With so many websites offering free financial tools, it can be hard to know who to trust. At NerdWallet, we spend literally 1,000s of hours researching partner offers and following strict editorial integrity to match you with the perfect choice. We even share how we make money so you can enjoy our expert advice and researched recommendations with total clarity and confidence.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a winner from the second you slide it into your wallet. You start off with a big-time sign-up bonus — perhaps the best bonus on any card with an annual fee under $100. The perks continue as you earn bonus points on travel and dining expenses. And when it comes time to redeem your points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you nearly unmatched flexibility — including options that boost the value well beyond the standard penny per point.
So grab your carry-on, and let’s take a closer look at what makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card a must-have for any traveler.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Basics and benefits
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you:
- 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel and dining at restaurants.
- 1 point per dollar on everything else.
The card has an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95. As any good travel card should, it charges no foreign transaction fees. Here’s what else makes this card shine (beyond the fact that it’s made of metal, rather than plastic):
BIG SIGN-UP BONUS
New cardmembers can earn two great bonuses. The first is the jaw-dropper: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus, you can get an additional 5,000 points when you add an authorized user in the first three months, and that user makes a purchase.
FLEXIBLE REDEMPTION OPTIONS
You can redeem the points you earn on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for cash or gift cards at a value of 1 cent per point. That’s not bad. But when you redeem them for travel booked through Chase, you get a 20% discount — meaning that each point has a value of 1.25 cents. So 55,000 points can be worth $687.50 if redeemed for travel.
Chase’s travel portal works much like Kayak, Orbitz or Expedia. Provide your departure airport and destination, plus your preferred flight dates, then compare prices across several airlines. When you’re ready to book, you can pay with your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or redeem your points at the 1.25 cent rate.
Award-flight mavens may be able to get an even higher value for their points by transferring them to nearly a dozen airline and hotel loyalty programs on a 1:1 basis. Depending on the program and how you use the points after you transfer them, you might get up to 5 cents’ worth of value from a point. Here are the transfer partners:
- Air France/KLM
- British Airways
- Korean Air
- Singapore KrisFlyer
- Virgin Atlantic
- Priority Club/InterContinental Hotels Group
For more information about the redemption options, check out our review of the Ultimate Rewards program.
EXTRA VALUE ON THE CHASE FREEDOM®
Many people carry both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Freedom® — and enjoy serious rewards for doing so. The Chase Freedom® gives you 5% back on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter in bonus categories, and 1% back on all other spending. Although the Chase Freedom® is a cash-back card, its rewards are technically earned in the form of Ultimate Rewards points — which you can transfer to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Let’s say you hit the spending caps each quarter. You’ll earn 7,500 points per quarter, or 30,000 points per year. You could take that as $300 in cash, or transfer the points to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and redeem them for $375 worth of free travel.
Using this trick, your spending in the 5% bonus categories earns an effective rewards rate of 6.25%.
CHASE ULTIMATE REWARDS BONUS MALL
Online shoppers can also enjoy extra rewards by shopping through the Chase Ultimate Rewards bonus mall. You’ll get additional points on purchases from your favorite stores, including Apple, Starbucks and Nordstrom.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Pitfalls and other possibilities
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card isn’t ideal for everyone. Consider a different travel rewards card if you’re:
SOMEONE WHO WANTS MORE FLEXIBLE TRAVEL BOOKING OPTIONS
If you want to book through the travel site that gives you the best deal, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is a better option. It offers 2 miles on every dollar spent and a solid sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that’s enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit. You can redeem miles for statement credit against almost any travel expense, including flights, hotel stays, campground visits, cab rides and more. You’ll also receive 5% of your miles back every time you redeem.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® has a slightly smaller annual fee — $0 for the first year, then $89 — than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It has no foreign transaction fees, and miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing.
SOMEONE WHO ISN’T A BIG SPENDER
If you love travel, but don’t spend enough to justify the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s high annual fee, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card is a great option. For an annual fee of $0, it gives you 1.5 points for every $1 you spend. It, too, comes with a sign-up bonus: 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days – that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases. Points are redeemable for statement credit against any travel expense. The BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card has no foreign transaction