Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Still the Best All-Around Most Rewarding Credit Card

Key Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred

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

And 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 $3000 in spending within 3 months, and that’s an exceptionally good offer because their points are among the two best currencies of any loyalty program, and double points earning in that most valuable of programs on all travel and dining spending, Visa acceptance, and no foreign currency transaction fees.

The only area where it’s not at the very top is in extra benefits for carrying the card. Oh, it’s a good card for its benefits. I cracked the screen on my new phone, it cost me over $300 to fix, and the card’s insurance coverage paid me back. But the very best cards for benefits are the American Express Platinum card for lounge access benefits with Delta, US Airways, American, and more (and several other benefits like an annual $200 airline fee credit and reimbursement of the fees for Global Entry expedited immigration) and the Hilton Reserve Visa for Hilton Gold status as long as you have the card (free breakfast, internet, upgrades, bonus points).

But hitting the top end of two of three categories of value from a credit card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card has been probably the all-around most lucrative credit cards in the market for the past 18 months. Back in November I called it the king of credit cards.

Requirements for the 40,000 Point Signup Bonus

When I first got into the credit card game there was no requirement to actually spend money on the cards to get a bonus, the points either came with card approval or after first purchase. But then the bonuses were only about 15,000 points…

Gradually banks started adding requirements to put spending on the card to qualify for bonuses, $250 and then $750 and then much larger amounts, the American Express Business Gold Rewards card generally requires $10,000 in spend when there’s a bonus offer available for instance. The British Airways card came back with a 100,000 point signup bonus this year that required $25,000 in spend for the full bonus.

The idea is first that they want to get new cardmembers into the habit of using cards, they don’t just want folks to get the cards. They’re offering the bonus with the intention of making it ‘top of wallet’ for the new cardholder. And second that they want higher spend customers, those are more profitable for the banks overall.

Among the better cards $3000 is on the lower side for required spending to get the bonus. For a few days the spending requirement was even lower at $2000. And plenty of folks who had applied for the card at the regular spending threshold e-mailed Chase through their website and got the card issuer to match the lower offer. Chase has long been good about matching better offers that come along within 90 days of getting the card. As a result, I’m never worried getting a Chase card that a better offer will come along shortly after I apply.

Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Airline, Hotel, and Train 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, Korean Airlines, Southwest Airlines, British Airways
  • Hotels: Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, Priority 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. (And I love that the Hyatt program makes redeeming for club level rooms or suites relatively inexpensive, for instance suites are 50% more than a regular award room whereas Starwood charges double.)

Usually I think of United as the best value for points transfers, since the award chart is reasonable and available on Star Alliance partners is really pretty good in business class to Europe and Asia.

But transferring to British Airways Avios can be a good use of points, especially for short-distance non-stop flights (think as low as 9000 points roundtrip for a coach award). And while many awards on BA involve fuel surcharges, if you use those points to fly American Airlines domestic or to South America, LAN to South America, or Alaska Airlines for instance there are no fuel surcharges. (Also quite reasonable intra-Asia on Cathay Pacific and Aer Lingus Boston or New York to Ireland.)

Meanwhile, not only do you get Star Alliance awards via United and oneworld awards via British Airways, you have coverage of the third alliance — Skyteam — as well. You get access to the same Skyteam saver award space as if you had Delta miles since you can transfer to Korean Airlines. And with Korean you get access to international first class awards, something Delta doesn’t offer. I have an upcoming redemption in Korean Airlines first class, availability was really good. Korean also offers one-way awards, also not offered (except at the same price as roundtrip!) by Delta.

Further, points to several of the programs transfer literally instantly, and to anyone’s account you wish. That’s great for topping off the accounts of friends and family, and also helping to prevent their miles from expiring (by dropping say 1000 miles into their 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 often has the most lucrative opportunities to earn extra points for the online purchases you’d make anyway. I love the 2 extra points per dollar on Travelocity purchases, extra point per dollar at Expedia, and I love it when gets up to 10 points per dollar spent.

There’s no annual fee the first year, my first year will be coming up shortly and I’ll be keeping the card even with the $95 annual fee.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is part of my one-two punch for most spending with the Starwood American Express card. If you use my link for the card, which offers the best bonus out there, then I will receive credit for the referral which I very much appreciate as well.

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. I don’t remember you posting so much about credit cards until you started using affiliate links.

  2. How soon after I closed my Sapphire card can I reapply? i have 2 other Chase cards – Marriott & Priority Club.

  3. Can’t wait for the next ‘BEST’ card from ya and a nice referral link to go with it..

  4. The BA bonus is only $20,000 in the first year. Also, Hyatt isn’t an airline, last time I checked…

  5. Jeez, y’all. If you don’t like the food, don’t eat in the restaurant. How hard is that?

  6. @KAM – some say with Chase it’s two years. We don’t know if that’ll work with this card yet, it hasn’t been out long enough.

    @Eric I did make a typo, which I fixed, sticking Hyatt under airline and hotel, I have fixed that. Not sure what mistake I made vis-a-vis BA? Thanks!

    @Maury – Ink Bold is a business card, doesn’t bonus the same category. If you make all of your spending as office supplies, through gift cards or prepaid debit cards purchased at office supply stores, then sure (and I’ve written about how to do this in the past). But for folks not going through that process — or whose office supply stores in their area don’t carry vanilla reload cards — then no.

  7. @Robert @JA @Carlos I get far more positive than negative feedback on my credit card posts.

    I do post more about credit cards than I did over a year ago, my coverage before was insufficient since credit cards represent the single largest source of mileage earning and the most lucrative source.

    When a link provides a benefit to me, I disclose that. And I do my best to (1) only promote those cards that I believe are the best products, in most cases the ones I use myself or explain why I’m considering/not considering them, and (2) the best available offers for those cards. I might occasionally miss something on #2 but investigate and correct when better offers are shared with me. And I proactively try to find better offers, such as I’ve done with the Hyatt and American cards.

    Hope that helps!

  8. @Robert @JA @Carlos – do you realize that you do not NEED to read this website?

    @Gary – Keep up the GREAT WORK!!!!!!

  9. Gary,

    I want to say again that your blog is great and extremely useful, thank you for taking the time to distill so much information concisely. With that, perhaps you will consider a suggestion.

    A post such as this is great for new or irregular readers, and perhaps for a minority of regulars. Reviews of the current state of the world can be very useful, no doubt. But I suspect that for the majority of regulars, such as myself, it can feel a bit redundant. We read your blog daily for new meaty information, first and foremost. So my suggestion is very simple: clearly indicate, either in the title or in the first paragraph, that a post is a REVIEW/OVERVIEW of existing options, meaning that it does not contain any new info. If it does have new info, put it up top and make it easily identifiable.

    Thank you!

  10. Thanks, never heard of this card. I just signed up. :p

    Seriously though, if the goal here is to educate neophytes, you’re doing them a disservice by claiming that “transferring to British Airways Avios can be a good use of points”. Why would anyone transfer UR to Avois at 1:1? Much better to trade for Avios since they trade at a discount to most currencies. You could easily trade 1 UR for 1.25 Avios all day long any day of the week, or much more when there is a MR transfer promo. About the only scenario I can see where transferring UR to Avios makes sense is if you don’t have MR and needed to top up an Avios account for an award.

  11. @HikerT – if you take my explanation as part of a sentence out of context about Avios, then even I would agree with you!

    Except that’s not realy what I said…

    1) I identify Avios as good for “short-distance non-stop flights”

    2) And that having the flexibility to drop a few points into a variety of accounts is useful (“eally valuable to be able to top off an account towards an award “)

    I am not saying that someone should get this card SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF EARNING AVIOS.

    And most of my readers aren’t going to “trade for a discount” with others.

    You say that you agree it makes sense to transfer to Avios to top off an Avios account for an award, something I’m arguing for in my post.

  12. I’m a bit confused about the BA avios part. I have the Chase preferred card. Can I transfer UR points to Avios and then use them for American Airlines domestic trips since they are a partner with BA? How does this work? How many points for a domestic round trip flight?

  13. This may be a very dumb question, but I’m new to this. I already have a bunch of American miles, and I just signed up for the Chase Sapphire. Is there any way I could use my American miles and my Ultimate Rewards points together to book on, say, Cathay Pacific or a similar international partner?

  14. @Larry, well said. I get value from this blog and pay zero for it; there’s nothing wrong with Gary making money from it. The referral situation is duly disclosed. On top of that, CSP really is a great card, and the only reason I know about it/have it is reading travel blogs.

  15. @Jeff — you could use American miles one-way and Chase points transferred to British Airways to fly Cathay the other way (since both AA and BA offer one-way awards). Or use American miles to fly Cathay one direction, and use Chase points transferred to Korean AIrlines to fly Korean the other way for instance. (Or transfer to United to fly Asiana or ANA or Thai etc) since UA and Korean both offer one way awards as well)

  16. @Richard – yes you can transfer Chase points to BA’s Avios program. And once there, the BA Avios points can be used to fly American domestic flights. You can book those on the British AIrways website, or if the flights you want won’t come up there (but you see them available on the American website) you can call British Airways to book them.

    The number of points required depends on the distance flown of each flight segment. But a short one-way flight starts at 4500 Avios.

  17. Gary, I don’t think I took it out of context. Yes (1) but in the context of transferring UR for an award. As far as (2) you did suggest dropping a small number of UR into an account to prevent miles from expiring, but that came well after the suggestion to transfer UR to BA for a short haul award. I do agree UR could be valuable as a last resort for topping up a BA account, assuming you don’t have MR to transfer or other currencies to trade. Beyond that, I’d say Avois is the last thing I would use UR for.

  18. @HikerT I was not arguing that Avios is the best place to put Ultimate Rewards! I’m very much on record, and quite frequently, about what i think of the Avios program overall. I love the transfer option to United, that’s probably #1 in my book here. I value the Korean option quite a lot because even though it can be a pain to deal with them (phone booking, faxing in forms) the availability on Korean is great and you can do first class redemptions on partners as well that also have great availability. I like the Hyatt option for high-end hotel properties where you get a pretty darned good return per point (the best Park Hyatts) and because Hyatt lets you redeem 50% more points for suites (at Starwood it is 100% more). All are superior to Avios, but having Avios is strategically useful as well, as I explain in the post. Apologies if just how and when didn’t come across clearly enough.

  19. People are hilarious, like you are desparately waisting their precious time with 1 article. Keep doing what you are doing.

  20. Credit card referrals fees create a conflict of interest for those that take them, regardless of their disclaimers. (The appearance is always there, regardless of how much they do or do not influence you.)

    Credit cards have been a great source of miles, particularly the lucrative sign up bonuses. There’s plenty to say about that without being influenced (or having the appearance of being influenced) by the banks lucrative referral fees.

    Gary has tried to mitigate that influence and does a reasonable job of it from what I’ve seen, but as with any conflict of interest, it’s never possible to mitigate the actual conflict of interest, particularly the appearance of it.

    On this, Gary and I will probably never agree, yet we can continue to respect each other’s opinion on this subject.


  21. I applied for the Sapphire card yesterday and was instantly approved, so I have been doing my research on KE award charts…

    It is a little confusing, but they “group” Business and First class together for US-Latin America… However, KE does fly LAX-GRU with an F cabin, so is it possible to book an award in F on LAX-GRU for 90K miles round trip?

    Also what about their routing rules? Can I book JFK-ICN-DXB for 160K r/t in F?

    I am curious if you know…

  22. I see this quite often and I don’t get why people get antsy and all fed up to read a FREE BLOG site where the person wants to get a LITTLE something in return for his or her time spent on educating others for FREE. Some say he’s misdirecting and that there is “conflict of interest”. C’mon, REALLY!? It’s no WONDER that common sense is not so common. Reminds me of people who sue McDonalds for making them fat.

  23. @Golfingboy – on a Korean Air one-way award you can only fly from the US to various Asian destinations plus Oceania, all via Seoul, plus the LAX-GRU flight. To fly JFK-ICN-DXB that would be 2 awards.

    For a Skyteam award the rules are: 8 segments max, most direct route required, departure and arrival in the same country allowed twice, cannot include both an Atlantic and a Pacific crossing on the same itinerary, can do a stopover OR open jaw in addition to destination.

    Not sure what you mean by grouping business and first together for US-Latin America?

  24. Gotcha, thanks for clarifying!

    So basically my options from the US without having to pay two awards:

    Northeast Asia
    Southeast Asia
    Southwest Asia [includes India]

    For the US-Latin America, the award chart has the following:

    Economy: 50,000
    First/Business: 90,000

    They do not have an unique separate column for First Class like with Europe, Asia, etc.

  25. I’d like to second maximizer’s post above me. I love reading your blog and I find it incredibly informative and very useful. I’ve learned a ton over this past year just by including you on my daily blog reading list. However, I’ve noticed that these credit card “reviews” are populating your blog feed more frequently than before. As a regular reader, it’s becoming very repetitive and the pushing of the affiliate link is more noticeable. Seeing that bolded AND underlined “key link” is almost off-putting now. I get that affiliate links generate income for you, but even having Google ads on the side wouldn’t be as annoying.

    Is there some way you can separate these types of posts into a different section on your blog? I like how Frequent Miler has a section just for credit cards, with the various bonuses updated frequently. It’s a great way to quickly compare cards by bonuses, and it’s not intrusive at all to your regular, loyal readers.

    Or, as maximizer suggested, maybe you can indicate at the top of the post that this is a recap of info you’ve presented before — and put that key link at the bottom of the post. It doesn’t make sense anyway to put it at the top if you want your readers to fully read the post and understand what they are spending a credit hit on.

  26. @Gary – how would you compare a points card like this to the Fidelity 2% cash back, no annual fee, no min spend?

  27. @Ben Vincent – I compare to the Fidelity card often — if you want to use points for domestic or coach airfare, Fidelity is best, just take the cash and buy tickets. Spending that earns double points on Sapphire are of course better on Sapphire. Other spend, depends how you redeem, I’ll prefer Sapphire for international premium cabin redemptions.

  28. Nothing rare about affiliate links, but I’ve never seen such a big deal made about it in comments on any other blogs.

  29. How is it better than the BankAmericard Privileges with Travel Rewards card, which gets you 2 points on everything?

  30. I used the Chase Sapphire Preferred card during a few intl trips to Asia. Though the card itself doesn’t charge foreign txn fees, I figured that the exchange rate for the expenses are quite bad. Say the bill was worth $100 according to fair market exchange rate (as searched on google), usually the charge on my card would be shown as $103 ish.

  31. @ql because the card you’re referring to caps the value of each point, just ask them how many points it’ll cost you for an international business class ticket

  32. I hate to be negative, but I have to put in my vote for fewer of these posts. I understand that these posts are beneficial (especially for people unfamiliar with the cards), but these days there are an abundance of ‘best of,’ ‘current best,’ and ‘summary’ posts. If something new had happened with the Sapphire card , I could see the rationale for a new review post, but this information all seems pretty standard (if a bit more detailed than what’s been posted before).

    Look, I don’t begrudge Gary the referral revenue, and he’s are up front about it, which is refreshing. As an avid reader of the blog, I just want to voice my preference for slightly fewer of these CC-only posts, especially where there’s not really anything new to report. (In the interest of fairness, I think the AirTran CC post is great–I’ll never get that card, but it’s new info and your readers should have it.)

    Yes, I know I can skip such posts, but nearly everything Gary posts has valuable or interesting information, so I tend to read even CC-only pieces to avoid missing something valuable. In an attempt to be constructive, what about just making a monthly (or bi-weekly, if need be) feature that summarizes the “current top 5 cards”–and then reserving the non-periodic posts for CC news and genuine updates? The Top-5 posts could link to more detailed “how to” posts (like this one) on a different page?

  33. LOL!!!!!!

    This reminds me of a Dr Phil episode.

    The person was getting Porn emails and he thought it was not his fault as the emails came to his inbox.

    Dr Phil’s response – I’m not sure about your computer but mine has a delete key.

    Gary, do whatever you want to do and most of all Keep Smiling – that is what all these negative comments are doing to me!

  34. How would you compare the dining rewards with the Chase Sapphire (2.14 UR points) compared to the 5% earned with the Citi Forward Card?

  35. Hi
    I’ve been following your blogs for quiet some time and I love it!!!
    I have this card since December of last year, but they just closed it based on this reason, I paste it below.

    We understand your concern, but want to remind you that
    the credit card’s Program Rules do not allow the transfer
    of rewards points into your account from anyone other than
    a spouse or domestic partner.

    Since this activity is prohibited, the account will remain
    closed. We do want to remind you, however, that you have
    90 days from the date on the letter, 10/11/2012, to redeem
    the accumulated points. If you do not redeem the points
    within that time, the points will be forfeited.
    Can you please advice what you would do in my situation. To me it seems like they are just trying to cancel the card not to pay me my 7% bonus
    Thank you so much!

  36. Hi Gary, What do you think of the 20% discount on travel redemption? Is there any catch to it? Do you get the 20% discount only on trips you book with reward points, or does it apply to any trip booked on ultimate rewards, regardless of whether you pay it with points or money?

    thank you!

  37. @andy – it isn’t a good use of points compared to transferring those points into airline miles almost all of the time. it only applies to using the points as cash towards a paid ticket.

  38. I need help! We have 101,000 reward points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Would like to book air travel May 2013 for 2 from Atlanta, GA to Barcelona, Spain returning to Atlanta from Dubai. Being both one way tickets, How can I make this happen using the least amount of rewards.

    Any ideas will be appreciated.

  39. is there a transfer fee to transfer Sapphire points into my United Mileage Plus account?

    at $35 per 1000 miles on United it seems like transferring over 40000 Sapphire points would be worth $1400usd. Do they transfer over 1:1?

  40. Hi Gary, we want to get rid of American Express Platinum ($100 per trip in flight insurance fees and $400 yearly cost, plus make-work policies about fraud prevention, reimbursement, etc) and would like to know:
    — if Chase Sapphire will provide the same level of protection on 1-year warranty extension
    —is the Trip Cancellation insurance comparable
    —is the lost/delayed baggage reimbursement comparable
    —is Chase less of a pain to deal with than American Express?
    Thank you

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