Chase Sapphire Preferred® Review: Why It’s the One Travel Card I Can’t Live Without

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Review: Why It’s the One Travel Card I Can’t Live Without

June 6, 2017

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While I write about nearly every rewards card under the sun each year, there’s one card I recommend more than any other. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card continually stands out due to its lucrative rewards program, fair fee structure, and versatility.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, you’ll earn points good for numerous travel experiences, from travel you can book directly through the Chase portal to lucrative transfers to hotel and airline partners.

Personally, I’ve used Chase Ultimate Rewards points for everything from flights for my family of four to Europe to snorkel sessions in the Caribbean Sea and day trips through Greece. For our family trip this summer, I cashed in points from my Chase Sapphire Preferred® card for day trips all around Italy, from Cinque Terre to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. We also cashed in points for a cooking class in Florence, Italy on my daughter’s 6th birthday, and on a rental car to drive through the Swiss Alps.

If you can dream it, you can make it happen through Chase Ultimate Rewards. And the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card just so happens to be the perfect card to utilize this lucrative program.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Details

We’ve already covered just how flexible this rewards card can be, yet it’s important to share all the details as well.

Here’s the current offer on this card, including information on APRs, bonus offers, and annual fees:

  • Earn 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year
  • Transfer to popular loyalty partners 1:1
  • Get 25% more travel when using points to book through Chase travel portal
  • No foreign transaction fees

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Perks Worth Mentioning

Year after year, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® is listed as one of the most versatile rewards cards on the market. This is mainly due to the fact there are so many ways to redeem your points. Unlike other cards who may dole out points that are difficult to use, the sheer number of redemption options available makes it easy to use Chase Ultimate Rewards.

For starters, you can use the points you earn to book travel directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards with 25 percent more travel for using the Chase Sapphire Preferred®.

If you don’t see anything you like in the Chase travel portal, you can transfer Chase points to a slew of popular airline and hotel transfer partners at a 1:1 ratio. Options include:

  • British Airways
  • Air France Flying Blue
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Korean Air
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hyatt
  • Marriott
  • IHG Rewards
  • Ritz Carlton

As a third redemption option, you can also cash in your Chase points for cash back, gift cards, or merchandise. The 50,000 point signup bonus is worth $500 in cash back, creating a situation where you simply cannot lose.

Also, you’ll qualify for a bevy of benefits from Chase just for being a cardholder. Those benefits include:

  • Primary Auto Rental Coverage - Refuse the paid coverage at the rental car counter and use your Chase card to pay
  • Purchase Protection – Get coverage for theft and damage when you use your card for covered purchases
  • Extended Warranties – Qualified items you buy with your card may qualify for a warranty that extends beyond the standard manufacturer’s warranty
  • Roadside Assistance – Call for help when you’re lost or stuck
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance – Provides financial restitution if your trip is cancelled or interrupted and meets certain guidelines
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement – Get reimbursed if your luggage is lost during a trip.
  • Travel Accident Insurance – Access up to $250,000 in coverage if you’re killed or dismembered while you travel.

Intro (Purchases)
N/A
Intro (Transfers)
N/A
Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
16.99% - 23.99% Variable
Credit Recommended
Good/Excellent
Intro Rewards Bonus
50,000 bonus points

Highlights

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 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.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
See additional details for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Where the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Really Shines

This card’s biggest benefit is just how versatile and flexible the points you earn can be. Sure, you can cash them in for a gift card or statement credit, but the real fun is the many ways you can redeem them for travel.

While any of the Chase transfer partners can be lucrative, here are a few ways you can stretch your signup bonus to the max:

With 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you could:

  • Fly round-trip to Europe on Flying Blue
  • Book two round-trip flights to the Caribbean on Southwest
  • Book two nights at an all-inclusive Hyatt Resort in Jamaica or Mexico
  • Book 5-6 short-haul, domestic flights with British Airways

Of course, those are just some of the options available. Depending on your goals and travel style, you can do just about anything with your points. The important factor to celebrate is just how many options you have.

For example, you don’t have to transfer your points anywhere. While it’s usually advantageous (fewer points) to book flights or hotels through a partner, that isn’t always the case. Plus, there are times when your favorite travel program doesn’t have availability due to overbooking or blackout dates. What then?

When you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, you aren’t tied down to a specific redemption. If you’re not finding an award seat on the flight you want, you can bypass the system and book any travel you want through the Chase portal.

The travel portal works a lot like Expedia or Priceline due to the fact you can search for airfare, hotels, rental cars, and excursions with your own destinations and dates. You then have the option to pay with points, pay with money, or pay with a combination of Chase Ultimate Rewards points and cash.

Sometimes, the Chase travel portal can be an especially good deal. I recently booked one-way flights from Barcelona to Paris this fall for 3,500 Chase points per person! If I had booked the same flights through a travel partner, they would have cost at least 11,000 miles each.

Another benefit that helps this card stand out is its annual fee. It does come with a $95 charge after the first year, but that pales in comparison to the $400+ fees many top travel cards charge.

The fact that it’s waived the first year also lets you try it out for 12 months before you commit. Among top travel credit cards, this is almost unheard of.

Where the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Comes Up Short

While it’s difficult to find anything wrong with the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, it’s important to compare it to other top travel cards. If you’re a big spender who spends a ton on travel and dining, for example, you may be better off with the new Chase Sapphire Reserve card instead.

While the Reserve card does come with a $450 annual fee, it does let you earn 3x points on travel and dining, along with a $300 travel credit every year. You’ll also get other perks such as airport lounge membership and discounts on car rentals.

Another area where the Chase Sapphire Preferred® could be lacking is the fact you only earn 2x points on travel and dining and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. If you’re in it just for the cash back, you may be better off selecting a card with a higher rate of earning.

The Discover it Miles, for example, offers 1.5 percent back on all purchases but promises to double your rewards after 12 months. This bonus offer effectively boosts your return rate to 3 percent, making it hard to beat. Then again, the Discover it Miles doesn’t offer a signup bonus, either.

Intro (Purchases)
N/A
Intro (Transfers)
N/A
Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
16.99% - 23.99% Variable
Credit Recommended
Good/Excellent
Intro Rewards Bonus
50,000 bonus points
See additional details for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Conclusion

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred® may not be the ideal cash back card, it’s one heck of a travel credit card. With a 50,000 bonus, popular partners to transfer to, and a low annual fee that’s waived the first year, what do you have to lose?

Having access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards program is enough to keep this card in my wallet year after year. Since the points are easy to earn and fun to redeem, the $95 annual fee is well worth it.