How Chase Sapphire Preferred Became Under-hyped and Under-appreciated

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has its biggest ever bonus, and the best bonus of any consumer card currently on the market – 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

When this card came out it was the greatest frequent flyer thing since miles themselves. Chase Sapphire Preferred was (1) fast-earning [double points on travel and triple on dining] and (2) had valuable points that transferred to great partners.

And the card was even considered a bit sexy. Lucky called it “the poor man’s Centurion card.” AndyAndy decided downgrade his Chase Sapphire Preferred card to a regular Sapphire card with no fee. He tried to dispose of the card himself. With a blow torch.

chase sapphire preferred card benefits

The card added primary collision coverage when renting cars, and has added numerous transfer partners like Air France KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates and Iberia (though losing Korean). And yet for some people it’s an afterthought. It shouldn’t be.

What happened? Chase Sapphire Reserve®, that’s what, became the ‘it’ card when it launched nearly 5 years ago. At the outset everyone wanted one, and if they had fewer than 5 new cards in the last 24 months they were getting one. 3 points per dollar on travel and dining and a Priority Pass was sexy.

There’s no longer unlimited free guesting with the Priority Pass that comes with that card. And anecdotally talking to a lot of readers it has seemed much tougher to get the Sapphire Reserve over the last 18 months than it did wen the card first launched.

Ultimately the better card between the two products is the one you can get approved for. Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a Visa Infinite, it has higher approval standards, and Chase revealed some fascinating data about Sapphire Reserve cardholders.

Cardholders have an average income of $180,000 and an average credit score of 785. And that included the time when it seemed approval standards weren’t as tight. My guess is that income and credit score requirements skew on the higher side currently.

In contrast we’ve seen much lower credit scores get approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (provided they’re under 5/24).

Sapphire Preferred gives you 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, which is the strongest personal rewards card bonus in the market.

And if you really want Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you may have a clearer shot getting Sapphire Preferred, waiting until your card renewal and asking to product change.

Points from both cards transfer to:

  • Airlines: United, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, JetBlue, Air France KLM, Southwest Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Iberia, Aer Lingus
  • Hotels: Hyatt, IHG, Marriott

United Polaris Business Class

At the very least if you apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and aren’t approved, definitely go for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

And you really need one Chase card with an annual fee, so that you can combine points into that account and transfer them to airline miles. You can get other Chase cards with no annual fee that earn 1.5 points per dollar on all spend, or that bonus office supplies, telecommunications or other categories with as many as 5 points per dollar. The annual fee card boosts the value of all of your points.

Don’t overlook the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card!

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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Editorial 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 advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. I am hearing rumors that Chase is about to refresh the Sapphire Preferred by adding benefits and also increasing the fee. I hope that doesn’t happen. If the fee goes higher than $95 I will downgrade.

  2. These metal cards are terrible if you want to deactivate the tap and pay feature which can not be disabled by CS. At least you can still deactivate the plastic ones by severing the antenna lead coming off the chip using a knife cut almost through the card.
    Mine never leaves the house so it’s an earn and burn every 4 years and collect the 15k or 20k referral bonus that makes up for the annual fee. They also dropped the $50 grocery credit and the fee waiver if the application is made at a branch. They have to increase the bonus to make up for the takeaways. Do I hear 150K?

  3. The JPM Reserve is better than CSR but even less appreciated and less hyped. Of course it’s not available to most people

  4. Datapoint of one, but my 19 year old daughter applied for a Sapphire Preferred card in-branch in July, and was approved – her first credit card! She does have a Sapphire checking account (hangs off of our balances), but the Chase rep was shocked…

  5. @Boraxo – agree, JP Morgan Reserve basically Reserve + an unpublished benefit of United Club membership at no extra cost !

    There was a time 5 years ago when anyone could apply (for a few days, accidentally). The earlier version was a Chase Private Client product (Palladium). Now it is primarily a Chase Private Bank product, though I’ve heard of a few exceptions. Chase Private Bank publicly is available to those investing $10mm through Chase, however there I’ve also heard of exceptions at lower amounts.

    Those with Palladium cards are grandfathered with JP Morgan Reserve.

  6. How much revenue subject to potential taxation do you get for each approved card applicant using your referral link?

    Given the personal referral bonuses are 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points for the card member referring someone else approved for this card with a 100,000 point sign up bonus for spending $4000 within c 90 days, I am curious what a blogger is racking up for revenue for referring this Chase card.

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