There are a plethora of quality travel credit cards out there. Few are good enough to remain in my wallet perpetually. The Sapphire Preferred card is one of them. Earning potential is lacking, but the flexible use of points ensures this card will be in my portfolio for a long time.
This Visa card, serviced by Chase, comes with a solid sign-on bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. As straight cash back, of which is an option, that equates to $500 in your pocket. Optimization takes form in Chase’s travel portal, where your points are redeemed at 1.25X rate. Essentially, $500 is points is the same as $625 in travel credit when booking through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards system. One drawback is that when booking hotels your stays do not count as direct bookings, so if you’re building loyalty with a certain brand, these stays/points may not count towards your progression. An additional 5,000 points can be obtained by adding an authorized user and having them make a single purchase within those first three months.
Accelerated earning is fulfilled in the restaurant and travel categories at a rate of 2 points per $1 spent. All other purchases earn at a 1/1 rate. Travel spending covers a range of services, including airfare, hotels, car rentals, taxis and rideshares, and even discount travel sites. More information on bonus categories can be found on Chase’s dedicated page. As I mentioned before, the earn categories are limited. If Chase expanded travel expenses to include fuel purchases, I may consider this a near perfect travel card. This meager limitation is ameliorated by the versatile use of the points you do acquire.
Beyond the bonus 25% when booking travel through UR, Chase also makes it extremely easy to transfer points to a number of travel partners at a 1:1 value. This can be a useful strategy to try to get the most bang for your buck. If you find yourself slightly short of the points required for a free flight or room, simply transfer the points needed. It’s also possible to find direct point redemptions with hotels and airlines at a cheaper rate than through UR, so be sure to check both the direct booking option and through Chase before making your purchase. Points do need to be transferred in 1,000 point increments. Partners include, but are not limited to, Southwest Airlines, Hyatt, Marriott, and United.
Another feature of the card that, while quantifiable, is hard to put a dollar value on, is that it acts as primary insurance on a rental car. I like having that peace of mind leaving the car rental lot. Other perks include trip cancellation coverage and trip delay reimbursement. Neither of which have I had to use, thankfully, but it’s nice knowing they are available.
All these bells and whistles do come at a cost. Currently, the card carries a $95 annual fee which is waived for the first year. This is on the low end for what I consider premium travel cards, but it is certain to turn away those who shy away from any fee cards.
Chase customers who already earn points on other cards through Ultimate Rewards have the opportunity to transfer points between accounts. I already had the free Chase Freedom card which features different 5% bonus spending categories each quarter. Using these two cards in tandem has allowed me to earn points quickly by monitoring the relevant categories and using the correct card at the right time.
Overall, this is a great starter card for those entering in the points game or for anyone looking for a solid, everyday card. Churn or keep, it’s hard to go wrong with the Sapphire Preferred card.