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The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has just had its welcome offer boosted to a fantastic 80,000 points (worth at last $1,000) so with a $50 grocery credit also on offer, this could be one of the cheaper and more rewarding times to consider adding one of the very best travel starter-cards to your wallet.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can be a great card to get you started in the miles and points hobby because it combines affordability (it’s not an expensive card to hold) and versatility (the points it earns can be put to a variety of uses).
A Few Key Facts
- The card’s annual Fee is $95
- The card’s current welcome bonus is offering new cardholders 80,000 points (worth at least $1,000) after they spend $4,000 in the first 3 months after opening their new account, as well as up to $50 in statement credits for grocery store purchases made within the first year of opening a new account.
- The card offers cardholders the following rates of return:
- 2 points/dollar on all travel spending
- 2 points/dollar on dining worldwide
- 1 point/dollar on spending in all other categories
- The points that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can be redeemed directly for airfares, hotels, car rentals, and cruises booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and they can be transferred to a variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs.
- The card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees
- The card offers primary auto rental collision damage insurance
Why The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Is A Great Starter Card
Ultimate Rewards Points Are Incredibly Easy To Use
The points that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns (Ultimate Rewards Points) are incredibly easy to use for free travel, and that’s something that a lot of people who are taking their first tentative steps in the miles & points world value highly.
Every point that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns can be used to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal at a value of 1.25 cents per point and because the Ultimate Rewards Portal works similarly to the better-known travel portals like Orbitz, and Expedia (albeit it’s one that offers Ultimate Rewards Points as a payment option as well as cash), there is no need for cardholders to have any working knowledge of hotel or airline loyalty programs, and there’s no need for cardholders to have to find award availability before they can use their points.
If an airfare, hotel, car rental, cruise (and more) is available to book through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, the points that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns can be used to pay for it. More importantly, cardholders don’t have to have enough points in their account to pay for the whole booking – the Ultimate Rewards Portal allows cardholders to use a combination of cash and points to make a booking if that’s what they need to do.
The Welcome Bonus Gives You Free Travel Immediately
There’s nothing better to give someone a taste of how wonderful the miles and points hobby can be than a travel booking that costs absolutely nothing, and that’s exactly what a cardholder can book with the 80,000 point welcome bonus that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is currently offering.
As discussed in the section above, Ultimate Rewards Points can be used just like cash when booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards Portal so the 80,000 points that the card is offering will buy a cardholder $1,000 of travel.
There’s no need to look for a special deal or to search for award availability – a cardholder who earns the bonus can simply head over to the Ultimate Rewards portal and use some or all of the 80,000 points to book up to $1,000 of airfares, hotels, car rentals, or to make any other form of travel booking that the portal offers.
Ultimate Rewards Points Are Easy To Earn
While the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card costs $95/year (effectively reduced to just $45 by the grocery statement credit offered by the welcome bonus), it’s possible to add a no-annual-fee card to a credit card portfolio to make it incredibly easy to earn Ultimate Rewards points in a variety of spending categories.
The excellent Chase Freedom Flex Card (review) doesn’t charge an annual fee but when paired with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the cash back that it earns can be taken in the form of Ultimate Rewards Points. Effectively, when the Freedom Flex Card is held alongside a Chase Sapphire Reserve Card it will offer a cardholder the following earnings:
- 5 points/dollar on up to $1,500 of spending in quarterly revolving categories.
- 5 points/dollar on travel purchased through Chase’s travel portal.
- 3 points/dollar on dining (includes take-out and delivery)
- 3 points/dollar on spending at drugstores
- 1 point/dollar on spending in all other categories
With enhanced earnings on travel (booked through Chase), the enhanced earnings on dining, the 5 points/dollar available on spending in quarterly revolving categories, and the ability to earn 3 points/dollar at drugstores, the Sapphire/Flex combo can be a great points-earning machine for no additional outlay (on top of the Sapphire Card’s annual fee).
The quicker that a cardholder earns points, the quicker they’ll have enough points to book amazing free trips, and that’s what the miles and points hobby is all about.
Ultimate Rewards Points Can Be Transferred (And Made More Valuable)
One of the great things about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is that it’s not only great for people who are taking their very first steps in the miles and points world, but it also offers a great introduction to the next step up that most people take – it’s not just a card for total newbies.
While the simplest way to get value out of the points that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns is to use them through the Travel Portal, it’s possible to get considerably more value out of the points by transferring them to one or more airline or hotel loyalty programs that partner with Chase (click for more details).
I’m not going to go into great detail about the various transfer options because that’s for a more in-depth blog post (I’m just trying to point out how versatile the points can be), but it’s important to recognize that as soon as a cardholder has at earned at least 1,000 points, they can convert Ultimate Rewards Points to currencies like United Airlines Miles, World of Hyatt Points, and Singapore Airlines Kris Flyer Miles where the value that can be extracted from each point can be far greater than the 1.25 cents/point that the Chase Travel Portal offers.
I’ve already mentioned how easy it is to get 1.25 cents/point of value out of Ultimate Rewards Points by booking travel through Chase, but this post will show you how easy it is to get over 1.4 cents of value out of points transferred over to Hyatt (without the need to find award availability), and when a cardholder is ready to take their education in the miles and point world a little further, points transferred to airline partners can be used to book premium cabin long-haul flights where the returns can be in excess of 1.7 cents per point.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card may not be the glitziest card around and it may not be a super-powerful points earner, but it costs just $95/year (net $45 in year 1 if you account for the $50 grocery credit that comes as part of the welcome bonus) and offers a fantastic platform from which newcomers to the miles & points hobby can economically explore the options open to them.
The card offers a mixture of instant gratification (the welcome bonus can be used for free travel with no effort at all), and an ongoing ability for cardholders to save on their travel bookings through simple points redemptions that don’t require any in-depth knowledge and that don’t require airlines and hotels to have made awards available. As starter cards go, this is definitely one of the best.