Who should (and shouldn’t) get the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
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Editor’s note: This article has been updated with the latest details on the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It was originally published on Feb. 14, 2018.
Choosing the right travel rewards credit card (or cards, as the case may be with, ahem, some people) can be a tricky proposition. The sheer volume of options can seem overwhelming, but it’s a critical decision to maximize your everyday purchases and unlock valuable rewards like free hotel stays and award flights.
One of the most recommended credit cards, especially for travel beginners, is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Today, we’ll take a look at who should (and should not) apply for it.
Let’s start with a quick review of the key benefits on the Sapphire Preferred. The card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $750 in travel when you redeem through the Chase travel portal, but TPG values it at up to $1,200 when you utilize Chase’s transfer partners.
Chase recently added new DoorDash food delivery benefits for Chase cardholders. Chase Sapphire Preferred members get at least one free year of DashPass membership, which eliminates delivery fees at eligible restaurants and discounts service fees on orders more than $12.
You can also utilize some great earning rates on the card, as you’ll receive 2x points per dollar spent on travel purchases (covering a wide variety of merchants, including rideshare services like Lyft and vacation rental platforms like Airbnb) and 2x points per dollar spent on dining (including many delivery services. You can also utilize the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal to boost the value you get from your online purchases.
There are a handful of other key perks on the card:
- No foreign transaction fees
- Primary car rental coverage, saving you from filing a claim with your own insurance company when your rental car is damaged
- Trip delay/cancellation insurance
- Baggage Delay Insurance
All of this comes at a small price, as the card carries an annual fee of just $95.
Who should get the Sapphire Preferred?
Now that you’ve had a quick refresher on the card’s features, does the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card make sense for you? Here’s a quick rundown of who should add this card to their wallet:
If you’re looking for your first card with an annual fee
I have a confession to make. This is hard for me to say, but…I used to completely avoid cards with annual fees (whew, I feel better now). I just didn’t see the point in paying for a credit card when I could get a different one for free. However, I quickly came to recognize how valuable these cards can be. As we’ve written about before, the Sapphire Preferred is a great starter card for someone just getting into the points and miles hobby. You may have focused on fixed-value cards in the past, since many of those don’t carry an annual fee. But if you’re ready to dive deeper into maximizing your earnings and redemptions, the Chase Sapphire Preferred could be a terrific option.
Related reading: How I used Chase Ultimate Rewards to book my trip to Croatia
If you have the Freedom and/or Freedom Unlimited
Another great candidate for the card is someone who already has either the Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited cards. Combining the Sapphire Preferred with one (or both) of these cards is one of the best ways to make the most of your points. In case you aren’t aware, the Ultimate Rewards program allows you to freely transfer points between your cards that participate in the program. As a result, the points on the two Freedom cards that would usually only be redeemable for cash back can be sent to your Sapphire Preferred account, instantly increasing their value. You’ll get at least 1.25 cents apiece when you book travel directly through the Chase travel portal, but you can expand that even more by transferring to one of the program’s valuable transfer partners.
And this trick isn’t limited to those with personal cards.
If you’re a small business owner with the Ink Cash or Ink Unlimited
You can utilize the same strategy outlined above if you’re a business owner with the Ink Business Cash Credit Card or Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card. You may think that you must keep your business and personal cards entirely separate. While that does hold true for expenses you charge to the card, it doesn’t apply to the earnings on the card. Here’s what you’ll find on the Ultimate Rewards FAQ page under the Combine Points section:
Can I move points I earn to other Chase cards with Ultimate Rewards?
Yes, you can move points, but only to another Chase card with Ultimate Rewards belonging to you, or one member of your household or owner of the company, as applicable.
As a result, you can apply for the Sapphire Preferred as an Ink Cash cardholder and then transfer your current points from your small business account to the Sapphire Preferred to augment their value.
If you don’t currently have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points
The Ultimate Rewards program can be incredibly lucrative if you know how to redeem your points for maximum value. If you don’t currently have a card that participates in the program, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great one to get started. As noted above, the card carries a valuable sign-up bonus, lucrative earning rates and several added perks for a very small annual fee. Once you’ve had the card for at least 48 months and become more familiar with making the most of your Ultimate Rewards points, you can do what I did: downgrade the card to the Freedom Unlimited and then apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Related reading: Maximize your wallet with the perfect quartet of Chase cards
However, be sure you understand the restrictions when it comes to the two Sapphire cards, which brings me to the next section of my analysis…
Who shouldn’t get the Sapphire Preferred?
Of course, just as certain travelers should apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, there are certain types of travelers who shouldn’t go for the card. Here are some of those cases:
If you currently have the Sapphire Reserve
The credit card world was turned upside down when the Chase Sapphire Reserve was introduced in August 2016. With an incredible sign-up bonus (since lowered to 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening), terrific earning rates and a host of valuable benefits, the card was a hot commodity right off the bat. However, if you currently carry the card in your wallet, you can’t apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
If you received a sign-up bonus from any Sapphire card in the last 48 months
In addition to preventing current Sapphire Reserve cardholders to sign-up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred (and vice versa), Chase also has restrictions on how often you can earn a sign-up bonus from a Sapphire credit card. You can’t earn a sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Preferred card if you earned one from any Sapphire card in the prior 48 months. As a result, if you recently took home a bonus on the card, be sure to wait until you’re at least four years before applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
If you’ve applied for five or more cards from any issuer in the last 24 months
The final type of individual who shouldn’t apply for the Sapphire Preferred would be those impacted by Chase’s notorious 5/24 rule. If you’re not familiar, Chase will typically immediately deny your application for many of its credit cards if you’ve opened five or more new credit cards in the last 24 months (hence the “5/24” moniker). Note that this even includes accounts on which you’re an authorized user, although I did have success calling Chase’s reconsideration line when I was denied for the United Explorer Card and my fifth recently opened card was my wife’s account. However, if you currently have five or more new credit cards on your credit report, don’t waste a hard inquiry by applying for the Sapphire Preferred; you’ll be sorely disappointed.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a fantastic option for diving deeper into the points and miles hobby, as it provides many opportunities to redeem for valuable rewards that are far beyond those that simpler, fixed-value cards can provide. That being said, it isn’t the best option for everyone, so be sure to consider your own unique situation and whether the card makes sense for your wallet. Hopefully this post has given you some good, concrete suggestions of when you should (or shouldn’t) apply for the card.
Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.
Featured image by Riley Arthur for The Points Guy.
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.
- 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
- No delivery fees for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with a DashPass subscription from DoorDash -over a $100 value. Activate with your Chase Sapphire card by December 31, 2021.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.