Update: Sapphire Preferred spending requirement is now $2000 in 3 months instead of $3000 in 3 months.
Update: Sapphire Preferred sign-up bonus offer is now reduced to 40,000 points.
Chase has two Sapphire cards:
The regular Sapphire Card, which comes with no annual fee, but does not allow transfer to airline, hotel and train partners like the Preferred card. In general, 1 point = 1 cent and points can be redeemed for airfare, hotel, giftcards and merchandise. This card normally has a 10,000 point sign-up bonus ($100), but Chase just upped it to 25,000, which would immediately be $250 off hotel/airfare. The only way I could justify recommending this card, would be if someone couldn’t get approved for the Sapphire Preferred card – for example a student who wants a no-fee, simple rewards card. 1 cent per dollar spent is certainly better than using a debit card and it would help build better credit so they could take advantage of better offers in the future.
The Sapphire Preferred card, as I wrote about Monday, is a much better deal – at least for the first year. They are offering 50,000 points when you spend $3,000 within the first three months. Those 50,000 points can be redeemed for travel/merchandise just like the regular Sapphire card, but they offer a 25% bonus. So it would equal $625 when redeemed that way. The best bang for your point will come from transfer to either British Airways, Continental, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club and Amtrak. The Sapphire Preferred also waives foreign transaction fees, so its a solid card for an international traveler who likes flexibility when it comes to point redemptions.
I’m a self professed American Express junkie (and Platinum cardholder), but the Sapphire Preferred card has me sold since Amex Membership Rewards biggest weakness, in my opinion, is the lack of value when transferred to hotels. For example, Starwood transfers are 3:1, so 1,000 Amex points = a measly 333 Starpoints. I am waiting 30 days from my British Airways application date and then will apply for the Sapphire Preferred. 50,000 points for no annual fee for the first year is just too good to pass up!
What are your thoughts? Is Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program actually becoming a formidable competitor to American Express Membership Rewards?