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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review: The best travel rewards card for less than $100?

Snapshot

5.0

Bankrate rating
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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is an excellent entry point into the world of travel rewards since it offers impressive value, easy redemption options and premium benefits for a modest $95 annual fee.

BEST STARTER TRAVEL CARD

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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  • Rewards value
    Rating: 4.8 stars out of 5
    4.8 / 5
    APR
    Rating: 1 stars out of 5
    1 / 5
    Rewards flexibility
    Rating: 5 stars out of 5
    5 / 5
    Features
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
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Recommended Credit

Intro offer

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$1200

Offer valuation

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1x - 5x

Rewards rate

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Annual fee

Regular APR

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Overview

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the best travel credit cards on the market, thanks to its relatively low annual fee, generous rewards structure and various travel protections. Boasting a variety of travel and everyday reward categories, stellar reward redemption value, an annual hotel stay credit through Chase as well as an anniversary points bonus, the Sapphire Preferred should offer excellent value to everyday spenders and rewards experts alike.

Although it lacks some of the robust perks found in more premium travel cards, the card should be a good fit for travelers who want to earn rewards on their flights and hotel stays without a hefty annual fee.

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • 5X points on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
    • 5X total points on Lyft rides (2X on general travel and 3X-point bonus. Offer through March 31, 2025)
    • 3X points on dining (including eligible delivery services), select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs)
    • 2X points on other travel
    • 1X points on other purchases
    • Rewards value: 1.25 cents per point when redeemed toward Ultimate Rewards travel and around 2.0 cents on average through the right transfer partner

    Expert Appraisal: Exceptional
    See our expert analysis

  • Rewards

    Welcome offer

    • 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • $95 annual fee
    • $0 foreign transaction fees
    • No intro APR on purchases
    • No intro APR on balance transfers
    • 21.49 percent to 28.49 percent variable APR

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • Earn annual bonus points on each account anniversary equal to 10 percent of your total purchases the previous year.
    • Up to $50 in annual statement credits toward hotel stays through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
    • Comprehensive travel insurance for its annual fee, including trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, baggage delay insurance and more.
    • Complimentary, limited-time credits and/or other partner perks with Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, Peloton and GoPuff.
    • Potential access to My Chase Plan alternative payment plans with a fixed monthly fee.

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

Chase Sapphire Preferred pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    It carries high rewards rates on more travel and everyday categories than some travel-focused cards.

  • Checkmark

    It packs phenomenal redemption value through its impressive airline and hotel transfer partners and 25 percent point value redemption boost toward Chase travel.

  • Checkmark

    The rich perk roster features benefits that only higher-tier travel cards generally carry.

Cons

  • The current sign-up bonus is decent, but it isn’t the first-class value this card has previously provided.

  • It has a $95 annual fee, although it may not be hard for typical cardholders to offset.

  • This card doesn’t offer introductory APRs on purchases or balance transfers, unlike its no-annual-fee rivals.

Why you might want the Chase Sapphire Preferred

If you’re looking for a cost-effective travel card, the Sapphire Preferred is hard to beat. The travel perks, annual credits and bonus points are impressive for a card in its class and may even make up for the annual fee on their own. Perhaps even more appealing is the diverse selection of bonus categories and redemption options, plus the remarkably high redemption values to fuel your next trip.

Rewards: Outstanding travel value

The Sapphire Preferred card’s rewards program is a powerhouse, offering impressive rewards rates on a more comprehensive variety of travel categories than many competing cards. Plus, it rewards plenty of other popular everyday categories that may be difficult to find on typical travel cards, including dining, select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding wholesale clubs and superstores like Target and Walmart). 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.

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Bankrate Insight

You can earn points in a few clever ways if you don’t mind a little legwork. There’s a 15,000-point referral bonus if any friends are approved (up to five referrals per year), which could be an easy way to earn up to 75,000 more points. Plus, the Chase Offers card-linked program could earn an extra helping of rewards while you’re online shopping — which complements the online grocery shopping category quite well.

However, this card’s biggest strength is how valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be through certain redemption options. By redeeming your points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal — including plane tickets, hotels, car rentals and cruise vacations — your points are worth 25 percent more (1.25 cents per point). Chase also features an impressive list of 1:1 airline and hotel transfer partners, and the right one could provide a market value of about 2.0 cents per point on average according to our most recent valuation

Even this card’s non-travel redemptions are notable for their value and versatility. You can also redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 1 cent apiece for cash back, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise (including Apple product purchases), Chase Experience events and Chase Dining purchases. 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 recommend sticking to cash back if you’re not putting points toward travel through Chase or transfer partners.

These incredible redemption rates make Ultimate Rewards points and the Sapphire Preferred card some of the most valuable reward options on the market. This means the Preferred card is an excellent partner to maximize your rewards’ value if you already have other Chase rewards cards.

Perks: High-caliber benefits for its card tier

In addition to its stand-out reward features, the Sapphire Preferred’s benefits include valuable perks you’d normally need to fork up a higher annual fee to get. For example, the stellar travel insurance you’ll receive with the Sapphire Preferred includes trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement and baggage delay insurance — top-tier protections usually found among premium travel cards with annual fees around $400 or more.

Two of the most valuable perks in the Preferred card’s batch of features are its recurring bonuses. You’ll get up to $50 back each year in statement credits for hotel stays purchased with the card through Chase Ultimate Rewards, but you may be able to squeeze even more value out of the anniversary point bonus. An eye-catching 10 percent points bonus on your total combined spending in points from the previous year will be automatically added to your rewards balance 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. These types of bonuses can be pretty significant for big spenders, but even average budgets can earn a decent amount of points from this annual offer. Bureau of Labor Statistics spending data suggests that the average annual yearly spend is $15,900, which would net an extra 1,590 Ultimate Rewards points with the anniversary bonus, worth up to $318 (based on our 2-cent point valuation) in travel each year.

These two yearly benefits alone can more than make up for the annual fee before factoring in your rewards spending. Chase also stacks on additional, limited-time partner perks so that your first few years with the card are especially lucrative.

Although these partner perks won’t last forever, you can also rack up statement credits and bonus points from the Sapphire Preferred’s Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart and Gopuff benefits. In fact, these generous food delivery perks could be worth close to $200 or more, and this card could be one of the best for Lyft if you do a lot of commuting via rideshare services. Check out our list of each partner perk and the offer timeframes so that you can make the most of your Sapphire Preferred card.

Why you might want a different travel card

The Sapphire Preferred is an excellent rewards card for experienced and novice travel cardholders alike. However, the card isn’t currently offering the top-notch sign-up bonus it has a reputation for and it may take convincing if you’re wary of annual fees.

Welcome offer: Good, but not the card’s best bonus

The current welcome offer for the Chase Sapphire Preferred weighs in at 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s equivalent to $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards, or potentially around $1,200 with the right transfer partner (based on Bankrate’s latest point valuation of about 2.0 cents on average).

If you have a trip on the horizon or are eager to start saving up points, the current offer could be a great reason to apply for the card. That said, the card recently offered an 80,000-point bonus with the same spending requirement. While the current offer isn't one of the card's highest-ever sign-up bonuses, it’s still better than or equal to the bonus offered on several competing travel cards.

In fact, this is the same sign-up bonus the issuer’s flagship Chase Sapphire Reserve® card offers, and the Sapphire Preferred is known to occasionally surpass its luxury counterpart’s offer with sometimes the best sign-up bonus on the market. So, if you're in no rush to earn points, it may be worth waiting to see if a higher offer pops up.

Rates and fees: Annual fee may discourage newcomers

The Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee, which may appear intimidating if you’re an occasional traveler looking for your first travel card. However, this price tag is fairly low compared to the perks and rewards the card offers. The annual account anniversary bonus points and credits can potentially offset the annual fee alone, but the fee isn’t too difficult to make up for through your normal rewards spending if needed. You’d only need to spend about $212 across your 3X categories or $317 in the 2X general travel category each month if you redeem toward Chase travel at a value of 1.25 cents per point. However, if you transfer your points to the right high-value Chase travel partner and redeem at a value of 2.0 cents per point, you’d only have to spend $132 in the 3X categories or $198 in the 2X general travel category each month to offset the annual fee.

This level of rewards and perk value can be difficult to find among no-annual-fee travel cards, so the annual fee can be well worth it for the Sapphire Preferred card’s stellar category variety, redemption options, transfer partners, travel insurance and other benefits. No-annual-fee competitors also typically have lower rewards rates than the Preferred card and no yearly credits or notable travel perks. For example, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is the only no-annual-fee rival (See Rates & Fees) that allows you to transfer rewards to travel partners, but it only earns a flat 1.25X-mile rate on general purchases and 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through the Capital One Travel portal.

The other rates and fees are typical for travel cards — there are no foreign transaction fees to worry about while you’re abroad and the ongoing APR is only slightly higher than the average current credit card interest rate.

We tried it: Here’s what our experts say

Former Bankrate credit cards editor Claire Dickey uses the Sapphire Preferred as a staple card in her rewards strategy, thanks to the excellent reward redemption value toward travel.

I applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred when it had its highest welcome bonus to date and used those points to cover a few different flights and rental cars over the course of a year. Even better, I earned 25 percent more value for my points by redeeming for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

My spending strategy is simple. I'm very much on the go in my daily life and don't like to carry too many cards. I stick to using the Sapphire Preferred for travel, at restaurants and for my monthly streaming subscription payments. I don't typically buy groceries online, but I’ve used the Sapphire Preferred to score boosted points on those purchases here and there. If any of my purchases fall outside of the Sapphire Preferred's categories, I swipe my Chase Freedom Unlimited to earn a higher flat rate of cash back on general purchases.

— Claire Dickey— Former Bankrate editor

Best cards to pair with the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Other Chase credit cards are your best option because of how well their categories and benefits pair together. Although the Sapphire Preferred is not part of the traditional Chase trifecta, this card’s fantastic reward opportunities and redemption values make pairing the Chase Sapphire Preferred with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and/or Chase Freedom Flex℠ some of the best credit card combinations available.

Just 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.

Who is the Chase Sapphire Preferred right for?