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TravelWhy the Chase Sapphire Preferred is more than just a starter card

Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is more than just a starter card


The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is often hailed as the best starter card for travel rewards — the first card that beginners to points and miles should get. And with good reason. However, it’s not just a card for newbies. Even the more intermediate and advanced points and miles collectors often have this card in their wallets.

With the current welcome bonus of 75,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening, the card is worth getting — even as an intermediate or advanced points enthusiast — if you don’t currently have it.

Here are six reasons you might want the Sapphire Preferred, even if you’re no longer a newbie.

Earn the welcome bonus more than once

Some more experienced points and miles collectors assume they’ll run into roadblocks with Chase’s eligibility rules. And there are some specific requirements you need to meet:

  • You’ll need to be under 5/24, meaning you can’t have more than five new credit cards (across all issuers) in the past 24 months.
  • You must meet the 48-month rule of not having received a bonus on a Sapphire card in the past 48 months.
  • You must not currently have any Sapphire cards open.

I realize this eliminates many people who would otherwise want to apply for the Sapphire Preferred. However, let’s say the Sapphire Preferred was one of your earliest cards, and you received the welcome bonus, redeemed all of your points and closed or downgraded your card.

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If it’s been more than 48 months since you last received the bonus, you can get it again — as long as you fall under Chase’s 5/24 rule of having fewer than five new credit cards in the past 24 months. And remember, your 48-month clock starts when you receive the bonus, not when you apply or close the card.

The 48-month rule is one positive for Chase compared to American Express, whose once-per-lifetime restriction limits you from receiving a bonus on the same card again in most cases.

Quick points-earning

While it’s important to maximize your everyday spending, earning sign-up bonuses on new cards is one of the easiest ways to amass a lot of points quickly.

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In just three months (or less, depending on how fast you can spend $4,000), you’ll have enough points for travel experiences such as:

Alternatively, even if you book directly through Chase Travel℠, the bonus points are worth a ton of money in travel, which can go a long way toward offsetting some of the costs of your summer trip.

Related: How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for maximum value

Transfer partner opportunities

Many Chase cards earn Ultimate Rewards points, including no-annual-fee cards such as the Chase Freedom Flex℠, Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card. However, if you have any of those cards without also having a mid-tier or premium card, your “points” are essentially just valid for cash back, and you miss out on the best benefit of the Ultimate Rewards program: the transfer partners.

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To transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to any of its airline and hotel partners, you must have a mid-tier or premium card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.

Maybe you don’t care for the $550 annual fee of the Sapphire Reserve. And maybe you don’t want or need a business credit card (though side gigs and freelancing do meet the qualifications for approval). That leaves the Sapphire Preferred as your best bet for a mid-tier card with the ability to transfer your points.

Related: 7 ways to get over 5 cents per point in value from your Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Little to no learning curve

Sometimes, people new to points and miles sign up for credit cards without understanding the program’s intricacies or how to redeem points. Many newbies may redeem the bonus points from the Sapphire Preferred directly through the Chase travel portal, which values the points at 1.25 cents.

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Now, there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that approach. After all, it’s hundreds of dollars worth of travel you wouldn’t have had otherwise. And I have made portal bookings before, especially for hotels not part of any loyalty program (taking advantage of the $50 credit on these hotel reservations).

However, since TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2.05 cents each, the sign-up bonus can be worth more than $900.

If you’re more intermediate or advanced with travel rewards, you’re more likely to know the sweet spots for redemptions and the best transfer partners, and maybe you already have travel plans in mind for the welcome bonus. You probably also know it’s not wise to hoard points given frequent program devaluations, so you won’t let the points sit indefinitely without using them.

Related: From international business class to domestic hops: 6 of the best Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots

No foreign transaction fees

If you travel internationally even once a year, having a card with no foreign transaction fees in your wallet is critical to avoid paying more for your purchases.

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred meets that need, and since it earns 3 points per dollar on dining and 2 points per dollar on travel purchases, it will likely get heavy use during your time outside of the United States.

Related: What is a foreign transaction fee?

Travel and insurance benefits

I think of travel protections and rental car insurance as benefits that are good to have, but I hope I don’t have to use them. Nevertheless, I tend to book travel with the Sapphire Preferred because it gives me peace of mind, knowing it includes a variety of coverage benefits. This includes:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay coverage
  • Trip delay reimbursement
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Even using your Ultimate Rewards points or paying the taxes on an award flight qualifies for coverage.

With airline meltdowns occurring more frequently, leading to delayed or canceled flights, it’s important to have a card with these benefits.

And when I rent a car, the primary rental car insurance (as opposed to the secondary coverage offered by many other cards) is a differentiator in deciding what card to use.

Related: Does Chase travel insurance apply if I pay for my trip with Ultimate Rewards points?

Bottom line

The current welcome bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred is 75,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. If you’re an intermediate or advanced points and miles collector, you may have written off this card as being for beginners.

But if you don’t currently have the card and you meet the qualifications of the 5/24 rule and the 48-month rule, it’s a card you should highly consider adding (or adding again if you’ve had it in the past) to your lineup.


Apply here: Chase Sapphire Preferred


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