Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred Is So Popular

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase’s current offer for their Sapphire Preferred card gets you $400 cash back or $500 towards travel purchases, after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months after approval.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card might be the most popular travel credit card around in 2015, and for good reason.  The signup bonus for the card – 40k Ultimate Rewards points – is very generous.  The points can be converted to $400 cash back or instead redeemed for $500 of travel including airfare, hotel stays, cruises and car rentals.  For even greater value, the points can be transferred to any of various partners such as United, Hyatt, Southwest, British Airways and redeemed through those programs!

Because of its great signup bonus, ongoing value and flexibility, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the cards I most strongly recommend for couples planning their honeymoon.

That’s the brief summary.  Here are the details.  I’ve broken them down into eight reasons to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and two points to consider before applying.

The Eight Reasons to Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  1. The 40k Ultimate Reward point signup bonus is worth a minimum of $400.  If used for direct travel costs the value of the signup bonus rises to $500 and if used strategically with transfer partners like Hyatt and United you could potentially get over $1,000 of value from the signup bonus!

    The Ultimate Rewards points you earn can be transferred to partners and redeemed through their program.  One partner is Hyatt, from which you can often get 3 or 4 cents of value per point when redeeming at high-end properties like the Andaz Maui shown here.
    The Ultimate Rewards points you earn can be transferred to partners and redeemed through their program. One partner is Hyatt, with which you can often get 3 or 4 cents of value per point when redeeming at high-end properties like the Andaz Maui shown here.
  2. There is no annual fee for the first year.  Whereas some cards with great signup bonuses charge an annual fee upon activation of the card, that is not the case for this card – the annual fee is waived for the first year.  That said, many users gladly pay the $95 annual fee to renew this card because of the long-term value it offers.
  3. It offers 2X Ultimate Rewards points on dining and travel purchases.  This is a great perk.  If you take a look at your credit card usage you will probably be surprised at just how much of it is for those two categories of purchases.  With Ultimate Rewards points worth approximately 2 cents each in my estimation, this equates to a roughly 4% rebate on all dining and travel purchases.  Even better, for engaged couples using a restaurant type venue for their reception and/or rehearsal dinner, you may get the 2X rewards for those charges.  It will depend on how the purchase is categorized so it’s not a sure thing but it could pay off big.
  4. You can earn 5,000 additional bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.  If for some reason your fiance(e) doesn’t want to apply for the card also, you can add him/her, or another relative, as an authorized user and get 5,000 more points when they make a purchase within 3 months of account opening.
  5. There are no foreign transaction fees for this card.  You can use this card internationally, whether for your honeymoon or any other trip, and rest easy that you won’t be charged the 2-3% foreign transaction fees that other cards charge.
  6. The card includes embedded chip and signature feature. The embedded chip provides enhanced security and wider acceptance when you make purchases at chip-enabled card readers in the US and abroad.
  7. You get 24/7 direct access to a customer service specialist.  Whereas calls to some other credit card customer service lines leave you yelling at voice prompts, when you call the customer service number for this card, you talk directly to a dedicated advisor anytime without pressing “#” or “0”.
  8. The travel insurance that comes with the card is very good (as far as credit card travel insurance goes).  I’m not a huge proponent of buying travel insurance.  The policies are often rife with fine print exclusions.  Companies are making money off of it so in general that means customers are losing money on it in the long run.  However if it’s included as a standard benefit for a credit card it’s certainly worth using when appropriate.  The Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits include a few different types of travel insurance including trip cancellation/interruption insurance and primary auto rental collision coverage.  The latter means that if you decline coverage through the rental car company and charge the rental completely to your Chase Sapphire Preferred card, Chase provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad.

Two Points To Consider Before Applying

  1. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is, in my opinion, intended for people with decent credit history/scores.  If your credit score is weak and/or you have very limited credit history, you may want to consider other cards instead of this one.  If that’s the case for you, be on the lookout for a post later this week on a card that is valuable in its own right but, in my opinion, is directed more toward people with limited credit history.
  2. The spending requirement isn’t trivial at $4,000 of purchases within 3 months after account approval.  Though that is a relatively large spending requirement, if you use the card for many of your wedding-related costs you may meet that requirement quite easily, especially with the costs of weddings these days.  There are many other sensible ways to meet minimum spending requirements as well, from ordering gift cards such as Amazon.com gift cards, to prepaying utility and insurance bills to getting a Target Prepaid Redcard and using it to pay your rent or mortgage.

Patty and I have each had a Chase Sapphire Preferred card for years and it’s one of our favorite cards for the reasons listed above.  We’ve transferred Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest for flights to the Bahamas and Cancun, to United for our honeymoon flights home from South Africa and to Hyatt for multiple great hotel stays.  When dining and travel aren’t the bonus categories for other cards we use the Sapphire Preferred for those charges and get the 2X per dollar return.

If you apply for this or any other credit card, you may want to use The Honeymoon Guy’s Credit Card Tracking Spreadsheet to stay organized.

Do you have thoughts on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card?  Feel free to share your comments below!

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