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

Apr 10, 2020

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Choosing your first travel credit card is critical to your strategy for maximizing your points and miles. A select few cards offer a wide array of perks that appeal to a variety 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 credit card you get. And I’m not alone in thinking it’s great — TPG readers chose the CSP as the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card at the 2019 TPG Awards.

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60,000 Points ($1,200 in Value) for Signing Up

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. Those 60,000 points are worth $750 when you redeem them for travel in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. However, TPG values them at $1,200 or more if you redeem your points via Chase’s travel partners.

New Perks

Chase recently announced it was partnering 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 for free, 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.

To register, simply add your eligible card to the DoorDash app and add the offer anytime between now and Dec. 31, 2021. Customers will receive a minimum of one year of DashPass, with service guaranteed through 2021.

Additionally, Chase has partnered with Lyft to provide more value across some of its cards. The Chase Sapphire Preferred currently gets 5x on Lyft rides.

Generous 2x Travel and Dining Categories

(Photo by Benji Stawski / The Points Guy)
Earn 2x points for dining with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. (Photo by Benji Stawski /The Points Guy)

On the surface, this 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 CSP.

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 (at a location that wasn’t classified as a travel expense when I previously used my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard there)

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.

So Many Redemption Possibilities

Transfer points to Singapore Airlines to book a luxurious flight in a suite. (photo by The Points Guy)

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.

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 Park Hyatt Tokyo and seats on Singapore Suites. In some cases, TPG’s valuation of 2 cents apiece for Ultimate Rewards points can easily be exceeded.

The Sapphire Preferred is a terrific card to combine with the Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited. Both of these cards are marketed as cash-back cards, but both become much more valuable when paired with a premium card like the Sapphire Preferred. Instead of just getting 5% cash back on rotating quarterly bonus categories each quarter you activate (plus 1% cash back elsewhere) with the Freedom and 1.5% cash back on everything with the Freedom Unlimited, 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 cent each.

The information for the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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

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.
  • 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, nonrefundable 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, now is a fantastic time to open the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Keep in mind that if you’ve opened 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 5/24 rule now covers all credit cards issued by Chase. As a result, if you want to take advantage of the sign-up bonus and the other perks of the CSP, you should apply for it sooner rather than later.

On a similar note, if you’ve had a Chase Sapphire Reserve in the last 48 months, 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 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. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card plays a big role in this. It’s a terrific starter travel rewards card, getting you a minimum of $750 to start with.

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. 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 a 60,000-point bonus.

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.

Featured photo by Wyatt Smith / The Points Guy

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

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
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • 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
N/A
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.

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