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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Does It Live Up To The Hype?

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Does It Live Up To The Hype?

This is one of our favorite travel rewards cards. Amazing value, as long as you don't mind using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
Editor's Rating: 5.0/5.0

Editor's Rating

5.0/5.0

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of our most popular travel reward credit cards, with a generous mix of rewards and flexibility for travelers. If you're a consumer that is willing to jump through a few hoops to get extra savings, this is the card for you. We examine why this card is so good and do that math on all its features - from its 50,000 bonus points, to the 2.5% rewards rate. Along the way, we’ll break down everything you need to know about the card, in order to get the most out of it. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has made our 2018 editor's picks for Top Rewards Card Offers and Top Airline Card Offers.

Pros

Cons

  • $0 Intro for the First Year. Then $95
  • Not valuable to those spending less than $10,000 per year

Review: A travel card built for rewards maximizers

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is designed for consumers who are willing to do a little more to get the most value out of their spending decisions. Equipped with a broad array of lucrative options for how you can redeem your rewards, the Sapphire Preferred lets savvy consumers choose if they want to take advantage of better redemption options.

Through discounts on Chase's Ultimate Rewards shopping site and the cards point transfer program, card holders can get much higher rewards rates than some of our other top rewards cards. Even if you don't take full advantage of these perks, you can always fall back on the standard statement credit redemption rates. If you're focused on getting the most money out of travel specific spending, the Sapphire Preferred is among our favorite options. The hefty signing bonus is also competitive with other rival offers.

Consumers will benefit the most when they use points earned through the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, to book travel through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal. Additionally, the card works best when it is used to make travel and dining purchases.

For broader spending, the card performs a little worse, since the general spending category is only 1 point each. If you're still looking for a travel rewards card, but want a card for other spending categories, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is likely to be a better overall option. Due to the two cards having high annual fees, few consumers will have the means to get both cards. Instead, we recommend supplementing the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card with a good cash back credit card, such as the Citi® Double Cash Card or the Chase Freedom®, to earn higher than average rewards for general everyday spending.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Benefits and Features

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Purchase APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Credit Needed Excellent Credit
Details
  • 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®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Earning Points

On earning rewards, the card is structured to favor travel and restaurant related spending. You can earn 2x points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Travel, which earns individuals 2x points, includes things such as mass transportation, auto rental (including Zipcar), taxis (including Uber), parking, and tolls and bridges. Dining at restaurants, on the other hand, consists of both sit-down, and take-out restaurants – casual and fine dining included. If you have a question about a specific purchase, you always have the ability to call a Chase Ultimate Rewards® representative directly.

This graph compares the rewards rate earned across different kinds of spending on the Chase Sapphire Preferred to other competitor cards.

When you first sign-up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you have the ability to earn a welcome bonus. As long as you spend $4,000 on purchases, within the first 3 months of opening the account, you will earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. When used on travel rewards, that equates to a $625 value.

After qualifying it will take 6 to 8 weeks for the points to post to your account, so if you're planning to use the points for a particular purpose keep this lead time in mind. This is especially true if you want to use it for a Chase Ultimate Rewards purchase.

What Is Each Chase Ultimate Rewards® Point Worth?

The other half of the equation when it comes to rewards is how much each point is worth. This is where it gets a little tricky since there are a number of options that you can use for redeeming your awards.

Rewards Usage

Value Per Point

Statement Credits

1 cent

Cash Back

1 cent

Travel Bookings Through Chase Ultimate Rewards

1.25 cents

Miles Transfer Program

1.25 cents+

Used simply for statement credits on travel you've already booked is the most straight forward with each point equating to 1 cent each, typical for statement credit travel cards.

Redeem the points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards nets you even more value per point since you get a 20% discount on the price. For example, a $500 fare would require only $400, which bumps the value per point to 1.25 cents - 25% bump in value.

Finally, using the 1:1 Points Transfer Program, is probably the most complicated and most profitable. This is where optimizers can really do their work. In our analysis of loyalty points, the value of a point can vary pretty wildly even within a single airline. Depending on a number of factors including where and when you're flying points can convert at a rate as low as .8 cents each or sometimes as high as 2 cents per point.

Combining the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card with the Chase Freedom®

Consumers with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, like the Chase Freedom®, will find that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can make their existing cards more valuable. Here's why. While the Chase Freedom® is marketed as a cash back rewards card, the rewards earned are in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points that you can convert into cash back. However, only the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes equipped with 20% off travel redemptions through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, or the 1:1 Point Transfer program. All points are shared among the same Chase Ultimate Rewards® account. If you have a Chase Freedom®, and are later approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the new transfer and redemption benefits apply to all existing points. That's an immediate 25% bump on the value of your points when used for travel, and allows you to potentially use the points for awards travel at air partners.

As a result of this, it makes sense to have two Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards. The Chase Freedom® does carve out areas where it offers a better return over the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Cardholders can take leverage the Chase Freedom®'s 5% cash back calendar to get better savings when it applies and use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card in all other cases. Since the Chase Freedom® has no annual fee, this is something you might consider if you're all about squeezing out that extra dollar in rewards.

Points Transfer Program

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the few cards where you transfer your accumulated points to select loyalty programs to help top off awards bookings at the respective hotel chain or airline.

Points Transfer Partners

Hyatt Gold Passport®

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club United MileagePlus®Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®

British Airways Executive Club

JetBlue TrueBlueSingapore Airlines KrisFlyerThe Ritz-Carlton Rewards®

Marriott Rewards®IHG® Rewards Club

We recommend you only transfer points if you know exactly how you plan on using them. If you calculate the point value, after transfer, it find it to be less than $0.01 per point, you are better off holding on to your Ultimate Rewards points. You can pay for the booking, and use your UR points retroactively as statement credit to pay for the purchase – this will result in a much better value.

How Does the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Compare Against Other Credit Cards?

To get an idea of how the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card preforms against the competition, we have put together the following side-by-side comparisons to other leading travel rewards cards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has a 2% rewards rate on all spending – which is better or worse than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, depending on how your spending is divided. If your monthly purchases lean more frequently towards dining and travel, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card will produce better results – otherwise the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card will be supreme. As far as welcome bonuses are concerned, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card packs the bigger punch, with a bonus worth up to $625 – a whole $125 more in value over that of the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

Right now, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is also running a fantastic new promotion. Users get 10x miles on hotels when they pay with their Venture card at hotels.com/Venture.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs The American Express® Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card earns its users a 4% rewards rate when used at U.S. Restaurants. It also offers up a 3% rewards rate on certain travel purchases, specifically, flights booked directly with airlines or on American Express' travel site. In stark contrast, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers a 2.5% rewards rate on a far broader "travel" category, which includes hotels and taxis. Another important thing to note: membership rewards points earned with The American Express® Gold Card are generally worth less than the points you earn with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Therefore, travelers will likely be better off with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. However, The American Express® Gold Card is our recommended card for people who spend more on dining than they do on travel.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs United℠ Explorer Card

The United℠ Explorer Card is designed for loyal United Airlines customers, who frequently travel with checked luggage. If your travel is limited to the airline, than this card will offer you a better deal than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. On a pure “per point” basis, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is better. The United card also gives you priority boarding privileges, and your first free checked bag – up to a $100 value.

Comparison Tool

We've built a model to help you see how the card performs based on your spending habits. Enter your approximate monthly spending, and you can see how the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card will perform against other cards, on your specific budget.

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Assumptions based on $1,430 monthly spend
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Comments and Questions

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Info about the following cards: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, and Amazon Business American Express Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).