5 reasons why the Chase Sapphire Preferred should be your first card

Apr 10, 2021

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Choosing your first travel credit card is an exciting thing. But it’s also critical to your strategy for maximizing your points and miles, since only a select few cards offer a wide array of perks that appeal to different types of travelers.

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 rewards credit card you get. And I’m not alone in thinking it’s great — TPG readers chose the Chase Sapphire Preferred as the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card at the 2019 and the 2020 TPG Awards. For years, the Sapphire Preferred has been the most recommended first rewards credit card that TPG staff routinely suggest for their own friends and family looking to start earning credit card rewards.

Here’s why.

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80,000 points ($1,600 in value) for signing up

The Chase Sapphire Preferred currently has a sign-up bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, plus a $50 grocery credit. This is the largest sign-up bonus we have ever seen for this card.

Those 80,000 flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth $1,000 when you redeem them for travel at a fixed value in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. This site looks and feels like you were booking flights or hotels via Expedia, making it an easy way to redeem points.

However, TPG values these points at $1,600 or more if you redeem your points via Chase’s travel partners that allow you to transfer the points to their programs at a 1:1 ratio. This includes loyalty programs such as United MileagePlus, World of Hyatt, British Airways Avios, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and more.

Including the grocery credit, that’s $1,650 in value from one bonus.

Related: A top travel card contender: Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card review

Perks

(Image courtesy of Lyft)

Chase has partnered with DoorDash to offer cardholders discounts on the company’s DashPass unlimited delivery program. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers at least one year of this service as a complimentary benefit, which normally costs $9.99 per month. You’ll get lower service fees and free delivery on all orders of over $12 for at least a year. But you needed to register for the by Dec. 31, 2021, with service guaranteed through 2021.

Chase also partnered with Lyft to provide more value across some of its cards. The Chase Sapphire Preferred currently earns 5x on Lyft rides.

Finally, Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders can receive up to $60 back on all eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through Dec. 31, 2021. Sapphire Preferred cardholders also earn 5x points on Peloton Bike, Tread and accessory purchases over $1,800, with a max earn of 25,000 points.

With at-home workouts and dining skyrocketing these days, there’s a good chance that those credits or perks can be put to good use.

Generous 2x travel and dining categories

On the surface, this earning feature of the Chase Sapphire Preferred may not sound that special.

Many credit cards offer category bonuses for travel and dining, but the real appeal of these bonuses is the wide definition of “travel” on the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

(Photo by Oscar Wong/Getty Images)

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

  • 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

Delivery services such Seamless and Uber Eats also fall into the dining bonus category, so if your hometown has these services, you have additional earning potential.

And until April 30, 2021, the card is also awarding 2x points on purchases made at U.S. supermarkets.

So many redemption possibilities

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points on every purchase you make with the card. Those points can be redeemed a number of ways but some redemption options are significantly better than others.

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

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 each. The big benefit of redeeming points for flights this way is that they typically count toward elite status. That isn’t the case with hotel bookings.
  2. Transferring your points to one of Chase’s 10 airline and three hotel partners. Typically you’ll get the most out of your points when you transfer them to these partners like UnitedHyatt and Singapore Krisflyer.

When you transfer points to these partners, you’ll unlock terrific redemption opportunities, such as free nights at the ski-out Park Hyatt Beaver Creek and seats on Singapore Suites. In some cases, TPG’s valuation of 2 cents apiece for Ultimate Rewards points can easily be exceeded.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a terrific card to combine with the Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited. All three of these cards are marketed as cash-back cards, but both become much more valuable when paired with a premium card such as the Sapphire Preferred.

Instead of just getting 5% cash back on rotating quarterly bonus categories with the Freedom Flex each quarter (up to $1,500 each quarter, activation required), plus 1% cash back elsewhere, 1.5% cash back on everything with the Freedom Unlimited and 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining, 3% on drugstore purchases and 1% elsewhere, you can “convert” those fixed earnings to much more flexible Ultimate Rewards points.

You’ll get the same flexibility to transfer points to partners or redeem them for travel at 1.25 cents each.

The travel benefits

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

(Photo by Westend61/Getty Images)

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.
  • No foreign transaction fees. These fees appear to be gradually on their way out, especially for credit cards that charge an annual fee. The Sapphire Preferred has always waived them. That will typically save you 2.7%-3% on every purchase abroad.
  • Trip delay reimbursement. 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 up to $500 per ticket. (And yes, we’ve tested this perk out and it really works.)
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance if your trip is cut short or interrupted by sickness, severe weather or other covered situations. You can recoup up to $10,000 per person and up to $20,000 per trip for prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses such as plane tickets, hotels and tours.
  • Baggage delay insurance. Up to $100 per day for essentials for up to five days when your checked baggage is delayed by more than six hours.

Chase’s 5/24 rule

If you’re thinking about expanding your points-and-miles strategy to include opening and using multiple credit cards, there’s another reason you may way to start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

If you open five or more new personal credit cards in the past 24 months across all banks (not just with Chase), it’s highly likely that your application for the Sapphire Preferred will be automatically declined. This is called the Chase 5/24 rule and it’s a pretty hard and fast rule. As a result, if you want to take advantage of the sign-up bonus and the other perks of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, it’s a good idea to add it to your wallet before moving on to other cards.

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

On a similar note, if you’ve received a bonus from the Chase Sapphire Reserve in the last 48 months and/or still have a Sapphire Reserve open, you will not be eligible for the Sapphire Preferred’s sign-up bonus.

Related reading: TPG beginner’s guide: Everything you need to know about points, miles, airlines and credit cards

Bottom line

Whenever I meet someone who wants to travel as much as I do, I immediately ask about their rewards 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 every year because I maximize the dollars that I spend. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card plays a big role in this strategy. It’s a terrific starter travel rewards card, getting you a minimum of over $1,000 in sign-up bonus to start with, assuming you hit the spending requirements.

The Sapphire Preferred is also a great card for experienced award travelers, so if it isn’t already in your wallet, definitely consider making it your next card to apply for while the bonus is increased to an all-time high level. And once you get the card, make sure to check out “5 things to do when you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred.”

Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with an 80,000-point bonus.

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson

Featured photo by Riley Arthur/The Points Guy

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

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 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®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 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, 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.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% 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.

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.