Chase Sapphire Preferred: Get The Most Value For Your Travel Rewards
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I have to confess, I felt kind of sleazy when I applied for this card. The only reason I bothered was that it offered a great sign-up bonus. Yet more than a year later, I continue to use the card regularly. So what is it about the Sapphire Preferred card that made me think of it less like a one-night stand and more like a long-term relationship?
Sapphire Turns Heads
To start off with, the card is gorgeous. It is made out of some kind of metal and plastic sandwich. Unlike most other cards, the numbers are printed on the back, flat and sleek, rather than raised. Let’s just say that I always get comments when I pull this card out. But that’s not to say that I am swayed by good looks alone. For me to commit to a card, it has to offer some pretty unique benefits.
It’s the Rewards That Count
This card delivers its rewards primarily in the form of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points.
The current offer is for 40,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of opening an account and $0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter). Those 40,000 points can be transferred to 40,000 miles or points with their partner airlines, hotel chains, or Amtrak Guest Rewards. And if I don’t want hunt for elusive airline awards, I can just use my points to book travel directly through Chase’s online portal and get 1.25 cents worth of travel for each point I spend. That means that the 40,000 point sign up bonus is actually worth $500 in travel rewards.
The Real Value of Sapphire Is Points Transfers
Frankly, it's the points transfer option that I use most, as I find far more value in each point than the 1.25 cents I get from booking travel directly through Chase. While other travel rewards credit cards allow points transfer, many do not offer a 1:1 transfer rate. 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 40,000 partner miles or points!
Airfare Points Transfers
I can transfer points to Southwest Airlines where they are worth 1.8 cents towards any of their “Wanna Get Away” fares.
When I send points to British Airways, I can redeem them on flights with American Airlines. And since the British Airways Avios program is distance based, flights under 650 miles can be redeemed for only 9,000 points, round trip!
United and Korean are also partners in the program; both allow redemptions on their partners, US Airways and Delta respectively.
Other airline partners include Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.
Hotel Point Transfers
When it comes to hotels, I find the Hyatt transfer option the best, considering that an award night at their most expensive properties, including many that cost over $1,000 per night, is a mere 22,000 Hyatt points.
Other hotel partners include IHG, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton.
Fast and Easy Points Management
Extra kudos to Chase for making point transfers nearly instantaneous. Once I find the flights I want, I just transfer points, and I am able to book within seconds. In addition, card holders can transfer points from other Chase cards to their Sapphire Preferred accounts.
For example, a Chase Freedom card earns Ultimate Rewards points that cannot be transferred to airlines or hotels. But you can move those points to your Sapphire Preferred account and use them for booking travel at 1.25 cents per point or for making point transfers to airlines and hotels. So the Sapphire Preferred increases the value of the points you already have.
Great for International Travel
There are no foreign transaction fees when I use this card internationally. Also it has the new EMV chip that provides enhanced security.
Direct Access to Human Customer Service
And finally, I have little patience for unhelpful customer service that can only be reached through a phone tree. Sapphire Preferred customers receive direct access to an expert team of representatives without having to dial “#” or “0”. I use this feature rarely, but I have been impressed each time.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Review Summary
Let's sum it all up.
- Great Sign-up bonus. 40,000 points that can be transferred to airlines and hotels, or used for $500 worth of travel booked through Chase.
- Bonus points for spending. Earn double points on travel and dining, and even more points when you make purchases through their Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.
- No foreign transaction fees. Feel free to leave the country without being hit with this useless fee.
- Annual fee. While the fee is $0 the first year, the subsequent $95 annual fee is significant.
- Fewer point transfer options than some cards.
- Most of the benefits only apply when you use the card to make purchases. They don’t count when I redeem my points and miles to travel for free. Then again, that is how it always works.
Who This Card Is Best For
This card makes great sense for those who want a premium travel rewards card that offers the chance to earn flexible points. Those who regularly travel will appreciate the extra value in the 1:1 point transfer opportunity, as well as the 20% off travel when redeeming points through Chase's travel portal. Those who are able to leverage the points and miles earned with the avaible partners and travel packages Chase offers would find this card extremely valuable.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank, card issuer, airline or hotel chain.