Last week, Chase rolled out a brand new 80,000 point offer on its most popular travel rewards credit card: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. That's not a coincidence.
It's up from the standard, 60,000-point bonus on the card – and up there with the biggest welcome bonuses we've ever seen on the Sapphire Preferred Card. It may not beat the best-ever 100,000-point offer that Chase temporarily rolled out late last year, but that seems unlikely to ever come back. And a bonus of 80,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months is nothing to scoff at: It's one of the best travel credit card bonuses on the market right now.
Why now? It's all about trying to level the playing field with Chase's competitors. And no competitor has won over more of Chase's would-be customers lately than Capital One.
Here's a look at what's at play with this newest big bonus.
History of the Chase Sapphire Preferred
Let's take a walk down memory lane to look at where the Chase Sapphire Preferred has come from.
If you’re just getting started with travel rewards credit cards, there’s no better place to start than the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. That's why it's been a mainstay in travelers’ wallets and is easily among the best cards for getting started with travel rewards. When the card first launched back in 2009, the card offered a welcome bonus of 50,000 points after spending $4,000. That bonus stood for nearly 10 years without much variation. That’s certainly not bad … but it’s recently gotten much better.
A few years back, Chase increased that bonus to 60,000 points for the same spending requirement. That's been the standard offer. But as banks tried to dig their way out of the pandemic last year, they opened the floodgates of bigger bonuses to compete for a share of consumers’ wallets. And Chase was no exception.
Here’s a brief rundown of the bonuses we’ve seen on the Preferred Card over the last two years:
- In the fall of 2020, Chase launched an 80,000-point bonus on the card for several months – at the time, its biggest welcome offer ever.
- They did it again in the spring of 2021, bringing back an 80,000-point offer on the Preferred Card.
- Then Chase did the unthinkable: They leveled up to a record-setting 100,000-point bonus in June 2021.
- By October 2021, that unprecedented 100,000-point offer ended, bringing the Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus back down to 60,000 points.
- After several competing banks flooded the market with eye-popping offers, Chase has brought back an 80,000-point bonus on the Preferred Card.
We may not have a crystal ball, but it’s unlikely that a 100,000-point bonus ever comes back. It’s simply far too lucrative – especially as more and more travelers are getting back out into the world again. So if you are waiting for an offer bigger than 80,000 points, don’t hold your breath.
Plus, when you look at what other offers are available, Chase has little need to go that big again – at least right now. This new 80,000-point offer makes them extremely competitive with their biggest competitor – Capital One.
Competition Heats Up With Chase & Capital One
Last November, Capital One made a huge splash in the world of travel rewards credit cards by launching the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Since its launch, it's been a smash hit and garnered a ton of attention. And rightfully so.
While the card has a $395 annual fee, it offers a ton of benefits like travel credits, lounge access, and more that can easily make that worth it. But the biggest of the bunch is a $300 annual travel credit for flights, hotels, and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. If you plan to spend at least $300 on travel each year, that makes the annual fee more like $95 each year and on par with Chase's Sapphire Preferred Card.
But here's the kicker. When the card launched, it did so with a massive 100,000-mile offer after spending $10,000 in the first six months of card membership. On top of that, you also got a $200 one-time credit to use for bookings on platforms like Airbnb or VRBO in the first 12 months of card membership. Considering you earn 2x miles for every dollar spent, you ended up with at least 120,000 miles after meeting the $10,000 spending requirement. And considering Venture Miles are worth a minimum of one cent each, that was at least $1,200 in travel – and much more if used with Capital One transfer partners.
It was a massive offer. At the time, nothing came close to offering as much value at a cheaper annual fee price point. The effect was obvious: Interest in Chase's top travel cards – the Sapphire Preferred and even the more premium Chase Sapphire Reserve® – largely dried up.
We knew the introductory Venture X offer was too good to last, and by early March 2022, Capital One pulled that offer. Here's where it gets interesting.
When Capital One updated the Venture X offer, they did so very intentionally. New Venture X card applicants can now earn 75,000 miles on the Venture X card after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. Again, those miles are worth a minimum of one cent each so 75,000 Venture Miles are worth a minimum of $750.
That's the same dollar figure you'd get from the standard 60,000-point offer on the Sapphire Preferred, as Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred are worth 1.25 cents each when used through the Chase Travel Portal. The same is true for the Sapphire Reserve. While you'll only earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership, those points are worth more.
Matching the value of the welcome offer bonus on both Chase travel cards was a very intentional move from Capital One. And it all set the stage for where we are now.
Chase Makes a Move
When Chase made the move last week to increase the welcome offer bonus on the Sapphire Preferred Card to 80,000 points for the same $4,000 spending requirement, we weren't surprised. It was pretty clear that the bank had to do something to shift the momentum in their favor.
Don't get us wrong: The Sapphire Preferred is still one of the best travel cards out there. And with an annual fee of only $95, it is simply hard to beat. By increasing the welcome offer bonus from 60,000 to 80,000 points for the same $4,000 spending requirement, that bonus is now worth a minimum of $1,000 for future travel.
It makes it a compelling alternative to the Venture X – and it is certainly getting people's attention.
How long will this new Sapphire Preferred 80,000 point bonus last? Will Capital One respond with a better offer on Venture X? Or even on the lower tier Capital One Venture Card?
We simply don't know the answers to these questions yet.
But we do know one thing: When banks compete for a share of your wallet, it's a win for consumers. It forces banks to come out with better offers and improve their cards to get consumers' attention.
To be clear, credit cards are serious business. If you can't immediately pay off any charges you make, you shouldn't try.
But if you don't yet have a Sapphire Preferred Card, or even if you do, now is a great time to pick it up and earn some incredibly valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you can do it responsibly.
Competition between Chase and Capital One is heating up. It's what ultimately lead Chase into increasing the offer from 60,000 points to 80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.