Chase Sapphire Preferred Is Best to Start Your Points and Miles Journey

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There are an overwhelming amount of rewards-earning credit cards available, each one better than the last. Trying to decide which credit card is best to offset the costs associated with traveling is a complicated and overwhelming experience.

While there are many great new credit card bonuses, the card we consistently recommend to friends and family is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Here's why:

  • Flexible ways to spend points – Transfer them 1:1 to airlines and hotels OR you can use them like cash (more on this below)
  • Great new cardmember bonus – The current 80,000 points bonus is worth at least $1,000 in free travel
  • Affordable annual fee – You'll pay just $95 per year to hold this card.
  • Bonus points for dining and travel spend – Earn 2 points per dollar when you eat out or book a plane ticket (or any other travel, like Uber or even tolls)
  • No foreign transaction fees – Feel confident knowing that regardless of where you are in the world, you won't be charged any lame fees
  • Trip interruption, cancellation, and delay coverage – Know you're covered when you're on the road in case something goes wrong with your trip!

What Kind of Points Do You Earn?

The Sapphire Preferred earns points called Ultimate Rewards, which can only be earned using select Chase credit cards. Ultimate Rewards are widely regarded as some of the most valuable credit card points in the world.

What Could You Do with 80,000 Ultimate Rewards Points?

You can use Ultimate Rewards Points towards whatever trips you want to take. With the Sapphire Preferred, you can redeem your points through the Chase travel portal, transfer them to 13 different hotel and airline partners, or a combination of both!

Trip to Grand Canyon? No problem with Ultimate Rewards.

When using your Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase travel portal, the points can be redeemed for flights, hotel rooms, rental cars, cruises, and activities at a rate of 1.25 cents per point; meaning 8,000 Ultimate Rewards will cover the cost of a $100 travel expense. Not only can booking this way offer excellent value, but you get flexibility since you do not have to worry about blackout dates or fight for airline saver-level award availability.

The other option for redeeming Ultimate Rewards is transferring them to hotel and airline partners. If there is an award seat available for the date you want to fly or a hotel room open for booking with points, you can transfer your points to that airline or hotel program and book the free flight or room. As an example, the Hyatt Regency Maui shows a room for 20,000 World of Hyatt points:

Hyatt Regency Maui - Free Night Award

If I head to my Chase Ultimate Rewards online dashboard, I can transfer 20,000 of my Ultimate Rewards to my Hyatt account:

Transfer Ultimate Rewards to World of Hyatt

The points show up almost instantaneously to your World of Hyatt account, and you can then book your free room at the Hyatt Regency Maui. The ability to transfer Ultimate Rewards points allows you to stretch your travel budget, which means more trips! Make sure you check out our favorite ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards. Knowing how and when to use Ultimate Rewards through the Chase travel portal and when to use them by transferring to partners is the secret to success with these points.

How Do You Earn Points?

Earning Ultimate Rewards with the Sapphire Preferred straightforward: All travel and dining earn 2x points; everything else earns 1x point per dollar. You can use the card anywhere Visa is accepted worldwide to earn points for your everyday purchases.

If you're looking to accelerate your earning, Chase offers an online shopping portal where you can earn bonus Ultimate Rewards for your online purchases. This double-dipping is one of the easiest ways to reach your goals faster.

What Happens If Something Goes Wrong on My Trip?

Besides earning valuable points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card carries built-in travel benefits that can save the day when your trip takes an unwanted turn. We recommend that you read the complete guide to benefits to learn about the protection and complimentary insurance you receive merely by paying for part of your trip with the Sapphire Preferred or by redeeming those Ultimate Rewards you earned when using the card.

Here are a few examples of the benefits that we've used:

  • Trip Interruption/CancellationIf there is an issue with a delay during your trip, Chase will reimburse you for extra expenses like a hotel at the airport. If you, your traveling companion, or your immediate family member gets sick, they will cover the cost of canceling your trip (although this is not cancel-for-any-reason coverage).
  • Primary Rental Car Collision Damage Waiver – If your rental car is scratched, dented, or otherwise damaged, Chase will cover it. Note: Liability insurance is not included in this coverage, so you will be responsible for having your own. That said, if you're not at fault, you don't have to worry. Be sure to decline the CDW/LDW coverage from the rental company.
  • Lost, Damaged, or Delayed Baggage – Ever had a problem with your checked baggage? Chase will reimburse you $100 per day for up to five days for clothing, necessities (including makeup), and an extra cell phone charging cable if your checked baggage is delayed by more than six hours. For damaged or lost baggage, you'll be reimbursed the cost of repairing or replacing your luggage and belongings, up to $500. This coverage is supplemental to anything you might receive from the airline.
We don't have to worry if our Disney luggage is damaged, Chase Sapphire Preferred has built-in baggage protection.

Why Is It Tops Again?

The ability to earn Ultimate Rewards and redeem them at 1.25¢ per point via the Chase travel portal or transfer them to 13 different hotel and airline partners are the big reasons to love the Sapphire Preferred.

Built-in travel protection, an affordable annual fee, excellent earning rates, and no foreign transaction fees all make the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card the best option if you're looking for the right travel rewards card to start.

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  • It is good to see the competition between the two cards. Better for the customers.

  • I’d nominate this post as a candidate for your Beginner’s Series for Award Travel 101.

  • Admittedly there is no annual fee for the first year but for $150 AF, the CSR really could be a better first choice rather than product changing before the first annual fee is due. There are so many benefits that it could be worth $150 to a lot of people to start capitalizing now. There’s no doubt in my mind it’s worth the extra $55 over the CSP so as I’m getting at, it’s just a matter of when to make the switch. My vote is immediately. Bypass the CSP.

    When you get to the pool and see kids playing volleyball, basketball, and chicken, why would you want to hang out in the shallow end and let all of that pass you by when all the fun and benefits are in the deep end? (although at least you’re not in the kiddie pool and you ARE in the adult pool) Jump in and start getting serious rewards now!

  • John Nechman says:

    Definitely happier with the CSR than the CSP. But for non-food, non-travel, I still CPresidential Plus

  • This post painted an incomplete and outdated picture by not even mentioning the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR). The complete picture would include comparing and contrasting of the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) vs. the CSR.

    With the CSR’s higher return on the $ and 1.5cents/point vs. 1.25cents/point redemption rate through Chase, for “just” $55 more in annual fee than the CSP after taking into the CSR’s $300 travel credit, there is truly no compelling reason for anyone to go for the CSP, if one can be approved for the CSR.

    The better advice for those “looking for the right travel rewards card to start” is to first try the CSR and, if it’s not satisfactory, to downgrade to the CSP.

    • Kristina Caetano says:

      Everything you wrote comparing the CSR vs CSP is correct. However, in an effort to not overwhelm TRUE beginners (and appear like the Pepe Silvia meme) the CSP is a great starting recommendation for them.

      • Sounds to me like pushing an inferior product on so-called ‘TRUE’ beginners because of the “soft bigotry of low expectation” when the requirements for using the two cards are the same, except that the CSR earns 50% more points on bonused categories and offer a 20% higher redemption rate on points redeemed through Chase.

        The miles/points game ain’t exactly rocket science…

    • Agreed. CSR is $55 more than CSP but look at the value you get from it: Priority Pass, 50% more points earned in bonus categories, 20% more value in redeeming through the travel portal, better travel benefits and insurance (6 hours travel delay rather than 12 hours), and still so much more. If you’re qualified to have the CSR, there’s no reason to sign up for the CSP.

  • This is my every day card. Great card

  • I used to think this was good advice, but Chase’s switch to a 48-month rule has fully convinced me that anyone who travels should really look to the Chase Sapphire Reserve even as their intro card. Otherwise, they’ll face years of regret.

  • I agree! Thanks for this post!!

  • Thanks for the description, its certainly a card with lots of perks.

  • It is a great card to start. The 5/24 rule sucks so get this card before others

  • Another good points card to consider. Thanks for the update

  • Once we acquired the Chase Sapphire, we soon felt as if there was just no going back. That was years ago, and we are complete devotees.

  • Good information for those beginners in the points and miles world.

  • I have this card and it’s awesome paired with my Chase Freedom Unlimited and Freedom.
    If this is a card that you recommend to start with, is the Freedom or Freedom Unlimited the next? Or is there another?

  • I love the Chase cards but I would tell someone who travels a fair amount to go right to the Sapphire Reserve Card. The 300 dollar travel credit means the annual fee is actually 150. The priority pass membership and 3 points per dollar on dining and travel make up for the rest of the annual fee difference. I guess the one big difference is the Sapphire Preferred has its annual fee waived the first year. That makes the difference for someone starting out.

    • I’d add to that, one should also look at their spend categories. If one spends heavily on dining and travel, the CSR might well be the first stop in Chase UR-earning products, especially considering the AF is only $150 net, as you point out.

  • Appreciate the benefit reminders.

  • I agree! It’s my favorite.

  • If one has the Sapphire Reserve, do you have the ability to get a bonus on the Preferred if you open this card as well?

  • Thanks for the refresher! I have the card and it’s great to revisit the premium benefits it offers. I always recommend this card to friends as well.

  • Kristina Caetano says:

    I totally agree! This is a great card for beginners that still provides premium benefits. It’s also a great launch pad before expanding with other Chase cards.

  • We totally agree! It’s our favorite card!!