Who should (and shouldn’t) get the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
Choosing the right travel rewards credit card can be a tricky proposition. The sheer volume of options can seem overwhelming, but it’s a critical decision when you are seeking to maximize your everyday purchases and unlock valuable rewards like free hotel stays and award flights.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is currently offering 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. That’s $750 in travel when you redeem through the Chase travel portal — and TPG values it at up to $1,200 when you utilize Chase’s 11 airline and three hotel transfer partners.
The Sapphire Preferred is one of our most recommended credit cards, especially for travel beginners. Today, we’ll take a look at who should (and should not) apply for it.
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Let’s start with a quick review of the key, ongoing benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred:
- $50 yearly hotel credit when reserving your stay through the Chase travel portal.
- 10% bonus points annually (based on spending).
- No foreign transaction fees.
- Primary car rental coverage, saving you from filing a claim with your own insurance company when your rental car is damaged.
- Trip delay and cancellation insurance.
- Baggage delay insurance.
You also will get some great earning rates on the card:
- 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Chase travel portal.
- 5 points per dollar on Peloton Bike, Tread and Guide purchases over $450, with a maximum earning of 25,000 points (only through June 30, 2022).
- 5 points per dollar on Lyft through March 2025.
- 3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services and 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.
All of this comes at a relatively small price, as the card carries an annual fee of just $95.
Who should get the Sapphire Preferred?
Now that you’ve had a quick refresher on the card’s features, does the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card make sense for you? Here’s a quick rundown of who should add this card to their wallet:
If you’re looking for your first card with an annual fee
I have a confession to make. This is hard for me to say, but … I used to completely avoid cards with annual fees (whew, I feel better now). I didn’t see the point in paying for a credit card when I could get a different one for free. However, I quickly came to recognize how valuable these cards can be.
Again, the Sapphire Preferred is a great starter card for someone just getting into points and miles. If you’re ready to dive deeper into maximizing your earnings and redemptions, the Chase Sapphire Preferred could be a terrific option.
If you have the Chase Freedom Flex and/or Freedom Unlimited
Another great candidate for the card is someone who already has either the Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Combining the Sapphire Preferred with one (or both) of these cards is one of the best ways to make the most of your points.
In case you aren’t aware, the Ultimate Rewards program lets you freely transfer points between your participating cards. As a result, the points on the two Freedom cards that would usually only be redeemable for cash back can be sent to your Sapphire Preferred account, instantly increasing their value.
You’ll get at least 1.25 cents of value per point when you book travel directly through the Chase travel portal, but you can expand that even more by using one of the program’s valuable transfer partners.
If you’re a small-business owner with the Ink Cash or Ink Unlimited
This trick isn’t limited to those with personal cards. You can utilize the same strategy outlined above if you’re a business owner with the Ink Business Cash Credit Card or Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card. You may think that you must keep your business and personal cards entirely separate. While that does hold true for expenses you charge to the card, it doesn’t apply to the earnings on the card.
Here’s what you’ll find on the Ultimate Rewards FAQ page under the “Combine Points” section:
“Can I move points I earn to other Chase cards with Ultimate Rewards?”
Yes, you can move points, but only to another Chase card with Ultimate Rewards belonging to you, or one member of your household or owner of the company, as applicable.”
As a result, you can apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred as an Ink Cash cardholder and then transfer the rewards from your small-business account to the Sapphire Preferred.
If you don’t currently have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points
The Ultimate Rewards program can be incredibly lucrative if you know how to redeem your points for maximum value. If you don’t currently have a card that participates in the program, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great one to get started. As noted above, the card carries a valuable sign-up bonus, lucrative earning rates and several added perks for a minimal annual fee.
Once you’ve had the card for at least 48 months and become more familiar with making the most of your Ultimate Rewards points, you can do what I did: Downgrade the card to the Freedom Unlimited and then apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
However, be sure you understand the restrictions on the two Sapphire cards, which brings me to the next section of my analysis.
Who shouldn’t get the Sapphire Preferred?
While many travelers should apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, certain types of travelers shouldn’t go for the card. Here are some of those cases:
If you currently have the Chase Sapphire Reserve
The credit card world was turned upside down when the Chase Sapphire Reserve was introduced in August 2016. It comes with a much higher $550 annual fee along with a slew of premium travel benefits. However, if you currently carry the card in your wallet, you can’t apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
If you received a sign-up bonus from any Sapphire card in the last 48 months
When it decided to prevent current Sapphire Reserve cardholders from signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred (and vice versa), Chase also added restrictions on how often you can earn a sign-up bonus from a Sapphire credit card. You can’t earn a sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Preferred card if you earned one from any Sapphire card in the prior 48 months.
As a result, if you recently took home a bonus on a Sapphire card, be sure to wait at least four years before applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
If you’ve applied for five or more cards from any issuer in the last 24 months
The final type of individual who shouldn’t apply for the Sapphire Preferred is someone affected by the notorious Chase 5/24 rule. If you’re not familiar, Chase will typically deny your application for many of its credit cards if you’ve opened five or more new credit cards in the last 24 months (hence the “5/24” moniker).
Note that the 5/24 unpublished rule even includes accounts on which you’re an authorized user. However, I did have success calling Chase’s reconsideration line when I was denied for the United Explorer Card and my fifth recently opened card was my wife’s account. However, if you currently have five or more new credit cards on your credit report, it’s probably wise to avoid wasting a hard inquiry by applying for the Sapphire Preferred, as you’ll likely be disappointed.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a fantastic option for diving deeper into travel rewards, as it provides many opportunities to redeem for valuable rewards that go far beyond those that simpler, fixed-value cards can provide. And remember, the card’s 60,000-point bonus is worth $1,200 in travel, per TPG valuations. That’s something that shouldn’t be ignored.
That being said, it isn’t the best option for everyone, so be sure to consider your own unique situation to determine whether the card makes sense for your wallet.
Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 60,000-point sign-up bonus.
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Stella Shon, Madison Blancaflor and Joseph Hostetler.
Featured photo by Sylvain Sonnet/Getty Images.