Chase Sapphire Preferred card review

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Our rating

4 stars 4/5

See explanation of our ratings system

See breakdown of this card’s rating

As of August 2016, this card’s bonus when you redeem for travel, is by far the best Chase Sapphire Preferred card offer you will find. Note: There used to be a no-annual-fee version of this card, but Chase discontinued it for new applications a few years ago. This review will show you how to get $625 worth of airline/hotel rewards from the bonus and lay out the pros and cons of the card in detail. But first, here’s a brief overview of what is often referred to as the CSP card:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. Your points go far if you redeem for travel, since this card gets you 20 percent off when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. At the moment you can earn 50,000 bonus points + an additional 5,000.

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
  • 5,000 additional bonus points after you add the first authorized user and they make a purchase in the first three months from account opening
  • $0 for the First Year, then $95

Aside from its rewards program, Chase often touts another perk: exceptional customer service that stands out from the usual run-around of pushing numbers, waiting on hold and trying to communicate with script-reading representatives. The card offers:

Concierge Service

Simply call and the 24/7 concierge service can help you out with all sorts of research tasks… reservations, figuring out travel, planning entertainment for an event, choosing the perfect gift, directory assistance, etc.

24/7 Dedicated Customer Service

When you call the number on the back of your card, you’ll be connected with a real, live person immediately. No more of that endless number-pushing game! In fact, Chase even advertises that you are connected immediately “without pressing ‘#.’ Guaranteed.” You get this service even when calling late at night.

How do you earn points?

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn:

  • 1 point per dollar on regular purchases
  • 2 points per dollar on dining
  • 2 points per dollar on travel: Airlines, auto rentals, hotels, travel agencies, taxis, trains, cruises, bridges, tolls, parking and more.
  • Even more points per dollar at nearly 300 top online retailers when you access those websites through the Ultimate Rewards Mall portal.
  • No caps on reward earnings

The card does have an annual fee. But if you concentrate your everyday spending on it, you can offset that fee by utilizing the card’s rewards and additional benefits (which we’ll discuss in a moment).

How do you spend points?

ultimate-rewards-logoThe Chase “Ultimate Rewards” program is robust and has a lot of redemption options (including cash back). But as you probably guessed from the commercials for the Sapphire card, the most popular option is using them for travel rewards. It’s a fair and flexible program:

No Expiration – Your points will be there as long as you have the card.

No Blackout Dates – You can use your points for airfare and other travel purchases without restrictions.

For travel, here’s how it works…

In the Ultimate rewards travel portal, you’re not limited to just airline tickets. Book with more than 60,000 hotels and resorts across the globe. Take a cruise. You can use points to pay for a rental car and even airport parking. Almost any travel purchase can be paid for with points using the following conversion:

1 point = 1 full cent towards the travel purchase of your choice

There are no blackout dates or restrictions surrounding points usage, because you’re essentially using your points as cash. So if you found a plane ticket you wanted to buy that costs $371, you could pay for it using 37,100 points. However: When you use Ultimate Rewards to book travel, you get 20 percent off. So that means a $371 ticket would require only 29,680 points, instead of 37,100.

In other words…

1 point = 1.25 cent value through UR Travel (since 20 percent fewer points are needed).

Perhaps an even more lucrative option you have with the Sapphire Preferred is the unique ability to convert your rewards to miles or points for a variety of loyalty programs with a full 1-for-1 conversion. The partner programs are:

  • United Airlines Mileage Plus
  • British Airways Avios
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • Korean Air Skypass
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Flying Blue (KLM and Air France) – Added May 2016

Don’t see your preferred airline/hotel on the list? Remember that many of those programs allow you to spend miles on their partners too. For example, British Airways allows you to redeem Avios points for flights on their partner American Airlines. A few summers ago, I did that for this trip:

Only a couple airlines offer direct flights to Kauai. Solution? Transfer Sapphire Preferred points to British Airways Avios (and use those to book the AA flight, pictured above). Just look how much that same flight would have cost if paying cash…


For this particular flight, that’s more than a 2-cent value per point. Potentially, you could get an even better value if you book premium-cabin international flights. See how valuable it can be to transfer your Sapphire Preferred points to frequent flier mileage programs?

Other ways to spend your points

  • Cash Back – You can always opt for cash rewards (via direct deposit or statement credit) and get a full 1 cent per point.
  • Gift Cards – Choose gift cards from dozens of partner retailers, restaurants, and gas stations. The selection will vary, but a few past offerings include Amazon, Target, Starbucks, Home Depot, Nordstrom, and Applebee’s. Sometimes you even get them at discounted rates (making your points worth even more).
  • Entertainment – The Chase Sapphire rewards program gives you access to unique opportunities. Use points to sit front and center at top concerts, shows, and events. In the past, cardmembers have even scored VIP passes for everything from American Idol to Fashion Week using their points.

What other benefits do you get?

Here are just a few of the extra benefits that Chase Sapphire Preferred cardmembers get:

  • No Pre-Set Limit – There’s no preset limit, giving you flexibility with your spending. Just keep in mind that charges that put you over your limit must be paid in full by the due date.
  • Travel Insurance – A variety of travel insurance coverages are included on eligible purchases made with the card: trip cancellation insurance, primary auto rental collision damage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and more.
  • Blueprint – A one-of-a-kind credit card management tool which allows you to decide exactly how you would like to pay your balances.
  • Chip Technology – The card’s EMV chip will make your life easier while traveling internationally, especially in Europe, where EMV is the norm. It will also make your card more secure when making purchases here in the United States, as merchants begin upgrading their equipment to accept the chip.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees – You pay no fees for international purchases, meaning you don’t have to worry about using your card outside the country.
  • Primary rental car insurance – The Sapphire Preferred is one of the few cards on the market to offer primary (rather than secondary) rental car insurance coverage against collision and theft. Primary insurance kicks in before your regular auto insurance does. That means you don’t have to file a claim with your regular car insurance company if you get in an accident in a rental car.

Why we gave it 4 out of 5 stars

We rated this card based on our standards for Flexible Rewards Programs.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred easily earned stars for its lucrative bonus categories, its rewards value, unique perks (it’s one of the few cards on the market to offer primary rental car insurance) and its bonus opportunities. We docked it one star because it doesn’t have any perks whose monetary value effortlessly cancel out the annual fee. In order to recoup the $95 annual fee, you have to earn more rewards (which requires more spending) and be strategic with how you redeem. That’s certainly possible with this card, thanks to its transfer partners, but you need to put the effort in.

Full starRewards earning rate: To earn this star, an annual-fee card must offer at least 1X points on all spending and at least 2X points in at least TWO bonus categories not tied directly to the issuer.

The CSP meets these requirements by offering 2X on travel and dining and 1X on other spending.
Full starRewards value: At least one redemption option must a value of 1 cent per point for a card to get this star. This card offers 1 cent per point for cash-back redemptions – and possibly more if you transfer to its travel partners.
Full starUnique perks: This card covers this requirement by offering primary rental car coverage, which means you don’t need to involve your own auto insurance if you have an incident with a rental car. This is an extremely rare perk, as most cards offer merely secondary rental car coverage.
Empty starFair annual fee: This card doesn’t have any perks with concrete monetary value that offset the annual fee. In order to make it worth $95 a year, you need to make the effort to redeem rewards strategically.
Full starBonus opportunities: In addition to its consistently competitive sign-up bonus, the card lets you earn bonus points with major retailers via its robust Shop with Chase portal.

Updated Aug. 17, 2016