Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred the Best Travel Credit Card?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been one of the most popular travel rewards credit cards since its introduction over a decade ago. With a robust sign-up bonus, flexible travel redemption options, and useful travel protections, it’s easy to see why the Sapphire Preferred remains a go-to card for many travelers.

Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred the Best Travel Credit Card

But is the Chase Sapphire still the best travel credit card on the market today for all your travel? This article will analyze the Sapphire Preferred pros and cons to help you decide if it’s the right card for you.

Benefits of Chase Sapphire Preferred

An Unbeatable Initial Bonus

One of the major draws of the Sapphire Preferred is its signup bonus. New cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. With Chase Ultimate Rewards points valued at 1.25 cents each when booking travel via Chase, that sign-up bonus is worth $750 in travel.

The Sapphire Preferred has one of the market’s most publicly available new cardholder bonuses. Considering that the card’s annual fee is a reasonable $95, this bonus provides tremendous value right off the bat.

Strong Travel Redemption Options

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are among the most valuable and flexible travel rewards around. Sapphire Preferred cardholders have a few great options when it comes time to redeem points:

Direct Travel Bookings

You can log in to your Chase account and use points to book travel like flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises, and more. Points are worth 25% more (1.25 cents each) this way.

Transfer to Travel Partners

You get transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to any of Chase’s 13 airline and hotel loyalty program partners. Top transfer options include:

  • United MileagePlus
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • World of Hyatt
  • IHG Rewards

This allows you to extract maximum value from points when booking award travel.

Pay Yourself Back

A temporary Pay Yourself Back feature allows cardholders to redeem points for statement credits against dining, grocery, home improvement, and charity purchases.

Redemption starts at 1 cent per point, so it’s not the best value, but provides flexibility.

Valuable Travel Protections

The Sapphire Preferred offers a collection of useful travel and purchase benefits:

  • Primary rental car insurance reimburses for theft and damage to rental cars.
  • Trip cancellation / interruption insurance up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for prepaid, nonrefundable travel if your trip is canceled or cut short.
  • Baggage delay insurance provides reimbursement for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing if bags are delayed 6+ hours by a carrier.
  • Trip delay reimbursement covers up to $500 per ticket if your trip is delayed 12+ hours or requires an overnight stay.
  • Purchase protection covers new purchases against damage or theft up to 120 days.

Low Annual Fee

For a premium travel rewards card, the Sapphire Preferred’s $95 annual fee is lower than many competitors. It’s easy to extract $100+ in value each year from the card, making the fee negligible.

There are no foreign transaction fees, so it’s a great card to use overseas as well.

Downsides To Consider

The Sapphire Preferred is a fantastic card, but a few downsides are worth considering:

  • High minimum spending requirement for the sign-up bonus
  • Points don’t go as far for cash back or gift cards
  • Authorized user fee of $75 per user
  • Not as rewarding for non-travel rewards

For big spenders who maximize travel rewards, these may be non-issues. But they are worth factoring in.

Some Options To Consider

While the Sapphire Preferred remains a top travel card, a few alternatives also warrant consideration:

The Capital One Venture X has a higher signup bonus (75,000 miles) and offers similar redemption options and travel benefits. Annual fee is higher ($395) but reasonable for heavy travelers.

The Citi Premier Card has a lower annual fee of $95 with a 60,000 point signup bonus and 3x back on travel, gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets, and entertainment.

For no annual fee, the Wells Fargo Autograph Card offers 3x points on travel, dining, streaming services, gas, transit, and popular categories. $300 signup bonus.

Each of these cards offers unique perks and redemption values to consider as alternatives.

Is it worth getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred card?

For most travelers, the answer is a resounding yes. Between the valuable signup bonus, flexible travel redemptions, useful protections, and reasonable $95 annual fee, it packs a punch.

Occasional travelers may be better off with a no annual fee cash back card. But frequent travelers maximize value from the Sapphire Preferred robust rewards program and benefits to offset the small annual fee.

If you frequently book flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises, and more – and want transferable rewards points and premium travel coverage – the Sapphire Preferred is absolutely worth getting.

Is Chase Sapphire Preferred a hard card to get?

Compared to other premium travel cards, the Sapphire Preferred maintains average credit score requirements. You’ll typically need a minimum credit score around 690-720 to qualify.

Income requirements also remain reasonable, with most applicants needing a minimum individual yearly income of $35,000-45,000 or $70,000+ for a household.

The Sapphire Preferred is easier to qualify for than EXTREMELY premium cards like the Sapphire Reserve. Good credit and moderate income make you eligible here.

What is the minimum credit limit for Chase Sapphire Preferred?

Initial credit limits usually start at $5,000 for the Sapphire Preferred. After your first year it can be increased much higher based on usage and credit factors.

How much income do I need for Chase Sapphire Preferred?

You’ll generally need a minimum individual annual income of $35,000-45,000 or $70,000+ yearly household income. Higher incomes improve approval chances but are not required.

Earning the 60,000 point signup bonus necessitates $4,000 in spend during the first 3 months as well. You want adequate income to meet minimum spend.

Our Verdict: Still A Top Contender

Over 10 years since its launch, the Chase Sapphire Preferred remains near the top of the best travel credit cards for several good reasons. Its initial signup bonus, flexible and valuable redemption options, useful travel perks, and reasonable $95 annual fee add up to a 5-star card.

Minor downsides still don’t take away from the tremendous value this card presents for globetrotters who want to maximize rewards for flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises, and more. Its travel protections provide security and peace of mind when on the road as well.

For these reasons and more, the Chase Sapphire Preferred remains firmly on the top for best premium travel card on the market despite growing competition. If you want a card that delivers exceptional travel rewards and benefits season after season, the Sapphire Preferred is a excellent choice worth considering.

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