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Chase Sapphire credit card -- what's not to like?

By Peter Andrew

 

I'm not expecting any sympathy, but it's not easy writing product reviews. That's because it's rarely possible to rank different features in a way that's meaningful to everyone.

Take televisions as an example. I badly need a new one, and recently started reading TV reviews. All I've discovered so far is that there isn't a perfect model, or certainly not one in my price range. One has a brilliant picture, but slightly lower sound quality, or vice versa. Another is great except for occasional motion blur during action sequences. Yet more are good, but ugly, and don't fit in with my living room decor. When I eventually come to make a choice, I'll have to decide which of these factors are most important to me personally.

And it's the same with credit cards. I can tell you all about the Chase Sapphire credit card, but whether it's the best for you will depend on your individual needs and wants. What I can say for sure is that it is a good all-rounder, and that you should almost certainly include it on your list of potential cards.

Not for everyone

But let's begin by identifying those who should think carefully first before including it on their list of possibilities. If your credit score's going through a down patch, the chances of your application for a Chase Sapphire card being accepted are remote. This is a premium product that's reserved for those with great credit.

In fact, it's a good idea to check your score before you apply for any card--or any other sort of credit. Just submitting an application can drive down that score, so you don't want to make ones that are bound to fail. You're entitled to a free copy of your credit report once a year, but there are other ways of obtaining a free FICO credit score.

Rewards that really reward

One of the things that makes Chase Sapphire so attractive is its credit card rewards program. To start with, there's an introductory offer that awards you 10,000 bonus points after you spend $500 in the first 3 months after your account's opened.

But this program keeps giving, especially when it comes to travel. Perhaps most importantly, when you book through Chase's Ultimate Rewards travel agency there are no restrictions or blackout dates.

But you're free to make your reservations using the card elsewhere, and then use the Pay Yourself Back service to receive a credit on your statement. And you're not restricted to travel. You can also redeem your points for cash back, merchandise, gift cards and more.

Two more things: your points should never expire, and there's no cap on the number of points you can earn.

Attractive APR

Cards with good rewards programs tend to charge higher APRs. But if you compare Chase Sapphire with other big-name rewards cards, its standard APR is very competitive. At the time of writing (check Chase's web site for current rates, terms and conditions), the APR is a variable 15.99 percent. And the card charges no annual fee.

You should bear in mind two caveats. First, that APR is tied to the prime rate, and is likely to rise if that goes up. Secondly, you must make at least the minimum payment in full and on time each month. If you're late, the APR is likely to rocket up to a variable APR of 29.99 percent on new purchases and stay there. These penalties are pretty standard across the industry.

No balance transfer fee offers

Some credit cards offer an introductory zero percent balance transfer APR and/or no balance transfer fee. Chase Sapphire isn't one of them.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean that you should rule it out if you have a balance that you want to transfer. You're going to have to pay a three percent fee or $5, whichever is the greater, but the rate from day one should be the card's standard 15.99 percent variable APR. So if you have a card balance on another card currently on, say, 19.99 percent, you still stand to save money.

Decisions, decisions

So is the Chase Sapphire card right for you? Only you can say. But it's well worth thinking about.

Peter Andrew has been writing about--and for--business for more than two  decades. For the last couple of years, he has found himself  increasingly specializing in the U.S. financial sector.

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