Chase Sapphire Preferred® Review: A Best-In-Class Travel Credit Card

SEO Director of The Motley Fool. Alli has an economics degree from Lake Forest College and MBA from Purdue University Global.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® has a legion of travel fans for a reason. Everyday cardholders can expect a large new sign-up bonus, premium rewards for travel and dining, and perhaps most importantly, one of the most versatile travel rewards program we’ve come across. These are all reasons why I applied, but let’s dive in and see if it is a fit for you.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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Our Bottom Line

One of the most popular travel cards for many reasons. This offer is practically a must-have for travelers seeking a big sign-up bonus and one of the best points programs available on the market.

What we Like:
  • 60,000 points sign-up bonus
  • 2 points per $1 for travel & dining
  • Flexible points transfer program
Key Scores:
4.5 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
1.5 5 APR
Perks 4.5/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 1.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 17.74% - 24.74% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: N/A, N/A Balance Transfers: N/A, N/A
Highlights
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 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.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
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Why I applied

Points flexibility is essential in a travel credit card and Chase Sapphire Preferred® offers one of the most robust travel rewards programs I’ve come across. Cardholders who know how to stretch the value of points can increase the value by up to 4x, making the sign-up bonus one of the most lucrative around.

Why you can trust me

I’m a long-time “transactor,” someone who uses credit cards to earn rewards and avoid interest charges by paying off balances each month. I’ve earned thousands of dollars in rewards value over the past decade while still maintaining a credit score of over 800. I also contribute to The Ascent’s credit card ratings philosophy by poring over the offer details and fine print for hundreds of card offers spanning categories such as travel, hotel, airline, cash back, balance transfer, and student credit cards.

What I like

60,000 points sign-up bonus -- Cardholders earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. That's worth $750 for travel redeemed through Chase’s travel portal.

Unlimited 2x points for travel and dining -- Not only do travel and dining earn at 2 points per $1 but also rewards earning potential is unlimited. Many credit cards throttle down the rewards after hitting quarterly spending caps.

No foreign transaction fee -- Foreign transaction fees can quickly add up when whipping out credit cards for purchases abroad. Chase Sapphire Preferred® has nixed the typical 3% foreign transaction fee, a savings of $60 on $2,000 worth of international spending.

Chase Ultimate Rewards® points transfer partners -- Chase has locked down the deepest bench of points transfer partners that we’ve come across, making this card a no-brainer for cardholders stretching their points. Here’s a current list of participating programs:

  • Airline partners -- Aer Lingus AerClub, British Airways Executive Club, Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
  • Hotel partners -- IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, World of Hyatt.
  • Travel insurances -- This card offers a valuable, deep bench of insurances that are rare in this category. Insurances included are as follows when placing your purchase on the card:
  • Primary car rental insurance -- Primary car rental insurance ups the ante to cover damage or theft without you having to file a claim with your existing insurance. Cards not including primary insurance require you to file a claim first with your insurance. Just decline the car rental company’s collision damage waiver to qualify.
  • Trip cancellation insurance -- $10,000 worth of coverage in the case where a trip is cancelled due to a covered reason, including sickness and weather.
  • Baggage delay insurance -- If your baggage is delayed over six hours, you are covered for $100 for up to five days for essentials like clothes and toiletries.
  • Trip delay reimbursement -- A 12-hour delay or instance that requires an overnight stay can be reimbursed up to $500 for meals and lodging.
  • Lost luggage insurance -- Damaged and lost baggage is covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • High cash-back conversion rate -- Some travel cards penalize cash-back redemptions with a rock-bottom conversion, but Chase Sapphire Preferred® cash redemptions are worth $0.01 per point, equating to 2% cash back on restaurants and travel, and 1% on all other purchases. Note, we’d suggest applying for a cash-back credit card if cash rewards are preferred since the earning potential is higher than with a travel credit card.

What could be improved

Annual fee -- Chase Sapphire Preferred® carries a $95 annual fee.

Is Chase Sapphire Preferred® worth the $95 annual fee?

The $95 annual fee is justified for many travelers, given some competing cards charge a similar fee but don’t offer as lucrative a sign-up bonus, among a long list of other perks that Chase Sapphire Preferred® includes. The sign-up bonus alone is enough to cover the annual fee for more than seven years.

A travel credit card with no annual fee may make more sense for those who don’t spend enough on credit to justify the out-of-pocket cost. Assuming travel rewards are earned at a 2% rate, you’d need to spend $4,750 each year for the travel rewards value to offset a $95 annual fee. Cardholders spending less than this amount may want to consider other credit cards, at least from the perspective of carrying a credit card past the first year when the sign-up bonus is earned.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit score

Applicants with good and excellent credit (670 FICO® Score and higher) have a high likelihood of securing approval. Other factors are considered in the approval process, including income and current debt, so there are other important elements. In fact, cardholders with FICO scores in the mid-600s and higher commonly report approval.

Why you need to know about Chase’s 5/24 rule

Chase’s 5/24 rule is meant to dissuade “churners” from using a credit card just for the sign-up bonus and then ditching the card shortly thereafter. If you’ve opened more than five credit cards in the past 24 months, you won’t be approved for a Chase consumer credit card.

What are Ultimate Rewards® points worth?

Ultimate Rewards® are the points currency earned and their redemption value not only varies by redemption option but also by card. While the cash back yield is high compared to the competition, redeeming points for cash back wipes out a ton of value, and highlights why picking the right card for your needs can make your money work harder for you. Check out our breakdown of exactly how Chase Ultimate Rewards® points work for more in-depth coverage.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

For the right type of traveler, Chase Sapphire Reserve® may bring more value. Both cards offer different sign-up bonuses and different annual fees. No single card is perfect for everyone, so check out a breakdown of the two:

As of Oct. 04, 2019
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Apply Now
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On Chase's Secure Website.

Read Full Review
Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Chase's Secure Website.

Read Full Review

Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Bonus: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Worth $750 redeemed for travel through Chase's portal. Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Worth $750 redeemed for travel through Chase's portal.
Rewards Program: 2x points on travel and dining, 1x points on all other purchases. 25% more points for travel booked through Chase's portal. Rewards Program: 3 points per $1 on travel and dining, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. 50% more points on travel booked through Chase's portal.
Intro APR: Purchases: N/A, N/A Balance Transfers: N/A, N/A Intro APR: Purchases: N/A, N/A Balance Transfers: N/A, N/A
Regular APR: 17.74% - 24.74% Variable Regular APR: 18.74% - 25.74% Variable
Annual Fee: $95 Annual Fee: $450

Highlights:

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 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.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel

Highlights:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

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Apply Now
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On Chase's Secure Website.

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Apply Now
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On Chase's Secure Website.

The case for carrying a Chase companion card

Ultimate Rewards® points can not only be transferred easily to airline and hotel loyalty programs, but also among other Chase credit cards. That means there could be benefits to carrying two Chase-branded credit cards.

Chase Freedom® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® -- Chase Freedom® earns cash back (capped at a spending limit each quarter) in rotating quarterly categories you activate. The essentials are typically covered in Chase’s cash back calendar, such as groceries, gas, restaurants, and online shopping. Many cardholders carry both cards to earn premium rewards in the associated category with the highest payout. Points can then be transferred instantaneously to a Chase Sapphire Preferred® card to stretch the value even further for travel.

Note, a word of caution is warranted. Carrying multiple credit cards introduces complexity to your budget, which increases the possibility of racking up costly credit card debt. Simply put, there’s no sense earning rewards at low rates only to watch as higher rate interest charges balloon along with your debt balances.

How to apply

For anyone learning how to apply for a credit card you’ll quickly find that the application process for Chase Sapphire Preferred® doesn’t vary from the standard credit card application process. Cardholders will need to provide the following information during application:

  • Personal -- Name and address.
  • Financial -- Types of accounts you own (checking and savings), housing costs, and income details.
  • Security -- Phone number, email address, social security number, mother’s maiden name, and date of birth.

Is Chase Sapphire Preferred® right for you?

No doubt Chase Sapphire Preferred® was built with travel versatility in mind, and there’s a reason why I consider it a must-have for many travelers. The big cardholder bonus and ongoing rewards rate can help add some stamps to your passport faster. Simply put, it deserves a spot as one of the best, most versatile travel cards I've come across. But cardholders without a big enough credit budget may be better off with a no-annual fee credit card instead.

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