5 Reasons Chase Sapphire Preferred Should Be Your First Card

Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point bonus after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

Choosing your first travel credit card is a critical element in maximizing your points and miles, and a select few offer a wide array of perks that appeal to a variety of traveler profiles. Today I want to share my top five reasons why if you dont already have it the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card should be the very first credit card you get. And Im not alone in thinking its great TPG readers chose the CSP as the Best Mid-Tier Card of the Year at the 2018 TPG Awards.

1. 60,000 Points ($1,200 in Value) for Signing Up

For almost four years, the Chase Sapphire Preferredoffered a standard sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spent $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. However, earlier this year, this long-standing offer increased the card now offers an increased standard sign-up bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. These 60,000 points are worth $1,200 based on TPGs point valuations, a $200 increase over the previous offer.

2. Generous 2x Travel and Dining Categories

The Uber driver app on the windshield of former Washington Flyer taxi driver Ali Jaghori. Jaghori now drives soley for UberX. Thousands of local car owners have signed up in recent months to drive with one of the
Uber purchases will earn you double points on the Sapphire Preferred. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

On the surface, this feature of the Chase Sapphire Preferred may not sound that special. Many credit cards offer category bonuses for travel and dining, but the real appeal of these bonuses is how wide the definitions span, and what encompasses travel on the CSP is extremely broad.

For instance, here are some examples of real-life purchases that have earned me 2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on the Sapphire Preferred:

  • A beer hall (that didnt serve food)
  • Street parking
  • Uber
  • Quarterly dues for the yacht club to which I belong
  • A rental car
  • Tolls
  • Cupcake shop
  • Train transportation
  • City tours
  • Tram tickets
  • Parking at the airport (at a location that wasnt classified as a travel expense when I previously used my Barclaycard Arrival Plus cardthere)

Delivery services such Seamless and Postmates also fall into the dining bonus category, so if your hometown has these options, that gives you additional earning potential.

3. So Many Redemption Possibilities

Transfer points to Singapore Airlines to book a luxurious award flight. (photo by The Points Guy)

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points on every purchase you make with the card, which can be redeemed a number of ways. However, some of these redemption options are significantly better than others.

There Are Two Key Ways to Redeem Ultimate Rewards Points

  1. Booking travel directlythrough the Chase travel portal where points are worth a flat 1.25 cents apiece. The big benefit of redeeming points for flights this way is that they typically do count toward elite status(but note that isnt the case with hotel bookings).
  2. Transferring your points to one of Chases 10 airline and three hotel partners. Typically youllget the most out of your points when youtransfer them to these valuable partners, including United,HyattandSingapore.

When you transfer points to these partners, youll unlock terrific redemptions, such as free nights at the Park Hyatt Tokyo and free flights on Singapore Suites. In some cases, TPGs valuation of 2 cents apiece for Ultimate Rewards points can easily be eclipsed. And if you have other Chase credit cards that earn cash back in the form of Ultimate Rewards points such as the Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited you can combine your points from those cards with your CSP and get the same flexibility to transfer them to partners or redeem them for travel at the 1.25 cent per point flat rate.

Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited. Both of these cards are marketed as cash-back cards, but both become much more valuable when paired with a premium card like the Sapphire Preferred. Instead of just getting 5% cash back on quarterly bonus categories (plus 1% cash back elsewhere) with the Freedom and 1.5% cash back on everything with the Freedom Unlimited, you can convert those fixed earnings to much more flexible Ultimate Rewards points.>

4. The Travel Benefits

In addition to earning valuable rewards for making purchases while traveling, you can also take advantage of some fantastic benefits while on the road with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

(Photo by @isr4el via Twenty20)
The Sapphire Preferred Card offers primary car rental insurance. (Photo by @isr4el/Twenty20)

Top 5 Travel Benefits

  • Primary car rental insurance. This covers the entire loss, damage or theft of your car rental without reporting it to your insurance company, a benefit that can save you big time in the long term.
  • No foreign transaction fees on the card. While foreign transaction fees appear to be gradually on their way out, especially for credit cards that charge an annual fee, the Sapphire Preferred has always waived them. Thats a benefit thatll typically save you 2.7%-3% on every purchase abroad.
  • Trip delay insurance if your flight, train, or other common carrier is delayed more than 12 hours or you require an overnight stay as a result of a delay. Youre covered for unreimbursed expenses such as meals and lodging up to $500 per ticket.
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance if your trip is cut short or interrupted by sickness, severe weather or other covered situations. You can recoup up to $10,000 per person and up to $20,000 per trip for pre-paid, nonrefundable travel expenses such as plane tickets, hotels or tours.
  • Baggage delay insurance of $100 per day for up to 5 days when your checked baggage is delayed by more than 6 hours for reimbursement of essential purchases like toiletries and clothing.

5. Chases 5/24 Rule

If youre thinking about expanding your points and miles strategy to include opening and utilizing multiple credit cards, nows a fantastic time to open the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Card issuers have different application restrictions, and if youve opened five or more new personal credit cards in the past 24 months across all banks (not just with Chase), its highly likely that your application for the Sapphire Preferred will be automatically declined. This 5/24 rule now covers all credit cards issued by Chase, so as a result, if you want to take advantage of the sign-up bonus and the other perks of the CSP, you should apply for it sooner rather than later.

Bottom line

Whenever I meet someone who wants to travel like I do, I immediately ask about their credit card strategy. I stopped traveling extensively for work a few years ago, yet Im still able to rack up hundreds of thousands of points and miles every year. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card plays a big role in this. Its a terrific starter travel rewards card, as youre getting a minimum of $750 in value if you just use the sign-up bonus to book any flight or hotel through the Chase travel portal. But, with the excellent Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners, it wouldnt be difficult to get value of $1,200 or more from the sign-up bonus alone.

Related reading:TPG beginners guide: Everything you need to know about points, miles, airlines and credit cards

But the Sapphire Preferred is also a great card for experienced award travelers, so if it isnt already in your wallet, definitely consider making it your next application. And once you get the card, make sure to check out 5 Things To Do When You Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred and 5 Chase Sapphire Preferred Benefits You Might Not Know About or the Chase Sapphire Preferred card hub.

Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point bonus.