How to maximize your rewards earning with the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Oct 5, 2021

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

We often say that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is the best first credit card for those learning about the miles and points hobby. That’s not because the card is a “beginner” card. Quite the opposite. Many of us at TPG still have the Chase Sapphire Preferred because it’s integral to our travel rewards strategy.

We highlight it as a beginner card for a couple of reasons:

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with a $95 annual fee. But let’s take a look at how you can maximize the Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits to ensure you’re saving the most money — and earning the most points — as organically possible. It’ll help you gauge whether the card is worth keeping year after year.

In This Post

Overview of the Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Here are the notable benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred:

You don’t have to be a miles and points enthusiast to appreciate the card. These perks make the Chase Sapphire Preferred a very practical card for anyone who vacations just once or twice per year.

With a $95 annual fee, the travel insurances alone make this card worth the price tag. It’s personally saved me over $3,000 during travel mishaps like canceled flights, dented rental cars, and lost luggage. And because the card quickly racks up rewards, you’ll have a small fortune in Chase points by the time you’re confident enough to start using them.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred review

Strategies for maximizing the Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred’s primary rental car insurance could save you hundreds on your rental, depending on how long your reservation is. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

First things first: The Chase Sapphire Preferred’s monster bonus is too good to last and will almost certainly plummet in value soon. Currently, you’ll receive 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. TPG values that bonus at $2,000 worth of travel — though you can get significantly more than that if you know the Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots.

Once you’ve used the bonus, however, what’s the best way to maximize this card?

Use your Chase Sapphire Preferred to pay for airfare

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 5 points per dollar on airfare booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 2 points per dollar when booked through an online travel agency or directly with the airline. But amassing points is not the primary motivator for using the card.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred will automatically give you two significant benefits (among others) when booking air travel:

  • Trip delay insurance: You are covered for up to $500 per ticket when your flight is delayed 12 hours or more, or if your delay/cancelation is overnight.
  • Baggage delay insurance: You and your immediate family are entitled to up to $100 per day for up to five days for necessary expenses like clothes, toiletries, etc. This benefit kicks in when your bags are delayed six hours or more.

These perks alone are enough for many to keep the card year after year.

Use your Chase Sapphire Preferred to pay for hotels via the Chase Travel Portal

Each anniversary year, the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with a $50 credit off a hotel stay booked via the Chase Travel Portal. You’ll also receive 5 points per dollar for booking travel through the Chase Travel Portal (though the $50 credit won’t earn points). That’s a great pair of benefits capable of wooing anyone who would normally book a hotel via an online travel agency like Expedia or Priceline.

Use your Chase Sapphire Preferred to pay for rental cars

Here’s another standalone benefit that many travelers and road warriors may believe justifies the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s $95 annual fee. When you pay for a rental car with the card, you can waive the in-house rental agency’s pricey CDW insurance (often $15+ per day), and you’ll still receive primary rental car insurance, courtesy of Chase. Note that this covers damage and theft to the card and does not offer liability insurance (damage to the car you crashed into, for example). You’ll earn 5 points per dollar if you book your rental through the Chase Travel Portal.

Use your Chase Sapphire Preferred to pay at restaurants (particularly carryout)

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 3 points per dollar at restaurants, whether you’re ordering carryout or dining in. That’s a great benefit to stack with the fact that the card offers one complimentary year (at least) of DashPass membership with DoorDash. You’ll get free deliveries on orders totaling more than $12 — and you’ll get 3 points per dollar on your purchase. That equates to 6% back on your meal.

Use your Chase Sapphire Preferred to pay for online groceries

This is one of life’s biggest expenses — and the Chase Sapphire Preferred rewards you generously for it. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar when you order groceries online — though note that this excludes Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs.

When not to use the Chase Sapphire Preferred

There are some situations in which your Chase Sapphire Preferred is best left in its holster.

Don’t use your Chase Sapphire Preferred to pay for unbonused purchases

The card earns 1 point per dollar on all expenses that don’t fall into a bonus category. That’s not a reasonable return rate. There are plenty of cards (some with $0 annual fees) that will better serve you for these transactions. If you want to stay focused on collecting Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can swipe the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which earns a minimum of 1.5% (1.5 points per dollar) on all purchases.

Don’t forfeit other card benefits by using your Chase Sapphire Preferred

If you’ve got other credit cards that provide valuable benefits for specific purchases, don’t use the Chase Sapphire Preferred out of loyalty.

For example, you can receive a free checked bag with United Airlines when you use your qualifying United Airlines credit card to pay for your flight. That could save you $60 round-trip and is well worth using your United card (I recommend the United Explorer Card, which will provide you with the same trip insurance as the Sapphire Preferred).

Or, if you book the same hotel brand often and elite status is important to you, use the hotel’s cobranded credit card to pay for your stays instead of the Sapphire Preferred. You’ll earn more points that way. For instance:

Bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is well worth the $95 annual fee each year if you know how to maximize the card. The card packs a punch between its annual $50 hotel credit, the myriad travel insurances, and its generous points earning rates. And considering the bonus is currently at an all-time high of 100,000 points and likely to be gone soon, applying right now is a no-brainer.

Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred 100,000-point offer

Featured photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.