We’ve long considered the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card the best travel rewards credit card for beginners. But as coronavirus has brought travel (and the world) to a screeching halt, that’s changed. We think it might be the best travel rewards card, period – at least for now.
With all the economic uncertainty right now, now may not be the best time to open a new credit card – and you should never open a credit card unless you can pay it off in full, now and always. Or perhaps you’re leaning more towards strong cashback credit cards.
But if you can make the math work and you’re still trying to earn points and miles for travel later, we don’t think you can do better than the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Here’s why.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
No Huge Annual Fees
That makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred look like a bargain in comparison. It’s annual fee clocks in at just $95 per year. And while that’s no longer waived for the first year, it’s still a more-than-reasonable price for a valuable travel card.
Here’s a look at all the benefits on the card:
- Earn 60,000 Bonus Points after spending spend $4,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.
- Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for 1.25 cents per point, which makes this sign-up bonus worth at least $750 toward travel.
- Transfer Points to Travel Partners if you want to get even more value out of your points. Chase has 13 airline and hotel transfer partners, and they’re the key to booking amazing travel to get even more out of your points. See our top 6 redemptions for Ultimate Rewards Points.
- Earn 3x Points per dollar spent at Instacart on up to $3,000 through September 30. Plus a $50 statement credit for Instacart Express membership ($99 annually).
- Earn 3X Points per dollar spent at gas stations up to $1,500 through September 30.
- Earn 5X Points per dollar spent on select streaming services (including Netflix and Spotify) up to $1,500 through September 30.
- Earn 2x Points on Travel and Restaurants Worldwide when you put those charges on your Preferred card, plus 1 point per dollar on all other spending.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on any purchase in any country.
- Primary Car Rental Insurance when you charge your car rental to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. This means you can decline insurance from the rental company and be covered for up to $75,000 for theft and/or collision damage.
- Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance if your trip is cut short or interrupted by sickness and/or severe weather. Read more on these insurance policies.
- Baggage Delay Insurance if your checked baggage is delayed by more than six hours, you will be reimbursed $100 per day for up to five days for essential purchases (clothing, toiletries, etc.)
- Extended Warranty Protection means you’ll receive an additional year of coverage on eligible purchases with a manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less.
- Purchase Protection on personal property from theft or damage. If something happens to an item within 120 days of purchase, it will be repaired or replaced for a value of up to $500.
Earn Points for How You’re Spending Now
You’re staying closer to home, and your spending has changed significantly. Earning 2x points on travel and restaurants just isn’t as useful as it once was.
Chase recognized this and has added some great temporary earning bonus categories that mirror this shift in spending, from July 1 through Sept. 30.
Your travel is more likely closer to home and in the car, right? Through Sept. 30, use the CSP to earn 3x points per dollar spent at gas stations on up to $1,500.
Most people are spending even more on groceries than ever before. And while a recent bonus on all grocery spending just lapsed, you can get your groceries delivered and earn 3x points per dollar at Instacart , on up to $3,000 through Sept. 30. Plus, you can get a $50 statement credit for an Instacart Express membership, which is $99 annually or $9.99 per month.
While you’re at it, starting putting your streaming services like Netflix, Spotify, Apple Music, and more on your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. You’ll earn 5x points per dollar on streaming services (on up to $1,500 in spending) through Sept. 30.
Use Points for More than Just Travel
As coronavirus ravaged travel, banks scrambled to give credit cardholders more value and new, non-travel benefits. Think reduced annual fees, credits for specific purchases, bonus earning on groceries and restaurants, and more.
Chase’s answer was to give you new, flexible ways to use your Ultimate Rewards points. It’s called Pay Yourself Back, and it allows you to use points to cover purchases at grocery stores, home improvement stores, restaurants, and food delivery platforms. And when you use points from your Chase Sapphire Preferred to Pay Yourself Back, they’re worth 1.25 cents each – the same as when you redeem them for travel.
That means you could use a stash of 20,000 points to cover $250 in groceries. Or pick up $250 worth of supplies for a project at home, then use those 20,000 Chase points to wipe out the cost.
Read our walkthrough on how to use Chase Pay Yourself Back to cover grocery or hardware store purchases.
With all the uncertainty surrounding travel, this flexibility to get extra value out of your points is a big win. And it’s another big reason why we think the Chase Sapphire Preferred card stands out right now.
These new features are set to expire Sept. 30, 2020. But there’s always a possibility Chase extends it or even makes it a permanent option.
Not Loaded with Benefits You Can’t Use
Scan the list of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card’s benefits. Not bad, right?
Compare it to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and there’s no denying which card is packed with more perks that frequent travelers love. That’s why the Reserve has a much higher price tag, after all. The same is true for the Amex Platinum card.
But it’s no time to travel. And even if you were, it’s gotten much harder to put some of these perks to use:
- Lounge Access: Many airport lounges across the U.S. have either scaled back their food and beverage or closed down completely. While the Amex Platinum gets you into more lounges than any other card, many Delta Sky Clubs are closed now – and all Amex Centurions are shuttered indefinitely.
- TSA PreCheck or Global Entry: Airport security lines are practically empty, and the federal government has paused all Global Entry applications until at least May 1.
- Travel Credits: $200 or more in annual travel credits make top-dollar travel cards much easier to justify. But with flights on pause for the foreseeable future, it’s harder to count on putting these credits to good use.
In good times, these perks can easily be worth paying for. But right now, it’s much harder to justify shelling out $550 for benefits that you may not be able to fully use.
Of course, this will change. Whether it’s in a few months or a year or more, it could be much easier to make good use of these benefits.
So keep in mind that you could start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. When the right time comes, you could upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve – getting all the extra perks and the ability to redeem your points for even more value.
Big Points Bonus
What’s better than 60,000 Chase points? Not much.
You can earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after spending $4,000 within three months of opening the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Critically, that’s 10,000 more points than you get for the same spending on the far-more-expensive Chase Sapphire Reserve.
These points never expire, so long as you keep your card open. So whether you’re itching to book a trip for the summer, fall, or winter 2021 or just want to build up your stash of points during this downtime.
This bonus alone is worth at least $750 toward travel when you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal – one of our favorite ways to book flight deals for free. And you can squeeze even more out of them by using some of Chase’s travel partners.
|Program||Type||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Singapore Air||Airline||1:1||12-24 hours|
|World of Hyatt||Hotel||1:1||Instant|
|Marriott Rewards||Hotel||1:1||2 days|
For just 50,000 points, you could book a one-way flight to Europe in Delta One suites – or spend 10,000 more for the long flight to Japan or South Korea next year. It’s one of our favorite ways to use this bonus.
You’d have nearly enough points after one bonus to book round-trip flights to Europe in Iberia business class. Or book a handful of domestic flights with United or Southwest. Or with almost any airline booking through Chase’s portal.
Bottom line: You’ve got a lot of options. And if you’re earning points now for travel later, keeping your options open is key.
Versatility is King
What’s that saying about putting all your eggs in one basket?
Coronavirus is hammering the travel industry, and there’s no telling how many airlines will survive this downturn. Many will, some certainly won’t, and others may be changed forever.
That’s why it’s so important to focus on earning flexible points during this downtime. By focusing on earning miles with just one airline, you’re making a bet that you’ll be able to use them when this is all over. Maybe it’s a safe bet that your favorite airline will survive, but it’s still a bet.
Between the ability to redeem for almost any airline (or hotel) through Chase’s travel portal or transfer points directly to nine airlines and three hotel chains, you’ve just got more options at your disposal. Not only does that give you more freedom to find the best deal – it also limits your risk.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has been a standout option for travelers for years – especially beginners. But with travel on hold, we’re convinced it’s the best card – period – if you’re in the market for a card to earn points. At least for now, premium, expensive travel rewards cards make far less sense.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.