Travel Card Toolkit: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 11.51.56 AMAs mentioned previously we don’t want every post to be about credit cards, but there is quite a bit of travel utility with the sign up bonuses. We likely won’t be talking about many more cards (if any) before our travels – instead beginning to focus on redemptions – so if you’re interested in learning about other cards we’d recommend the Mad Fientist’s Card Rating Tool.

With that, today we wanted to focus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. It’s similar to some of the other cards, but has its own unique features:

The Bad

  • $4,000 required spend in 3 months
  • $95 annual fee (waived in the first year)

The spend requirement is on par with many other elite cards. If you can get to that mark with regular or pre-spending, that’s not a large issue. Alternatively, if you’re stretching to get there it may not be worth it to you.

The annual fee is waived for the first year, but kicks in at $95 starting in the second year.

The Good

  • 50,000 Ultimate Reward Points
  • 5,000 Points for adding Authorized User
  • 2X Points on Travel & Dining
  • 1X Points on Everything Else
  • 1.25X Travel Redemption
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees

There are also rental car / purchasing / etc. coverages.

The big draw is the 50,000 beginning spend bonus. In cash that’s worth $500. Through the travel portal it’s worth $625. And through travel partner redemptions it could be worth north of $1,100. Indeed, as we saw from the previous post, the bonus from this card alone would be enough for 4 one-way flights from the west coast to Hawaii.

The authorized user bonus is nice (some charge for this feature) but it could also take up a slot if the authorized user is close to Chase’s “5/24 rule.”

2X on travel and dining is quite good – equal to 2% to ~4.4% depending on how it’s used.

The Preferred card used to be the go-to travel card, with a very nice sign up bonus and solid travel earnings. However, the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve last year changed that – for a time at least.

When the Reserve first came out it had a 100,000 beginning bonus, but now it’s down to the same 50,000. In addition, the $300 annual travel credit used to be per calendar year (allowing you to “double dip” in year one), but it has since switched to per cardmember year. Of course the Reserve does still have other advantages such as Global Entry reimbursement (including TSA Pre-Check), a Priority Pass Select Membership and 3X on travel & dining instead of 2X. Moreover, points are worth 1.5X instead of 1.25X if used through the Reserve travel portal.

The Preferred shines in other areas. The upfront annual fee for the Reserve is $450 as compared to $0 for the Preferred. And with the now reduced travel credit benefit for the Reserve, this makes the comparison quite a bit closer.

The Preferred also offers a bonus for adding an authorized user, whereas it actually cost for the Reserve.

As compared to the Reserve, the Preferred card is now quite comparable. You don’t get the extra travel perks or the higher earning rate, but the benefits are still quite good and the fees (non-existent in year one) are much lower. Last year the Reserve clearly won out, this year it’s much closer.

And as compared to all the other cards out there, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still probably a top 5 card that you could get. Chase is just that good when it comes to credit card opportunities. (Just to give you an example, the website Points With A Crew recently put out a bracket: 3 of the top 4 and 5 of the top 8 were Chase cards.)

The Preferred card could be a nice addition to someone’s travel toolkit for any number of reasons. For instance: if you’re leery of a high annual fee (you can try it out for the first year fee free), the very solid 50,000 Ultimate Reward bonus, ability to earn bonus points for adding an authorized user, no fees for foreign transactions, ability to transfer Ultimate Reward points from other cards, utilize the Chase travel portal and the solid earning rate on travel & dining.

Incidentally, if you send us a direct message we can email you a referral code which would give us 10,000 bonus points and you the same benefits as above. Or if you happen to know someone with the card, reach out to that person as they likely have access to a similar deal through Chase’s Refer-A-Friend promotion.

We’ve now talked about a variety of travel cards and some of the benefits. Now we’re getting to the fun part: finding redemption possibilities and utilizing those points for travel!


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