Why I Think The Chase Sapphire Preferred Is The Best Travel Credit Card

There is no shortage of choice for a travel credit card these days. Without doubt, one of the best on the market is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – and my top choice of travel card. This article looks at the benefits and shows you why, for the fee paid, you can’t beat the offering!

Chase Sapphire Preferred card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Image: Simple Flying

Card details and fee

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a mid range credit card, with an annual fee of $95. This fee is waived for the first year – a great offer making it free to try out the card, travel with it, and see if the benefits work out for you!

The fee is similar to the Capital One Venture Rewards card. This is a good card for comparison, both have their benefits but overall I think you get more with the Sapphire Preferred card.

Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card awards Chase Ultimate Rewards points for all spending. This is a great rewards currency for the frequent traveler! There is much more flexibility than with a card that awards cashback, or points / miles in a fixed hotel or airline program (as is common with co-branded credit cards). With Chase Ultimate Rewards points you have the option to use to book travel or transfer to many airline partners.

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Chase Ultimate Rewards
Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points– a strong currency for the frequent traveler. Image: Chase

Get a sign up bonus worth $750 for travel purchases

There is an excellent sign up bonus for new cardholders – about the best on the market for the  level of annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card awards 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, when you make a minimum spend of $4,000 within the first three months. This bonus is worth $750 when redeemed for travel through the Chase Rewards platform.

Chase Sapphire sign up bonus
Enjoy a great sign up bonus with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Image: Chase

And you can get more even more bonuses if you refer friends or colleagues for a card. You can earn 15,000 points for each successful referral – up to a maximum of 75,000 points per year.

Chase Sapphire Preferred refer friend
Earn another bonus when you refer for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Image: Chase

Great earning rate for all spending – with a bonus for travel!

Ultimate Rewards points are earned for all spending with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Points are awarded at the following rates:

  • Two points per dollar spend on travel and dining. The definition used by Chase for this is very generous – it includes not just airfares and hotels, but also online travel agencies, car rentals, Uber payments, some public transportation, parking fees and more.
  • One point per dollar for all other spending.

The same rates apply in the US and overseas, so you can earn when you travel too, and benefit from the travel and dining bonus!

Earn points with Sapphire Preferred
Earn bonus points with the Sapphire Preferred card. Image: Chase

Spending Chase Ultimate Reward points

Earning plenty of points is great, but you also need to be able to spend them! This is one of the strong points of Chase Ultimate Rewards – points tend to be more valuable than those of other financial rewards programs.

There are several ways to spend points, with the best value being to use for travel! For a more detailed discussion of the many ways to spend points, and some ideas for great value airline awards see our guide here.

The main options are:

  • Points can be redeemed for cashback at the rate of one cent per point. Not the best value, but a baseline for the minimum value and a useful option sometimes!
  • Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel. This needs to be booked using the Chase travel portal, an Expedia-powered system offering a wide range of flights, hotels and travel packages.
Chase Sapphire Preferred travel
Get more using the Chase Sapphire Preferred for travel. Image: Chase
  • Transfer points to one of nine airline and four hotel loyalty programs, all at the excellent rate of 1:1. This opens up all the spending options of those programs, and the possibility to get much better value out of points!

Get access to luxury flight experiences using points

Ultimate Rewards points transfers are possible to the following airline programs:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Iberia Airlines Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United Airlines MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

These open up a huge number of ticket redemption options! Flights can be booked with any of these airlines as well as all the airlines that they partner with. There are many great value options here where points can be excellent value compared to cash prices  – including for example often expensive short and medium haul international flights, and last minute bookings.

But some of our favorite options are to redeem for long haul first and business class tickets. These can be great value compared to cash, and of course who doesn’t love flying in luxury for less!

First class and suites with Singapore Airlines is among the top in luxury flying, and can be accessed via transfers to their KrisFlyer program. From 132,000 miles you can fly in first class from New York to Singapore.

Singapore Airlines suites
Use miles for great value rewards such as Singapore Airlines Suites. Photo: Singapore Airlines

British Airways Executive Club also allows access to some great business and first class products – with themselves as well as OneWorld partners including Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, LATAM and Qantas.

Cathay First Class
Or enjoy similarly great service with Cathay Pacific in first class! Photo: Cathay Pacific

No foreign exchange fees

There are many great travel benefits with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card . An essential one of these is the offer of no exchange fees on purchase in foreign currency (overseas or online).

When compared to some other cards which charge around three per cent for such transactions, this is a big money saver for the frequent traveler. Note that this only applies for purchases with the card, and not for ATM cash withdrawals, which will incur a fee.

London Westminster view
Save with commission free use of the card when you travel. Photo: User:Colin Wikimedia-Commons/CC-BY-SA

Included car rental insurance

Another excellent travel perk is complimentary Collision Damage Waiver cover when you pay most car rentals using the card.

This covers theft and collision damage, and in most cases means you can decline similar additional insurance offered by the car rental company.

Hertz booking
Get Collision Damage Waiver included whenever you rent cars. Image: Hertz

Travel insurance and protection included with the card

Naturally, its good to have protection and insurance when you travel. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has several offerings here, helping you plan and travel a bit more safely! Always make sure you have enough insurance for your planned trip however – the free cover from the card works well for shorter domestic trips but you may want more cover for longer international trips.

The following are provided with the card:

  • Trip cancellation insurance.. This covers payments made in the event a trip is cancelled or curtailed, for several reasons including illness and weather conditions. Cover is up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip.
  • Trip delay insurance. If the carrier is delayed over 12 hours, you can claim up to $500 per ticket in necessary expenses.
  • Baggage Delay insurance. If your carrier delays baggage over six hours, you can claim up to $100 a day (for five days) for essential purchases.
LHR departure board
No-one likes travel delay, but it is best to be covered. Photo: Wikimedia

Benefit from purchase protection and extended warranty

These are not really travel benefits but are great inclusion to have with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. They will cover any purchases you make, including those for travel! The card offers the following (you can check more details on the Chase website):

  • Additional purchase protection on new purchases paid for with the card, for 120 days. This covers theft or damage for many types of product (including electronics, but not antiques or any second hand purchases, for example). There is a $500 per claim limit and a total limit of up to $50,000 per year.
  • Free warranty extension. This will extend any US manufacturer warranty by one year (when the original warranty provided is for three years or less).
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Enjoy extra protection whenever you shop with the card, particularly useful for larger purchases in the US! Image: Simple Flying

What about the Chase Sapphire Reserve card?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the big brother of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and they are often compared. We like the Sapphire Reserve as well as a travel card, but with a much higher annual fee of $450 it has more restricted appeal.

Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card – a significant step up in annual fee, but benefits are good for the high spending very frequent traveler. Image: Simple Flying

You do get more for this higher fee of course! This is a specialized premium card offering top level benefits including free airport lounge access via Priority Pass, Global Entry membership, and more comprehensive insurance benefits. Points earning is higher with triple points for all travel and dining spend, and a further boost in value when you redeem points for travel!

Final Thoughts

For a mid-range credit card with low annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is about the best you can get! This card awards plenty of mileage, with a bonus for travel, and is unrivaled for value when it comes to redeeming for travel rewards.

It features one of the best points sign up bonuses on the market. And on top of this, the annual fee is waived for the first year! It’s free to try it, receive the bonus, and see if it works for you!

If you find out you are using it more than you planned, a trade up to the excellent Chase Sapphire Reserve card may be worth considering. The fee for this is much higher, but so are the rewards. There is a triple points bonus for travel bookings alongside premium benefits.

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