The Card I’ve Held Since 2012: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Review

Aug 15, 2019

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best known travel rewards cards. Featuring 2 points per dollar on all travel and dining purchases, it earns valuable Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to 13 airline and hotel partners, or redeemed directly for travel at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

One of the most common questions we’re asked is “which travel credit card should I start with?” and I almost universally recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It earns arguably the most valuable loyalty points in existence. It carries a reasonable annual fee. It has travel and dining bonus spend categories. And it carries valuable travel protections any time I use it to pay for travel.

I started my journey into points and miles in 2012 when I applied for the Sapphire Preferred, and I continue to hold it to this day. Let’s review this card and identify why it’s a solid start for anyone entering the points and miles world, or how it can contribute to the advanced points and miles collector’s loyalty portfolio.

In This Post

Who Is This Card For?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is designed to work for travelers both frequent and infrequent. It can benefit both the points and miles expert and the one just starting out. With a $95 annual fee, it’s not an expensive card, which makes it a good choice for a beginner. But since the card earns Ultimate Rewards points — one of the top flexible points currencies — you’ll also find this card goes a long way if you’re an experienced loyalty program whiz looking to get maximum value. I also recommend starting your journey into the world of loyalty points with Chase cards, because you need to strategically plan around Chase’s 5/24 rule. The Sapphire Preferred is definitely worthy of one of your coveted five slots for opening new cards.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/TPG)

While many resources may tell you to consider the CSP’s big brother — the Chase Sapphire Reserve — you need to first consider whether you’re likely to use all the advanced travel benefits that come along with the much higher $550 annual fee of the Reserve. If that’s not for you — or if you’re just starting out and aren’t sure — get the Preferred, and then you can always convert your Preferred to a Reserve down the line if you choose. In the past, people were able to get sign-up bonuses for both the Preferred and the Reserve in relatively quick succession. However, that’s no longer possible, so there’s no real reason to get both cards.

Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point sign-up bonus.

Sign-Up Bonus: As Much As $1,200 in Value

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $750 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards to cover the cost of a plane ticket, hotel, rental car or travel experience. This is a 10,000-point increase over the card’s previous long-time offer of 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months, but with the old offer, the $95 fee was waived the first year. With the new 60,000-point offer, which is now the new standard offer, you’ll pay the annual fee for the first year and subsequent years, but the 10,000 extra points can more than make up for it.

Transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt and get free hotel nights worldwide. (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
Transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt and get free nights worldwide, such as nights at the Grand Hyatt Kaui. (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Depending on how you use your points, you can get even more than $750 in value for them. Based on TPG’s most recent point valuations, Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2 cents apiece, which means those 60,000 bonus points can get you $1,200 in travel if your travel plans are flexible and you can maximize the points by transferring them to travel partners.

Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point sign-up bonus.

Main Benefits and Perks

In short, I have used this card to pay for car rentals, cruises, plane tickets and hotels, because travel can often become a challenge and I need peace of mind I’ll be financially covered if and when things go awry. In my opinion, besides the points the card earns you, the highlight of the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s benefits is the primary rental car coverage — a relatively unusual credit card perk. Most cards offer secondary car insurance, which means if your rental car gets damaged, you have to first look to your personal auto policy or other primary coverages, if any, before the card’s coverage will step in and cover any losses. But with primary coverage, you can submit the claim directly to the card issuer right off the bat and avoid involving your own insurance policy entirely.

When traveling, the CSP offers $500 per ticket in trip delay insurance and $10,000 in trip cancellation insurance. It also features $100 per day in coverage for up to five days in baggage delay insurance and up to $3,000 per person in lost luggage reimbursement. That’s a strong lineup, though you’ll find even better protections on premium cards — along with higher annual fees. Keep in mind when you’re traveling internationally, the Sapphire Preferred has no foreign transaction fees, and any time you find yourself in a tough spot needing help, the Visa Signature Concierge Service is available. 

Finally, the Sapphire Preferred comes with purchase protection up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account, and extended warranty protection that provides an additional year of coverage on eligible purchases with a manufacturer’s warranty of three years of less. You can read more about the CSP’s shopping and travel benefits in the card’s guide to benefits.

Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point sign-up bonus.

How to Earn Points

The Sapphire Preferred comes with two basic but popular bonus categories. You’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent on both travel and dining, and the way those categories are defined is one area where the card offers a lot of flexibility. The travel category on the CSP is broad, encompassing a great number of purchases that you might not think of as travel expenses.

For instance, in addition to the charges you might expect to count as travel — such as airlines, hotels, motels, car rentals, cruise lines and travel agencies — you’ll also get 2x points when paying for passenger trains (including most commuter trains), buses, taxis, limos, ferries, toll bridges and highways, parking lots and garages and even Uber and Lyft. That’s a lot of different purchases you can earn 2x for, even when you’re in your home city.

When it comes to the dining side, you earn 2 points per dollar on essentially all restaurants — regardless of whether they’re fancy sit down places or fast food joints. But you can also get the bonus multiplier at many bars and even some delivery services such as Seamless. So while it may not seem at first glance like the CSP has a plethora of bonus categories, there are actually tons of opportunities to rack up points with this card.

Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point sign-up bonus.

How to Redeem Points

When you’re ready to redeem the points you’ve earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, that’s when the card’s flexibility (there’s that word again) really shines. First, you can use your points to purchase airfare, reserve hotel rooms and even rent a car at a fixed rate of 1.25 cents per point through the Chase travel portal. That means if you don’t want to worry about blackout dates or finding award space, you’ll always have the option to book travel using your points this way. As long as there’s a seat for sale on the flight you want, or a hotel room available to reserve with cash, you’ll be able to pay for it with your points.

However, while it’s easiest to use your Ultimate Rewards points that way, it’s not the most lucrative choice. The way to get top value from your CSP is to take advantage of the card’s ability to transfer points to any of Chase’s 13 airline and hotel partners. If you take this route, you’ll need to be prepared to do a little homework by learning which partners are best utilized for specific trips and searching for award availability. But if you’re willing to put in the extra time, you can get much more than 1.25 cents per point in value from your Ultimate Rewards points.

You can book Singapore Airlines A380 new First Class Suites with Chase Ultimate Rewards. Photo by Brian Kelly / The Points Guy
You can book Singapore Airlines A380 new First Class Suites with Chase Ultimate Rewards. (Photo by Brian Kelly / The Points Guy)

To be fair, the American Express Membership Rewards program has a greater number of transfer partners, but the quality of those partners varies greatly. And while not every Ultimate Rewards transfer partner is terrific, Chase’s program is highly competitive since you can take advantage of key partners like United, Emirates, British Airways and Singapore for airline redemptions, or burn points at high-end hotel properties like the Park Hyatt Sydney.

Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point sign-up bonus.

Little Known Facts About CSP

There are a ton of features, facts and quirks of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, including a few you might not be aware of.

1. The Sapphire Preferred Is the Middle Child of the Sapphire Family

While most people are familiar with the Sapphire Preferred’s “bigger brother,” the Chase Sapphire Reserve, there’s actually also a baby in the family. The no-annual-fee Chase Sapphire can’t be applied for directly, but you can downgrade your Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve to a Chase Sapphire after the account’s first anniversary.

2. Gain Access to Exclusive Sapphire Lifestyle Events

In addition to high value rewards points, Sapphire Preferred card holders gain exclusive access to events like the Sundance Film Festival, Radio City Music Hall and private events with celebrity chefs.

3. It Pairs Well With Other Chase Cards

While the Sapphire Preferred is a standout card by itself, it works even better if you pair it with a duo of other Chase cards and combine all your points. The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5% cash back (1.5 points), and the Chase Freedom’s rotating 5x quarterly bonus categories (up to $1,500 a quarter) can help maximize your earnings.

4. Authorized Users Are Free If You Want to Add One

If you want to add a family or friend as an authorized user, you can do so free of charge. This is a leg up over premium credit cards, which often charge a $75+ annual fee for authorized users. Just remember you’ll be responsible for any charges made on your account.

5. It’s a Metal Card

The bright metallic blue card is sure to turn heads when you whip it out to pay for dinner, and the loud “thump” it makes when you put it on the table never gets old.

Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point sign-up bonus.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to move beyond cash back or fixed-value travel rewards credit cards, there really is no better place to start than with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. There’s a reason it’s stuck around for so long (almost 10 years) while other cards have come and gone or languished in the shadows. It doesn’t have fancy travel benefits or lounge access, but it has a great (and newly increased) sign-up bonus and some of the most valuable points around.

It’s flexible enough to meet the travel rewards needs of practically every points and miles skill level, and it comes with a cheap price tag. So don’t dismiss it just because it’s not flashy — sometimes a solid and adaptable performer is exactly what you need.

Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point sign-up bonus.

Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No delivery fees for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with a DashPass subscription from DoorDash -over a $100 value. Activate with your Chase Sapphire card by December 31, 2021.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended 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.