Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great first travel card

Chase Sapphire Preferred card

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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 50,000-point sign-up bonus, the card gives a 2-point bonus on travel purchases and waives the annual fee during the first year. 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
50,000 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 waived the first year.

Learn more

Estimated Yearly Rewards Value ($15,900 spend)
Annual Fee
$95, waived first year

While cardholders will incur an annual fee of $95 after 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 $412 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 Amazon.com 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 50,000-point sign-up bonus to another level. For example, if you redeem the 50,000-point bonus for statement credits, it will be worth $500. However, with the 25-percent boost, that same bonus will be worth $625 when redeemed through Chase’s travel portal. 

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

Redemption option Point value Value of 50,000-point sign-up bonus
Ultimate Rewards travel portal 1.25 cents $625
Statement credit 1 cent $500
Direct deposit 1 cent $500
Gift cards 1 cent $500
Amazon.com purchases 0.8 cent $400
Chase Pay purchases 0.8 cent $400

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 option Point value Value of 50,000-point sign-up bonus
Singapore Airlines transfer 2.36 cents $1,180
British Airways transfer 2.26 cents $1,130
Southwest Airlines transfer 1.6 cents $800
Jetblue transfer 1.53 cents $765
United Airlines transfer 1.52 cents $760
Hyatt Gold Passport transfer 1.43 cents $715
Ritz-Carlton transfer 1.22 cents $610
Air France transfer 1 cent $500
Virgin Atlantic transfer 0.8 cent $400
Marriott Rewards transfer 0.8 cent $400
IHG transfer 0.65 cent $325

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 the card doesn’t charge an annual fee in the first year, you’re able to try out the card without much 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 50,000 bonus points with Chase Sapphire cards, Chase Ultimate Rewards Guide: The best ways to earn and use Ultimate Rewards points 

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Updated: 01-23-2019