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It was over 8 months ago that Chase announced a number of updates to the Ultimate Rewards program, as well as some changes specific to the Sapphire Preferred card (including improvements to the rental car insurance policy and the removal of the annual 7% points dividend). However, I continue to get emails expressing confusion about how those changes impacted the bonus earning structure for travel related purchases, so today I want to clarify exactly how many points you should expect to earn.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has long been one of my favorites, and is consistently on my monthly list of Top Travel Rewards Cards thanks to benefits like the 2x Ultimate Rewards points it offers on travel and dining expenses. Chase has a pretty broad definition of “travel” that includes airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages. See Jason Steele’s recent post on How Card Issuers Classify Travel and Dining Purchases for more info.
In addition, Chase offers a bonus point for travel purchases made through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal. That bonus is offered regardless of which card you used, but when using Sapphire Preferred, you can earn a total of 3x Ultimate Rewards points: 2x points for making qualified purchases with your Sapphire Preferred card, and another point for using the portal.
Last year Chase announced that the portal bonus will be eliminated (beginning in 2016), and this is where the confusion seems to come from. While you will no longer earn an extra point for booking through Ultimate Rewards Travel, the Sapphire Preferred card will still earn 2x points on travel. That bonus has not changed, and as far as I know, will not change anytime soon. Ultimate Rewards are among the most valuable points, so this is still a great option for most travel related expenses.
Since Chase recently dropped all travel sites from the Ultimate Rewards Portal, there’s little incentive to book travel there once the bonus disappears. I tend to book airfare using my American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card, which earns 3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent directly with airlines. You can also earn an extra point by booking through Amex Travel, for a total of 4x points per dollar. So long as the prices offered are on par with what you can find elsewhere, I think that’s the best deal in town.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
|Intro APR||Regular APR||Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Credit Rating|
|N/A||See Issuer's Terms||Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95||0%||Excellent Credit|