Last Updated: 5/16/2011
If Chase Sapphire and Chase Sapphire Preferred were two sisters, GetDebit would definitely want to date Sapphire Preferred. With Sapphire Preferred, you get a rather super-sized initial spend bonus (40K points instead of 10K), and you get a 25% bump in the value of your points when you redeem for airfare or hotel (making the initial 40K spend bonus worth a cool $500!). There are other benefits and bonuses to the card discussed below. Using the GetDebit Ranking Engine with the default spend profile, the Sapphire Preferred Credit Card ranked 6th out of 101 cards as of the writing of this post (although, as noted below, much of this high ranking is due to the incredible one-time spend-range bonus.)
Recommendation: get this card for the spend-range bonus; only consider as a rewards card if you will redeem for hotel or airfare.
You can apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card here, or keep reading to get the detailed review.
|Reward Program Name||Ultimate Rewards|
|Base Rewards||$1 of spend = 1 point|
|Bonus Category Rewards||
|Special Bonus||7% annual points dividend on all points earned during prior calendar year.|
|Spending Bonus||40,000 points after you spend $3,000 in first 3 months of account opening.|
|Value of Points||
|Redemption Details||Transfer your points at 1:1 ratio at many airlines and hotel chains.|
|Optimum Redemption||Airline or hotel stays via Chase Ultimate Rewards|
|Annual Fee||$95, but waived for first year.|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||None|
|Balance Transfer Fees||Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.|
Earning Rewards With the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
The Sapphire Preferred credit card makes it into the elite of rewards cards only by virtue of its insane spend-range 40,000 point bonus. The double rewards earned on airfare, hotel, car rental, restaurants, commuter expenses, travel agencies, and cruise purchases also help, as do the additional points earned on hotel and airfare purchases (for a total of 3 points) made through the Ultimate Rewards program. Additionally, and quite unusually, you also earn an additional 7% points dividend on all points earned during the prior year (including the 40K spend-range bonus during the first year). I wouldn’t characterize this dividend as a major needle-mover, but more like some nice icing on the cake. If you’re looking for a powerful hotel-focused Chase credit card, you can also check out GetDebit’s review of the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Has Some Tricks Up Its Sleeve When It Comes To Redeeming Points
Besides the impressive one-time spend-range bonus, another major benefit of the Sapphire credit card is a nice 25% bump in the redemption value of your points when you redeem for air travel or hotel stays using the Chase Ultimate Rewards booking tool. While you can read our full review of the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program, a quick takeaway is that it is completely competitive with external tools such as Kayak.com (meaning, ticket prices and hotel stays are nearly identical in price between the two services).
A nice side-benefit of using Sapphire Preferred points to purchase your tickets via the Ultimate Rewards tool is that, from the airline’s (or hotel’s) point of view, it’s the same as if you were paying for cash, which means you also get credit for any miles flown or hotel nights spent. This is different than if you redeemed miles via an airline loyalty program, where reward tickets are not eligible to earn miles.
Transferring Sapphire Preferred Points To Various Loyalty Programs
The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card also lets you transfer your points, at a 1-for-1 rate, to any one of the following loyalty programs: Continental, Priority Club, Marriott, Amtrak, and British Airways. Currently, GetDebit has only assessed the value of Continental and Marriott programs, and the table below provides more info:
|Program||Value of Points/Miles|
As the table above illustrates, on the surface you could bump the value of your points by around 20% by transferring your Sapphire points into the Continental Airlines OnePass program. However, as noted above, you can achieve a 25% bump in the value of your points simply by redeeming for airfare via the Chase site. Not only does this provide you with more choice of airlines, but you would also earn miles on the awarded (purchased) ticket-not so with airline loyalty programs. GetDebit’s recommendation here would be to transfer points to these loyalty programs when you need to “top them off”, but otherwise, stick with the Chase booking tool.
GetDebit’s Closing Musings on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
If you walk away from this post with only the following bullets embedded in your brain, my mission will have been accomplished:
- Insane 40,000 one-time spend range bonus (equal to $500 if you redeem for airfare or hotel stays via their tool).
- Decent (but not great!) rewards structure, with 2x points on airfare and hotel stays when purchased through the Ultimate Rewards site.
- Ability to transfer points at 1:1 exchange rate to numerous airline and hotel loyalty programs.
While we can’t say for sure if this is the card for you, if you’re into the sign-up bonus game, it’s a no-brainer. Also, if you travel by air or stay in hotels, and are willing to book through Chase, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card should definitely be in your consideration set. For another powerful travel card always worth considering, check out Escape by Discover.