If you’re new to earning credit card rewards, finding the best travel rewards card might seem overwhelming. With dozens of cards to choose from, how do you know which is the best fit for you?
Don’t worry. We got this.
In our opinion, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is the best card for beginners…and it’s not even close.
Whether you covet lucrative travel rewards or enjoy the simplicity of cash back, this card is flexible enough to meet almost every need. The Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits are also exceptional, especially when it comes to some important travel protections and perks.
Wanna know more? Of course you do! Check out these 9 great reasons to make the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card the first rewards card in your wallet!
1. Earn 60,000 Bonus Points for Signing Up
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card gives you access to our favorite rewards program of all – Chase Ultimate Rewards. So, when you spend on the card, you’ll earn valuable points that can be redeemed in a variety of ways (more on that below).
With that said, the most important Chase Sapphire Preferred benefit is the card’s gigantic signup bonus. You’ll earn a whopping 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on the card within the first 3 months of opening your account. That translates into $750 in travel redemptions through the Chase portal, or you can redeem them for slightly less in gift cards. Boom.
You can also transfer those points to Chase’s travel partners for even more valuable redemptions.
Keep in mind that these points never expire as long as your account stays open.
2. Superb Travel Redemptions
We already mentioned that the biggest benefit of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is that it earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points…but what does that really mean?
The most lucrative way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points is to spend them on travel redemptions. You have two options for making this happen:
- Redeem points through the travel portal – Using your Ultimate Rewards points, you can book travel experiences directly through Chase’s travel portal where they are worth 25% more on airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises.
- Transfer points to partner loyalty programs – Chase points transfer to 13 popular travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. Some partner programs include Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, British Airways, Air France, Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, and more.
Transferring points to partner programs usually nets you the most value per point, and it’s typically our favorite way to redeem our own personal points. For example, the 60,000 point signup bonus is often enough to cover a round-trip flight to Europe.
So yeah, these points are pretty valuable!
3. You Won’t Get Stuck with Points You Can’t Use
If you’re new to rewards cards, you may not realize the commitment you’re making. It takes time, energy, and spending to earn points, so you want to make sure you’re earning the right points and miles.
That’s why a flexible rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the perfect option for getting started.
With co-branded hotel or airline cards, you’re stuck with the points you earn. For instance, earning 60,000 American miles or Hilton points means your can only redeem them through those brands. But, what happens if you find a better deal from another airline or hotel? You’re still stuck with those points.
As we mentioned above, Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to 13 different partner programs. They can also be used to purchase travel experiences through the portal, so they’re a lot more flexible than points and miles offered by individual brands.
Even if you don’t have travel plans, this card is still a great option.
Chase points can be redeemed for gift cards for their full “monetary” value. Retail partners include Lowe’s, Macy’s, Amazon.com, Best Buy, and many more! So, after earning the 60,000 point signup bonus, you can redeem your points for hundreds in gift cards – making this one of the best Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits.
Although gift cards aren’t the most valuable way to redeem Chase points, it’s nice to know that you won’t get stuck with a boatload of points and nowhere to use them!
4. Earn 2x Points on Travel and Dining
Speaking of points, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you’ll earn a nifty 2x points on all travel and dining purchases. Spending in these categories can add up quickly, making this a valuable card to have for these occasions. Additionally, you’ll earn one point per dollar spent on everything else.
5. Chase Sapphire Preferred Benefits: Travel Protection
We’ve already covered how to redeem your points, but points aren’t all this card has to offer. One of the most important Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits is that the card actually comes with some important travel protections.
Here’s a quick look at some of what the card offers:
- Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance – When booking travel using your card, you may be reimbursed for up to $10,000 per trip in prepaid, non-refundable travel costs should your trip be canceled or interrupted due to covered and unforeseen events. (Think illness, injury, severe weather, etc.)
- Primary Auto Rental Insurance – The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers primary auto rental coverage (up to the cash value of the car) when you use your card to pay for the rental.
- Trip Delay Insurance – Unreimbursed expenses that are incurred due to a flight, train, or other common carrier delay are also eligible for a reimbursement of up to $500 per ticket. The delay must be at least 12 hours, and you must have used your card when booking.
- Baggage Delay Insurance – If your bag is delayed by more than 6 hours, you may file a reimbursement claim for purchases of items like toiletries and clothing. Reimbursements are limited to $100 a day for up to 5 days, and you must have used your card to book.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees – Like all good travel cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card does not charge any fees for foreign transactions.
6. Purchase Protections for Peace of Mind
In addition to the travel protections, another Chase Sapphire Preferred benefit is that it also offers additional purchase protections that anybody will love.
- Purchase Protection Coverage – Items purchased with this card are covered for up to $500 per claim in theft or damages within the first 120 days after purchase. You are limited to a lifetime cap of $50,000.
- Extended Warranty Coverage – On purchases made with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the card extends an additional year of warranty coverage on items made by U.S. manufacturers, provided the original manufacturer’s warranty was for 3 years or less.
7. Pairs with the Chase Freedom Card to Maximize Your Point Haul
To make the most of your spending, maximize your point haul by pairing the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a cash back card like the Chase Freedom. That way, you can transfer your cash back to travel partners as well!
The Chase Freedom Card offers 5% cash back on your first $1,500 of combined spending in rotating categories each quarter. So, when grocery stores are included as a quarterly bonus category, use your Chase Freedom to take advantage of the 5% cash back. Then, use your Sapphire Preferred on other purchases.
The Chase Freedom Card also offers a signup bonus of its own. After making just $500 in purchases within the first three months, you’ll earn an easy $150 cash back bonus.
With a minimum spending requirement that low, it’s practically free money! It’s also a great way to earn even more points you can redeem for travel.
8. The Annual Fee is Reasonable
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card comes with an annual fee of $95, but don’t let that scare you off. Although the fee is no longer waived for the first year, the sign up bonus waaaay more than makes up for it!
It’s important to remember that most of the best rewards cards come with an annual fee. Additionally, many premium rewards cards have fees that are significantly higher.
For instance, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card offers some very valuable travel benefits, but it comes with a $450 annual fee. Although the benefits essentially cancel out the fee for the first year, that big number still can be a hard pill to swallow.
Instead, starting with the Sapphire Preferred Card is a great way to get your feet wet without shelling out an arm and a leg on annual fees.
9. You May Not Be Approved Later
To make the most of your points and miles, you’ll eventually need more than one rewards card. Since Chase Ultimate Rewards are our favorite rewards currency, it’s important to remember that Chase can sometimes be stingy with granting approvals.
Because of Chase’s 5/24 rule, applying for more than 5 cards over a 24-month period means you will not be approved for many of their best rewards cards. This includes the Chase Sapphire Preferred. While that may seem like a lot of applications, once you get deeper into points and miles, you’ll realize that it’s really not.
If you’re a newbie, grab the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card while you still can. It’s arguably the best “all-around” card you’ll find, and we’d hate for you to miss out on the gigantic signup bonus because you’ve applied for too many other cards.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Benefits: Final Thoughts
When it comes to rewards cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best starter card there is.
Flexible enough to meet all needs, the 60,000 point signup bonus is worth $750 in travel when booked through the Chase portal. Those points can also be transferred to one of Chase’s 13 travel partners for even more valuable redemptions. That’s in addition to all the other Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits (like trip cancellation/interruption insurance) that the card provides!
Since the annual fee is just $95, the signup bonus easily makes the card worth it – at least for the first year. In our opinion, the ongoing benefits even make the card a keeper for years to come.
To make the most of your spending, you’ll eventually want to pair the card with other options. But, if you’re new to the points and miles game, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is definitely where you should start.
What rewards card did you start with? Let us know in the comments below!