The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a versatile travel rewards card that’s a great start . With Ultimate Rewards points you can turn into real miles with United, Southwest, and more, it’s like having several cards wrapped up into one shiny metal package.
Turn points into real airline miles. With the Sapphire Preferred, you can convert your points into real miles with United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, and more anytime. It’s your choice, so you can pick the airline that has the best price when you want to travel.
Big 50,000 point bonus. The introductory bonus will get you going on reward travel fast. Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Real travel protection. You’re covered if you get really sick and need to cancel a trip, or if your flight delay leaves you stuck overnight. Just pay for travel with your card and it’s activated.
Heavy metal card. The card itself is made of metal, so it feels heavy in your hand and stands out when you hand it over to pay.
2x points on travel and dining. Points add up fast when you eat out, and even things like bridge tolls and parking (but not gas) count as travel.
Annual fee. There’s a $0 introductory annual fee the first year, but it’s $95 after that, so this isn’t for you if you refuse to pay annual fees.
No lounge access. There are no perks that get you into airport lounges with the Sapphire Preferred.
In this in-depth review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, we’ll cover all the questions you might have before deciding whether to get this card. With an annual fee to think about you’ll want to choose carefully, and we’re happy to answer any questions you have.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Ultimate Rewards points, which are some of the best points you can earn because you can use them three great ways for travel:
Turn the points into real airline miles and hotel points. This is the secret sauce of the Sapphire Preferred. You can turn your points into real miles with 11 airline and hotel point programs like United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, and Marriott Rewards. That lets you add to miles you might already have, or just take advantage of the great rewards each program can unlock. It’s like having 11 cards rolled up into one. We’ll talk more about it, but this feature is the real reason to get a Sapphire Preferred.
Use your points to buy travel on the Ultimate Rewards website. If you don’t want to mess with airline and hotel programs, you can just go onto the Chase website to search and book flights just like you’re shopping with cash. Every 10,000 points gets you $125 worth of travel on the Chase site. So your 50,000 point intro bonus gets you For example, if you decide to use 60,000 points to book a flight on United or most of other airlines, you can choose a ticket for up to $750.
Get cash. Even if you’re not interested in travel, you can simply redeem your points for cash back anytime. Every 1,000 points is worth $10, so you always have an ‘out.’
The secret sauce of the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the ability to turn your points into real airline miles and hotel points with 11 airline and hotel programs.
It’s always an even exchange, so 1,000 Chase points = 1,000 airline miles or hotel points with these travel programs:
Point transfer lets you unlock the rewards that only real airline miles and hotel points can offer. If you already like earning United, Southwest, Marriott, Hyatt, or IHG points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred will let you build on miles you already have to get to your reward that much faster.
If you don’t have a favorite program, real airline miles and hotel points are great for saving big on expensive trips.
Instead of having to pay points for every dollar of airfare, you can take advantage of the award price lists airlines offer their frequent fliers, which can let you get big rewards for less.
For example, here are some big trips you can get when you use Chase Sapphire Preferred point transfer partners…
Why pay $1,500 for a flight to Europe when you can book it with points. Transferring points to United MileagePlus lets you book it for United’s price of 60,000 miles roundtrip. That’s also a lot cheaper than points that don’t turn into real airline miles. With traditional bank points a $1,500 flight would cost 150,000 points, so you’re saving big with the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s airline transfer feature.
Delta Airlines isn’t a partner with Chase. But Korean Skypass is, and with Skypass you can book Delta award flights to Hawaii for just 25,000 points roundtrip. That’s a great deal for flights that often cost $700 or more.
Business class tickets are incredibly expensive, often $2,000 or more for just one way. But if you transfer your points to United MileagePlus, you can get a big, comfortable seat in United’s Business Class for just 57,500 miles one way if you’re flexible with your dates and times.
Transferring points to miles isn’t for everyone.
For cheap flights, you’re probably better off paying cash, or using the Chase website to book. And if you’re not at all flexible with your dates, you’re going to want to book with cash or use the Chase website to book with your points.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of using point transfer for travel.
Yes, airline miles have their share of rules that can make things frustrating. You’re not always going to find awards that the price you want on the flights you want, so you need to be flexible.
But airline miles let you snag tickets you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford in cash, making your Chase points go a lot further.
With a lot of credit cards, 1,000 points just gets you $10 in cash value, so 50,000 points is worth $500. But with the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s transfer partners there are all kinds of possibilities to get much more out of your points, so 50,000 points could get you $1,000, $1,500, or more in travel value if you take full advantage of partners.
You just need to be creative, flexible, and willing to learn. Our guide to using Chase Ultimate Rewards is a great place to start.
Once the first year is up and the $95 annual fee comes due is the card worth keeping?
If you’ve managed to take advantage of point transfers to airline and hotel programs, and are happy with how quickly you’re earning points, it’s a pretty easy decision to keep the card or switch to its more expensive sibling the Chase Sapphire Reserve, that earns 3x points on dining and travel.
If you’re just using your points for cash back or booking travel on the Chase site, you’ll need to leverage the 2x points on dining and travel to make the fee worthwhile. To cover the fee, you’d need to spend around $4,000 a year on dining or travel, which would earn you about 8,000 points worth about $100 in travel via the Chase site or $80 in cash back.
Are you spending that much? A recent TD Bank survey suggests that an average American spends between $2,200 and $2,500 a year on eating out. And according to Hotel Online, the latest Travelex survey shows that an average American is spending $2,041 on vacation this year. Of course, your budget might be different, but if you are within this range, the extra points you earn from the 2x points on dining and travel spending will help more than cover the annual fee.
You can use our calculator to see exactly how many points you’ll earn using the Chase Sapphire Preferred each year.
But if you’re really after cold, hard cash, there are better and sometimes cheaper options.
The no annual fee Citi Double Cash earns double cash on everything you purchase. You get 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and another 1% when you pay the purchase off. It’s hard to beat that for straight cash rewards.
If you prefer to use your points for travel via the Chase site, and don’t spend a lot on dining or travel, the Capital One Venture ($59 annual fee, waived the first year) and Barclaycard Arrival Plus ($89 annual fee, waived the first year) earn 2x points on everything. You can use the points to pay for any travel purchase, no special booking site or airline point transfer required, and every 10,000 points is worth $100 in travel.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred isn’t just about travel rewards. It’s about covering your back when things go wrong on a trip.
If you get really sick and can’t make a trip, you don’t have to worry about getting a refund if you paid with a Chase Sapphire Preferred. Trip Cancellation kicks in when due to a covered loss you can’t go on the trip, and the trip has to be canceled, and Trip Interruption coverage kicks in if you’re in the middle of a trip and can’t keep going. In both cases, the Chase Sapphire Preferred covers you for up to $10,000 in refunds of travel that’s spoiled.
Who is covered?
You and your immediate family are covered, and they’re also covered even when you’re not traveling with them. Whatever travel you book for them with your card is covered. According to the Chase, immediate family may include your spouse or domestic partner, your and their children, legal guardians or wards, siblings or siblings-in-law, parents or parents-in-law, grandparents or grandchildren, aunts or uncles, nieces or nephews.
What triggers coverage?
You’ll be covered if any of the following causes you to miss your trip:
What if you booked an award trip?
Most airlines let you cancel and redeposit miles for a fee, so you don’t need much coverage for award travel. But if you can’t redeposit your miles, you can be reimbursed at a rate of 1 cent per point as long as you pay for the taxes or fees of your award ticket with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
If your flight is delayed, airlines rarely pay for hotels and meals, so you could be on the hook for hundreds of dollars. But if you buy your flight with the Chase Sapphire Preferred you can get reimbursed for these expenses via Trip Delay coverage, even when the airline leaves you out to dry. So when a big delay strikes you can book a comfortable bed in a hotel while other passengers are sleeping on the terminal floor.
Who is covered?
You, your spouse, and dependent children under the age of 22 are covered, even if you’re not traveling with them, as long as you pay for the flight with your card.
What is covered?
You can get up to $500 covered for delays longer than 12 hours are covered, including:
What if you booked an award trip?
Trip Delay insurance does cover award flights as long as some of your roundtrip flight, bus, train travel or cruise charges are paid for by the card. So even if you only pay the airport taxes with the card, you are still eligible.
If your bags are delayed, the airline doesn’t owe you much until it actually says the bags are gone for good. But when you book your flight with a Sapphire Preferred, you can get reimbursed for buying things you need while the bags are delayed, like a change of clothes or toiletries.
Who is covered?
You and all of your immediate family members are covered when you use your card to pay for their travel.
What is covered?
You should have good to excellent credit and decent income to qualify for this card. There’s no explicit minimum FICO score to be approved, but generally scores of 700 or above are good to excellent. Your chances of being approved could be hurt if you’ve applied for 5 or more bank cards in the last two years, even if you have excellent credit and income.
Obviously, if you have a low credit score you might want to work on it before applying for a premium card like Chase Sapphire Preferred. Other reasons you might not want to apply:
Yes. According to the core Chase rule, you can receive the sign up bonus if you don’t currently have the card and have not received the bonus in the last 24 months. However, there is another unofficial rule. If you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months (from any bank) you might have a harder time getting approved. Unfortunately, that also includes cards where you’ve been added as an authorized user.
Yes, you can combine points across all Chase Ultimate Rewards cards.
Yes, but with a qualification. You can transfer points to the Chase Ultimate Rewards account of a family member who lives at the same address. You can also transfer points to an authorized user’s partner airline mile or hotel point account, like United MileagePlus or Marriott Rewards, in which case you can have different addresses.
A great companion for the Sapphire Reserve is the no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited that gives you 1.5x points on everything, or the Chase Freedom that gives you 5x points in rotating categories, or even better, both cards. You can combine points from all of them into your Sapphire Preferred account, so you can maximize what you earn from your purchases and take advantage of all the travel rewards perks of the Sapphire Preferred.
No. If you want free lounge access, you need one of the “ultra-premium” cards with a $450+ annual fee, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards, United Club Card, American Express Platinum, or Citi Prestige.
They won’t for as long as you keep your card account open. If you decide to close your account, make sure to redeem your points or transfer them to a loyalty program first, otherwise you’ll lose the points. You’ll be fine, though, if you have another premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Plus. If you have a no annual fee card, such as the Freedom or Freedom Unlimited, you won’t lose the points, but you won’t be able to transfer them to a transfer partner once you close your Sapphire Preferred account.
It means that 1 point is worth 1.25 cents when you book travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards site. So, 10,000 points is worth $125 in travel booked via the Chase site.
You must file the claim within 20 days after you know you’ll need to cancel and submit the proof of loss within 90 days, or as soon as reasonably possible. Aside from the claim form, you might need to send in a copy of your itinerary, the documentation supporting the reason for the cancellation or interruption, a copy of credit card statement, receipts, as well as a proof of the refund or cancellation.
You must initiate your claim within 60 days of your delay and submit all the required documents within 100 days.
Very important: Do not throw away your boarding pass and keep the receipts for all your expenses (meals, purchases, etc.). You’ll need documentation of everything when you file your claim, including a statement from the airline with an explanation for the delay. Here’s a rundown of how to get what you need.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers primary car rental collision damage coverage, which means you don’t have to file a claim with your own insurance company if you damage your rental car.
Most credit cards provide secondary coverage when you rent domestically, which means the coverage only kicks in after your own car insurance company pays for the damage up to the maximum. Needless to say, using your own car insurance to cover the damage to a rental car may raise your premiums.
There are some exclusions like…
And know that injuries and liability aren’t covered by this or most credit card coverage.
Your credit card only covers theft and damage to the vehicle you rent, not injuries to you or other people.
If you have your own auto insurance policy, it probably already covers liability, but if you don’t, you can buy a supplementary liability insurance from your car rental agency.
Likewise, if you have personal injury protection from your own car insurance provider, it will cover injuries or death to you and/or your passengers. If not (not all states require this policy) you can buy personal accident insurance from your car rental agency.
No. Chase Sapphire Preferred is a Chip and Signature card which may or may not work in some overseas unmanned machines, for example in Europe. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to say beforehand whether it’s going to work or not, but you have a better chance if the charge is small. In many cases your Cash Advance Pin will work too, so have it with you even if you never take cash from your credit card.
The card is typically issued as a Visa.
Can you earn Southwest Companion Pass with the Sapphire?
Transferring points from the Sapphire to Southwest won’t help you earn Companion Pass status. But there are ways to transfer Sapphire points to a hotel partner like Marriott or Hyatt, and then from the hotel partner to Southwest that will help you earn Companion Pass.
Airfares, lodging, timeshares, campgrounds, car rentals, cruises, travel agencies including OTAs, trains and buses (commuter too), taxis, rideshare services, ferries, tolls and parking all count as travel purchases that earn 2x points with the Sapphire Preferred. Gas does NOT count as a travel purchase. There’s a list of what earns 2x on travel on the Chase website.
If you’re interested in the Sapphire Preferred, there’s a good chance you’ll find the Sapphire Reserve even more rewarding.
Get the Sapphire Preferred if you want airline transfer partner options or spend a lot on dining and travel, or even better, pair it with the Freedom to maximize your point earning.
The Citi ThankYou Premier would be a great card if it had stronger airline and hotel transfer partners, but it falls flat because none of the big U.S. airlines is a Citi ThankYou partner, while the Sapphire Preferred lets you leverage both United MileagePlus and Southwest Rapid Rewards.
If you’re trying to earn United miles, the Sapphire Preferred is a great choice with more flexibility, but you give up some special United perks like free bags and priority boarding that come with the Explorer Card.
If you don’t want to deal with airline miles at all, the Capital One Venture is a great choice, but you give up the chance to book amazing rewards that real airline miles offer.
The story is the same for the Arrival Plus as it is for the Capital One Venture. If you don’t want to deal with real airline miles, the Arrival Plus is a good choice that earns you 2x points on everything you buy.
If you’re trying to earn Southwest A list or Companion Pass status, Southwest’s own card is a better choice, but if you just want to add to your Rapid Rewards account with some flexibility to choose other airlines the Sapphire Preferred is a better choice.
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Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
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