The 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. Currently, new cardholders have the opportunity to claim a newly upgraded signup bonus: 60,000 bonus points, worth up to $750 in travel after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Did you catch that? The signup bonus is worth up to $750(!) if you redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards® portal; that's because Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card points are worth 25% more when redeemed through the portal. For these reasons (and more - continue on to see why) the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is our 2019 CardRatings editor's top choice for the best travel rewards card.
In addition to a great signup bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers high ongoing rewards rates as well:
The Chase Ultimate Rewards® program has also 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, etc. If you happen to also be a cardholder of other Chase cards that utilize the Ultimate Rewards® system, like Chase Freedom® for instance, read on to see how you can further maximize the Ultimate Rewards® program.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has quickly become one of the most popular cards for CardRatings readers. The popularity stems from the ongoing value of this card: high rewards rates, no blackout dates, restrictions or expiration dates on rewards. Cardholders can even use their points to book a flight for someone else.
Cardholders can also take advantage of an additional 25% value for travel when redeeming points through the Ultimate Rewards® program, allowing you to stretch your 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 cruises. Cardholders that also have the ($0 annual fee) Chase Freedom® card may find additional benefits by combining the power of Chase Freedom® with the 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® rotating categories, and the bonus point value for travel associated with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This situation applies across consumer and business cards that utilize Ultimate Rewards®. To learn more about how to maximize your rewards, see our guide to the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program.
It is also important to look at the points transfer partners, which include, among others:
If you prefer to travel with loyalty programs outside of Chase partners, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card may feel limiting to you even though you can use your points to book with any airline – you just can't transfer points to any airline and take advantage of possibly lower redemption rates.
In addition to easy rewards earning and spending, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers a number of other useful benefits that you should be aware of, including:
|Rewards||Bonus Rewards||Annual Fee|
|2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide||Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®||$95|
In order to take full advantage of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders should spend more of their budget dining out than grocery shopping. Grocery shopping will only earn a cardholder one point per $1 versus the two points per $1 for dining out. For supermarket spending, there are better offers, such as Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser) which offers 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets throughout the year (up to $6,000 annually) as well as bonus cash back earning on a variety of other categories (Terms apply). Savvy spenders might consider getting both cards and using them in the respective categories that earn them the most.
Also, cardholders will need to use their card regularly. The $95 annual fee 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 might want to consider a card such as the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card which has no annual fee ( ).
At $450 the annual fee is a bit steep with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, however, that annual fee gets you a lot.
To start, points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. That means that even though the signup bonus is a bit less (50,000 points once spending $4,000 in the first three months) than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, it's actually worth the same when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®—$750. Additionally though, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a $300 Annual Travel Credit for reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card, as well as up to a $100 reimbursement to cover the application fee to Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®.
As far as rewards go, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns a bit more: 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit; 3X points on dining at restaurants; and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. There's also a 1:1 point transfer value to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs, and access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card both have solid bonus opportunities for new cardholders, though for a slightly higher spending threshold the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can earn 60,000 points, which is worth up to $250 more than the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card welcome offer. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers 50,000 bonus miles – worth $500 – after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card also waives its annual fee for the first year before it increases to $95.
The big difference between these two cards is that you earn two times the miles on all your purchases with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (plus 10 miles per $1 spent when paying for your stay through Hotels.com/Venture) as compared to two times the points on travel and dining out only with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are transferable to a number of airline and hotel loyalty programs and so are Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card miles, though to different partners than with the Chase card. With the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card you can fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime and not have to worry about blackout dates. Plus, you can transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs. Those points might be valuable to you if you have some travel loyalties. Let's not forget though that Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel through the Chase portal.
In many ways The Platinum Card® from American Express is closer to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® than it is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, especially when considering the fact that is has a $550 annual fee.
With The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 within three months; enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December; earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express travel as well as on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com; enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world; receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels and Resorts; earn up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline; and get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue. Terms apply.
The big advantage that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has is that points are worth 25% more when booked for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. However, The Platinum Card® from American Express may be the better choice for luxury travelers who can offset the annual fee with the various elite perks offered with the card.
To see the rates and fees of the American Express cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Platinum Card® from American Express (See Rates and Fees); Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (See Rates and Fees)