chase sapphire preferred review
Updated September 23, 2021

Chase Sapphire Preferred Review: A Useful Travel Card, But Only For Some

Credit Cards
  • chase sapphire preferred card
    Chase Sapphire Preferred
    • Basics: The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a travel credit card that can work for both regular and occasional travelers thanks to a low annual fee, a high sign-up bonus, a useful rewards and bonus structure, and other perks, like transferable points currencies with travel partners.
    • Pros: This card comes with a huge sign-up bonus, a lucrative rewards structure, no foreign transaction fees, and flexible points transfers.
    • Cons: The annual fee may not be worth the perks for some users, the actual rewards rates aren’t anything special, and it’s missing some of the premium travel perks offered by other cards.
    Rewards 7/10
     
    Other Perks 6/10
     
    Annual Fee 8/10
     
    Welcome Offer 10/10
     
    Ease of Approval 5/10
     
    Intro APR 0/10
     
    • WELCOME OFFER

      100,000 bonus points for spending at least $4,000 within three months of opening the account

    • ANNUAL FEE

      $95

    • REWARDS RATE

      • 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 for travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R)
      • 3 points per dollar on dining
      • 2 points on all other travel purchases
      • 1 point per dollar on everything else

    • PERKS

      • Flexible points redemption
      • No foreign transaction fees
      • A generous sign-up bonus
      • Low annual fee
      • $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit

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Today, I’m reviewing the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. This card is one of the Chase travel card options, and it offers a solid rewards structure that can be utilized in flexible ways by novice and seasoned travelers.

This card is popular with travelers in part because it comes with a low annual fee compared to many of the competitor cards. It has a useful rewards structure, and the lack of fees makes this card attainable for your everyday vacation traveler, or for occasional travelers who want to earn rewards without the high cost the premium cards come with.

There are also a few downsides to this card, too. In this review, I’m going to go over the Preferred’s rewards structure, features and benefits, and pros and cons. I’ll also share my thoughts on who the Sapphire Preferred is best for (and who it probably isn’t that great for).

If you’re interested in the Chase Sapphire Preferred, I would appreciate it if you used my affiliate link since if you use it and are approved, I will get a small commission so I can continue to create content for you.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Review and Walkthrough Video

If you’d like to see a comprehensive step-by-step walkthrough of the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, check out my YouTube video below!

Chase Sapphire Preferred Overview

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a travel credit card that can work for both regular and occasional travelers. It comes with a low annual fee, a high sign-up bonus, a useful rewards and bonus structure, and some useful travel protections and perks, like transferable points currencies with travel partners.

But, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers useful travel-related benefits, like transferable points and 1:1 travel partners, the card doesn’t offer the premium travel perks that some of the similar travel cards offer. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn’t offer priority boarding, free checked bags, or airport lounge access, which are typical perks offered by premium travel cards.

Still, this card offers a solid rewards structure that can be utilized in flexible ways, and it comes with a low annual fee compared to the competitor cards. A lack of fees makes this card even more attainable for your everyday vacation traveler, or for novice travelers who want to earn rewards without the high cost the premium cards come with.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Features

Welcome OfferYes; earn 100,000 bonus points for spending at least $4,000 within three months of opening the account
Annual Fee$95
Ongoing Rewards Rate
  • 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 for travel and restaurants
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • Other Benefits
  • Referral bonuses
  • Bonus categories
  • Pay Yourself Back program
  • Points transferral
  • My Chase Plan
  • Points transferral (1:1 transfer partners)
  • Credit Score Requirement700+
    Security Deposit RequiredNo
    Intro APRNo introductory 0% APR period
    Balance Transfer FeeEither $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
    Rewards Redemption Options
  • Travel
  • Experiences
  • Merchandise
  • Trust accounts
  • Gift cards
  • Cash
  • Statement credit
  • Minimum Redemption RequirementNone
    Foreign Transaction FeeNo
    Maximum Late Fee$29 for the first late payment; $40 for subsequent late payments made within 6 months of the initial late payment
    Grace Period21 days
     

    Welcome bonus

    Chase is currently giving new Sapphire cardholders a bonus of 100,000 points when they spend at least $4,000 within three months of opening their account. With credit card rewards, though, it’s always important to ask how much points are actually worth.

    If you choose to redeem for cash, 100,000 points is equal to $1,000. However, the Sapphire Preferred card offers 25% extra when you use your points to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards or to cover past purchases in specific categories.

    What this basically means is that the 100,000 bonus points will give you $1,250 in travel credit if you book your travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or use your points through the Chase Pay Yourself Back program.

    While you’re not really saving money if you spend an extra $1,000 just to collect the introductory bonus, if that’s money you were going to spend anyway, then this is a great deal.

    The welcome offer does come with a few conditions — you need to put $4,000 in spending on the card in your first three months (equal to a little over $1,300 a month). You are also limited to receiving new cardmember bonuses every 48 months for Sapphire accounts.

    Overall, however, the bonus is extremely high — $1,250 back for $4,000 in spending equals over 25% back. In fact, this is the highest welcome offer I’ve ever seen on the Chase Sapphire Preferred, so if you’re interested in getting the card, click this link to get that bonus and do some traveling.

    Rewards

    The Sapphire Preferred offers 1% back on non-bonus purchases and 2% on travel and dining.

    You can get good value with the Sapphire Preferred if you’re able to find the right rewards opportunities by taking advantage of Chase’s offers or transferring your points to a third-party platform. But, the cash-back structure doesn’t necessarily justify paying $95 per year just to keep your card active.

    Bonus categories

    The Sapphire Preferred gives you two points per dollar spent on its two bonus categories: travel and dining, which includes both dine-in and takeout and delivery. Translated, this equals 2% back on travel and dining if you redeem your points for cash, or 2.5% if you redeem your points for travel through Chase or the Pay Yourself Back program.

    [Pro tip: The Sapphire Preferred does come with an annual fee of $95, so it’s important to bear that in mind when considering the rewards it offers.]

    Non-bonus categories

    For purchases outside the travel and dining categories, spending on the Sapphire Preferred yields only one point per dollar spent, which equals 1% back or 1.25% back if you redeem your points for travel through Chase or the Pay Yourself Back program, which I go into detail about below.

    No foreign transaction fees

    Though the Chase Sapphire Preferred card charges an annual fee, it doesn’t charge a fee on purchases made abroad. Foreign transaction fees can add up quickly, so this is a great card to consider if you’re planning on travelling internationally.

    This makes the Sapphire Preferred a great option for international travel because you’ll not only be able to get more value out of your points when you use them to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, but you’ll also be able to earn bonus rewards for travel and dining purchases at your destination.

    Pay Yourself Back program

    As I mentioned, the Pay Yourself Back program is another way you can get a 25% bonus on your Sapphire Preferred spending, aside from the traditional way of redeeming for travel through Chase.

    The Pay Yourself Back program essentially allows you to get the same 25% bonus statement credit when you use your points to cover purchases you’ve already made in certain categories.

    Currently, these categories are dining, groceries, home improvement, and select charities, but they are set to expire at the end of September 2021, excluding charity, which will expire at the end of December 2021.

    You’ll see the Pay Yourself Back program when you go to your points. This is what the interface looks like.

    chase sapphire preferred pay yourself back program

    Here you can see an example of the 25% bonus offered through the Pay Yourself Back program. Usually, I would need 2,587 points to get $25.87 in cash back, but if I choose to pay myself back for this Safeway purchase, I’ll get the same amount of money for only 2,069 points.

    However, this money will be applied as statement credit rather than as cash. This means that if my balance is zeroed out when I redeem these points, I’ll get a -$25.87 balance that will cover my next purchases.

    It’s important to note that the ability to pay yourself back isn’t going to replace your minimum payment obligations. For example, if I owe a $25 minimum payment on an existing balance, redeeming my points will decrease that balance, but I can’t avoid the minimum payment or late fee by paying myself back in this way.

    You should also bear in mind that you’re ineligible for this bonus if you’ve earned a Sapphire bonus in the last 48 months. If you’ve received a bonus from another Sapphire card sometime in the last four years, you’ll need to wait for that period to expire before you can take advantage of this offer.

    Earn extra points

    With this card, you may be able to get significantly more than the basic rewards points by strategically redeeming the points you earn through regular spending

    For example, if you use the Pay Yourself Back program or book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, your cash back rates in the bonus categories will increase by 25%.

    You can also transfer your points to third-party rewards programs, which will open up more opportunities for you to perhaps get even more than the 25% bonus you’d get through Pay Yourself Back or Chase Ultimate Rewards.

    Referral bonuses

    You’ll get 15,000 extra points for each person you refer to the Sapphire Preferred, up to five times per year. That can equal up to $750 in points or $937.50 for travel, just in referral rewards.

    Bonus rewards and statement credits for services

    The Chase Sapphire Preferred also offers other rewards and statement credits, including:

    • Grocery credit: Chase offers up to $50 in grocery credit for new cardmembers in their first year.
    • Food delivery subscription: The Sapphire Preferred also comes with a DashPass subscription for DoorDash or Caviar, which would usually cost $10 per month.
    • Peloton credit: With the Sapphire Preferred, you can also get up to $60 in statement credit on Peloton Digital and All-Access memberships through the end of 2021. The $60 will be applied automatically to your account after your purchase, but it won’t work if you buy it through a third-party platform like the App Store or the Google Play store, so if you’re interested in that offer, make sure to get your membership directly from Peloton.
    • Rideshare bonus: You’ll also earn 5% back on Lyft rides and subscriptions through the end of March 2022. If you use those points to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, your bonus will increase to 6.25%.

    My Chase Plan

    Finally, the Sapphire Preferred gives you access to My Chase Plan, which can help you work out an interest-free payment arrangement on purchases over $100. You just have to charge the purchase to your card. If it’s eligible, you’ll see the option to pay through My Chase Plan in your account activity. Once you opt into that, you’ll be able to select a payment plan that works for you.

    There is a small monthly fee for the My Chase Plan, so it’s not completely free. That said, it allows you to avoid the perils of compound interest.

    Points transferral

    The Chase Sapphire Preferred also allows you to transfer your points to certain hotel and airline rewards programs at a one-to-one value as long as you have 1,000 or more points. If you have any other Chase cards, you can also consolidate your rewards onto your Sapphire Preferred card and then transfer them all to another rewards program.

    Why is this important? While you get 25% extra credit with the Sapphire Preferred when you pay yourself back or book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, in some cases you might get even more if you transfer those points from your Chase account to another rewards provider.

    Currently, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has 13 supported partners you can transfer your points to: Aer Lingus AerClub, British Airways Executive Club, Emirates Skywards, Air France KLM Flying Blue, Iberia Plus, JetBlue TrueBlue, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United Airlines MileagePlus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Intercontinental Hotels Group Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy, and World of Hyatt.

    When you transfer your points to one of these providers, you’re only going to get a one-to-one value, but these providers occasionally offer their own bonuses that go beyond the 25% extra you would get from Chase, in which case you would get a greater bonus for transferring your points.

    Bear in mind that this transfer can also backfire and cause you to receive less value per point than if you had simply redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards or Pay Yourself Back. Thus, it’s important to do the math before transferring your points so you can be sure to get the best value.

    Combine points with other Chase cards

    Chase also allows you to combine the points you earn with your Preferred card with points you earn on other cards.

    For example, if you have the Freedom Unlimited card, which comes with 1.5% cash back on non-bonus spending (compared to the 1% with Sapphire Preferred), you can put your non-bonus purchases on your Freedom Unlimited for the higher rate and then transfer the points to your Sapphire Preferred card to take advantage of its benefits.

    In some cases you might want to avoid having two cards from the same provider, but in this case there’s a kind of symbiotic relationship where you can earn the points on one card and redeem them on another card to maximize your overall value.

    Chase Sapphire Preferred Fees

    Unlike many of the competitor cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card does not come with high fees or other costs. The only real fee you pay for this card is the annual fee, which will cost you about $95 each year.

    When weighing the annual fee, keep in mind that the question isn’t just whether the Sapphire Preferred will give you $95 or more in rewards to offset the costs. You also need to ask whether it’s going to give you $95 more than a comparable card that’s free.

    You will have additional costs for balance transfers — either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater — but there are no monthly fees, no foreign transaction fees, or other costs that come with this card.

    Chase Sapphire Preferred Pros

    • Huge sign-up bonus: The Sapphire Preferred comes with a huge signup bonus of 100,000 points, which can be redeemed for $1,250 for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the biggest welcome I’ve ever seen on this card.
    • Lucrative bonus rewards: While the base rewards make it seem like you’re only going to get 1-2% back on the bonus categories, in many cases, you’ll be able to get significantly more than that by strategically redeeming the points you earn through regular spending.
    • Flexible points transfers: You not only have the ability to transfer points from your Sapphire Preferred account to another rewards platform, but you also have the ability to transfer points to the Sapphire Preferred from another Chase card.
    • No foreign transaction fees: The Sapphire Preferred doesn’t come with any foreign transaction fees, so you can earn the same rewards abroad that you would in the United States.

    Chase Sapphire Preferred Cons

    • The annual fee: While an annual fee isn’t necessarily a bad thing since you can sometimes offset that cost with your rewards, it’s something to take into account, especially when you’re looking at a card that costs $95 a year. Until you get $95 in rewards per year, you’re just going to be making up what you paid to keep the card open.
    • Basic rewards rates: There’s a lot to like about the Sapphire Preferred, but the rewards rates themselves aren’t anything special compared to some of the other cash-back cards on the market. The Chase Freedom Unlimited, for example, has no annual fee but offers 1.5% back on non-bonus purchases, 3% on dining, and 5% on travel you book through Ultimate Rewards.
    • Missing premium features: The Sapphire Preferred is missing a few premium features that you can get with the Sapphire Reserve. The Sapphire Reserve costs $550 a year, but it comes with some additional perks that might justify the cost, like a $300 annual travel credit, access to some airport lounges, and a 3% bonus on travel and dining instead of the 2% through Sapphire Preferred.

    Chase Sapphire Preferred FAQs

    • How much are the Chase Sapphire Preferred points worth?

      The value of Chase Sapphire Preferred points vary. Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth about 1.25 cents when you redeem them to book travel, such aas airfare, rental cars, cruises, or hotels. If you redeem the points for cash, they’re worth about 1 cent apiece.

    • Do Chase Sapphire Rewards expire?

      No, Chase Sapphire Rewards won’t expire. As long as your account is open, your points are safe in your account, and there is no limit to the number of points you can earn.

    • What credit score is required for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card?

      A score above 700 is typically needed to qualify for this card. Chase puts other limitations on credit card approvals, too — including the 5/24 rule, which limits approvals to applicants who have applied and been approved for fewer than five credit cards in the last 24 months

    Chase Sapphire Preferred Alternatives

     Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Sapphire ReserveCapital One Venture Rewards CardAmerican Express Gold Card
     
    Annual Fee
    • $95
    • $550
    • $95
    • $250
    Rewards Rate
    • 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 for travel and restaurants
    • 1 point per dollar on everything else
    • 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on dining and travel
    • 1 point per dollar on everything else else
    • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
    • 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar at restaurants
    • 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases per year
    • 3 points per dollar spent for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
    • 1 point per dollar spent on other eligible purchases
    Welcome Bonus
    • Earn 100,000 bonus points for spending at least $4,000 within three months of opening the account
    • 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
    • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
    • Earn 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months from account opening
    Foreign Transaction Fee
    • None
    • None
    • None
    • None
    Rewards Redemption Options
    • Travel
    • Experiences
    • Merchandise
    • Gift cards
    • Cash
    • Statement credit
    • Travel
    • Experiences
    • Merchandise
    • Gift cards
    • Cash
    • Statement credit
    • Travel
    • Cash
    • Gift cards
    • Travel
    • Point transfers to partners, including airlines and hotels
    • Gift cards
    • Statement credit
    • Shopping
    • Donations to charity
     

    Who the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is Good For

    Cardholders who already have another Chase card

    If you already have another Chase card, particularly the Freedom Unlimited or the Freedom Flex, I would recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred to you.

    As I mentioned before, the Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5% cash back on non-bonus spending, 3% back on dining, and 5% when you use your points to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The Sapphire Preferred offers more redemption-oriented opportunities, like bonuses for Pay Yourself Back, paying for travel, or potentially transferring your points to a third-party rewards platform.

    Thus, while the benefits are great when you have one card or the other, you unlock even more opportunities when you use them together since they offer different types of perks.

    Those who regularly book travel overseas

    The Sapphire Preferred would also be a good fit for you if you book a lot of travel, especially if you need a card with no foreign transaction fee. While it isn’t just a travel card, it is particularly well-suited to people with lots of travel spending since it offers a 25% bonus on most of your rewards and the opportunity to redeem your points in a mileage or hotel reward program for more than you would get through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

    However, if you have a high level of travel spending, the Sapphire Reserve would probably be a better option for you than the Preferred, even considering the $455 difference between their annual fees ($95 for Preferred and $550 for Reserve).

    Ultimately, that decision is going to depend on your spending. Up to a certain point, you’ll be better off with the Preferred, but beyond that point, the extra cost for the Reserve is worth it. If you’re interested in taking a closer look at the exact numbers, keep an eye out for my upcoming Preferred vs. Reserve comparison video.

    Who the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card May Not Be Good For

    Those who want a simple cash-back setup

    If you’re just looking for a simple cash-back setup, I might recommend looking for another card. The Sapphire Preferred is great for travel rewards, but it’s a little more labor-intensive. If you want to maximize the value out of it, you’re going to have to book travel, transfer your points, etc.

    Thus, if you’re looking for the easiest way to get as much cash back as possible, you might want to look at something like the Citi Double Cash card, which gives you 2% cash back on all purchases. While you will miss out on some of the optimization opportunities with the Citi Double Cash card, you’ll be able to get 2% back without having to worry about the extra steps.

    Regular travelers who want more travel-related perks

    I hinted at this a minute ago, but I also would not recommend the Sapphire Preferred to you if you book enough travel to make the Sapphire Reserve worth the annual fee of $550. Many people are wary of the Reserve because of the large price tag, and for good reason, but there are a lot of contexts where the Sapphire Reserve outperforms the Sapphire Preferred.

    First, the Reserve comes with a $300 annual travel credit, which effectively brings the annual fee down to $250, assuming you already spend $300 or more on travel per year. On top of that, Reserve cardholders get a 50% bonus on Pay Yourself Back and on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards — double the bonus offered by Sapphire Preferred.

    Reserve cardholders also get 3% back on travel and dining (compared to 2%), 10% back on Lyft (compared to 5%, and a reimbursement of up to $100 in Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application costs.

    Thus, even without considering the subjective benefit of the access to airport lounges, you can see how the Sapphire Reserve could end up being a lot more valuable for big spenders.

    Final Thoughts on the Chase Sapphire Preferred

    The Chase Sapphire Preferred card may not offer the same types of perks that other premium travel cards offer — there is no airport lounge access or free baggage checks — but it comes with other perks, like the bonus categories, travel partners, and Pay Yourself Back program that can make this card’s rewards structure useful to a savvy cardholder.

    That said, whether or not the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the right one for you will depend on a lot of factors. If you’re a light traveler who’s concerned about getting value from other travel cards with high annual fees, this card may be a good fit. Or, if you regularly use another Chase card, or use your cards on overseas trips and want to avoid the high costs associated with foreign transaction fees, this card could be useful to you.

    If you’re aiming for a card with tons of travel perks, or if you’re looking for a simple cash-back structure, you may not find this card as useful as others would. If you’re willing to pay a larger annual fee, you might come out ahead with the Sapphire Reserve. It all depends on your goals for your cards and how you plan on structuring your spending.

    Author:

    Logan Allec, CPA

    Logan is a practicing CPA, Certified Student Loan Professional, and founder of Money Done Right, which he launched in 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

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