Whether you're ready to travel now or just planning and daydreaming as you wait, it's never a bad time to craft a strong points-and miles strategy – or build up a stash of points for your future travels. And one credit card fits the bill better than the rest.
It's the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This card has been a fan-favorite for years and the absolute best card for anyone looking to get started earning points and miles. If you don't already have this card on your wallet, you're in luck: If you ask us, there's never been a better time to pick it up.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
It's a Cheap Travel Card with Solid Perks
Here is what it all comes down to: While you can find bigger bonuses and more premium perks on other cards, you typically have to pay $400, $500, or more in annual fees to unlock anything close to the value of this 60,000-point sum on the Chase Sapphire Preferred after spending just $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.
You'll pay just $95 each year you hold the card – the fee isn't waived for the first year. But considering how much value you can get out of those 60,000 points, that's a small price to pay.
And it's not just about the big bonus. This card carries other benefits that make it worth holding for the long-term, including:
- 3x points per dollar spent on dining, including eligible delivery services
- 3x points per dollar spent on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs)
- 3x points per dollar spent on select streaming services
- 2x points per dollar spent on travel purchases
- Earn up to $50 in statement credits each account anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Earn 5x total points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, excluding hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Anniversary Hotel Credit.
- $95 Annual Fee
The coverage for rental cars, trip cancellation, and baggage delay alone make this card worth keeping for the long-haul. That's why it's become many travelers' go-to credit card when it's time to book a trip.
An Easy Way to Book Travel
Among the many reasons why Chase points are a must-have for any aspiring traveler, the ease with which you can book free travel is near the top of the list.
And it starts with the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. All you need to do is log into your Chase account, navigate to use your Ultimate Rewards points, and start searching for your next flight, hotel, rental car, cruise, or more.
Read our guide to using the Chase travel portal!
Every Chase point from the Preferred Card is worth 1.25 cents, which means the 60,000-point bonus is worth $750 toward travel. Trying to book a $500 flight? That'll be 40,000 Chase points.
Thrifty Tip: Want to take your Chase points even further? Use them to book the cheap domestic and international flights we find through Thrifty Traveler Premium, with savings of $500 or even more on some fares!
It doesn't get much easier than this. There's no need to worry about airline mileage programs, award availability, blackout dates, or all the other factors that can make using miles more complicated. If you can buy a flight, you can book it with your Chase points.
And unlike when you use airline miles, you can actually earn miles on these flights. Another great advantage? Your flight will be completely free – no additional taxes and fees.
The Flexibility to Go Further
Want to go further and get even more value out of your points? Chase has an option for that with the Preferred Card, too.
Chase allows you to transfer your points directly to 10 different airlines and three hotel chains. An eleventh airline will soon join the fold when Chase adds Aeroplan as a transfer partner later this year. And you get the exact same value transferring your points as if you had the far-more expensive Chase Sapphire Reserve: Every point gets you 1 airline mile (or 1 hotel point).
If you want to get some outsized value from your points – especially by flying international first or business class – this is the route for you.
|Program||Type||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1||Instant|
|Singapore Air||Airline||1:1||12-24 hours|
|World of Hyatt||Hotel||1:1||Instant|
|Marriott Rewards||Hotel||1:1||2 days|
Look at it this way: A one-way business class seat on Iberia from the U.S. to Madrid (MAD) will typically cost at least $1,900 – and sometimes double that. Booking directly through the Chase portal at that price, you'd need at least 152,000 Chase points. Iberia business class is pretty nice, but that's a lot of points.
But by transferring those points to an Iberia Plus account instead, you can book that same flight for as low as 34,000 miles and under $80 in taxes. By every measure, it's a much better deal.
This flexibility to book directly through Chase or transfer points to airlines and hotel partners is what makes Chase points so valuable. It opens up an unparalleled world of different ways to maximize your points based on your own travel goals.
And that means you can dip your toe into the world of transfer partners and start learning how to take your points even further … or just book flights through the Chase travel portal. Either way, you're coming out ahead.
You Can Use Points on Non-Travel Expenses, Too
Still not ready to book travel? Chase has you covered on that front too.
As travel hit a snag last year, Chase rolled out a brand new way to use your points called Pay Yourself Back. It works like this: Put your grocery store, dining, or home improvement purchases on your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and then use your Chase points to wipe the costs from your credit card statement.
Just as when you're booking travel through Chase, every point is worth 1.25 cents when you pay yourself back. That means you can cover a $50 grocery bill for 4,000 Chase points from your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
This is a great way to continue getting value from your Chase points if you're not traveling. And Chase has recently extended this promotion, which means you can keep using Pay Yourself Back through at least April 30, 2021. After that, Chase has suggested it will rotate categories – perhaps permanently.
Can You Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card?
Sold on the Preferred Card? There are a few things to keep in mind to apply.
First and foremost, credit cards are no small matter – especially in this current economic climate. You should never open any credit card if you can't make payments in full each and every month. Any cent of debt you dig into makes the points you can earn less valuable.
Second, you'll need a pretty good credit score to get approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It varies person-by-person, but a 700 or above is a good starting point. That said, we've seen approvals for this card from 670 – and denials for credit scores above 730. Read more about how your credit score really works.
Finally, there are three critical Chase restrictions to keep in mind:
- The Chase 5/24 Rule: If you've applied for five or more credit cards (from any bank, not just Chase) in the last 24 months, you won't get approved for this card.
- You can only hold one Chase Sapphire card at a time, so if you've got a Chase Sapphire Reserve you'll need to get rid of it – or downgrade it.
- You can’t stack welcome offers by opening both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve. Chase requires you to wait a whopping 48 months after receiving one Sapphire card bonus to be eligible for the other.
Before the pandemic upended travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card had been one of the best travel credit cards – especially for anyone just getting started with earning points and miles.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.