Chase Sapphire Preferred card review: One of the best rewards cards for beginners, with a record-high 100,000-point bonus worth at least $1,250 in travel

By Eric Rosenberg

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A longtime favorite of travelers, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is great if you're looking to earn rewards points to redeem for plane tickets, hotel nights, cruises, trains, and other travel adventures. But even if you're not ready to return to traveling just yet, it's a valuable option for earning bonus rewards, and you can use points for lots of non-travel redemptions, too.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the best travel cards with an annual fee under $100, and its sign-up bonus is currently the highest it's ever been: 100,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Beyond its rewards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with some of the best travel coverage available, including trip cancellation and interruption insurance and primary car rental insurance.

Read more: The Chase Sapphire Preferred's new 100,000 points bonus is worth at least $1,250 in travel, making it one of the year's hottest offers

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the less-premium sibling of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which has a $550 annual fee compared to a $95 annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns more points on travel and dining purchases and comes with up to a $300 annual travel credit and perks like airport lounge access, so it's better suited to those who frequently travel.

If you're interested in both Sapphire cards but you're on the fence about paying a high annual fee, it makes more sense to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It's got a much bigger welcome bonus and many of the same travel and shopping perks — and later, if you find yourself traveling more, you could always request an upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Chase now only allows you to have one Sapphire card at a time, so you'll have to choose one or the other. You're also not eligible if you've earned the bonus on a Sapphire card in the past 48 months, or have opened five or more cards (from any bank) in the past 24 months.

Read more: Preferred versus Reserve: How to decide which Chase Sapphire credit card is right for you

*The Amex Gold Card earns 4x points on the first $25,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each calendar year, then 1 point per dollar

***the Amex Gold Card offers up to $10 in dining credits each month when you use your card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.

*4x points on the first $25,000 spent at US supermarkets each calendar year, then 1 point per dollar

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1 cent each by default when redeemed through the Chase Travel Portal. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you get 25% more value, or 1.25 cents per point.

Redeem Chase points for travel

You can redeem Ultimate Rewards points for flights, hotels, rental cars, and more through the Chase Travel Portal at the 1.25-cent rate with no limits or blackout dates. The redemption system searches many airline and hotel brands, with a similar feel and layout to major discount travel websites.

Read more: How to earn, redeem, and maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards points

If you want to get even more value per point, however, you can transfer to a list of Chase transfer partners at a 1:1 ratio. That means 1 Chase point equals 1 point or mile these programs:

You generally get the best value per point transferring to airlines and booking premium travel, like a first-class flight or a hotel stay that would cost hundreds of dollars. Also, keep in mind that many transfer partner airlines are members of alliances that give you additional partner airline choices.

When you get a good deal, you can book a domestic round-trip flight for 25,000 points. With British Airways, you can book short-haul flights on partner American Airlines for even fewer points. Southwest also offers many great deals with no checked baggage fees for your first two bags.

Read more: The best way to use Chase points is usually to transfer them to airlines, but there are 2 scenarios where you're better off redeeming directly with Chase

If you earn the bonus 100,000 points on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you'll have more than enough for a round-trip award flight to Europe — with points left over to jumpstart your next trip.

Redeem Chase points for other purchases

At the beginning of the pandemic, Chase added limited-time benefits to give you more high-value options for using your Ultimate Rewards points while travel is on hold.

Read more: Why I don't regret redeeming Chase points this year to save over $3,500 on my bills, even though I usually keep them for travel

You can now redeem points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for groceries, dining, home improvement, and select charity purchases at a rate of 1.25 cents per point through September 30, 2021. This Pay Yourself Back feature gives you the same 25% bonus usually reserved for booking travel through Chase, and it's a great way to use your points for non-travel purchases.

There are lots of other redemption options that don't involve travel, including:

  • Cash back: Cash in your points at a rate of 1 cent each toward a statement credit or direct deposit to your bank account
  • Chase Dining: Use points for takeout and dining experiences at a rate of 1.25 cents apiece (through September 30, 2021)
  • Gift cards: Your points are worth 1 cent each toward gift cards from popular merchants 
  • Apple and Amazon purchases: Use points directly for Apple (1 cent each) or Amazon (0.8 cents each) purchases; the latter option isn't a good value — you're better off paying for your Amazon purchase with the card then redeeming points at 1 cent apiece toward a statement credit

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you more than just valuable points. This card includes many additional features that come in handy when traveling and shopping at home, online, or anywhere your travels take you.

When you're traveling outside of the US, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card does not charge any foreign transaction fees. Foreign transaction fees are typically 3% to 5% of your purchase, so they can quickly add up if you don't take the right card on your trips abroad.

Read more: Beyond the sign-up bonus and rewards, 5 benefits make the Chase Sapphire Preferred one of the most valuable credit cards

Complimentary year of DoorDash DashPass

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders are eligible for a complimentary year of DoorDash DashPass membership when they activate by December 31, 2021. This subscription service can save you money when you order food for delivery or pickup through DoorDash, and it normally costs $9.99 per month. 

Read more: If you have a Chase Sapphire card, you can get a year of waived food-delivery fees with DoorDash

When you have DashPass, you'll get waived delivery fees and reduced service fees on orders of $12 or more. Pickup orders are also eligible for 5% back in DoorDash credit. DoorDash says the average DashPass user saves about $5 per order, so this can translate into significant savings if you use the service regularly.

Up to $60 in Peloton credits

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you'll get up to $60 in statement credits on Peloton Digital and Peloton All-Access Memberships through December 31, 2021. A Peloton Digital membership gives you access to thousands of on-demand and live fitness classes, including indoor cycling but also outdoor and indoor running, strength training, yoga, and more.

Primary car rental insurance

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card includes primary car rental insurance for damage due to theft or collision, which means it kicks in before your own car insurance and allows you to confidently pass up the extra charge of a car rental agency's own insurance whenever you rent a vehicle and pay with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (note that it doesn't include liability insurance).

Most cars and countries are included, but check the terms and conditions for specific exclusions.

Read more: 5 credit card benefits that can protect your summer travels, from rental car coverage to trip cancellation insurance

Trip interruption/cancellation insurance

If you've paid for an eligible trip with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and it's cut short or canceled for a covered reason like illness or severe weather, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses.

Read more: The best credit cards for travel insurance

Trip delay insurance

When you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to pay for your fare, you can get reimbursed up to $500 per ticket for hotel rooms, food, toiletries, clothes, or other reasonable expenses when your flight is delayed overnight or by 12 hours or more.

Read more: Your credit card might cover your next flight delay — as long as you have the right one

Baggage delay insurance

If you've paid for your travel with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and your bags are delayed for six hours or more, you could be reimbursed for essential purchases (like clothing and toiletries) up to $100 per day for up to five days.

Lost luggage reimbursement

If the carrier damages or loses your bags, you and your immediate family members could be covered for up to $3,000 per passenger as long as you've paid for your tickets with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Extended warranty

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card extends the time period of a US manufacturer's warranty on eligible items by an additional year, on warranties of three years or less when you pay with your card.

Purchase protection

If an eligible item you've bought with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is damaged or stolen within 120 days of purchase, you could be eligible for up to $500 in reimbursement per claim, and up to $50,000 per account.

Read more: The best credit cards with purchase protection

Travel and emergency assistance services

If you're traveling away from home and run into a problem, you can get help with medical and legal referrals or other emergency assistance. This service is free, but any third-party costs are your responsibility.

Travel accident insurance

When you pay for your air, bus, cruise, or train transportation with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you're eligible for accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $500,000.

Read more: 6 lesser-known credit card travel benefits that can save you thousands of dollars if things go wrong on a trip

Roadside dispatch

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can contact the roadside dispatch hotline for help with arranging services like towing and flat tire repair for a set fee.

It is easy to see how you can get $100 or more in value from this card every year, but it isn't free. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card charges a $95 annual fee. However, you can use the card for international purchases without worrying about extra charges, because it doesn't add foreign transaction fees.

Read more: Why I'm convinced the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best starter cards to earn points and miles

Like most other credit cards, you'll pay interest if you carry a balance, and there are fees for balance transfers, cash advances, late payments, and returned payments.

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel, and technology writer in Ventura, California. He has in-depth experience writing about banking, credit cards, investing, and other financial topics, and is an avid travel hacker.