My 5 favorite redemptions in year 1 with the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Jan 24, 2022

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When my friends and family ask what the best starter travel card is, I always defer to my trusty Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Nobody just starting out with points and miles wants to pay an exorbitant annual fee — and it’s easy to justify the $95 yearly cost on the Chase Sapphire Preferred once you review its long list of benefits.

(Photo by The Points Guy)

What makes the Chase Ultimate Rewards program so valuable is the ability to book travel in two key ways. First, you can book flights, hotels, car rentals and more through the Ultimate Rewards portal at a rate of 1.25 cents each.

While that’s a great value, where you’ll find the most value is from Chase’s 11 airline and three hotel loyalty partners, as you can transfer your points to these respective programs at a 1:1 ratio.

In this fashion, TPG values Ultimate Rewards points as worth more like 2 cents each.

Since I opened my Chase Sapphire Preferred about a year ago, I’ve redeemed more than 300,000 Ultimate Rewards points that I’ve accrued from the sign-up bonus and everyday spending. Even so, I still have almost 90,000 points sitting in my award balance that are waiting to be used.

By that measure, I effectively received and used around $6,000 in travel rewards in a year — making that $95 annual fee a no-brainer in comparison.

As I’ve reached my first anniversary with the card, here are my top five favorite redemptions I’ve made, in no particular order. Hopefully, this post inspires you to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points this year for that trip you’re dreaming of.

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In This Post

Costa Rica

It’s unlikely that you’ll utilize every single one of Chase’s transfer partners, but a good place to start is knowing which programs offer the best value.

World of Hyatt is one of my favorites, as the program charges reasonable rates for remarkable properties — including the Los Altos Resort, a five-star property in Costa Rica.

Cash rates were around $450 per night, but instead I transferred my Ultimate Rewards points to my Hyatt balance and booked my stay for just 25,000 points per night. What I got was a fantastic three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath suite, a large kitchen, living room and multiple balconies overlooking the Costa Rican rainforest.

I also loved the infinity pool, free morning yoga classes and hiking trails that sprawled throughout the resort.

Related: Welcome to the jungle: How I redeemed 100,000 Chase points to book a Costa Rica trip of a lifetime

Iceland

While you can often find some great flight deals to Iceland, it’s an entirely different story once you’re on the ground.

That’s why my strategy for my Iceland trip was to pay cash for my airfare and look for accommodations via points. Hyatt hit a home run on this one.

At 25,000 Hyatt points per night, I stayed at the cozy Hotel Rangá in southern Iceland. Its proximity to must-see tourist sites but distance from light pollution (so that you can hopefully catch the northern lights in the winter) are among the reasons why I loved my stay.

Related: Iceland on a budget: Why you should seriously consider renting a campervan

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Yet another World of Hyatt success story was one of my most recent trips: to an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica, the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall.

While I rarely take all-inclusive vacations, I appreciated that all of the restaurants and amenities were on the property, making for a great last-minute winter getaway. I also felt like I got an especially great deal using my travel rewards (25,000 Hyatt points per night) for this resort since all of the food and drinks had been taken care of, stretching the value of my points even further than what’s normally possible.

Related: Why I was denied boarding to Chile — and spent Christmas in Jamaica instead

Spain

(Photo by Stella Shon/The Points Guy)

One of the cheapest ways to fly business class to (or from) Europe is to leverage the Iberia Avios program. For just 34,000 Avios and under $300 in taxes and fees, you can score a lie-flat seat to Madrid.

Unfortunately, I had a stomach bug on the way home, so my whole journey was spent asleep. While I cannot attest to the quality of the meals or inflight entertainment, the ability to sleep during the entire eight-hour flight made this redemption incredibly worth it for me.

Related: The seat carries the flight: A review of Iberia’s business class on the A350, New York to Madrid

Morocco

 

2021 was also the year I got to try out Air France’s business class for the first time — and on the carrier’s 777-300ER aircraft. I had flown to Morocco via TAP Air Portugal’s business class and I also wanted to fly home in comfort and style.

By transferring my Ultimate Rewards points to Air France/KLM Flying Blue, I scored my flight home, with a layover in Paris, for 53,000 Flying Blue miles and around $300 in taxes. It was nice to take a hot shower in the Air France lounge and take an afternoon nap as we flew across the Atlantic.

Bottom line

As you can see, World of Hyatt is one of my transfer partners of choice. Otherwise, I prefer to save my points for business-class flights, as I can often find even more than 2 cents of value per point.

In 2022, my strategy is to continue accruing as many Ultimate Rewards points as possible with my Chase Sapphire Preferred, so that I can look back in another year and reflect on some more great redemptions (and travel memories).


Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 80,000-point sign-up bonus after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.


Featured photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, 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 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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.

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