Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great first travel card


With so many travel cards on the market, deciding on the right one can be a daunting task, especially if you are a first-time travel rewards cardholder. Read on to why we think the Chase Sapphire Preferred card could be the right choice for you.

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Whether you’re a travel newbie or a globetrotter, travel rewards cards are a great way to leverage your spending to earn free travel and premium perks. But with so many travel cards currently on the market, choosing the right one can be a daunting task – especially if you are a first-time travel rewards cardholder.

Before deciding, there are several key things to consider: Does the card offer a generous sign-up bonus? Will you earn bonus points on travel-related purchases? Is the annual fee affordable? Are the points flexible?

One travel rewards card that answers “yes” to all of those questions is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. In addition to offering a 60,000-point sign-up bonus, the card gives a 2-point bonus on travel purchases and charges a $95 annual fee. Additionally, the Preferred card offers several flexible options for redeeming rewards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred card details

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Rewards rate

  • 2 points per dollar on all travel and restaurant purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on general purchases
Sign-up bonus
60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months

Why use it?
The Preferred card offers a generous 2-point bonus on a broad range of travel-related expenses, from airfare and hotels to taxis and trains. Additionally, travel rewards newbies can try out the card without a big financial commitment, since the annual fee is $95.Read review
Estimated Yearly Rewards Value ($15,900 spend)
Annual Fee

While cardholders will incur an annual fee of $95 in the first year, the Preferred card’s yearly rewards value more than makes up for it. By our estimates, the average consumer who spends $15,900 on food, gas, clothing and general purchases can easily squeeze $397 worth of value from the Sapphire Preferred card’s rewards each year.

Moreover, cardholders can get a 25 percent boost on their rewards when they are redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

25 percent bonus on your points 

As a Chase Ultimate Rewards card, the Sapphire Preferred card offers a variety of flexible redemption options. Cardholders can redeem points as statement credits, direct deposits, gift cards, travel or to purchase merchandise through or the Chase Pay app.

Additionally, cardholders get a 25 percent bonus when they redeem their points for travel through the Chase Ultimate rewards portal – taking the already generous 60,000-point sign-up bonus to another level. For example, if you redeem the 60,000-point bonus for statement credits, it will be worth $600. However, with the 25-percent boost, that same bonus will be worth $750 when redeemed through Chase’s travel portal.

Value of the Sapphire Preferred card’s sign-up bonus

Redemption optionPoint valueValue of 60,000-point sign-up bonus
Ultimate Rewards travel portal1.25 cents$750
Statement credit1 cent$600
Direct deposit1 cent$600
Gift cards1 cent$600 purchases0.8 cent$480
Chase Pay purchases0.8 cent$480

Not only does the Preferred card offer a lot of value from its sign-up bonus, but its points are flexible and easy to redeem – making it an excellent choice for newbies. But if you’re feeling more adventurous and want transfer points to another program for a higher value, you have that option too.

Chase Sapphire Preferred transfer options

Redemption optionPoint valueValue of 60,000-point sign-up bonus
Singapore Airlines transfer2.36 cents$1,416
British Airways transfer2.26 cents$1,560
Southwest Airlines transfer1.6 cents$960
Jetblue transfer1.53 cents$918
United Airlines transfer1.52 cents$912
Hyatt Gold Passport transfer1.43 cents$858
Ritz-Carlton transfer1.22 cents$732
Air France transfer1 cent$600
Virgin Atlantic transfer0.8 cent$480
Marriott Rewards transfer0.8 cent$480
IHG transfer0.65 cent$390

Pairing with other Ultimate Rewards cards 

One other major advantage of the Sapphire Preferred card is that it’s part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards card family. Chase allows you to transfer points from other Ultimate Rewards cards to your Sapphire Preferred card, which means you can rotate your Sapphire Preferred card with other Ultimate Rewards cards to earn extra points on categories not covered by the Sapphire Preferred card, boosting your overall earning rate.

For example, you can rotate in the Chase Freedom card to earn 5 percent on its rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 per quarter), use the Sapphire Preferred card to earn 2 percent on your dining and travel purchases and use the Chase Freedom Unlimited as your go-to card to earn 1.5 percent on the rest of your purchases, and then transfer all these earnings to your Sapphire Preferred card to score the 25-percent travel redemption bonus.

Should you apply? 

If you’re looking to dip your toe in the travel rewards game, but don’t know where to start, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great entry card. Along with its simplified rewards structure and bonus on travel and dining purchases, the card offers a generous sign-up bonus. Plus, since annual fee is $95, you’re able to try it out without a huge commitment.

Pro tip: Sapphire Preferred cardholders can earn an extra 50,000 points each year through Chase’s referral program. When you “refer-a-friend” who is approved for the Preferred card, you will receive 10,000 bonus points. You can earn the bonus on up to five people each year, for a total of 50,000 additional  points.

See related: Earn up to 60,000 bonus points with Chase Sapphire cards, Chase Ultimate Rewards Guide: The best ways to earn and use Ultimate Rewards points

What’s up next?

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Published: March 19, 2019

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Credit Card Rate Report Updated: July 17th, 2019
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