Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is more than just a starter card
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
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.
Get the latest points, miles and travel news by signing up for TPG’s free daily newsletter.
You can get the bonus again even if you’ve had it before
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.
Quick way to amass a lot of points
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:
- Three round-trip flights from the West Coast to Hawaii using British Airways Avios.
- Four nights (at off-peak or standard rates) at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar using World of Hyatt points.
- A one-way Delta One business-class flight to Europe using Virgin Atlantic points.
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.
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.
No foreign transaction fees
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.
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.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy Bonus Points after spending $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 8/31/22.
- 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
- 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
- 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
- Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
- Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees