2 Reasons Not to Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is the card I believe to be the single best personal rewards card on the market — with a great signup bonus, fast earning, valuable points, and strong benefits.

I thought I’d highlight, though, two concerns that would suggest to some that it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Over at One Mile at a Time, Sean M. commented on two things he sees as drawbacks,

Much as I love the CSP, there are two issues with the card that don’t seem to be highlighted much.

a) You cannot use this card at retail outlets which require card imprints as it does not have embossed, raised numbers.This has been a problem when renting cars in South Africa where most major chains require a card imprint (in addition to the standard electronic approvals).

b) Chase does not subscribe to Verify by Visa. So any transactions using merchants that insist on VbV authentication will be denied. You then have to call Chase and they will manually approve the charge and you have to run it again. You can’t call in advance. You have to try the charge once and have it denied and then only will Chase approve it the second time. Annoying.

I’ve never run into either problem. It may just be because Sean M. and I travel in different circles. Though he’s a hero, one of the coolest men on the planet, I don’t try to emulate him: I’ve never sought out a role managing the Mogadishu airport!

No Embossed Numbers on the Card

Part of what makes Chase Sapphire Preferred such a sleek card is that the card is noticeably heftier than standard credit cards. It has real weight to it.

The card is pretty indestructible, if you have to get rid of it you can’t shred it. Even a blow torch won’t work. Chase will send you a postage paid envelope to return the card to them for proper destruction.

    (Photo by AndyAndy used with permission.)

The other thing that’s unique about the card is that there are no raised numbers on the front. In fact, there are no numbers on the front at all. They’re printed on the back.

True enough you aren’t going to be able to physically put it into an old style credit card machine to swipe it and make an imprint. In much of the developing world, where credit card use is relatively new, they’ve skipped the old generation machines and moved straight to more modern terminals. But as Sean explains, though the Sapphire Preferred Card has no foreign transaction fees, you run into a challenge with old swipe machines. In my own case I’ve never had a problem with a clerk hand writing in the numbers on the charge slip instead of taking an imprint in those rare instances that a merchant abroad still insists on such a thing. But I suppose your mileage could vary.

Verified By Visa

I’ve never run into a charge declined, or needing authorization, because of Chase policies. Modern architecture, even where programs like Verified By Visa are in place, simply skip the step with cards that aren’t set up to use it.

But Sean M. has run into something that I have not — an online transaction that will be turned down, where you then have to speak to Chase and run it again.

These are impediments I haven’t run into: the first becoming more common in card design across issuers — the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® has a new slick design without embossed numbers as well; the second is suggested here to be an issue with all Chase cards and it’s hard to imagine a miles and points enthusiast skipping over Chase products since they have the most and best co-brand relationships.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

chase freedom credit cardEditorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.
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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The bit about VbV is outright incorrect… I use my CSP to book tickets on BA all the time and they use VbV and I’ve never had a problem… Delta uses it too I believe and never had an issue.

    Sounds like Sean has something configured incorrectly with his account.

  2. I buy stuff online all the time with this card, verified by visa just get skipped all the time… its great actually 😉

  3. My Chase Sapphire Preferred card is registered with Verify by VISA and I have never had a problem using this method to make payment.

  4. You can request a normal card with raised numbers, etc., and they will send you it. I used it for traveling as I thought it more practical for foreign places unfamiliar with the card.

  5. I have to agree with Sean M. I’ve recently had problems booking tickets on the Saudia (aka Saudi Airlines) website (www.saudiairlines.com) using my Delta AmEx Reserve or Chase Ink Business Plus cards. It seems Saudia only accepts payment using cards that support “Verified by Visa” or “MasterCard Secure Code.” Of course, the short term solution is to book the selected flights on Orbitz (or Travelocity or etc.).

    Further, I had a problem in-country using either card to get a local SIM card with the preferred local mobile phone company (STC) for my unlocked iPhone. That required the extra (easy) step of getting a manager to approve the transaction which they then put through manually. The manager apologized and explained that bogus cc’s was a real problem in Riyadh, but Verified by Visa/MasterCard Secure Code seemed to mitigate their risks in that regard.

    These two systems (which depend on an additional password that the cardholder selects when they activate their card and must key in at the point of sale) is very popular in Europe and the Middle East (and maybe elsewhere). I’m surprised it hasn’t caught on with cards issued to US consumers.

  6. Bullocks!

    As a miles/points collector standard operating procedure, i never just carry one credit card. if the merchant needs an imprint and refuse to manually write it… then use another card… it won’t kill you to earn different points for a trans or two.

    And i use my CSP for Amtrak 50+ times a year… it has never been declined during the VbV process.

    Just my two cents.

  7. Mathew (comment #1) is mistaken. Some US issued Visa cards support Verified by Visa, and others (like my Chase Ink Plus for Business) don’t.

    At the Visa website (http://usa.visa.com/personal/security/security-program/verified-by-visa.jsp) they say:

    “Contact your Visa card issuer directly for the most up-to-date information about using Verified by Visa for your Visa card.”

    And at the Chase site (after signing into my Chase Ink account) they say (in the FAQ section):
    “Question: How does Verified by Visa work?
    Answer: Please note this isn’t a Chase product or service. You need to contact Visa if you have a question about the Verified by Visa program.”

    Bottom line: not on my (Chase Ink) card.

  8. I ran into the verified by Visa problem on two occasions: buying French rail tickets and S7 Airlines tickets, both on their respective country’s sites. Doing so presented specific advantages, such as enhanced after-the-sale booking management online. Of course, after speaking with Chase, processing the French transaction was quick and strictly web-based; S7 errors out so I had to to call, requiring Skype minutes and languge difficulties.

  9. The weight of the card often draws comments from clerks. I usually joke “yes, the more you charge on it, the heavier it gets”. You’d be surprised how many people don’t realize I’m joking…

  10. I had an issue with the lack of embossed numbers domestically a while back. A restaurant was writing every card number down (ccv included) as a means to prove a card was there since it couldn’t be embossed. Despite the fact they were using swipe transactions. Needless to say this is not allowed and I considered having the manager I caught doing it arrested. I chewed her out in front of the restaurant and made sure the opener destroyed every receipt with a CC number written on it.

  11. Thinking of getting rid of this card since the 7% bonus goes away after this year.

    Especially with the Ink Plus card which offers 5% on many categories.

    Only thing is whether I want to convert my UR points to miles now and be locked to specific programs or hang onto the card to have the flexibility to transfer later, to any other program.

    Currently only a member of UA MP. The way that program is going, not sure I want to transfer UR points to MP miles now, just to save the $95 annual fee.

  12. To me, the spending requirement is more of a reason not to get the CSP than either of these.

  13. If you flip the CSP card over you can get an embossed print. There is nothing on the front side though.

  14. I love this card, but there is one other problem related to the lack of raised letters/numbers: the card gets stuck in the book-like folders they give you checks in at restaurants. I recently lost mine when it slipped down and I forgot to retrieve it. Major pain. But, the unembossed cards are the new trend. Most of my fancier new cards have no embossing.

  15. This is good to know about the CPV. I’m just segueing to it for all travel from my AmEx gold card. For the record, when you need to destroy a CPV, just cut it up with a tin snips.

  16. This card is by no means “unique” not having numbers on the front. New Citi AA cards no longer have numbers on the front, as well as a number of other Chase cards.

  17. A few comments Gary.

    a) Despite these two minor drawbacks, I still think the CSP is the best general usage card out there and it is my primary card for any spending.

    b) I’ve had issues with the embossing with National and Europcar in the UAE and with Avis in South Africa. In each case, I had to present a different card for them to accept the transaction.

    c) I’ve had VbV issues with Air Arabia, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines when trying to book online, as well as with Flipkart.com in India. In each case, I have to call Chase and the CSR stays on the line with me to approve the charge when I try to run it again. To clarify, Chase is not a 2-step authentication participant in VbV (they participate only for CVV verification). For those merchants that REQUIRE (and this is often dictated by the merchant agreement in high fraud areas) 3-D Secure processing and 2-step authentication, you will find this problem when making online transactions.

    None of these will usually be an issue for someone who transacts in the USA or from US based websites. However, in Africa and the Middle East these security protocols are pretty commonplace.

  18. I don’t think there is any issue with this card. Gary was just looking for a way to plug in his affiliate link without trying to be too obvious.

  19. I’ve been asked for a different card due to the lack of raised numbers for a manual swipe “machine.” Was a taxi/limo service in the US. I handed them my Barclay Arrival instead.

  20. I’ve had multiple issues charging things online since Chase converted from MC to Visa. Mostly with French websites, like SNCF. Sometimes I call Chase and the charge hasn’t even been submitted. Very frustrating.

  21. I have had numerous at SNCF site to purchase French railway tickets with CSP. As Sean said, Chase does not participate the 2-step authentication. On each time I had to call Chase, regular rep patched me to security dept in Philippines where the call was further patched to Verified by Visa liason or whatever it is called. Then the last person stayed on the phone to watch the transaction and made sure the transaction would go thru. Reps told me I HAD TO CALL EACH TIME whenever 2-step authentication was required. There is NO WAY TO GET AROUND IT.

    For those saying they never encountered such issues thus the issue does not exist are very lack of knowledge on how Verified by Visa works. There are some countries where the 2-step authentication is required, and CSP fails miserably.

    OTOH, on those sites, including United, that the VbV process can bypass the 2-step, then CSP would work though you might get a black screen pop up window during the transaction process. The first time I saw that my heart sank based on the SNCF experience, but United website ultimately came thru.

    In other words, by NOT participating VbV 2-Step, Chase essentially makes me ditch CSP in favor of Barclays A+ which while it is a pain to get the Mastercard secure code activated, but once it is activated, ir has no issue on sites that it is PITA when using CSP, such as SNCF, RenFe, and my latest experiences buying domestic tickets on TK’s website as no where outside TK own site (THY.com) you can get those very cheap domestic fares.

    Just because some of you never have an issue on VbV, does not mean CSP works when VbV is required – it never works when 2-step authentication is needed.

    What I dont understand is, a few years ago Chase was a participant while Citi did not participate Mastercard secure code, so I switch to CSP from Citi Premium when 3-D secure cards were needed.

    WHY Chase went backward? Cost-cutting is the only way I can think of, as witnessed on how the CS went down hill and the security / fraud dept primarily is handled by outsourced call center and you need to request in order to get a US-bssed rep. big thumbs down.

  22. @SusanB, the regular rep would NOT see any attempted transaction. They have no ability to do anything to help you either. Tell the rep you need Verified by Visa help and if the rep has no clue, tell her/him to transfer you to Security dept (in philippines), where they understand the VbV issue.

    Yes, you would have a lot of issues buying things on French websites as most of them use the 2-step authentication process.

    Once you figure out your SNCF tickets, CALL immediately and have the VbV rep stays on the phone with you as you go to buy them one by one, They have to be MANUALLY processed by the VbV rep – this is HOW RIDICULOUS it is with CSP.

    I have lost a very good price first class fare because of the delay on getting CSP work.

    This card is over-rated ever since UA and Hyatt devalued big time. Now if you are not looking for SQ or KE transfer, ditch this card as there are better products out there. Barclays often waives the 2nd year fee if you spend enough on their A+ while Chase never offers anything to retain you. No reason to keep that card when you only earn 2x in certain categorie, and often have to call when merchants coding incorrect. Too much hassle now UA miles and Hyatt pts are worth much less than a year ago.

  23. Many new cards are going away from the imbossed or raised numbers so that will be an issue for many. Good news with the newer chip cards like this is that europe is adjusting for us. Currently I’ve been in France for 10 days and have only had problems with self service petrol stations not taking the CSP chip card. Even the highway toll plazas, RER and metro train kiosks take the card with no issue. A few merchants require you to sign the receipt but many.don’t bother.

  24. There is all of my information embossed on the back of the card. It imprinted just fine the two times I have needed it (old school clack-clack machines to boot.) You just have to explain to the cashier that they need to use the back of the card.

  25. Tried to purchase an Ethiopian Airline ticket with CSP and it was denied. Called Chase who then forwarded me to fraud who then forwarded me to VISA. In the end it still didn’t work. I used my Barclay Master card and worked 1st try like a charm. Never had to speak with them on the phone. Chase needs to catch up with 21st century.

  26. Customer Service has been outsourced to India. Used to have a CSR answer the phone in the US, and handle any questions right away. This time, I had to talk to three different people to verify that I am the card owner, because they couldn’t understand the answers I gave to the security questions. The first person had such a heavy accent, and spoke so fast, that I could not understand him. I had to give them a lot of personal information before I could ask a question about a charge on my account. This call took about 40 minutes. CSP isn’t what it used to be. I will be looking at other card options.

  27. I tried to register my Chase Sapphire card with Verified by Visa only to be told it is not eligible.

    When an on-line transaction was rejected, I called Chase. After being transferred several times and spending about 45 minutes on hold, I was told by someone who claimed to be a Verified by Visa representative to try the transaction again, and it would go through. It did not! I finally completed the transaction with a MasterCard, thereby missing out on the airline points I would have received from Chase.

    However, on other websites I’ve had Verified by Visa transactions do go through. It seems to depend on whether the merchant’s website is capable of bypassing Verified by Visa for Chase cards. When a transaction doesn’t go through, I’ve found that calling Chase seems to be a waste of time.

  28. Your charges are being blocked by VISA (or MasterCard) and your bank (Chase) cannot see declines that happen at that level.

    Here is my history: I fly over 150,000 miles per year, mostly internationally. I book LOTS of tickets on international airlines, most of which participate in the Verified by Visa (or MasterCard Secure Code) program.

    I’ve gone round and round with this and finally called Chase Corporate. They acknowledge that you cannot register by Verified by Visa, but they refuse to tell you why. But the reason is that they do not participate in the program. I can only speculate that they don’t want to pay the fees involved, but I can only guess at that. The fact remains, however, is that they do not participate. They confuse the issue on purpose so that you don’t blame them, but yes, your US bank is to blame. Sometimes their reps will tell you that they participate, but they are lying.

    The Verified by Visa card registration site is here:
    You can enter your US-based bank card and you will be able to tell if it is eligible or not. If it is a Chase, etc. card, you will get a message that tells you that your card is not eligible, please contact your bank.

    Don’t bother contacting Chase. I spent a few weeks on this with a rep at Chase Corporate and they don’t even tell those reps what is going on–the woman I worked with called Verified by Visa and many offices at Chase while I was on the line with her and she got the same run around that I got. She finally made a call to–I assume–I higher level corporate official and clammed up. It was obvious by the change in her demeanor at that point that she was told to neither confirm nor deny anything. Chase and the others are keeping their non-participation a big secret.

    If you are US based, your only solution is to use a small bank’s card or AMEX.

  29. Interesting … when I first received my Chase Sapphire, I had to “register” for this “verified by visa” thing, so I did. Every once in a while, the legend still comes up as a payment is being processed telling me that “VbyV” is at work. I think things done on the internet will become more and more convoluted and cumbersome as the banks desperately try to keep ahead of the bad guys.

  30. Just tried using my Chase Sapphire on Ticketmaster.com and apparently TM has started using VerifiedByVisa (3DSecure). The way Chase handles it now is – the ACS area (verified by visa screen from the bank) displays a message to call Chase to verify. I did and it took forever to get it verified on the phone, which meant I lost my line on Ticketmaster for tickets. I talked to a manager at Chase and she really thought that it’s Ticketmaster who prefers the calling method – which is incorrect. That is all on Chase. Most banks in the world send you a PIN number to your cellphone which you enter into the ACS screen. So yeah next time I’m purchasing tickets on TM I’m not using a Chase credit card.

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