Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a must-have credit card for any traveler who loves to dine out, and reap high-rewards throughout the process. New cardholders have the opportunity to claim the newly upgraded intro offer: earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening (that's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®). For these reasons (and more) Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is our 2018 CardRatings Editor's Choice pick for Best Travel Rewards Card.
Sapphire Preferred® offers high on-going rewards rates as well:
The Chase's Ultimate Rewards® program has streamlined its redemption process making it easy for cardholders to take advantage of rewards outside of travel: Exchange 5,000 rewards points for a $50 check, a $50 gift card, and other eligible merchandise. If you are a Chase Freedom® cardholder read on to see how you can further maximize the Ultimate Rewards® program
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card sculpted its intro offer into one of the most competitive deals on the market through which you can earn 50,000 bonus points; it's quite possibly the highest intro program available. Chase doesn’t stop there either, if a cardholder adds an authorized user to their account within the first 3 months of accounting opening and make at least one purchase, cardholders can earn an additional 5,000 bonus points. The opportunity to earn big upfront rewards is obvious with this card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® has quickly become one of the most popular cards for CardRatings.com readers. The popularity stems from the on-going value of this card: high rewards rates, no blackout dates, restrictions, or expiration date on rewards. Cardholders can even use their points to book a flight for someone else.
Cardholders can also take advantage of an additional 25% off travel when redeeming points through the Ultimate Rewards® program, allowing cardholders to stretch their rewards even further.
Awards tracking and redemption is easy through Chase Ultimate Rewards where you can track your rewards as they accumulate and use your rewards to directly book flights, hotels, cars or activities. Cardholders that also have the ($0 annual fee) Chase Freedom® card may find additional benefits by combining the power of Chase Freedom® with Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Because points can be shared among the same Chase Ultimate Rewards® account you can take advantage of the high cash back rewards of Chase Freedom®’s rotating categories, and the discounted travel rates associated with Chase Sapphire.
In order to take full advantage of the Sapphire Preferred®, cardholders must spend more of their budget dining out than grocery shopping. Grocery shopping will only earn a cardholder 1X points, versus the 2X points for dining out. For grocery spending, there are better offers such as Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express which offers 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets throughout the year (up to $6,000 annually). Savvy spenders get both cards and use them in the respective categories that earn them the most.
Also, cardholders will need to use their card regularly. The $95 annual fee ($0 intro for the first year) can be offset with a few trips booked each year, but those that do not use their credit card for categories which earn the most points will have a hard time offsetting the annual fee. If this is you, you should consider a card such as the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card which has no annual fee.
It is also important to look at the points transfer partners:
If you prefer to travel with loyalty programs not mentioned above, the Sapphire Preferred® may feel limiting to you. As an example, those loyal to Starwood might consider also picking up the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express to earn the bonus points on Starwood stays. (Terms apply).
Sapphire Preferred® and Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card have comparable bonus miles for new cardholders, though cardholders need to spend $1,000 more with the Sapphire Preferred® to earn the intro bonus. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card also has the same annual fee structure of $95, waived for the first year. The big difference between these two is that you earn two times the miles on all your purchases with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (plus 10 times the miles per $1 spent when booking a stay through Hotels.com/Venture) as compared to two times the points on travel and dining out only with Sapphire Preferred®. That said, Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are transferable to a number of airline and hotel loyalty programs, so those points might work harder for you if you have some travel loyalties. Additionally, Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are worth 25 percent more when you redeem them for travel through the Chase portal.
The $550 annual fee assessed to the The Platinum Card® from American Express (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser) automatically narrows the group of card users who can take full-advantage of the perks. Taking a deeper look into the Platinum Card® shows some unique benefits that make this card a bit pricey. Cardholders can earn a $200 airline fee credit each year when incidental fees are charged by a pre-selected airline to your Platinum Card® from American Express, and can receive a statement credit every five years to reimburse global entry or TSA PrecheckTM fees. Sapphire has a much lower annual fee, but lacks some of the elite perks of being a The Platinum Card® from American Express user.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® continues to stop the show when measuring its intro offer against other cards. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® offers 40,000 bonus miles to new cardholders after $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening, however 40,000 is only worth $400 in travel statement credit, as opposed to the chance to earn 50,000 bonus points, or $625 toward travel, with the Sapphire card. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® earns some brownie points with its general spending categories. Each purchase made with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is worth 2x miles which is slightly more appealing than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® rewards categories.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card appeals to frequent travelers who spend a lot on their wanderlust and dining excursions. High spending with the Sapphire Preferred® will allow cardholders to easily offset the annual fee.
With no foreign transaction fee, this card can pay for itself with just one overseas trip. Adding double points on travel and dining purchases to the mix can help you rack up even more free rewards. Cardholders that also have a Chase Freedom® card should use these credit cards in unison to maximize rewards.