Who should (and shouldn’t) get the Chase Sapphire Preferred?

Apr 7, 2021

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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.

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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.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card review

In This Post

Card overview

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Let’s start with a quick review of the key benefits of the Sapphire Preferred. The card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $1,000 in travel when you redeem through the Chase travel portal, but TPG values it at up to $1,600 when you utilize Chase’s transfer partners. Plus, earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery purchases in the first year of account opening.

Chase recently added new DoorDash benefits for cardholders. Chase Sapphire Preferred members get at least one complimentary year of DashPass membership, eliminating delivery fees on orders over $12 and lowering service fees at eligible restaurants.

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 ride-sharing 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:

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 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: How I used Chase Ultimate Rewards to book my trip to Croatia

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

If you have the Freedom and/or Freedom Unlimited

Another great candidate for the card is someone who already has either the Chase Freedom (no longer open to new applicants) 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 lets you 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.

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.

You’ll get at least 1.25 cents of value per point 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.

Related: The power of the Chase Trifecta: Sapphire Reserve, Ink Preferred and Freedom Unlimited

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 the rewards 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

Transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt and get free hotel nights worldwide. (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
Ultimate Rewards points get you access to some great redemption options through Chase’s transfer partners, such as Hyatt. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

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 minimal annual fee.

Related: Pros and cons of downgrading your credit cards right now

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.

However, be sure you understand the restrictions on the two Sapphire cards, which brings me to the next section of my analysis …

Related: Maximize your wallet with the perfect quartet of Chase cards

Who shouldn’t get the Sapphire Preferred?

Of course, just as certain travelers should apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, certain types of travelers 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 100,000-point sign-up bonus (now lowered to 60,000 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

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Also, in preventing current Sapphire Reserve cardholders from signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred (and vice versa), Chase added 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 a Sapphire card, be sure to wait 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 affected 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).

Related: What to do after you reach 5/24

Note that this even includes accounts on which you’re an authorized user. However, 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.

Bottom line

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 go 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.

Apply: Chase Sapphire Preferred with 80,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.

Featured photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.

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