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Official Application Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – 50,000 points after $4,000 spent within the first 3 months

Choosing the best travel credit card is a critical element in maximizing your points and miles, and a select few offer a wide array of perks that appeal to a variety of traveler profiles. Today I want to share my top five reasons why — if you don’t already have it — the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card should be the first one you get. And I’m not alone in thinking it’s great; readers chose the CSP as the Best Mid-Tier Card of the Year at the TPG Awards.

1. 50,000 Points ($1,000 in Value) for Signing Up

Back in 2015, Chase formally announced that the Sapphire Preferred Card would be increasing its standard sign-up bonus to 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Your haul is worth $1,000 based on TPG’s most recent valuations, and you won’t even need to pay the $95 annual fee during the first year of membership.

2. Generous 2x Travel and Dining Categories

The Uber driver app on the windshield of former Washington Flyer taxi driver Ali Jaghori. Jaghori now drives soley for UberX. Thousands of local car owners have signed up in recent months to drive with one of the "ride-share" operators that use smartphone apps to link people needing rides with car owners willing to give them, for a price. Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images
Uber purchases will earn you double points on the Sapphire Preferred. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

On the surface, this feature of the Sapphire Preferred Card may not sound that special. Many cards offer category bonuses for travel purchases and dining, but the real appeal of these bonuses is how wide the definitions span.

Here are some examples of real-life purchases that have earned me 2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent:

  • A beer hall (that didn’t serve food)
  • Street parking
  • Uber
  • Quarterly dues for the yacht club to which I belong
  • A rental car
  • Tolls
  • Cupcake shop
  • Train transportation
  • City tours
  • Tram tickets
  • Parking at the airport (at a location that wasn’t classified as a travel expense when I previously used my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard there)

The delivery services such Seamless and Postmates also fall into these bonus categories, so if your hometown has these options, that gives you additional earning potential.

3. So Many Redemption Options

Transfer points to Singapore Airlines to book a luxurious award flight.

There Are Two Key Ways to Redeem Ultimate Rewards Points

  1. Booking travel directly through the Chase travel portal where points are worth a flat 1.25 cents apiece. The big benefit of redeeming points this way for flights is that they typically do count toward elite status (but note that isn’t the case with hotel bookings).
  2. Transferring your points to one of Chase’s 13 travel partners. Typically you’ll get the most out of your points when you transfer them to these valuable partners, including UnitedHyatt and Marriott.

When you transfer points to these partners, you’ll unlock terrific redemptions, such as the Park Hyatt Tokyo and Singapore Suites — and in some cases, TPG’s valuation of 2 cents apiece for Ultimate Rewards points can easily be eclipsed.

Remember too that the Sapphire Preferred is a terrific option if you currently have the Chase Freedom card. As Jason Steele explained, Freedom isn’t just another cash-back card when it’s paired with a premium card like the Sapphire Preferred. Instead of just getting 5% cash back on the quarterly bonus categories (plus 1% cash back elsewhere), you can “convert” those fixed earnings to much more flexible Ultimate Rewards points, a key reason why the Chase Freedom is a no-brainer.

4. The Travel Benefits

(Photo by @isr4el via Twenty20)
The Sapphire Preferred Card offers primary car rental insurance. (Photo by @isr4el via Twenty20)

In addition to earning valuable rewards for making purchases while traveling, you can also take advantage of some fantastic benefits while on the road.

Top 5 Travel Benefits

  • Primary car rental insurance. This covers the entire loss, damage or theft of your car rental without reporting it to your insurance company, a benefit that can save you big time in the long term.
  • Lack of foreign transaction fees on the card. While these appear to be gradually on their way out, the Sapphire Preferred has always waived them, a benefit that’ll typically save you 2.7%-3% on every purchase abroad.
  • Trip delay insurance up to $500 per ticket. If your flight, train, or other common carrier is delayed more than 12 hours or you require an overnight stay as a result of a delay, you’re covered for unreimbursed expenses such as meals and lodging.
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance up to $10,000 per trip for pre-paid, nonrefundable travel expenses such as plane tickets, hotels or tours if your trip is cut short or interrupted by sickness, severe weather or other covered situations.
  • Baggage delay insurance of $100 per day for up to 5 days. If your checked baggage is delayed by more than 6 hours, you can be reimbursed for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing.

5. Chase’s 5/24 Rule

If you’re thinking about expanding your points and miles strategy to include opening and utilizing multiple credit cards, now’s a fantastic time to open the Sapphire Preferred Card. Card issuers have different application restrictions, and early in 2016, reports began to emerge of new and tighter rules when applying for any card that accrues Ultimate Rewards points. If you’ve opened five or more new credit cards in the past 24 months, it’s highly likely that your application for the Sapphire Preferred will be automatically declined. As a result, if you want to take advantage of the sign-up bonus and the other perks listed above, you should apply for this card sooner rather than later.

Bottom Line

Whenever I meet someone who wants to travel like I do, I immediately ask about a credit card strategy. I stopped traveling extensively for work a few years ago, yet I’m still able to rack up hundreds of thousands of points and miles every year. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card plays a big role in this. It’s a terrific starter card as you’re getting a minimum of $625 in value and potentially up to $1,000 or more from the sign-up bonus alone.

But it’s also a great product for experienced award travelers, so if it isn’t currently in your wallet, definitely consider making it your next application. And once you get the card, make sure to check out “5 Things To Do When You Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred” and “5 Chase Sapphire Preferred Benefits You Might Not Know About

The best beginner points and miles card out there.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.