Why Chase Sapphire Preferred Still Should Be Your First Rewards Card

It’s easy to decide that you want to travel at a lower price. It can be hard to know where to start. While we have a guide to getting started with points and miles, the advice doesn't even have to be as complex as a guide to parsing it.

In the vast majority of cases, my first recommendation to those who want to earn points and miles is to first get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

This is a classic travel rewards credit card that's been around for 15 years, but that doesn't mean it's outdated. In fact, that means it's a classic that's been keeping up with the times since its launch in 2009. But in this case, it's hard to top this classic when getting started in the rewards credit card world.

So whether you're looking for which card to start with or which card to buy next, here are five reasons why the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card remains my most recommended card.

Great welcome offer

Sapphire Preferred's sign-up bonuses vary, but so far they're pretty good: 75,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first three months.

Zach Grieve/Point Guard

TPG values ​​the 75,000-point bonus at $1,538, but that's based on maximizing points with Chase's hotel and airline transfer partners.

Learning how to maximize your Chase Ultimate Rewards points through transfer partners like Hyatt and United takes some research, but once you start using a transfer partner with valuable Ultimate Rewards points, the countless benefits you'll receive are worth it of.

However, even if you use points directly to book travel with Chase Travel℠, you'll still get 1.25 cents worth per point. Even if the fixed valuation is lower than maximizing your points with a partner, this is a great sign-up bonus that requires no effort to take advantage of.

Excellent transfer partner

Once you get the hang of it, Chase Sapphire's lineup of preferred transfer partners is excellent.

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These transfer partners are:

  • Aer Lingus Aeronautical Club
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • InterContinental Hotels Group Rewards
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue Airways TrueBlue
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Express Rewards
  • United Airlines MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • World of Hyatt

Unlike other card programs, transfers from Chase to these partners have a 1:1 ratio (or higher, with occasional transfer bonuses).

That means 75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be converted into the equivalent of 75,000 Southwest Express Rewards points, or United MileagePlus miles, World of Hyatt points, and more. This gives your points more uses than locking them up to earn and redeem through a loyalty program.

Summer Hull/Points Specialist

Some transfer partners, such as United Airlines and Southwest Airlines, are relatively unique to Chase, so the lineup can't be easily replicated with most other credit card programs.

For those new to travel rewards, U.S. loyalty programs are often a better place to start with points transfer than some of the international options that can be booked with partners. Thankfully, Chase has plenty of these to get you started.

Low annual fee and many additional benefits

Premium travel rewards cards, e.g. American Express Platinum Card® And the Sapphire Preferred's luxury counterpart, the Chase Sapphire Reserve ® , has replaced the Chase Sapphire Preferred's slot in my own wallet. However, I travel multiple times a month and have been in the points and miles game for a long time.

Even though these cards are worth the money — and they are worth the money — few points and miles newbies want to start with one with an annual fee of $695 (see rates and fees on the American Express Platinum Card) or $550 USD (Sapphire Reserve) card.

It's much easier to test the waters with a card like Sapphire Preferred, which has an annual fee of just $95. This is the minimum investment required to try out a new card for at least a year.

Note that recent updates to the card have added more benefits that can partially offset the annual fee. For example, book a stay with Chase Travel and you'll get $50 in hotel points per year, and you'll also get 10% points back every year (based on your card purchases).

Related: 8 Best Credit Cards with Annual Fees Under $100

Good yields improve over time

Sapphire Preferred's yield isn't the highest, but it still provides a solid return on many purchases – including new categories launched in recent years:

  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on travel booked through Chase Travel
  • Earn 5 points per $1 on Lyft rides (through March 31, 2025)
  • Earn 3 points for every dollar spent on dining
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on select streaming services
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on online grocery shopping (excluding Target, Walmart and Wholesale Club)
  • Earn 2 points per $1 on all travel not booked through Chase Travel
  • 1 point per $1 on all other items

The categories are pretty broad, with travel including everything from flights and hotels to subway passes and parking. Dining includes everything from five-star restaurants to fast food and DoorDash delivery services.

Since TPG values ​​the points earned with this card at 2.05 cents each, you'll get between 2.05 and 10.25 cents in value for every dollar charged to this card, depending on the categories you spend. Get ready to “level up” and Sapphire Preferred and its points can grow with you.

RELATED: Everything to know about Chase's credit card trifecta

Easy to use rewards

Mathematically, the most valuable way to maximize your Ultimate Rewards points is to transfer to the previously mentioned hotel and airline partners when award availability works in your favor. However, I like this card for beginners because there is no need to do so.in fact i have many Friends and family who have never redeemed Chase points through a transfer partner.

Photography by John Harrison

You can use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book flights, hotels and other travel at fixed prices through Chase Travel. For Sapphire Preferred, each of your points is worth 1.25 cents when used this way. If you or someone else in your household ever gets a Chase Sapphire Reserve, points used that way are worth 1.5 cents per card.

The booking site operates in the same way as when booking travel through an online travel agency such as Expedia, so using points is simple and intuitive, even for those new to this type of travel.

When you're new to rewards cards, Chase makes it easier to get approved

Last but not least, before you dive into your rewards credit card journey, Chase makes it easier to get a credit card issued by Chase.

There's an unwritten but well-documented rule that Chase Bank generally won't issue new credit card accounts once you've opened 5 or more credit card accounts at all banks within the past 24 months.

Informally, this is known as the Chase 5/24 rule. This may seem easy if you're used to only getting a new credit card every few years at most, but once you get credit card rewards, it's easy to use those slots just like you get airline cards, hotel cards, ETC.

Zenekaya/Getty Images

Because of this limitation, it makes sense to get a Chase card (such as Sapphire Preferred) as your first card before you might have trouble opening a new Chase account for a while.

Related: Best ways to fill 5/24 slots

bottom line

With its valuable welcome offer, now might be the perfect time to take a deep dive into credit card rewards and get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

When it comes to perks and points, it walks a wonderful line between rewarding and enriching without being intimidating or too expensive to try. It can be the perfect gateway to fill your wallet with credit cards that earn the ultimate rewards and maximize your use of transfer partners, rewards chart sweet spots, built-in stopovers, and more.

Or, if you prefer, it can remain a classic low-annual-fee travel credit card that unlocks simple rewards on its own.

There's no wrong way to use Sapphire Preferred. There’s no better card to start your travel rewards journey.

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

For American Express Platinum Card rates and fees, click here.

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