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Chase Sapphire Preferred has been my go-to card for travel for quite some time. Sure, I use plenty of other cards on a regular basis, but I charge more to my Sapphire than any of the other cards in my wallet. It’s a Visa Signature card, and as a result, has a minimum credit limit of $5,000. I won’t talk about the benefits that come with Visa Signature in this post, but you can see our earlier post for more on that.
Unfortunately, some applicants who have opened a significant number of accounts recently — from any card issuer — have had difficulty getting approved for Chase Ultimate Rewards cards within the past few weeks. This change wasn’t formally announced, but it seems to apply to certain Chase cards, including Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus Business and Chase Freedom.
The criteria Chase is using to approve or deny applications isn’t entirely clear, but if you plan on applying for multiple cards (even from issuers other than Chase), be sure to apply for the Chase cards first, since they might be more difficult to get later. I often recommend Chase Sapphire Preferred to travelers who are just starting to build a collection of miles and points, in addition to enthusiasts who already have a respectable balance.
Here are five reasons why I love this card:
1. Double Points on Travel and Dining
If you’re like me, many of the purchases you make on a day-to-day basis fall under the travel and dining categories. Chase’s definition of travel and dining is incredibly broad, and covers a wide variety of purchases, from airfare to Starbucks.
“Airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, operators of passengers trains, buses, taxis, limos, ferries, tolls, bridges, highways, and parking lots and garages.”
For frequent travelers who don’t want to manage multiple cards for every small category, having a card that covers it all is fantastic. Be careful, though — just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean it counts as travel. Simply making a transaction outside of your hometown won’t cut it.
Plus, on the first Friday of every month, you can earn triple points on dining. I always try to take advantage of that, and points start to rack up quickly.
2. Transferrable Ultimate Rewards Points
There are two types of Chase points, and you might be confused about which kind your card earns.
Premium cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Ink Plus Business card earn Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to airline and hotel partners — it’s my favorite use of UR points.
Other cards, such as the Chase Freedom or Ink Cash Business card, earn points that can only be redeemed in a more limited variety of ways, such as cash back.
Here’s where it gets interesting: Points can be freely and instantly transferred between accounts, so that points you earn on your Chase Freedom can be transferred to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and then to airline partners.
This is especially lucrative since you get 5% cash back on your Chase Freedom in rotating bonus categories each quarter — but it actually amounts to 5x points which normally can simply be redeemed for cash back at a value of 1 cent/point. Those points can then be transferred to the Chase Sapphire Preferred before transferring them to partners. I value these UR points at 2.1 cents/point. Effectively, this is like getting a 10.5% return on your bonus category spend — incredible.
The same can be said of the Ink Plus Business card, with its 5x earning on office supply store purchases, landlines, internet and wireless phones, and 2x on gas and hotels.
3. Primary Car Rental Insurance
Last year, Chase Sapphire Preferred changed its rental car insurance coverage from secondary to primary. Many credit cards offer rental car insurance, allowing you to skip on the expensive collision damage waiver offered by the rental car company. Not all policies are created equal, however, and the one offered on the Chase Sapphire Preferred is among the best.
Primary coverage means that you don’t need to notify your personal car insurance company in event of an accident and pay their deductible and possibly have your rates raised. Most cards on the market offer secondary coverage, meaning that it only covers what your personal car insurance won’t.
Plus, while other cards exclude certain countries, Chase’s coverage has no such exclusions.
4. No Foreign Transaction Fees
Even I have paid foreign transaction fees before by accident, but today, many cards waive these fees, so don’t get caught without one. It stinks to come home to an extra 3% charge, and they certainly add up! If you have an international trip coming up, this can be a great way to save on your purchases abroad; just be sure to avoid dynamic currency conversion!
5. Customer Service is Outstanding
Any time I’ve had a charge miscategorized in the past, Chase representatives have always promptly issued my missing bonus points. Chase’s website also makes it really easy to see what you earned bonus points on and what you didn’t — unlike American Express, which doesn’t offer that detailed of a line-by-line breakdown.
As you might have seen from the commercials, the number on the back of the card reaches a customer service representative directly — no useless phone menus to navigate. In my experience, I’ve never had much of a hold to speak to an actual person.
And when the fraud-prevention team shut off my card when I was traveling in Hawaii, they offered me 10k points as an apology.
Bonus: A Cool Metal Card
No, it’s not a Centurion Card or Palladium Card, but it is made of metal. While I would never choose a card based on what material it’s made of, it’s an added bonus. It’s a lighter metal than the ultra-premium cards, so it won’t weigh down your wallet, but it means the card is super durable and the numbers won’t fade as you pull it out of your wallet countless times — since you’re sure to use it often.
This is one of my all-time favorite cards, and it’s easy to see why. From the incredible transfer partners to the power of pairing the card with another for maximal earning potential, it’s a great all-around card for any traveler. For anyone who doesn’t yet have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after $4,000 spent within the first 3 months.