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Travel6 reasons why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the perfect card for...

6 reasons why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the perfect card for the average traveler


Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.

At TPG, we love the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It was the first travel rewards credit card for many of us and remains one of the cards we can’t live without.

We love that it earns versatile Chase Ultimate Rewards points and has our backs if something goes wrong while we’re traveling. It’s perfect for the average traveler who takes one or two big trips a year and wants travel benefits but doesn’t need the extras that come with a more premium travel card.

While many of us have upgraded to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® as our travel habits have evolved, the Chase Sapphire Preferred continues to be one of the top cards we recommend to beginners and anyone looking for a solid set of travel benefits.

Here’s why we consider the Sapphire Preferred the best card for the average traveler.

Low annual fee

The Chase Sapphire Preferred charges a $95 annual fee, which is far more reasonable than what you’ll pay for a more premium travel card. While the trade-off is fewer perks, most average travelers won’t use perks like lounge access or airline fee credits enough to warrant the higher fees that accompany them.

MASKOT/GETTY IMAGES

To fully offset the card’s yearly cost, you’ll need to earn at least $95 in rewards every year. TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at two cents each. With the card’s bonus categories that allow you to earn 3 points per dollar on dining and 2 points per dollar on travel spending, you’ll easily make up the annual fee by spending $200 per month on travel and/or dining.

You may be skeptical of annual fees if you’re new to credit card rewards. But when you have a strong card with a manageable fee, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, it’s easy to make up the difference so that you aren’t actually paying anything out of pocket for the card each year.

Related: Why you’ll want to pay the $95 annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Valuable sign-up bonus

New cardholders can earn a limited-time 75,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. While spending $4,000 in just three months may sound like a hard task for some budgets, there are plenty of ways you can meet the minimum spend requirement to unlock the sign-up bonus.

According to TPG valuations, that sign-up bonus is worth a whopping $1,538 in travel rewards. With 75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points at your disposal, this card opens up a ton of redemption options.

You could score this amazing view when you take advantage of Chase’s transfer partners. SAMANTHA ROSEN/THE POINTS GUY

Related: Best ways to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Solid earning

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards, some of the most versatile points available.

The sign-up bonus gives you a great start toward earning the points necessary for your next vacation, but it isn’t the only way to earn points. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar on all dining and 2 points per dollar on travel purchases.

And Chase’s dining and travel categories are incredibly broad. Many issuers restrict dining purchases to just standard restaurants and maybe fast food, but Chase also includes bars, breweries, university dining halls, vending machines and even some restaurant delivery services such as DoorDash and Seamless.

ALEXANDER SPATARI/GETTY IMAGES

The travel category is also quite generous, including typical travel purchases like hotels and airfare alongside timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.

Related: How to maximize your earning with the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Great redemptions

In addition to flexibility in what earns bonus rewards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers flexibility in  how you can redeem your points.

TPG values Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2.05 cents each because Chase has many valuable travel partners that give you access to all three major airline alliances and three different hotel brands (IHG, Marriott and Hyatt). Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to each of its partners at a 1:1 ratio and many of these transfers process almost instantly. Transferring your points to airline partners is instrumental to fly business or first class internationally.

The Chase Ultimate Rewards program also offers real value to average travelers through Chase Travel℠. Most people who only travel once or twice a year will not want to spend hours on end combing through potential redemptions with transfer partners. And while sites like TPG can help make that process easier by walking you through potential redemption options and publishing deal alerts when our team comes across them, most average travelers will be most comfortable booking through a portal that aggregates redemption offers across airlines and hotels.

(Photo by Madison Blancaflor/The Points Guy)
I used my Chase Sapphire Preferred sign-up bonus and Chase Travel℠ to book my first points-funded trip to Croatia in 2019. MADISON BLANCAFLOR/THE POINTS GUY

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can redeem points for 1.25 cents each when booking through the portal for travel. This redemption rate is generally a good deal if you’re booking economy awards or standard room rates. Another bonus to booking airfare, especially through the portal, is that airlines consider your redemption cash, meaning your points will also cover any taxes and fees associated with your flight. And you’ll earn any frequent flyer miles that you would on a standard paid flight.

While you most likely won’t earn elite night credits when booking hotels through the portal, average travelers generally aren’t staying with the same hotel chain often enough to hit valuable elite status tiers. This means you’re not really losing out on anything by choosing to book through the portal with points rather than directly through the hotel if you happen to find a better deal through Chase.

Related: Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards for maximum value

Helpful travel benefits

The Chase Sapphire Preferred may not come with lounge access or hundreds of dollars in travel credits, but that doesn’t mean it lacks valuable benefits.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has some of the best travel protections of any mid-tier credit card on the market. You’ll get $500 per ticket in trip delay insurance, $10,000 in trip cancellation insurance, baggage delay insurance and up to $3,000 per person in lost luggage reimbursement. The card also comes with primary rental car insurance — a rarity for any card — let alone a mid-tier card.

OSCAR WONG/GETTY IMAGES

Sapphire Preferred cardholders also get at least one complimentary year of DashPass, normally $96 annually, which waives delivery fees at eligible restaurants and discounts service fees on orders over $12. This benefit alone knocks out the cost of the annual fee.

Finally, the card offers Visa Signature benefits (including access to the Visa Signature Concierge Service) and no foreign transaction fees.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits you might not know about

A great sibling

Most average travelers probably don’t have 19 credit cards in their wallet, which means the cards you have need to make an impact. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is easily paired with Chase cash back cards to help you maximize your earning potential across spending categories — without adding hundreds of dollars in annual fees to your plate.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® cash-back cards technically earn points but don’t allow you to transfer your points or receive 1.25 cents per point via Chase Travel. However, you can move the points you earn from either of these cards to the Chase Sapphire Preferred to take advantage of transfer partners or the increased portal redemption rate.

A person holds a wallet while pulling out a credit card
MIXETTO/GETTY IMAGES

The Chase Freedom Flex has rotating quarterly bonus categories that earn 5% cash back (5 points per dollar) on the first eligible $1,500 you spend each quarter you activate, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5% cash back (1.5 points per dollar) on all purchases. Both cards also earn 5 points per dollar on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3 points per dollar on dining at restaurants and drugstores. Neither card has an annual fee.

While earning 2 points per dollar on travel and 3 points per dollar on dining purchases with the Sapphire Preferred is great, it’s even better when you can pair it with a card that earns bonus rewards on other spending categories.

Related: Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Bottom line

The points and miles world isn’t just for those who travel for work or spend all of their free time on the road. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the average traveler can earn valuable points that can turn into flights and/or hotel stays for a much-deserved vacation. Having the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great first step to exploring the world through award travel.


Apply here: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a current offer of 75,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.


 

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