Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is more than just a starter card

May 25, 2022

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is often hailed as the best starter card for travel rewards — the first card that beginners to points and miles should get. And with good reason. However, it’s not just a card for newbies. Even the more intermediate and advanced points and miles collectors often have this card in their wallets.

I’ve been opening travel rewards cards for a decade, and I didn’t hesitate to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred when the welcome bonus was temporarily elevated in 2021 to 100,000 points after spending $4,000 in three months.

With the current welcome bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening, the card is worth getting as an intermediate or advanced points enthusiast if you don’t currently have it.

Here are six reasons why you might want the Sapphire Preferred, even if you’re no longer a newbie.

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You can get the bonus again even if you’ve had it before

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Some of the more experienced points and miles collectors assume they’ll run into roadblocks with Chase’s eligibility rules. And there are some specific requirements you need to meet:

  • You’ll need to be under 5/24, meaning that you can’t have more than five new credit cards (across all issuers) in the past 24 months.
  • You must meet the 48-month rule of not having received a bonus on a Sapphire card in the past 48 months.
  • You must not currently have any Sapphire cards open.

I realize this eliminates quite a few people who would otherwise want to apply for the Sapphire Preferred. However, let’s say the Sapphire Preferred was one of your earliest cards, and you received the welcome bonus, redeemed all of your points and closed or downgraded your card.

If it’s been more than 48 months since you last received the bonus, you can get it again — as long as you fall under Chase’s 5/24 rule of having fewer than five new credit cards in the past 24 months. And remember, your 48-month clock starts when you receive the bonus, not when you applied or closed the card.

The 48-month rule is one positive for Chase compared to American Express, whose once-per-lifetime restriction limits you from receiving a bonus on the same card again in most cases.

Related: Who’s eligible for the 80,000-point Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus?

Quick way to amass a lot of points

Delta One suites. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

While it’s important to maximize your everyday spending, earning sign-up bonuses on new cards is one of the easiest ways to amass a lot of points in a short amount of time.

In just three months (or less, depending on how fast you can spend $4,000), you’ll have enough points for travel experiences such as:

Alternatively, even if you book directly through Chase Ultimate Rewards the 60,000 points are worth $750 in travel — which can go a long way toward offsetting some of the costs of your summer trip.

Related: How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for maximum value

You need the transfer partner ability

Many Chase cards earn Ultimate Rewards points, including no-annual-fee cards such as the Chase Freedom Flex, Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Ink Business Cash Credit Card. However, if you have any of those cards without also having a mid-tier or premium card, your “points” are essentially just valid for cash back, and you miss out on the best benefit of the Ultimate Rewards program: the transfer partners.

In order to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to any of the 11 airline and three hotel partners, you need to have a mid-tier or premium card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred Card.

Maybe you don’t care for the $550 annual fee of the Sapphire Reserve. And maybe you don’t want or need a business credit card (though side gigs and freelancing do meet the qualifications for approval). That leaves the Sapphire Preferred as your best bet for a mid-tier card with the ability to transfer your points.

Related: 7 ways to get over 5 cents per point in value from your Chase Ultimate Rewards points

You’ll have little to no learning curve

Sometimes people who are new to points and miles sign up for credit cards without understanding the intricacies of the given program or how to redeem points. Many newbies may redeem the 60,000 bonus points from the Sapphire Preferred directly through the Ultimate Rewards portal, which values the points at 1.25 cents.

Now there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that approach. After all, it’s $750 of travel you wouldn’t have had otherwise. And I have made portal bookings before, especially for hotels that are not part of any loyalty program (which became even more valuable last year with the addition of a $50 credit on these hotel reservations).

But since TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, it’s certainly possible to get more than $750 of value from the sign-up bonus.

As someone who may be more immediate or advanced with travel rewards, you’re more likely to know the sweet spots for redemptions and the best transfer partners, and maybe you already have travel plans in mind for the welcome bonus. You probably also know that it’s not wise to hoard points given frequent program devaluations, so you won’t let the points sit indefinitely without using them.

Related: From international business class to domestic hops: 6 of the best Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots

No foreign transaction fees

(Photo by mediaphotos/Getty Images)

International travel has rebounded in a big way, especially as more countries drop travel restrictions and make it easier to enter without testing or quarantine requirements.

If you travel internationally even once a year, it’s critical to have a card with no foreign transaction fees in your wallet to avoid paying more for your purchases. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card meets that need, and since it earns 3 points per dollar on dining and 2 points per dollar on travel purchases, it will likely get heavy use during your time outside of the United States.

Related: What is a foreign transaction fee?

Travel and rental car insurance benefits

I think of travel protections and rental car insurance as benefits that are good to have, but I hope I don’t have to use them. Nevertheless, I tend to book travel with the Sapphire Preferred because it gives me peace of mind, knowing it includes a variety of coverage benefits. This includes:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance.
  • Baggage delay coverage.
  • Trip delay reimbursement.

Even using your Ultimate Rewards points or just paying the taxes on an award flight qualifies for coverage.

With airline meltdowns occurring with increasing frequency leading to delayed or canceled flights, it’s important to have a card with these benefits.

And when I rent a car, the primary rental car insurance (as opposed to the secondary coverage offered by many other cards) is a differentiator in deciding what card to use.

Related: Does Chase travel insurance apply if I pay for my trip with Ultimate Rewards points?

Bottom line

The current welcome bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred is 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. If you’re an intermediate or advanced points and miles collector, you may have written off this card as being for beginners.

But if you don’t currently have the card and you meet the qualifications of the 5/24 rule and the 48-month rule, it’s a card you should highly consider adding (or adding again if you’ve had it in the past) to your lineup.

Featured photo by anyaberkut/Getty Images.

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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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