimited 2X miles on every purchase||100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months||No intro purchase or balance transfer offer
17.24 percent to 24.49 percent (variable APR)
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card||$0||3X points on dining, travel, rideshare, transit, gas station purchases and popular streaming services
1X points on all other purchases
|20,000-point welcome bonus after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of card ownership (equal to $200 in cash back)||0 percent intro APR for 12 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers
14.49 percent to 24.99 percent (variable APR thereafter)
|Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card||$0||Unlimited 1.5 points on every purchase||25,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening (equal to a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases)||0 percent intro APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles
14.99 percent to 22.99 percent (variable APR thereafter)
The information related to the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card and Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card has been collected by Bankrate.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.
Best cards to pair with the Chase Sapphire Preferred
There are a few directions you could go when it comes to pairing the Sapphire Preferred with another rewards credit card to achieve optimal value. Given the Sapphire Preferred is a travel card, consider pairing it with a rotating or flat-rate everyday cash back credit card — perhaps a grocery credit card, if you spend heavily in that category.
Unfortunately, if you were interested in pairing the Sapphire Preferred and Reserve (maybe to get more premium perks, like lounge access and credits for Global Entry or TSA Precheck), know that you cannot own both of these Chase credit cards at the same time.
Additionally, keep Chase’s 5/24 rule in mind as you search for cards to pair with the Sapphire Preferred: You may not be eligible to open a Chase credit card if you’ve already opened five or more credit cards (no matter the issuer) in the past 24 months.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a solid no annual fee credit card that earns at least 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase you make. Thanks to current promotions, you can also enjoy added rewards on grocery and rideshare spending.
Due to COVID-19, Chase announced an added grocery store category for the Freedom Unlimited. Now, new cardmembers earn 5 percent cash back on up to $12,000 in grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart) made within the first year of card membership.
Just like the Sapphire Preferred, you’ll also earn a total of 5 percent cash back on Lyft rides through March of 2022 (3.5 percent cash back in addition to the regular 1.5 percent cash back rate).
By pairing the Freedom Unlimited with the Sapphire Preferred, you (at minimum) can earn 50 percent more rewards on purchases falling outside the Sapphire Preferred’s travel and restaurant dining category. Better yet, you won’t be charged a yearly fee for owning the Freedom Unlimited.
The Freedom Unlimited also offers a stellar $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 within three months of account opening, as well as a 15-month 0 percent introductory APR on purchases (14.99 percent to 23.74 percent variable thereafter), should you need extra time to pay off a large transaction.
Bankrate’s Take — Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred worth it?
When it comes down to it, the Sapphire Preferred is a great card for novice travelers looking to earn rewards on spending related to flights, hotel stays, dining out and more.
Given the card’s unlimited rewards structure, you won’t need to worry about spending caps or tracking categories. Plus, the various opportunities for bonus point-earning makes it a worthwhile card to have in your back pocket.
Say you spend $1,400 a month on the Sapphire Preferred card — $900 in the 2X travel and dining category, $400 in the 1X category and $100 in the 5X Lyft category. In doing so, you’ll earn $324 worth of cash back rewards by the end of your first year of spending, or $1124 in cash back when you include the welcome bonus.
Using the same spending example, if you instead redeem your points for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points will be worth $405 toward travel, or $1,155 toward travel when you include the welcome bonus.
- No foreign transaction fees
- Relatively low annual fee of $95 per year
- 1:1 point transfer ratio and significant airline and hotel transfer partner list
- 25 percent value boost to points redeemed for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Added rewards category equal to 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022 (3X points in addition to the 2X points earned on travel)
- Generous welcome offer
- No 0 percent introductory APR offer on purchases or balance transfers
- Lack of premium travel perks, such as free checked bags and lounge access