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TravelWhy the Chase Sapphire Preferred should still be your first rewards card

Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred should still be your first rewards card


It’s easy to decide you want to be able to travel for less. It can be hard to know where to start. And while we have a guide to getting started with points and miles, the advice doesn’t even have to be as involved as parsing through a guide.

The overwhelming majority of the time, my number one recommendation for those looking to delve into earning points and miles is to first get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

It is a classic travel rewards credit card that has been around for 15 years, but that doesn’t mean it is stale. In fact, it means it’s a classic that has stayed with the times since it was launched in 2009. But in this case, it’s tough to top this classic when starting in the rewards credit card landscape.

So whether you’re looking for which card to start with — or which card to get next — here are five reasons why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still my most frequently recommended card.

Great welcome offer

The sign-up bonus for the Sapphire Preferred varies, but right now, it’s pretty great: 75,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after $4,000 in spending in the first three months.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

TPG values the 75,000 point bonus at $1,538, but that is based on maximizing the points with Chase’s hotel and airline transfer partners.

Learning to maximize your Chase Ultimate Rewards points with transfer partners — such as Hyatt and United — takes a little research but is worth the myriad benefits you’ll reap once you start using transfer partners with valuable Ultimate Rewards points.

However, even if you use the points directly for travel booked through Chase Travel℠, you’ll still get 1.25 cents in value per point. Even at that fixed valuation that comes in lower than if you maximize your points with partners, that’s a great sign-up bonus that requires little effort to utilize.

Outstanding transfer partners

Once you get the hang of it, the lineup of transfer partners available with the Chase Sapphire Preferred is stellar.

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These transfer partners are:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • IHG Rewards
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • World of Hyatt

Unlike other card programs, transfers from Chase to these partners are at a 1:1 ratio (or higher, with occasional transfer bonuses).

This means that 75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points could be turned into the equivalent of 75,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points — or United MileagePlus miles, World of Hyatt points and the list goes on. This opens up many more uses for your points than if they were locked into earning and redeeming with one loyalty program.

SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

Several transfer partners — such as United and Southwest — are relatively unique to Chase, so the lineup can’t be easily replicated with most other credit card programs.

The U.S.-based loyalty programs are often more comfortable places for those newer to travel rewards to start with point transfers than some international options where you can leverage partner bookings. Thankfully, Chase has a number of those for you to start with.

Low annual fee with added perks

Premium travel rewards cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Sapphire Preferred’s luxury counterpart, the Chase Sapphire Reserve ® , have replaced the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s slot in my own wallet. However, I travel multiple times per month and have been at the points and miles game for a long time.

Even if those cards are worth it — and they can be — rare is the points and miles newcomer wanting to start with a card that comes with a $695 annual fee (see rates and fees for the Amex Platinum) or $550 (for the Sapphire Reserve).

Testing the waters with a card like the Sapphire Preferred can be much easier, with just a $95 annual fee. That’s a minimal investment to try out a new-to-you card for at least a year.

Note that a relatively recent refresh of the card added even more perks that can partially offset the annual fee. For example, you can enjoy a $50 annual hotel credit for stays booked through Chase Travel, and you’ll also receive 10% of your points back each year (based on your card spending).

Related: The 8 best credit cards with annual fees under $100

Good earning rates that can improve with time

The Sapphire Preferred doesn’t have the highest earning rates out there, but it still offers a solid return on many purchases — including newer categories that launched in recent years:

  • 5 points per dollar on travel booked through Chase Travel
  • 5 points per dollar on Lyft rides (through March 31, 2025)
  • 3 points per dollar on dining
  • 3 points per dollar on select streaming services
  • 3 points per dollar on online grocery store purchases (excludes Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • 2 points per dollar on all travel not booked through Chase Travel
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else

These categories are quite broad, and travel includes everything from plane tickets and hotels to subway passes and parking garages. Dining includes everything from a five-star restaurant to fast food and DoorDash delivery services.

Since TPG values the points earned by this card at 2.05 cents each, you are getting anywhere from 2.05 to 10.25 cents in value per dollar charged to the card, depending on the category you’re spending in. However, once you are ready to “level up,” the Sapphire Preferred and its points can grow with you.

Related: All about the Chase credit card trifecta

Easy-to-use rewards

The most mathematically rewarding way to maximize your Ultimate Rewards points is by transferring to the previously mentioned hotel and airline partners when the award availability tips in your favor. However, I like this card for beginners because it’s not necessary to do that. In fact, I have many friends and family members who never redeem their Chase points via transfer partners.

JOHN HARRISON PHOTOGRAPHY

You can use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a fixed rate to book flights, hotels and other travel via Chase Travel. With the Sapphire Preferred, your points are worth 1.25 cents each when used in that manner. If you or someone else in your household ever get the Chase Sapphire Reserve, points used that way are worth 1.5 cents each with that card.

The booking site operates the same as when booking travel via an online travel agency like Expedia, making it a straightforward and intuitive way to use your points even for those new to this way of traveling for less.

Chase makes it easier to get approved when you are newer to rewards cards

Last but not least, there’s the fact that Chase makes it easier to get Chase-issued credit cards before you get too far into your rewards credit card journey.

There’s an unwritten yet well-documented rule that Chase generally won’t issue a new credit card account once you have opened five or more card accounts across all banks in the last 24 months.

Informally, this is known as the Chase 5/24 rule. That seems easy enough if you are used to only getting a new credit card once every few years, at most, but once you get into credit card rewards, it can be easy to use those slots as you get an airline card, hotel card, etc.

ZEYNEPKAYA/GETTY IMAGES

Because of this restriction, it makes sense to start by getting a Chase card, like the Sapphire Preferred, as one of your first cards before you could potentially run into a brick wall with opening new Chase accounts for some time.

Related: The best ways to fill your 5/24 slots

Bottom line

With its valuable welcome offer, now could be the right time to dive into credit card rewards and get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

It walks a wonderful line between being rewarding and rich when it comes to perks and points without being intimidating or too pricey to try out. It can be the perfect gateway to having a wallet full of Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards and maximizing transfer partners, award chart sweet spots, built-in stopovers and more.

Or, if you prefer, it can remain a classic, low-annual-fee travel credit card that unlocks simple rewards all on its own.

There’s no wrong way to use a Sapphire Preferred. And there’s no better card with which to get your travel rewards journey started.


Apply here: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card


For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.

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