Chase Sapphire Preferred Review: $500 Signup Bonus
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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 $3,000 within the first three months of opening an account and no annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter). Those 40,000 points can be transferred to 40,000 miles with any of several different airlines, points with 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 towards any airfare, hotel stay, car rental, or cruise.
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.
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.
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.
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 or a standard (non-Preferred) Sapphire both earn 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.
Bonus Points for Online Shopping and Annual 7% Bonus
Another nice feature is that even more bonus points are available through their Ultimate Rewards shopping site, including several different online travel agencies.
And all of these points are subject to an annual 7% bonus. For example, with the annual bonus, you actually earn 2.14 points per dollar spent on travel and dining, and the 40,000 point sign up bonus is actually worth 42,800 points.
Travel and Purchase Insurance Benefits
Travel benefits include trip delay and cancellation insurance, as well as insurance against baggage damage and loss.
When I make a purchase with my Sapphire Preferred, I receive price protection and return protection in case I find a lower price or a retailer refuses a return. In addition, the purchase protection policy replaces, repairs, or reimburses me for eligible items lost or damaged within ninety days of purchase. Finally, my purchases also get extended warranty coverage for one additional year.
Great for International Travel
I also like that there are no foreign transaction fees when I use the Sapphire Preferred internationally.
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.
- Lots of extra benefits. The travel insurance and purchase protection policies are equal to some of the high-end cards that cost four times as much.
- No foreign transaction fees. Feel free to leave the country without being hit with this useless fee.
- Annual fee. While there is no fee the first year, the subsequent $95 annual fee is significant.
- Fewer point transfer options than Starwood. My other major crush is on the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express. It allows you to transfer points to the programs of over 30 different airlines. But sadly, the Starwood card offers no bonus categories of spending.
- 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 not just the Ultimate Rewards points, but all of the travel insurance and purchase protection policies as well. If you are able to leverage the points and miles you can earn, then this card will easily be worth more to you than its annual fee.
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 card issuer.