For nearly a decade, we've considered the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card the best travel rewards credit card for beginners. Some things don't change.
After an update last summer with new benefits and a welcome bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months with the card, this card remains a no-brainer for anyone looking to get started with points and miles. Those points will be worth a minimum of $750 towards travel.
It's relatively cheap with an annual fee of $95. Plus other benefits like travel and rental car insurance should make it a mainstay in any traveler's wallet. Most of all, it's the perfect core card to start building a points-earning strategy around to earn more points and travel even more for less.
Whether you're ready to travel right now or looking to earn points 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.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Overview
- No Huge Annual Fees
- Big Bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Easy-to-Use Points
- Versatility is King
- Use Chase Points for More than Just Travel
- Solid Travel Benefits for Less
- Why it Makes Sense to Start with Chase
- Pair Chase Sapphire Preferred with the Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Overview
- Welcome Bonus: 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.
- 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 the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal
- Earn 5x total points on travel purchased through the Chase Travel Portal, excluding hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Anniversary Hotel Credit.
- Earn 5x points per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March 2025.
- Recommended Credit Score: Excellent/Good
- Foreign Transaction Fees: None
- Annual Fee: $95
No Huge Annual Fees
The top travel cards on the market don't come cheap. The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Preferred's bigger sibling, now costs $550 per year. And the Platinum Card® from American Express now charges $695 each year (see rates & fees). While it's much cheaper than that, even the new Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card clocks in with a $395 annual fee upfront.
That makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred look like a bargain in comparison. Its annual fee comes in at just $95 per year. With the ability to earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months, you can easily come out way ahead on that annual fee.
Big Bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
What's better than 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points? Not much. Although the record-setting 100,000-point offer from last year is no longer available, getting 60,000 Chase points is still nothing to scoff at.
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 Chase transfer partners – more than a dozen airline and hotel brands to which you can directly transfer your points.
Need some ideas? Read our list of the best ways to use a big Chase points bonus!
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 to book roundtrip flights to Europe on Iberia – and nearly enough points bonus to do it in Iberia business class. Or book a handful of domestic flights with United or Southwest.
Chase points are also a great option for hotel and Airbnb stays.
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.
There are plenty of great ways to use a big bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. But sometimes, simplicity is best.
That's why the Chase travel portal is one of our favorite ways to put points to use. While you might get more value by using Chase transfer partners, this is the easiest way to take a cheap flight and make it free. Plus, you can book flights on almost any airline.
It works like this: Find a good deal using Google Flights or in your inbox thanks to a Thrifty Traveler Premium membership. The cheaper the flight, the fewer Chase points you'll need to book it. And with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you get a bonus: Every point is worth 1.25 cents toward travel.
That means you can book this $96.80 flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Las Vegas (LAS) using less than 7,800 Chase points, for example.
There's really no easier way to put these points to use. Unlike booking with airline miles, you won't be on the hook for additional taxes and fees – this is one of the only ways to book travel completely free. And you'll even earn miles and elite status on your flight, to boot.
Versatility is King
What's that saying about putting all your eggs in one basket?
COVID-19 has hammered the travel industry. And throughout the pandemic, travelers hoarded their miles – and airlines and credit card companies have flooded the market with even more points and miles through massive bonus offers.
That wasn't sustainable. Throughout 2021 and 2022, we have seen airlines like Delta, Emirates, and Virgin Atlantic start charging more for award redemptions. Hyatt even started peak and off-peak award pricing for stays starting in March 2022.
There's an easy way to limit your risk: Rather than earning miles with just one airline, focus on earning flexible points. And that's an area where Chase shines.
You've got the ability to book with almost any airline through the Chase travel portal. From there, there are more than 10 airlines and three hotel chains to which you can transfer your points.
|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|
Read our guide on how to use Chase transfer partners!
You've simply 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. And as you'll see, you can now use those points for everyday expenses.
Use Chase Points for More than Just Travel
As COVID-19 first 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 a rotating set of spending categories. 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.
But through at least Sept. 30, 2022, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® Cardholders can now redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points at Airbnb. Sapphire Reserve cardholders continue to have access to dining transactions as a Pay Yourself Back benefit as well.
Solid Travel Benefits for Less
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.
But even at a much cheaper annual fee the Chase Sapphire Preferred has a solid list of benefits that should not be overlooked.
Any trip you book with your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card unlocks an excellent travel insurance policy, covering things like baggage delays or trip delay and cancellation. The rental car insurance you get when paying for a set of wheels with your Preferred Card is second to none. And then, Chase overhauled the benefits on the Sapphire Preferred last year, adding a $50 annual hotel credit and a new 10% bonus on points you earn throughout the year – and they did it without raising the $95 annual fee, a rarity in the world of travel credit cards.
Keep in mind that you could always 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.
Why it Makes Sense to Start with Chase
Beyond the bonus and the perks, there's a compelling reason for any traveler getting their first travel credit card to start with Chase.
The growing restrictions on getting approved for Chase credit cards mean you could miss the boat on Chase entirely if you don’t start with Chase credit cards. Chase is one of the stingiest banks when it comes to approving applications for credit cards.
If you’ve read a word about Chase credit cards, you may have come across its notorious 5/24 rule. What it means is that once you’ve opened five or more credit cards (from any bank, not just Chase) in the previous 24-month period, you will not be approved for a Chase card. Almost every Chase credit card falls under this rule, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
So what does that mean for a beginner who can’t fathom opening five cards in two years? Even if that thought makes your head spin, you should still plan ahead and prioritize Chase. Before you know it, it could be too late to get approved for a Chase card.
Think about the cards you want – and may want – before moving onto other banks like American Express or Citi, which aren’t nearly as restrictive when it comes to approving applications. You should be able to open those cards at almost anytime, but your window to open Chase credit cards can close fast. And there's no better place to start than the Sapphire Preferred.
Pair Chase Sapphire Preferred with the Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited Card
If you hold a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, there's an easy way to level up your points-earning on even more of your spending.
While these cards typically earn cashback, you can turn that cash into Ultimate Rewards points so long as you also hold a Chase Sapphire card. When you do, 1 cent gets you 1 point. 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.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been a standout option for travelers for years – especially beginners.
Add in the current 60,000 point bonus for spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership, and it's as close to a slam dunk as you'll find if you're looking for a great travel credit card at a low price.
Click here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.