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Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers big rewards, but is it enough?

By Megg Mueller

Still walking around with a no rewards credit card? Yeah, me too, until just about a month ago. I could no longer write about credit cards and still get zero return on my purchases. But the choice of what rewards card to get is a big one; from cash back points to gift cards to free gas at your favorite pump, the types of rewards are seemingly endless. One of the biggest categories is travel rewards: You can earn points for hotel stays, car rentals, airfares and more each time you shop. What could be simpler? Well, all cards are not created equal, so in that vein, I offer a look at the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.

The basics

Chase Sapphire Preferred gives cardholders access to Ultimate Rewards, Chase's rewards point program. Points can be redeemed for merchandise, cash back, experiences and travel. The company website touts its claim that cardholders can book flights for an average of 20 percent fewer rewards points if booked on the reward program website, plus there are no blackout dates or restrictions. Chase's travel partners include British Airways, United's Mileage Plus program, Hyatt Hotels and Marriott Hotels. Points can be transferred to any partner program at full value, according to the company website.

The good

For starters, new cardholders earn 40,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of the account. Balance transfers don't apply. Standard rewards tiers for purchases on Chase Sapphire Preferred are:

  • 2 points for each dollar spent on travel, such as flights and hotel nights
  • 2 points for each dollar spent on dining at restaurants
  • 1 point for each dollar spent on other purchases

The fine print

Like most good travel cards, there's a hefty annual fee, in this case $95, but there is an introductory annual fee of $0 the first year, then $95. And don't book your flights using the toll-free number or you'll get dinged up to $20. Book online to save some green.

The card has a variable APR currently 15.99 percent for purchases and balance transfers; 19.24 percent variable APR for cash advances and overdraft advances. There are no foreign transaction fees for this card.

USA Today reported on an analysis of the 14 top travel rewards credit cards and Chase Sapphire Preferred didn't fare quite as well as some of the others. The value of $100 spent on the card equaled just $1.05 in travel rewards; to compare, the highest rewards value was $2.

But the report noted that the analysis didn't take into consideration non-monetary perks of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, such as no blackout dates and the ability to book on any airline, hotel or car rental agency.

Bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card has some enviable perks, especially if Chase's travel partners are in your target group when you travel. The ability to earn points fairly easily, spend fewer points to get travel rewards, no expiration date for points and the promise of no restrictions and no blackout dates make this card no slouch, despite that unfortunate annual fee. Oh and if you're mad about airline miles, check out this airline rewards story on Wisebread for some seriously bizarre, and creative, ways to go beyond credit card reward mileage.

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