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

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Key Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best all-around, most rewarding personal credit card. 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

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

It’s recently even upped its game in benefits for carrying the card. I always found it useful here, 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 and more (like an annual $200 airline fee credit and reimbursement of the fees for Global Entry expedited immigration) and the Hilton HHonors Reserve Card for Hilton Gold status as long as you have the card (free breakfast, internet, upgrades, bonus points).

Chase Sapphire Preferred now comes close to tops even in the benefits category, since they’ve just added primary collision damage coverage for when you rent cars.

Net net, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been probably the all-around most lucrative credit cards in the market for the past 3 years.

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, Korean Airlines, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines
  • 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 gets 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

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 any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either.

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. Another day, another credit card plug. I swear you just copied and pasted this post from a few weeks ago.

  2. Except for signup bonus. CSP didn’t give me a lot of perk. I have US bank cash pus for 5 % dining , I have AMEX old blue 5% for gas, grocery, and drugstore, I ave boa travel 2.625% for anything else and no foreign exchange fee. I didn’t pay any any annual fee for these three card. What else can I get from CSP except primary car rental insurance?

  3. Fascinating that your link has $95 annual fee and the chase standard offer was recently increased to $150 annual fee. Since these aren’t written in stone. Isn’t reasonable to expect that CSP will eventually be $150/year?

  4. Wrong
    Chase Freedom for the category bonus and keep Ultimate Rewards alive…
    Citi Thank you Premier for Restaurant and entertainment spend
    AMEX Everyday for Grocery spend and even misc spend
    Diner’s Club for Drug store spend
    What’s left for Sapphire? First Friday? Nah….Citi to Singapore and AF……
    American FF programs are dead in the water……..why would you ever want to fly Merican when you could fly AF and Singapore? That’s right…..never…..

  5. @justSaying Sure, using multiple cards is more lucrative than just using one. But the point of this is about what is the best ALL-AROUND card. i.e., if you had to pick one card to stick with, it would be that one.

    Also, without CSP (or an Ink card), you can’t redeem UR for travel, so I’m not sure your statement re: Freedom makes sense.

  6. got my chase sapphire bill a few days ago and it says the annual fee starting this December is $125 so they raised it $30

  7. I haven’t found much availability for the “cheap short distance non-stop flights on American, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines starting at just 4500 points one-way.”

    My experience has been that only 1st class redemptions are available for, say, San Jose to Denver. These are something like 10X the number of points. I have to admit that these have been for fairly close-in dates (a few weeks – 2 months out) and I’ve only tried a few times. Is there a smarter way to find/redeem these short flights (e.g. SFO-DEN)?

  8. @Robert F:
    There are no non-stop flights between DEN and the Bay Area on AA/AS/US. The shortest connecting flights would be via PHX on US. DEN-PHX-OAK/SJC should be 4500×2 = 9000 Avios each way if you can find availability (27000 Avios each way in 1st); going to SFO is worse as PHX-SFO is just over the 650 mile limit for 4500 Avios flights.

    To find availability, you can search US for their lowest saver flights (you don’t even need to log in to an account); BA’s website should also show availability but can be a bit flaky.

    To sum up: DEN to the Bay Area is not a great use of Avios (but if you can find availability it’s a little better than just booking with US miles with a US credit card.

  9. I learned about this great card from you over a year ago and have been quite pleased with it, so I don’t mind you repeating this every so oftenfor the new folks who may have come along.

  10. Robert F:

    It is highly dependent on where you live and if you are in an AA hub. For those of us near ORD, there are a ton of 4500-point flights, including many costing over $150 for cash. Certainly Avios have limited value for many people.
    On AA, at least, first class redemptions are 3x economy.

  11. @wat Freedom is “perfect” when paired with Ink Bold or Plus to redeem the points……and AMEX Everyday @ 4.5 is far superior as a wallet card to Sapphire…..

  12. Freedom no longer seems that valuable. It’s one of those “free” things that are basically worth what you pay for it. Most of the year the bonus is mainly Kohl’s.

    I already get 3X for gas with Everyday Preferred, and my gas purchases help me qualify for 4.5X on grocery spend. And it takes a soon to be $125 CSP to transfer the one quarter a year Amazon bonus miles to airlines. So 3 months a year I use Freedom for Amazon and Nordstrom purchases, and the rest of the time it sits in my sock drawer.

    As for the CSP being the best “only” cc, that’s like meat, fruit, or vegetables being the “one best food group”. Makes no sense to me. If your income and credit are good enough to qualify for a CSP, you also qualify for a number of strong benefit ccs, many of which have no fee for at least the first year. Why would anyone want just one?

  13. @Robert No longer valuable? Your 3X gas is 5X gas 6 months out of year. Your restaurant is 5X 3 months a year or longer if you strategically plan GC purchases… if you have a 5X card with no annual fee, please share with the rest of us…………

  14. @HPN-HRL, @toomanybooks

    Thanks for taking the time to read/reply; very interesting info. I have seen the PHX requirement for getting to the Bay Area. Will think about the AA/AS/US hubs when hunting Avios rewards!

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