For years, we’ve considered the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card the best travel rewards credit card for beginners. But the pandemic has changed that. Now, we think it’s the best travel credit card, period.
That starts with the best-ever welcome bonus of 100,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months with the card. 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.
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.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Overview
- No Huge Annual Fees
- Big Points Bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Easy-to-Use Points
- Versatility is King
- Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
- Use Chase Sapphire Preferred Points for More than Just Travel
- Not Loaded with Top-Dollar Travel Benefits
- Pair Chase Sapphire Preferred with the Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Overview
- Welcome Bonus: 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.
- Earn 2x points on all dining and travel spend
- Earn 5x points per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March 2022.
- $60 Peloton credit: Through December 2021, get up to $60 toward Peloton Digital or All-Access memberships.
- 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. So does the Platinum Card® from American Express (see rates & fees).
That makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred look like a bargain in comparison. Its annual fee clocks in at just $95 per year – and less than half that when you factor in the easy-to-use $50 grocery credit.
With the ability to earn 100,000 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 Points Bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
What’s better than 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points? Not much.
Critically, that’s 40,000 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 $1,000 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.
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.
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, here on our site, or with your 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. Some airlines have already collapsed, and others may follow. Those who survive may change forever. And throughout the pandemic, travelers have hoarded their miles – and airlines and credit card companies have flooded the market with even more points and miles through massive bonus offers.
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. There are 10 airlines (and counting) and three hotel chains to which you can transfer your points.
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|
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 Sapphire Preferred Points for More than Just Travel
As COVID-19 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 September 2021. But Chase has indicated this new feature is sticking around long-term – with different categories to use Pay Yourself Back on the way.
Not Loaded with Top-Dollar Travel Benefits
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.
There’s no question travel is coming back. So maybe airport lounge access and a Global Entry credit is worth paying a much larger annual fee. But if you’re not ready to return to normal travel, it’s tough to justify shelling out $550 for all those benefits.
Keep in mind that you could always start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, getting more points at a lower price point. 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.
Pair Chase Sapphire Preferred with the Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited Card
While the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card typically only earns bonus points for dining and travel, there’s an easy way to level up your points-earning in even more categories. 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 turn that cash into Ultimate Rewards points so long as you also hold a Chase Sapphire card. When you do, 1 cent of cash 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 120,000 point bonus with just two credit cards.
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, many expensive travel rewards cards still make far less sense.
Add in the current 100,000 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 travel credit card.
Click here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.