Chase Sapphire Preferred Remains the Best Rewards Card for 2015

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Key Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred has been — and remains — the best all-around, most rewarding personal credit card for the past four years. If you’re just getting started in the hobby, it’s the card you should get. And it plays a key role in the wallets of many of the most experienced miles and points enthusiasts. Here’s why.

There are three key value propositions for a credit card.

  1. Signup bonus (how much will they give you upfront for getting the card)
  2. How value is the earning for your ongoing spend (do you actually want to put spending on the card once you’ve earned the bonus)
  3. Benefits of having the card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is top of wallet for the first two of those criteria — one of the very best signup bonuses, 40,000 points after $4000 in spending within 3 months plus 5000 more points for adding a free authorized user to the account and making a purchase within that same timeframe, and that’s an exceptionally good offer because their points are among the two best currencies of any loyalty program.

You also get double points earning in that most valuable of programs on all travel and dining spending, Visa acceptance, and no foreign currency transaction fees.

Chase Sapphire Preferred has recently even upped its game in benefits for carrying the card. I always found it useful for travel protections, I cracked the screen on my phone, it cost me over $300 to fix, and the card’s insurance coverage paid me back. Now they’ve added primary collision damage coverage when you rent cars. You earn double points on the rental, and get collision coverage — you may not even have to inform your own insurance company if you damage the rental vehicle.

Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Airline, Hotel, and Ground Programs

While you can redeem these points at 1.25 cents apiece towards paid travel, that’s not their best use. You want to hold onto them and transfer them to frequent flyer programs most of the time.

I value ‘flexible’ points the most, points where you can choose where to point them at the time you’re ready to redeem for an award.

If you accumulate miles in an airline program, then you need that program to have the award you want at the time you want to fly. But with points that transfer to your choice of programs, you increase the odds substantially of getting the award you want — if one program doesn’t have the award, another one likely will.

The transfer options with this card are:

  • Airlines: United, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines (with Korean Air expected to be added back soon)
  • Hotels: Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, IHG Rewards Club
  • Train: Amtrak

The best hotel transfer value is Hyatt in most cases, but it’s really valuable to be able to top off an account towards an award no matter which account of yours that winds up being.

Usually I think of United and British Airways as the best values for points transfers, since United gets you all of the Star Alliance with no fuel surcharges (though international first class awards on partner airlines are super expensive) and British Airways gets you cheap short distance non-stop flights on American, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines starting at just 4500 points one-way.

Singapore Airlines is great because the airline makes tons of premium cabin awards available to their own members that aren’t available using miles from partners. And Korean Air is fantastic because their first class awards are plentiful, too, and generally not accessible through most partner programs so there’s little competition for the seats. Plus, just as British Airways gets you access to oneworld partner flights, Korean will get you access to Skyteam partner flights.

Further, points to several of the programs transfer literally instantly, and it’s useful for helping to prevent miles from expiring (by dropping say 1000 miles into a United account).

A Very Strong Card for Earning Points

Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the very best cards for earning points based on spending. Now, the most leveraged thing you can do with your spending is get a new card with a big signup bonus (like this one), but when you’re deciding what card to put spending on that’s not going towards a signup bonus, this one is really strong.

In addition to the standard points-earning (you get a point per dollar on your spend, and as-described it’s a valuable point – plus it’s a Visa so I can use it even at my dry cleaner’s that doesn’t take American Express), you also get:

  • Double points on travel and restaurant spending
  • No foreign currency conversion fee
  • Additional points for your online shopping through access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall, a mileage-earning shopping portal that earns extra points for the online purchases you’d make anyway.

There’s no annual fee the first year, then it has a $95 annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

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.
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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, 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. Gary, I would agree that the CSP is a great card, PROVIDED one can meet the minimum spending requirement. I’d have A LOT of trouble spending $4K in 3 months. It would be impossible unless I had one or two major purchases, and even then it would be hard.

  2. @Brian L, You can always manufacture spending. Visa Gift Cards to meet your requirements. Yes you pay a fee up front but for about $10-$20 you can take care of the Minimum Spending Requirements and earn that huge bonus points worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

  3. Gary, can you update us on the status of KE transfers?

    Assuming they come back, would you recommend using KE to fly US-australia?

  4. I prefer the 2% cash back cards and the 5% cashback in rotating categories for everyday spend. Cash has way more transfer partners than points.

  5. Thanks Gary. Applied again through your link and got approved. Can you also mention that one can’t get the joining bonus if it has been received in last 24 months.

  6. Discover has 5% cashback on gas and Chase Freedom has 5% cashback on supermarkets this quarter. The Citi Forward card gives 5 thank you points at restaurants all the time.

  7. @Juno – I don’t manufacture spending because 1) I consider MS for the sole purpose of meeting minimum spending requirements to be unethical and not in keeping with the spirit of either the credit card programs or the MS instruments (Vanilla Reload, Bluebird, or whatever people are using now) and 2) I’ve read too many reports on FT of people being shut down by banks for MSing.

  8. @anon – i haven’t seen an update but i will ask. I don’t love going via Asia to Australia, and it’s not cheap in points through Korean’s program, but it’s an option.

    @Sunny – I’ve written about this a few times in the last few months, it’s only in the last few months that Chase changed terms to allow someone to get the bonus again if they’ve had it in the past on the same card.

  9. Chase card makes no sense for high spenders vs a Capital One Business card at 2% on everything. $40,000 non-travel expenditures on Chase gets you $500 ticket. On Capital the same $40,000 gets you an $800 ticket.

    The barclaycardarrival might be the best of all but I don’t see Chase being any good for high spenders.

  10. @Todd if all you want is domestic coach tickets then get a Fidelity Investment Rewards Amex 2% cash back (real cash, not CapOne funny money) or a 10% premium over CapOne with Barclaycard Arrival+

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