PHOTO: A Chase Bank branch. (Photo via Flickr/Mike Mozart)
With all the hysteria over the new Chase Sapphire Reserve card, it appears the Chase Sapphire Preferred has become an ugly Chase step-child of sorts. Despite the long-term popularity of the card, hardly anyone is fussing over it like they used to. Nope, nearly all Chase news has been about the Reserve, its travel credit, and its huge signup bonus.
However, I tend to believe overlooking this card is a mistake. Sure, it may not come with a 100K signup bonus, lounge access, or a $300 annual travel credit, but the benefits offered by the Chase Sapphire Preferred are still worth their weight in gold.
As far as entry-level cards go, I would even argue that the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a much better deal for newbies. Why? Where the new Reserve card comes with a $450 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card comes with a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year.
Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is Still an Awesome Deal
The fact the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with no annual fee the first year is a game-changer, but that’s not the only reason this card stands out. For starters, signing up and meeting the minimum spending requirement can be rewarding on its own. With this card, you’ll earn 50,000 points worth $625 in travel after you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening.
The $625 figure comes into play if you use these points to book travel directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but it’s possible to get even more value if you’re clever. Because Chase allows points transfers to loyalty programs at a rate of 1:1, the number of ways you can use your points is practically limitless.
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Popular Chase transfer partners include IHG Rewards, Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Hyatt Gold Passport, Southwest Airlines, Flying Blue, United MileagePlus Explorer, British Airways, and Korean Air. While redemptions can vary among travel partners, here are a few ways you could leverage them to get more value:
—Book a round-trip flight to Europe on Flying Blue for 50,000 miles plus taxes (the same flight can cost up to $2,000 depending on dates)
—Book two, round-trip flights to the Caribbean on Southwest for 50,000 points plus taxes (normally $1,200+)
—Book two nights at the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris for 50,000 Hyatt points (regularly $1,000+ per night)
Of course, these are just a few ways you can leverage transfer partners to get more bang for your buck. Depending on your travel style and goals, you can transfer points to book any itinerary of your choosing—from a transatlantic luxury flight to several nights at your favorite hotel or resort.
In addition to its rewards program, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offer other valuable perks for free. Some of those perks include:
—Free primary auto rental coverage
—Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
—Travel accident insurance
—Baggage delay reimbursement
—Purchase protection, price protection, and return protection
—Extended warranties on qualified items
On top of these important benefits, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card lets you earn 2x points on all travel and dining purchases, plus 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. You can also rack up additional points by clicking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal before you shop. So, beyond the signup bonus, it’s easy to rack up points fast.
If you’ve been thinking about the new Chase Sapphire Reserve card but aren’t sure you can stomach the $450 fee, don’t forget to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. With a huge signup bonus, no fee the first year, and the regular Chase benefits, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a smart pick for anyone who wants to ease into travel rewards without paying a fee.
As always, however, you should read the fine print before you sign up for any credit card offer. While the perks can make this offer and others an awesome deal, important details like your card’s APR and fee schedule are important considerations you can’t afford to ignore.
Do you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card? What is your favorite cardholder perk?