Why I Think the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the Best Beginner Travel Rewards Credit Card

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is my very favorite beginner travel rewards credit card and is one we’ve personally had and loved for years and years. I think it’s the best and easiest way to start with traveling on credit card rewards and is absolutely the one I would apply for first if I were just starting my travel rewards journey.

Here are some reasons I think it’s one of the best travel credit cards for beginners!

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Great Welcome Offer

In general, the Sapphire Preferred tends to have a good welcome offer. But right now, there’s an elevated welcome offer of 75,000 points after $4,000 spend in 3 months. This is worth at least $900 in travel when booked through the portal. But the great thing about these points is how flexible they are and the great partner transfer options – more on this below.

This welcome offer has personally and recently gotten us more than $3,000 worth of value on hotels, so keep reading to see how and why this is such a great offer!

Travel Benefits on Our Favorite Travel Credit Card

The Sapphire Preferred card has lots of great travel-related perks we love, and which are easy to use. These perks help make this a really excellent beginner travel rewards credit card. Here are some favorite perks:

  • $50 Annual hotel credit on hotel stays purchased through the Chase Travel portal )just taking advantage of this essentially reduces the annual fee to $45/year for the points + the rest of the perks)
  • No foreign transaction fees – this makes it a great card to use while traveling abroad
  • Primary rental car insurance
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Trip delay/interruption insurance

1.25x Redemptions Through Chase Travel Portal

One awesome perk of the Sapphire Preferred credit card is that when you redeem your points for travel via the Chase Travel portal, they’re worth 1.25x, or 25% more than if you transfer them out. For instance, those 75,000 points you earn from the welcome bonus would actually be worth $937.50 in the portal since instead of each point being worth $1, it would be worth $1.25.

We typically like using the portal to book flights for our family as it’s difficult to book 7-8 reward seats through a transfer partner. That said, transferring them to a partner might still be better value if you get 2x-3x value per point – more on this below!

Transfer Partners

Transferring your points to loyalty partners is one of the best ways to get more value out of your points. While you can get great value from using those points through the portal (see above) at that 1.25x value amount, you can often get 2-3x value by transferring them out to partners.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to 11 airlines and 3 hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio. That means if you transfer a certain number of Chase points, you get that same number of airline/hotel points, and I can use those to book travel directly with the partner. Some partners are not great value or charge high fees, while others are really fantastic value. The high fee ones are often a good time to book via the portal!

We especially love transferring to Hyatt, and have personally and recently gotten more than $3,000 of value from that amount of points. In fact, when we visited Egypt last month, we booked 10 hotel nights (5 nights of 2 rooms each for our fam of 8) for 71,000 points. That’s an awesome deal for opening up ONE card! Those same 71k points would get us $710 of value from another card, or $887.5 worth of value by booking through the Chase Travel portal (71k points convert to $710 cash x 1.25 value in for Preferred card members in the portal = $887.5). So getting $3k worth of value is huge!

Here are the different transfer partners for Chase Ultimate Rewards:

Airline Transfer Partners:

  • Aer Lingus, AerClub
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards®
  • Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
  • United MileagePlus®
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Hotel Transfer Partners:

  • IHG® Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy®
  • World of Hyatt®

Combine Card Points

Chase has one of the easiest ways to combine points between cards accounts. So if you have other cards that use Ultimate Rewards, you can combine all those points and redeem them through your Sapphire Preferred account to either transfer out to hotel/airline partners or to redeem at that 1.25x value in the Chase Travel portal. This is true for both personal cards and business cards! It’s even true for cards that are advertised as cash back cards (like the Freedom Unlimited & Business Cash) but you’re actually given Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to your Sapphire Preferred account.

Here are some of our favorite Chase cards that use Ultimate Rewards and can be combined into your Chase Sapphire Preferred account:

Easy Ways to Earn Extra Points

The Sapphire Preferred is also excellent for earning points even after the welcome bonus, which means more travel for you! There are several simple ways that are easy to do, even if you’re just starting out with credit card travel rewards. Here are some ways we like to use it to earn additional points.

Anniversary Bonus

This is one easy way to earn some bonus points and one reason I think this card is an excellent value, and perhaps even more than its sister premium card. Every year on your account anniversary (when you were initially approved for the card), you’ll earn bonus points equal to 10% of your purchases during the previous year. For instance, if you spend $5,000 on your card in a year, you’ll earn an extra 500 points with no extra effort. Or if you spend $50,000 on your card in a year, you’ll earn a bonus 5,000 points. It’s a great way to get some extra points with no extra spending.

Category Spending

  • 5x points for travel booked in the Chase Travel portal
  • 3x points on dining
  • 3x points on select streaming services
  • 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs)
  • 2x points on travel on all other travel booked outside of the portal
  • 1x points on all other purchases

Referral Bonus

If you choose to refer someone else (your spouse/partner/player 2, a family member, a friend, etc.), you can earn an extra 10,000 points for each person who applies and is approved for the card. You can earn up to 75,000 bonus points this way! If you do have a spouse/partner/player 2, it’s a great idea to refer them to the card to be the primary account holder on their own. You can still do this even if they’re an authorized user on your card. That way, together you earn both the referral bonus and the welcome bonus!

When referring your spouse/partner/player 2, you can actually combine points within your household. So if you refer your partner and they earn the welcome bonus and you earn the referral, you can combine all those points into one of your accounts to use altogether. It’s a great way to help your points go further.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Notes

There are a few things to know before applying for a Chase Sapphire Preferred card:

  • You may not be the primary account holder on two Sapphire cards at once, which means you cannot be the primary for both a Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve. You may receive the welcome offer on a Sapphire card again if it has been 48+ months since your last welcome offer.
  • Once you’ve hit the 48 month mark, you can downgrade your Sapphire Preferred card to a no annual fee card (like Freedom Unlimited or Freedom Flex) and apply for the Preferred or Reserve card.
  • Chase 5/24 Rule applies – essentially, Chase won’t approve you for the Sapphire Preferred (or any of their cards) if you’ve opened 5 or more cards from any bank in the last 24 months. (More about this rule in this post.)

Overall, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is such an excellent beginner card for rewards travel, especially with this elevated welcome bonus. I highly recommend considering it if you’re looking into rewards travel!



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