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4.5 / 5

chase sapphire preferred
  • 60,000-point initial rewards bonus
  • Up to 2.5% back when redeeming for travel
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee
  • 1 point per $1 base earn rate

The Verdict:  Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the best rewards credit cards on the market. With Sapphire Preferred, the average person would earn roughly $1,475 in net rewards value over the course of two year’s use. And that’s with the card’s $95 annual fee factored in, too (Chase is a WalletHub partner). The core of this offer is a $600 to $750 initial rewards bonus, which can cover the cost of the card’s membership fees for over six years.

Sapphire Preferred continues to pay for itself by providing two points per dollar spent on travel and dining as well as one point per dollar spent on everything else. When redeemed for cash back, these points are worth a penny each but jump to 1.25 cents each when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

The Highlights

  • Lucrative Initial Rewards Bonus: Spending at least $4,000 during the first three months your account is open scores you 60,000 bonus points, redeemable for $750 in travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards or $600 cash back. If you’re going to spend that much anyway, that’s a pretty sweet deal, especially given Chase’s equitable redemption options.
  • Up To 2.5% Cash Back On Travel: Sapphire Preferred offers 2 points per $1 spent on travel (see below for specifics) and dining at restaurants. When you factor in the 25% point bonus that you get when redeeming your earnings for Ultimate Rewards travel reservations, that equates to as much as 2.5% cash back. Chase considers transactions made with the following types of providers to be travel-related:
    • Airlines
    • Hotels and motels
    • Car rental agencies
    • Discount travel sites
    • Parking lots and garages
    • Trains
    • Buses
    • Taxis and limousines
    • Bridge and highway tolls
    • Cruise lines
    • Ferries
    • Timeshares
    • Campgrounds
    • Travel agencies
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee: This is a key feature for travel rewards cards, enabling consumers to visit other countries without giving a second thought to their credit card or coming home to a bill affixed with a 2% to 4% international usage charge. Even if you don’t plan on leaving the country, this could come in handy if you ever buy something whose purchase price is expressed in a foreign currency or from an internationally based merchant. 
  • Rewards Redemption Variety: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card enables you to choose your preferred redemption option without having to worry about your points losing value in the process.  In addition to the 1.25 cents per point that you get when redeeming for travel through Chase, Ultimate Rewards points are also worth a bit more than one cent each, on average, when redeemed for merchandise using “Shop Through Chase.”  You’ll also get a penny per point when you use your earnings to make Amazon.com purchases, buy gift cards or pay your bill via statement credit.Such consistent redemption value helps Sapphire Preferred make up for the fact that its maximum earning rate – two points per $1 spent – only applies to travel and dining at restaurants. 

The Lowlights

  • $95 Annual Fee: Many of the best rewards credit cards charge annual fees. The problem is, some of Sapphire Preferred’s chief competitors charge less.
  • Up To 1.25% Rewards On Most Purchases:  Even if you manage to redeem your points for travel, giving your earnings a 25% bump in value, you will still end up pulling in only one point per dollar spent on most purchases. Sapphire Preferred’s double-points offer only applies to travel spending and restaurant bills.

Other Things To Consider

  • 11 Rewards Transfer Partners: If you can’t find the travel accommodations that you want through Chase, you can transfer your points to one of its 11 rewards partners at a 1:1 ratio. For instance, one Sapphire Preferred point can be converted to one United Airlines mile. While doing so would mean sacrificing your 25% rewards bonus for travel redeemed directly through Ultimate Rewards, having the option does provide a measure of flexibility – especially if you have rewards in another loyalty account that you’d like to make useful as well.   Just make sure you get your money’s worth from whichever travel provider you transfer your points to.  For a point of reference, 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points end up being worth around $9 on average when transferred to and redeemed with Chase’s hotel partners.  
  • 18.24% – 25.24% (V) APR: This certainly isn’t the highest regular APR among credit cards for people with excellent credit, but it’s still above-average.  So, while not paying your bill in full a given month won’t cost you too much, you shouldn’t be lulled into the comfort of consistently carrying a revolving balance.  There are better cards for that. 
  • Metal Card: This is purely a flourish. Having a metal credit card instead of a standard plastic one provides no real benefit other than it being harder to damage. It certainly doesn’t hurt – Sapphire Preferred is a cool-looking card – but a credit card’s material or design should never be a prominent factor in your credit card choice. 

Compared To The Competition

The upper echelon of the rewards credit card market is extremely competitive. And while you can’t really go wrong with any of these top-tier offers, it makes sense to understand the differences between them in order to make the best choice for your personal spending habits.

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