Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review
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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Overview
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. Boasting new and improved bonus categories, a $50 annual hotel stay credit through Chase and a 10 percent point match-style anniversary bonus, the Sapphire Preferred should offer excellent value to everyday spenders and rewards experts alike.
And 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 should be a good fit for novice travelers looking to earn rewards on their flights and hotel stays without a hefty annual fee.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- No 0 percent introductory APR offer on purchases or balance transfers
- Lacking some premium travel perks, such as free checked bags and lounge access
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards Rate: 3X points on dining (including eligible delivery services), select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs); 5X points on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and Lyft Rides (Lyft offer through March 31st, 2025); 2X points on other travel; 1X points on other purchases.
- Welcome Offer: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
- Annual Fee: $95
- Purchase Intro APR: None
- Balance Transfer Intro APR: None
- Regular APR: 16.24 percent to 23.24 percent variable
Current welcome offer
The current welcome offer for the Chase Sapphire Preferred weighs in at 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. The Sapphire 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 points, you need to spend just over $1,333 a month for the first three months. Note, that this level of spending may not be feasible for some cardholders, especially if you’re still wary of traveling.
This is a good sign-up bonus for a card with only a $95 annual fee, but it’s still low compared to its previous 100,000-point offer for the same spending requirement—which weighed in at $1,250 toward Ultimate Rewards travel—one of the biggest offers on the market at the time. Although the card’s ongoing value is better than ever, the intro bonus isn’t close to its all-time high, so the Sapphire Preferred may not be as worth pouncing on as quickly, depending on which cards you already have.
Fortunately, you can get close if you know someone that can generate a new referral link for you. The Sapphire Preferred’s new referral bonus clocks in at 15,000 points per referral for a maximum of 95,000 points and can be earned this way each calendar year.
Until recently, the Sapphire Preferred was a solid travel card with only 2X points per dollar on travel and dining, plus a few limited-time offer categories like its current 5X rewards rate on Lyft purchases through March 2025. However, Chase’s new Sapphire card upgrade tacked on a selection of other bonus categories and features that made the Preferred card a powerhouse for its price point. This boosted its dining rewards to 3X points, travel booked through Chase to 5X and grocery shopping to 3X points. This evolves it into a well-rounded tiered bonus category card. Now, the Sapphire Preferred has the potential to be a supercharged engine for Chase Ultimate Rewards points and fills in the gaps other Chase cards may need support with.
How you earn
Travel made outside Chase Ultimate Rewards will earn you 2X points per dollar and dining purchases will earn you 3X points per dollar, but booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal will net you a better 5X points rate. You’ll also collect 3X points on purchases from select streaming services and online grocery shopping, but the grocery category excludes wholesale clubs and superstores like Walmart and Target.
You earn 1X points on any purchases that fall outside of these categories. There’s no cap on the number of points you can receive in all of these categories, so the Sapphire Preferred has solid potential to be your primary credit card.
Luckily, there are a few other ways enterprising cardholders can earn extra Ultimate Rewards points. If you have any friends considering the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you may be able to take advantage of the 15,000-point referral bonus if they’re approved. This method could be an easy way to earn up to 75,000 more points per year. The Chase Offers card-linked program is another solid way to earn an extra helping of rewards in exchange for a little bit more elbow grease while you’re online shopping—which complements the new online grocery shopping category quite well.
How you redeem
You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Sapphire Preferred for travel, 1:1 airline and hotel transfer partners, cash back, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise (including Apple product purchases) and Chase Experience events.
If you’re looking to book the getaway you’ve had your eye on for a while, Chase is offering a 25 percent boost on points redeemed toward statement credits for select merchants made within the past 90 days, thanks to the Pay Yourself Back feature.
You can also use your points at the checkout screen on Amazon.com and PayPal for a lower value (0.8 cents apiece), but we’d recommend sticking to Pay Yourself Back or cash back if you’re not putting points toward travel through Chase.
How much are the rewards 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). Until June 31, 2022, you’ll also get 25 percent more value through Chase Pay Yourself back if you redeem for statement credits toward toward select merchants (see terms).
According to The Points Guy’s most recent valuation, Chase Ultimate Rewards points carry as much as 2 cents per piece market value when used toward transfer-partner travel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Either way, Chase guarantees a 1:1 value currency-to-currency when you transfer your points to a partner airline or hotel loyalty program, including:
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- British Airways Executive Club
- Emirates Skywards
- Flying Blue/Air France-KLM
- 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
Other cardholder perks
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. In fact, Chase’s 2021 update bestowed the Preferred card with a few valuable, recurring features that you won’t get with the Sapphire Reserve.
Here’s what you need to know about Sapphire Preferred’s benefits, including travel coverage, boosted points value for travel redemptions, partner perks and its new annual bonuses.
Travel coverage and protections
The Sapphire Preferred includes a wealth of travel-specific coverage and protections, including these:
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance of up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip. This covers non-refundable 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 (such as 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. Here you can read our Chase Sapphire benefits guide.
25 percent points-value boost for travel redemption
One of the top perks of the Sapphire preferred is the extra value you can wring 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 $1,000, rather than $750.
When you factor in the additional option to transfer points to partner airlines and hotels, your points’ potential value only increases.
Annual account anniversary bonus points and credits
Two of the most valuable perks in the Preferred card’s new batch of features are its recurring bonuses. New cardmembers will get up to $50 back each year in statement credits for hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, but note that existing cardmembers will have to wait until their next account anniversary to receive this annual credit.
The $50 annual hotel stay credit is certainly appealing, but you’ll be able to squeeze much more value out of the new 10 percent anniversary point bonus: 10 percent points on your total combined spending in points from the previous year will automatically be added to your rewards balance on each account anniversary.
Reward matching-style bonuses are rare, and Discover’s first-year cash back match is the most popular (and only) offer we’ve seen in recent memory. The bounty from these types of bonuses can be pretty significant for big spenders, but even average budgets can earn a decent chunk of change from this annual offer. Bureau of Labor Statistics spending data suggests that the average annual yearly spend is $15,900, which would net 1,590 Ultimate Rewards points worth up to a savory $318 (based on TPG’s 2 cent point valuation) in travel each year.
Free year of DoorDash DashPass
Chase’s partnership with DoorDash allows you to get a full free year of DoorDash DashPass, a subscription service that provides unlimited deliveries with no delivery fee and reduced service fees for $12 or more orders. Food delivery perks this generous in addition to the broad roster of benefits the Sapphire Preferred already carries aren’t especially common for cards with an annual fee below $100, so make sure you take advantage of this offer by its December 31, 2024, deadline.
Added points on Lyft rides
Through March 31, 2025, Sapphire Preferred cardholders can earn an additional 3X points on Lyft rides (on top of the 2X already earned in the general travel category) for a total of 5X points per qualifying Lyft purchase.
This unlimited category can bring you immense value if you do a lot of commuting via rideshare services. In fact, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best cards for Lyft. While the pandemic may have reduced your reliance on rideshare services like Lyft, 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, making the card much more accessible than the Sapphire Reserve, which carries a $550 annual fee. The Preferred card’s fee is easy to recoup through your normal rewards spending. You can offset the $95 fee by only spending $132 per month across your 3X categories, but you could spend just $80 per month in your 5X category to cover it if you tend to travel.
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.
However, 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. If you happen to carry a balance, though, the 16.24 percent to 23.24 percent variable APR is still slightly below the average current credit card interest rate.
How the Chase Sapphire Preferred compares to other rewards cards
It’s hard for many cards to strike a balance between rewards and benefits like the Sapphire Preferred does—not to mention the quality sign-up bonus for the card’s price tag—but a few cards hold their own against the Sapphire Preferred when it comes to annual fees, rewards structures, welcome bonuses and introductory APR offers. Here are a few of our favorites.
Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Capital One Venture card
While the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers terrific flexibility and versatility, it could still leave plenty of rewards on the table. For example, miscellaneous expenses like your insurance bill or a new laptop will only earn you 1 point per dollar. If you aren’t sure whether your spending habits line up with those of the Sapphire Preferred, you may have more luck maximizing your rewards with a simple, flat-rate rewards card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
The Venture card’s unlimited 2X rewards rate on all spending makes stockpiling rewards a no-brainer. You’ll earn at the same rate on all eligible purchases, with no need to juggle cards or book travel through the issuer portal. The card also gives you the flexibility to redeem miles through Capital One or for outside travel purchases without sacrificing value. As with the Sapphire Preferred, however, the Venture card features a $95 annual fee. You’ll need to spend at least $4,750 per year to offset the Venture card’s annual fee with rewards (assuming you redeem for travel).
Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Citi Premier Card
The Citi Premier® Card not only shares a number of rewards categories with the Sapphire Preferred, but it also offers some extra options that could prove highly lucrative for the right cardholder. You’ll get a 3X rewards rate on restaurant, gas station, hotel and air travel purchases, and unlike the Sapphire Preferred, the Premier card doesn’t require you to book travel through an issuer portal or purchase groceries online to earn bonus rewards.
Along with its enticing rewards categories, the card stands out for its annual $100 hotel savings benefit on stays of $500 or more, which makes up for its otherwise thin set of travel perks. On the downside, your points won’t be worth more if you redeem through the Citi travel portal and depending on your travel preferences Citi’s list of transfer partners may fall short of Chase’s.
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 that the Sapphire Preferred is a travel card, consider pairing it with a flat-rate travel card or a cash back credit card that rewards your biggest non-travel categories—such as the 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, 3 percent back on dining and drugstore purchases, plus 5 percent back on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel and Lyft purchases (Lyft offer through March 2025).
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 carrying the Freedom Unlimited.
The Freedom Unlimited also offers a solid welcome bonus worth up to $300 cash back plus a 15-month 0 percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers (15.24 percent to 23.99 percent variable APR thereafter, ), should you need extra time to pay off a large transaction. Be mindful that the balance transfer does have a fee of 3 percent or $5, whichever is higher, in the first 60 days of account opening.
Other Chase credit cards are your best option because of how well their categories and benefits pair together, but working it out so that you can have both a Sapphire Preferred and Reserve is a slightly more rewarding combination considering their new features. The Reserve would get you access to better reward rates for Ultimate Rewards travel and more premium perks, like lounge access and credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, but having these credit cards at the same time could still be cost-prohibitive and there are a few bonus category and benefit redundancies you’d have to justify.
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.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred worth it?
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card’s recently upgraded dining rewards, extra bonus categories and new annual bonuses make it one of the best—if not the best—travel cards with a $95 annual fee. Indeed, the Sapphire Preferred should be rewarding for both infrequent travelers and rewards experts thanks to its flexible rewards program and terrific card pairing options. Just be aware of the number of cards you have if you want to pair with a Chase card and if your monthly budget will benefit from the rewards categories.