Jane Butler

How I use my Chase Sapphire Preferred card

Why I kept my annual-fee travel card during quarantine


The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers rewards that can be redeemed for travel, but faced with the pandemic, the card issuers adjusted the way cardholders could earn these rewards.

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Sometimes I find myself wondering if paying the annual fees on my travel cards is a good idea. I have three: the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and the American Express® Gold Card. Altogether, their fees come out to $595 – definitely a pretty penny.

A combination of COVID travel restrictions, plus the Delta variant changing up post-quarantine rules makes it difficult to max out your perks and earnings if your bonus categories are all travel-related. So, it would make more sense to downgrade those cards instead of eating the annual fee, right?

Well, card issuers are continuing to adapt their earnings structures, and with my Chase Sapphire Preferred, I have continued to figure out ways to earn and make the card work for me.

See related: Coronavirus: Ultimate guide to limited-time offers and promotions

Using the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Sign-up bonus

With my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, I earned a 60,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months. I opened my account in 2018.

I was able to use 30,000 points to book a flight from Singapore to England through Chase Ultimate Rewards to kick off my monthlong graduation trip throughout Europe. I saved the other half to book hotels and domestic flights when I returned home.

With the knowledge I have now about ways to finesse your points and book crazy deals, I know that I could have stretched those 30k points out further, but as a recent college graduate without a full-time job, it made perfect sense. It saved me almost $600 in cash, which not only offset my $95 annual fee, but I was able to put that money toward other expenses on my trip.

How I’ve used my card during post-quarantine

One of the initial reasons I signed up for this card was for the flexibility in spending. Because the Preferred doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, it allows me to charge my card anywhere I need without having to pay an extra fee on top of it. This was a make-or-break perk that, when added up, saved me a lot of extra money I could spend elsewhere. While I wasn’t able to utilize this perk during the main part of quarantine, there are other ways that Chase alleviated that problem until travel opened back up.

For a limited time this year, Chase offered a historically high sign-up offer of 100,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. While that offer is now expired, there are still plenty of other new perks that add to the card’s value.

New cardholders can earn a $50 Annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchase through Chase Ultimate Rewards (excluding hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Anniversary Hotel Credit), a complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash (activate by 3/31/22), 3X points on select streaming services and online grocery purchases, an annual 10% anniversary points boost and 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022.

The increased spend categories and boosted earnings easily offset the $95 annual fee, even with the sign-up bonus back to its standard amount.

On top of that, Chase is currently offering a Pay Yourself Back feature, which lets you redeem your points for grocery store, dining and home improvement store purchases at 25% more value (points are redeemed and show up as a statement credit).

So now, you can pay yourself back for free using your points for all of those meals you’re cooking, quarantine home projects and food deliveries, and find ways to earn points alternatively from travel-related categories.

How I spend my card miles – and the best things I’ve gotten from them

Most recently, I took advantage of my Chase Sapphire Preferred by using it while abroad in England. Because of the no foreign transaction fees, the added bonus of the additional earning on all restaurants, delivery and takeout services worldwide, plus the extra points I would earn any time I needed to book travel or hotels through the UR portal, taking the card with me was simply a no-brainer.

Additionally, I was able to use the contactless feature every time I took public transportation, which earned me those bonus travel points without a foreign transaction fee.

Because of the permanent, workhorse-worthy ways that this card earns and gives back to me (and my wallet) as a cardholder, I don’t ever see myself removing the Preferred from my lineup.

Ongoing potential for the card

Since I’m not a new cardholder, I didn’t qualify for the crazy sign-up bonus. However, I do get the $50 Annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, which I can combine with my efforts of increasing earning potential by combining my benefits of the Preferred with my Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom Flex℠ .

Both Freedom cards earn cash back on purchases, but because I also have the Preferred, I can use the cash back that I earn from those two cards interchangeably as either hard cash or in the Ultimate Rewards portal as points.

The $810.64 I’ve earned on my Chase Freedom Unlimited and $304.47 I’ve earned on my Chase Freedom Flex can be redeemed for a combined $1,115.11 in cash back, or 111,511 points in the UR portal. Yep – that cash can be redeemed as points that I can combine with the points I’ve earned on my Preferred, which are worth 25% more when redeemed through the portal. That means my 111,511 points can potentially be worth a whopping 139,388 UR points (or $1,389.88 and within the portal), just because I have a Preferred card!

This is another major perk of being a Preferred cardholder, because it increases my earning potential and gives me more flexibility in the way I redeem both my points and cash back.

Is the card worth it?

The bottom line is yes, this card is worth it. While I wasn’t able to use the Preferred to maximize points on travel purchases during the peak of the pandemic, Chase made adjustments to the way consumers can earn points for other purchases beyond travel.

And now that travel is opening up again, the hotel credit, a competitive sign-up bonus and convenient ways to redeem points and cash back, it’s obvious that a Preferred should be a staple in your wallet.

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The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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