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.
But if you can make the math work and you’re still trying to earn points and Chase Sapphire Preferred miles for travel later, we don’t think you can do better than the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Overview
- Annual Fee: $95
- Welcome Bonus: 60,000 Points after spending $4,000 in the first 4 months of card membership.
- Earn 2x Points: On all dining and travel spend
- Recommended Credit Score: Excellent/Good
- Foreign Transaction Fees: None
No Huge Annual Fees
That makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred look like a bargain in comparison. Its annual fee clocks in at just $95 per year. And with the ability to earn 60k Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, you can easily come out way ahead on that annual fee investment.
Use Chase Sapphire Preferred 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 Chase 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, food delivery platforms, and even Target stores. 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. Or you can even use a little trick to book Airbnb stays with the Pay Yourself Back feature.
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.
The Pay Yourself Back benefit is currently scheduled to end in April 2021. But Chase has indicated this new feature is sticking around long-term – with new categories to use Pay Yourself Back on the way. So it is likely we will see new categories come May 2021.
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 Platinum Card from American Express.
And even if you have started traveling again, it’s gotten much harder to put some of these perks to use. Many airport lounges across the U.S. have either scaled back their food and beverage or closed down completely.
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 on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
What’s better than 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points? Not much.
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.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer 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. It’s one of our favorite ways to use this bonus.
Read our guide on how to book Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic miles which can be transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards.
You’d have more than 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.
Pair Chase Sapphire Preferred with the Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited Card
While the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card only earns bonus points for dining and travel, there is an easy way to unlock many more categories that you will earn a bonus in. It’s made possible by two popular no-annual-fee cash back credit cards from Chase. The Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Chase Freedom Flex.
While these cards typically earn cashback, you can transfer that cashback into Ultimate Rewards points at a rate of 1 cent equals 1 point as long as you also carry a card that earns them like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
And that’s significant because both cards earn bonus cashback in a number of categories that are not covered by the Chase Sapphire cards.
You can learn more about the Chase Freedom Flex vs Freedom Unlimited here to decide which one is right for you. And make sure to check out our post on how you can earn a quick 80,000 point bonus with just two credit cards.
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 is all yet to be determined.
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 10 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 – but it also limits your risk.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been a standout option for travelers for years – especially beginners. But with much 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.
Add in the current 60,000 point bonus for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of card membership, and it’s a slam dunk.
Click here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.