The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has historically been one of the most well-rounded travel rewards cards. Chase has done a great job adapting this card to the new normal, by introducing perks that reflect the times.
At the moment the card is even offering its best-ever sign-up bonus, which I’d argue is even the best bonus we’ve ever seen on any credit card. In this post I wanted to take an updated, in-depth look at the card. Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred worth it?
Chase Sapphire Preferred Basics For June 2021
I consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to be one of the most useful cards out there, and also one of the best cards for beginners, given that it has a low annual fee, good return on spending, excellent perks, and a massive welcome bonus (significantly better than the one on the Sapphire Reserve).
100,000 Points ($1,250 Worth Of Travel)
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a best-ever bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months
At an absolute minimum, Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards a travel purchase, meaning that 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points will get you $1,250 worth of travel. Chase also currently offers a “Pay Yourself Back” feature, whereby you can redeem points towards everyday expenses, so you could get the same value with that redemption option.
To me, the bonus offers an absolute minimum value of $1,250, though as I’ll explain below, there are ways to get way more value out of the points than that. Based on my valuation of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, this bonus is worth an incredible $1,700.
Chase’s 5/24 Rule
Chase has something that’s known as the 5/24 rule. With this, you typically won’t be approved for a Chase card if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months. If you do apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, make sure you’re under that limit.
Card Bonus Eligibility
If you’re applying for the Sapphire Preferred, you can only be approved if you don’t currently have any Sapphire card, and haven’t received a new cardmember bonus on a Sapphire card in the past 48 months (this includes the Sapphire Reserve).
It’s worth being aware that Chase will often let you product change cards from one card to another, assuming you’ve had it for at least 12 months. For example, one strategy could be to apply for the Sapphire Preferred, use it for 12 months, and then later you can upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve, if you’d like.
You’ll have to call Chase to find out the options available on your account. This could be a great option, especially when you consider that the Sapphire Preferred bonus is much bigger than the Sapphire Reserve bonus.
$95 Annual Fee
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a reasonable $95 annual fee. You can add authorized users to the card at no extra cost, and any spending they put on their card will contribute towards the points you earn.
Earning Points With The Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has long offered bonus points in two categories that people may find useful, though in addition to that there are some temporary bonus categories to reflect the times. When picking a credit card, I always recommend getting one that has bonus categories that match up with your spending profile.
Some cards offer bonus categories on travel, dining, gas stations, supermarkets, etc., so pick the one that works best for you.
2x Points On Dining
The Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on dining purchases globally. I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me that’s the equivalent of a 3.4% return on dining spending. That makes the Sapphire Preferred one of the better cards for spending in the dining category.
The dining category includes sit-down and eat-in dining, ranging from fine dining, to fast food, to cafes. On top of that, takeout and delivery also qualifies.
2x Points On Travel
The Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on travel purchases globally. To me that’s the equivalent of a 3.4% return on travel spending. The travel category includes the following:
airlines, airports, car rental agencies (including truck, trailer, and RV), cruise ships, hotels and motels, timeshares, local and commuter transportation (including trains, buses, taxis/limos, ferries, bridges, tolls and parking), travel agencies
5x Points On Lyft Rides
Chase and Lyft introduced a partnership in 2020. As part of that, the Sapphire Preferred earns 5x points on Lyft rides. As of now, this benefit is valid through March 2022, though I imagine it has the potential to be extended beyond that.
To me that’s the equivalent of an 8.5% return on Lyft spending.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
The Sapphire Preferred has no foreign transaction fees, so this is an excellent card to use for purchases globally since you can earn valuable rewards while not being stuck with those fees, which can be as high as 3%.
Redeeming Chase Sapphire Preferred Points
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Ultimate Rewards Points, which I find to be one of the most valuable flexible points currencies.
Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to the following programs:
Aer Lingus AerClub
Air France-KLM Flying Blue
British Airways Executive Club
World of Hyatt
Southwest Rapid Rewards
Virgin Atlantic FlyingClub
Points are also worth 25% more when redeeming for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. You can apply points towards flights, hotels, car rentals, and more, at the rate of 1.25 cents per point.
That means that a $1,000 flight will cost you 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points, though you may get better value than that if transferring points to an Ultimate Rewards partner, especially if you’re looking for a first and business class flight, or a luxury hotel.
For example, you could transfer 30,000 points to World of Hyatt for a free night redemption at the Park Hyatt Maldives.
You can find more about all the ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards points and why I value them so highly in my guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Chase Pay Yourself Back Feature
Ordinarily, the most efficient way to redeem Ultimate Rewards points is for travel experiences. However, given that travel isn’t in the cards for many, there’s an efficient way you can redeem your points for non-travel purchases, known as “Pay Yourself Back.”
Through September 30, 2021 (and this could very well be extended beyond that), Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards a statement credit to offset purchases in the following categories:
- Dining establishments
- Grocery stores
- Home improvement stores
In other words, you can redeem points at the same rate towards everyday essentials as you can towards travel.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Benefits
The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers quite a few benefits that make this card even more valuable, from car rental coverage, to benefits that can earn you more points, to other travel and purchase protection. Let’s take a look at how those benefits work:
Visa Signature Benefits
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is issued as a Visa Signature, which gives you access to many additional perks, including the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection.
Travel & Purchase Coverage
The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers quite a bit of valuable travel and purchase protection, including the following:
Visa Signature Benefits
Baggage Delay Benefit
• You can be reimbursed up to $500 when some or all of the cost of a common carrier ticket is charged to your card (therefore award tickets should be eligible if the taxes are charged to the card)
• You can be reimbursed a maximum of $100 per day for emergency purchases of essential items at a destination other than your current residence
Lost Luggage Reimbursement
• Receive reimbursement for lost or damaged checked or carry-on bags and personal property
• Maximum reimbursement is $3,000
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
• Receive the non-refundable amount of the passenger fare or $5,000 (whichever is less) in the event of a trip cancellation or interruption
• The cancellation or interruption must be caused by death, accidental injury, disease, or physical illness of the passenger or immediate family member
Trip Delay Reimbursement
• Receive up to $300 if your trip is delayed for more than 12 hours
• The trip has to be delayed by an equipment failure, inclement weather, labor strikes, or hijacking
Warranty Manager Service
• Extends the free repair period under the original manufacturers repair warranty up to one additional year
• Motorized vehicles (boats, cars, aircraft, etc.) aren’t included
Primary Car Rental Coverage
The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers primary collision damage waiver coverage against damage up to the cost of most rental car vehicles, provided you decline the CDW coverage offered by the rental agency.
This includes economy through luxury class vehicles, vans that carry fewer than seven passengers, and SUVs. You’ll want to check your cardmember agreement for full details.
Shop Through Chase
Having the Sapphire Preferred gives you access to “Shop Through Chase,” which is the card’s online shopping portal and can really accelerate the points you earn. By “clicking-through” the portal you can earn extra points per dollar with purchases at dozens of online retailers.
I earn several thousand extra points each year on purchases I would have made anyway just by clicking through the Shop Through Chase portal first.
Complimentary DoorDash DashPass Membership
The Sapphire Preferred offers a DoorDash DashPass membership, valid for at least 12 months.
With DoorDash DashPass, you pay a $0 delivery fee when ordering from thousands of restaurants nationwide. Just place an order totaling at least $12 from an eligible restaurant, and you’ll get a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fee.
$60 Peloton Credit
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is offering up to a $60 Peloton credit through December 31, 2021. This is valid towards Digital and All-Access Peloton memberships, and you can activate the benefit at this link.
One of the great features of Chase cards is access to Chase Offers, which provides savings on purchases with all kinds of retailers. The program wasn’t launched that long ago but has already saved me a significant amount of money.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred features contactless pay technology. This means you can pay using your card without even swiping it whenever you see the contactless pay symbol.
Great Customer Service
While I try to do as much as possible online, I find that in situations where I have to call Chase, the customer service is excellent. Chase doesn’t have some of the annoying phone prompts that other issues have, and I’m almost always connected to an agent right away.
I’m not sure this is necessarily a selling point anymore nowadays, but the Sapphire Preferred was one of the first mainstream credit cards to be metal. That’s something that a lot of people like.
Is The Sapphire Preferred Worth It?
Going back several years, the Chase Sapphire Preferred was almost unarguably worth it. But is the card still as valuable as it used to be? Let’s take a look at some of the factors to consider, ranging from a comparison to the Sapphire Reserve, to other cards to consider in place of this, to cards to consider as complements.
Comparison: Sapphire Preferred Vs. Sapphire Reserve
- Welcome bonus: Sapphire Preferred offers 100,000 points, Sapphire Reserve offers 60,000 points
- Annual fee: Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee, Sapphire Reserve has a $550 annual fee
- Points earning: The Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on dining and travel, while the Sapphire Reserve offers 3x points on dining and travel
- Other perks: The cards have some overlap in terms of benefits, though the Sapphire Reserve has the edge of offering a $300 annual travel credit (which currently has added flexibility), a Priority Pass membership, a TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry fee credit every four years, the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each, Visa Infinite perks, a $60 annual DoorDash statement credit in 2021, and a Lyft Pink membership for 12 months
Long-term I think the Sapphire Reserve could be worth it if you’ve historically valued lounge access. However, given the significantly better bonus on the Sapphire Preferred, personally I’d definitely apply for that card. Then in a year, you could always product change your card to the Sapphire Reserve, giving you the best of both worlds.
Complements: Freedom Flex & Freedom Unlimited
If you have the Sapphire Preferred, then it’s totally also worth picking up the Chase Freedom FlexSM (review) and Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review). These cards have no annual fees and can hugely supercharge your points earning, and you can combine them with Ultimate Rewards points:
- Both cards offer 5x points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining, and 3x points on drugstores, so you can earn more Ultimate Rewards points using those cards for many categories
- The Freedom Flex offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 of spending per quarter
- The Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5x points on all purchases
Both cards offer you better rewards on dining and drugstores than the Sapphire Preferred directly does, and then the Freedom Unlimited offers more points on everyday spending, while the Freedom Flex offers more points in rotating categories.
Alternatives To The Sapphire Preferred
Nowadays the Chase Sapphire Preferred has some cards in its competitor set, so let’s take a look at how they compare, and how to decide which card is best for you:
Citi Premier Card
I’d argue that the Citi Premier® Card (review) is the most direct competitor to the Sapphire Preferred. The big benefit of the Citi Premier is that the card offers 3x points on dining, gas, groceries, air travel, and hotel. I’d argue that makes this the best mid-range card in terms of the bonus categories.
Amex Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card (review) offers 4x Membership Rewards points for dining at restaurants globally, 4x points for purchases at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 of spending per year), and 3x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines. Those are some spectacular bonus categories.
The Amex Gold has a $250 annual fee (Rates & Fees), though offers a $120 annual dining credit, Uber Cash and Uber Eats benefits, which should help offset the annual fee.
Amex Green Card
The card has a $150 annual fee (Rates & Fees), and offers a $100 annual CLEAR credit and $100 annual LoungeBuddy credit. The major downside of this card compared to the Sapphire Preferred is that it doesn’t offer travel or car rental coverage, which is an important perk for many.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Summary
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has been around for about a decade, and continues to be one of the most well-rounded credit cards for beginners and those looking for travel rewards. If you don’t yet have this card, this is absolutely the time to apply, given the massive bonus of 100K points, which is the best we’ve ever seen on this card.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers generous rewards on dining and travel, great customer service, and some other useful perks. We’re even seeing some temporary benefits added to the card, ranging from bonus points on grocery store purchases, to discounted deliveries with DoorDash.
Given Chase’s rules for approving new cardmembers, this is a card you’ll want to apply for early on, if possible. Even if you’re someone who otherwise avoids cards with annual fees, it can make sense to have at least one premium card for things like no foreign transaction fees, car rental coverage, etc.
For some, the Chase Sapphire Reserve might be a better option long-term. This is especially true if you’d benefit from the 3x points on dining and travel, the Priority Pass membership, the Lyft Pink membership, and the $60 DoorDash statement credit. Even if that’s the case, it could make sense to get the Sapphire Preferred and later upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve.
Regardless, one of these two cards should be in your wallet, and with a bonus of 100,000 points, you’ll get at least $1,250 worth of rewards.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees), and American Express® Green Card (Rates & Fees).