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How to maximize your rewards earning with the Chase Sapphire Preferred

May 04, 2022
9 min read
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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 Sapphire Preferred because it’s integral to our travel rewards strategy.

We highlight it for a couple of reasons:

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In fact, right now, new applicants for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can earn an elevated bonus of 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. The card does comes with a $95 annual fee, but it's relatively easy to cover that fee (and then some).

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.

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:

  • $50 annual credit on hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards.
  • 10% points bonus each year based on your card spending (e.g., if you spend $10,000, you’ll receive 1,000 bonus points).
  • 5 points per dollar on Lyft (through March 2025) and on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal.
  • 5 points per dollar on each Peloton Bike, Tread and Guide purchase over $450 with a max earn of 25,000 total points (through June 30, 2022).
  • At least 12 months of complimentary DashPass (or through Dec. 31, 2024) for use with both DoorDash and Caviar.
  • 3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services and online groceries (excludes Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
  • 2 points per dollar on all travel not booked through the Chase Travel Portal.
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else.
  • Primary rental car insurance.
  • Trip delay insurance.
  • Baggage delay insurance.
  • Extended warranty protection.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

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 protections 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

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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 current bonus won't be around forever. Currently, you’ll receive 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. TPG values that bonus at $1,200 — 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/cancellation results in an unexpected overnight).
  • Baggage delay insurance: You and your immediate family are entitled to up to $100 per day in reimbursement (for up to five days) to cover the purchase of 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 statement credit for 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.

Just note that this may not be the best option if you're booking a major chain that's part of a hotel loyalty program like Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors. Chase is considered a third-party platform for the purposes of these reservations, which means that you likely won't earn points on the stay (and you may not be able to enjoy any elite status perks either).

You could always call the individual property after booking (or try to add your loyalty number at check in), but it may not work. As a result, your best bet is to use this perk for non-chain hotels or boutique properties.

Use your Chase Sapphire Preferred to pay for rental cars

Here’s another standalone benefit that may justify the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s $95 annual fee for many travelers. When you pay for a rental car with the card, you can waive the in-house rental agency’s pricey Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance — which can be $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 without going through your own, personal insurance company. You’ll also earn 5 points per dollar if you book your rental through the Chase Travel Portal. However, be aware that this doesn't include liability insurance (damage to the car you crashed into, for example).

Use your Chase Sapphire Preferred to pay at restaurants

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 3 points per dollar at restaurants — whether you’re ordering takeout 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.

However, if you add your Sapphire Preferred to your DoorDash account today, you'll enjoy those perks through Dec. 31, 2024.

Related: Just got the Chase Sapphire Preferred? Do these 6 things next

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 non-bonus 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 similar travel protections to 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 earning rates. And considering the bonus is currently at a solid 60,000 points, applying right now is a no-brainer.

Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred 60,000-point offer

Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox.

Featured image by Bloomberg via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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