Review: Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card – A Powerful Travel Rewards Card!

Does $400 cash or $500 toward travel sound good?

The Chase Sapphire PreferredSM Card is offering this hefty bonus right now!

Charge $3,000 to the card within the first three months, and you get 40,000 bonus points.  Best of all, it comes along with a great travel rewards card.

Now to get into the meat of what makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card so good…

Note there’s an Annual fee of $95, which is waived the first year.  However, the initial bonus alone more than makes up for the even first few years.  Think about that… It’s like they are covering the annual fee for the card for five years (if you redeem your initial points for cash).

There’s a lot beyond that initial bonus, though.

Rewards Points and More

First of all you earn points for EVERY purchase you make – 1 per $1 spent.

Then, you earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel– airfare, hotel rooms, cruises, rental cars, train tickets, taxis – even tolls.

With this card you also earn 2 points for every dollar you spend at restaurants – from fast food to fine dining.

If you book your travel through their Ultimate Rewards site, you get an additional 20% off of your purchase.  So, right off the bat you could purchase a free $500 flight with your 40,000 bonus points.

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In addition to the 2 points for purchasing travel, you also earn an additional 1 point for each $1 of airfare and hotel accommodation net purchases when you book at ultimaterewards.com (for a total of 3 points).

The prices on the site don’t seem to be marked up from real world prices and there are NO blackout dates on when you can travel.  Do some comparison shopping with airline and discount travel sites and you should be able to come up with the best use for your points.

One pretty unique benefit: you will receive a yearly points bonus of 7% of all the points you earned in the previous year, even if you’ve used them already.  So you will actually have 42,800 points at the end of the first year, or 2,800 if you use your 40,000.  (For the first year, the points that earn the bonus are those accrued from the time you enroll through your December statement date of that same year.  After that, it’s the twelve month period beginning the day after your December statement date through your December statement date of the next year)

You can take your time figuring out what you want to do with those points – they don’t expire!  If you have other Chase cards that earn ultimate rewards, you can combine the points, giving you greater purchasing power.  Points are unlimited, too, so you don’t have to worry about caps on the rewards you should be earning.

Frequent Flyers

travel rewards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred allows you to transfer points 1:1 to a number of travel programs.

Are you enrolled in any frequent travel programs?

You can transfer your points from this card with no transfer fees and at full 1:1 value – that means 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points.

Let’s go over that again because it’s important — earning points on this card can get you free flights or travel.

Participating travel programs include:

  • British Airways Executive Club
  • United MileagePlus®
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Amtrak Guest Rewards®
  • Hyatt Gold Passport®
  • Marriott Rewards®
  • Priority Club® Rewards
  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®.

So, if you’re already really into getting rewards for travel, a card that is this flexible can really help you rack up the rewards.

Think about it.

With one card you get rewards that can be transferred to a number of air and hotel programs giving you the potential to save a lot on travel.  Of course you have to make sure the programs they transfer to are actually the ones you use.  Off the bat you can see they don’t cover American Airlines, Delta or Jet Blue.  Other credit card companies have relationships with those airlines.  Still, just about all the other major programs are covered here.

This card also provides an EXCELLENT perk for anyone who travels internationally: There are NO foreign transaction fees on purchases you make abroad.  These fees can often be as much as 3%.  Even American Express Gold doesn’t have this benefit.

For the money it could possibly save you on these fees, Sapphire Preferred could be a great foreign travel card for this reason alone.

Other Great Tidbits

Good customer service can seem impossible to come by these days, so it’s helpful that the card comes with 24/7 support that answers the phone directly without ANY prompts.

Least importantly (but still a teensy bit fun) – this card is made of metal, not plastic.  So it feels heavy and not chintzy like most cards.  Expect many oohs and aaahs from servers and cashiers.  Granted you shouldn’t get the card based on its material.  It’s just a nice side-feature to go with everything else.

Just want to redeem your points for some cold, hard cash?  Get cash back via check, statement credit, or even direct deposit to your Chase checking or savings account.

Remember: to qualify and receive your 40,000-point bonus, you must make purchases of $3,000 or more during the first 3 months from account opening.  (Purchases do not include using your account for balance transfers or cash advances, or using any checks that access your account.)  After qualifying, it will take 6 to 8 weeks for bonus points to post to your account. This must be the first time you’ve opened an account with this card to be eligible for the bonus, and the account must be open and not in default at the time that your bonus is due to you.

It’s a little high, but for many, $3,000 in three months shouldn’t be hard to spend if you charge all your expenses on this card.

But remember — this bonus isn’t worth anything if you can’t pay your statement in full each month!

The APR varies with the market and is based on the prime rate (as most cards are).  Pay your minimum payment late one time, and the penalty APR can jump close to 30% indefinitely.  Paying practically a third of what you owe them in interest each month can lead you into some VERY dangerous territory.  So, obviously, make sure you are in a position to use this card responsibly before applying.

Those are the basics, but you can save extra on travel, purchases and enjoy some unique experiences with this card on their Ultimate Rewards site if you do your research.

  • Vacation Packages – Many packages that include hotel stays, meals and more are available.
  • Get extra points when shopping –  You can get up to 10 extra points for every dollar you spend when you shop through the Ultimate Rewards Mall. Basically you click on a link to the retailer, and you buy the item at the merchant’s own site. Under the link it will say how many extra points you will earn per dollar spent. You have to click through this link to get the extra points!
  • Gift Cards Discounts —  You can buy gift cards with you points at face value but there are usually a selection of gift cards on sale for LESS than the value of the gift card.

The fun aspect of this card is that you can get exclusive experiences with it.  These include VIP access to concerts, sporting events, movie premieres, food and wine tastings and more.  Some experiences can be bought with rewards points or cash, and some are auctioned off to the highest bidder (of points or cash).  Some things are offered free just for being a cardmember.

Just for fun, here is a sampling of experiences available for purchase right now:

  • Ever dreamed of attending the Sundance Film Festival?  Chase Sapphire has packages for sale you can buy with points or cash that include hotel rooms, screenings, VIP events and more.
  • How about a free ticket to a star-studded event in L.A.?  Sapphire Preferred cardmembers get a free ticket to the American Giving Awards, or can buy access to afterparties and other VIP events at the show…even walk the red carpet. Or dine with the celebrities over a meal prepared by a world-renowned chef.
  • Sports Fan? Watch a NY Jets game from the green room or attend a warm-up session.

These kinds of experiences tend to be pricey, though.

Other more accessible experiences:

  • Tickets to shows — like to the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, or Yo Gabba Gabba live…many with options to meet performers, attend afterparties and more.
  • Travel experiences — Already planning a trip somewhere? The card offers you unique experiences in many places across the country and around the world. Many of them are pretty decently priced, and as usual can be bought by points, cash, or both. For example – A walking tour and/or cooking demo in New Orleans,  a sunset clambake in Massachussetts, a New England cruise and lobster dinner, or a whitewater rafting trip down the rivers of Colorado.

Finally

All in all, the card is a great travel rewards card, mostly due to the double points on travel and dining and the great perk of no foreign transaction fees. You also get the power to transfer your points 1 for 1 to a number of frequent flyer plans.

If you travel this can be a powerful card to have in your arsenal!

The huge bonus they’re offering right now doesn’t hurt, either.

*Be smart and make sure you read through the card details to make sure this card fits your needs and you understand the terms and conditions. Be aware that the terms may change after this article’s publication.

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Published or updated March 5, 2014.

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