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After 13 years, why the Chase Sapphire Preferred should still be your first rewards card

March 27, 2022
11 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information.


If you like to travel, earn points and sign-up for rewards cards, there’s been lots of good news lately.

And if that good news has you dreaming of some future trips, now is a great time to consider getting a new rewards credit card with a solid sign-up bonus. And at the top of that list of options may be the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a classic travel rewards credit card. But in this case, it’s tough to top this classic when starting in the rewards credit card landscape. It's been around since 2009, but don’t be fooled — in this case, that doesn’t mean it is stale and outdated.

It means this card has had 13 years to perfect itself. It is tried, tested and still so valuable. Over a decade after its launch, this is still my the card I most frequently recommended first for those newer to points and miles and travel rewards.

If you are looking for where to start — or which card to get next — now could be a great time to take the plunge and add the Chase Sapphire Preferred to your wallet. Here are five reasons why after so many years, it is still my most recommended travel rewards credit card.

Application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred – Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Solid sign-up bonus

Past public sign-up bonuses for the Chase Sapphire Preferred were as high as 100,000 points for a card with a reasonable $95 annual fee. The current bonus is 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

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Use Ultimate Rewards points for unique stays, such as the Park Hyatt St. Kitts. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

TPG values the 60,000 point bonus at $1,200, based on maximizing the points with hotel and airline transfer partners. But, being frank, that does take some time to learn the ins and outs of the best uses of Ultimate Rewards points. Some of those newer to the world of credit card rewards may not always get much value from the points.

However, even if you use the points directly for travel booked through Chase, you’ll still get 1.25 cents in value per point. That’s the same as getting $750 in value from the bonus. Even at that fixed valuation that comes in lower than if you maximize your points with partners, that’s a solid sign-up bonus that requires little effort to utilize.

Related: Sign-up bonuses worth $1,000 or more

Outstanding transfer partners

The lineup of transfer partners available with the Chase Sapphire Preferred is stellar.

When you earn points within the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, you have choices on how to redeem them, but you often can get the most value when maximizing your points via the lineup of 11 airline and three hotel partners.

Related: How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for maximum value

These transfer partners include: United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, World of Hyatt, British Airways Executive Club, Air Canada Aeroplan, JetBlue TrueBlue, Marriott Bonvoy, Aer Lingus AerClub, Iberia Plus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Emirates Skywards, IHG Rewards, Air France-KLM Flying Blue and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. All of the transfers from Chase to these programs are at a 1:1 ratio.

This means that if you have 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, that could be turned into the equivalent of 60,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points — or 60,000 United MileagePlus miles, or 60,000 World of Hyatt points. The list goes on. This opens up many more uses for your points than if they were just locked into one loyalty program.

Related: How (and why) you should earn transferable points in 2022

Transfer your points to United MileagePlus to score a sweet United Polaris business-class seat. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Several of these transfer partners — such as United and Southwest — are unique to Chase, so the lineup can’t be easily replicated with other credit card programs.

The U.S.-based loyalty programs are often more comfortable places for those newer to travel rewards to start with point transfers than some international options where you often leverage partner bookings. There’s lots of value to grow into with those redemptions, but it is good to have an easy, comfortable place to start.

Related: How to transfer your Chase points to travel partners

Book the Andaz Mayakoba using Chase points transferred to Hyatt (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Low annual fee with added perks

Premium travel rewards cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Sapphire Preferred’s luxury counterpart (the Chase Sapphire Reserve) have replaced the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s slot in my own wallet, but I’ve been at the points and miles game for a long time.

Even if those cards are worth it — and they can be — rare is the points and miles newcomer that wants to start off with a card that comes with a $695 annual fee (see rates and fees for the Amex Platinum) or $550 (for the Sapphire Reserve).

Therefore, it can be much easier to test the waters with a card like the Sapphire Preferred that comes with just a $95 annual fee. When put up against a sign-up bonus (valued at $1,200 by TPG), that’s a minimal investment to try out a new-to-you card for at least a year.

Note that last year's refresh of the card added even more perks that can partially offset the annual fee. For example, you can enjoy a $50 annual hotel credit for stays booked through Ultimate Rewards travel, and you'll also receive 10% of your points back each year (based on your card spending).

Related: The 8 best credit cards with annual fees under $100

Good earning rates that can improve with time

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

The Sapphire Preferred doesn’t have the highest earning rates out there, but it still offers a solid return on many purchases — including new categories that launched last year:

  • 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Chase travel portal.
  • 3 points per dollar on dining.
  • 3 points per dollar on select streaming services.
  • 3 points per dollar on online grocery store purchases (excludes Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
  • 2 points per dollar on all travel not booked through the Chase travel portal.
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else.

These categories are quite broad, and travel includes everything from plane tickets and hotels to subway passes and parking garages. Dining includes everything from a five-star restaurant to fast food and DoorDash delivery services. For the most part, the card has had the same earning structure for a decade, making it easy to remember.

Since TPG values the points earned by this card at 2 cents each, that means you are getting anywhere from 2 to 10 cents in value per dollar charged to the card. However, once you are ready to “level up,” the Sapphire Preferred and its points can grow with you.

That's because several other credit cards within the Chase family can be paired with the Sapphire Preferred when the time is right for you.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

For example, the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Flex earns up to 5% cash back (5 points per dollar) in rotating quarterly bonus categories (on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter). While this is technically billed as a cash-back card, when you pair it with the Sapphire Preferred, you can transfer those points into your Ultimate Rewards account and use them the same as points earned by the Sapphire Preferred.

If you have a small business, you can also pair the Sapphire Preferred with the no-annual-fee Ink Business Cash Credit Card or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card to pick up access to even more bonus categories (some with yearly spend maximums). The Ink Business Preferred is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Meanwhile, the no-annual-fee Ink Business Cash Credit Card for small-business owners is offering $900 cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.

But again, if you have the Sapphire Preferred, that bonus can become 90,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points instead of $900 cash, if you wish.

In short, having the Sapphire Preferred card unlocks the transferability for points earned from a variety of Chase cards. However, you can also ignore all of that and stick just with the very versatile Sapphire Preferred as the only rewards card in your wallet.

Related: All about the Chase credit card trifecta

Easy-to-use rewards

The most mathematically rewarding way to maximize your Ultimate Rewards points is by transferring to the previously mentioned hotel and airline partners. However, I like this card for beginners because … you don’t actually have to do that. In fact, I have many friends and family members who never redeem their Chase points via transfer partners.

If you want, you can use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a fixed rate to book flights, hotels and other travel via the Chase travel portal. With the Sapphire Preferred, your points are worth 1.25 cents each when used in that manner. If you or someone else in your household ever get the Sapphire Reserve, points used that way are worth 1.5 cents each with that card.

This site operates the same as when booking travel via Expedia, making it a straightforward and intuitive way to use your points even for those very new to this way of traveling for less.

Chase makes it easier to get cards sooner rather than later

Last but not least, there’s the reality that Chase makes it easier to get Chase-issued credit cards before you get too far into your rewards credit card journey.

There’s an (unwritten yet well-documented) rule that Chase generally won’t issue a new credit card account once you have opened five or more card accounts across all banks in the last 24 months. Informally, this is known as the Chase 5/24 rule.

Because of this restriction, it makes sense to start by getting a Chase card, like the Sapphire Preferred, as one of your first cards before you could potentially run into a brick wall with opening new Chase accounts.

Related: The best ways to fill your 5/24 slots

Bottom line

With its solid 60,000-point bonus and travel on the upswing, now could be a great time to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

It walks a wonderful line between being rewarding and rich when it comes to perks and points without being intimidating or too pricey to try out. It can be your gateway to having a wallet full of Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards and maximizing transfer partners, award chart sweet spots, built-in stopovers and more.

Or, if you prefer, it can remain a classic, low-annual-fee travel credit card that unlocks simple rewards all on its own.

There’s no wrong way to use a Sapphire Preferred. And there’s no better card with which to get started.

Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point bonus.

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson and Stella Shon.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.

Featured image by (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 5X points
5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 150,000 points120,000 points
The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.