The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of my favorite mid-tier travel cards. It’s a fantastic option for those who are new to points and miles. And it’s a great alternative to the more expensive Chase Sapphire Reserve.
The Sapphire Preferred was first released in the summer of 2009 and was arguably the best non-Amex travel card for several years. But competition in Tier III got stiffer by the mid-2010s. And today, Chase has responded by increasing their mid-tier card’s sign-up bonus.
What’s Going On?
Chase announced today that they are increasing the sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Preferred to 60,000 Ultimate Rewards (UR) points. That’s an increase of 10,000 points, which makes this bonus an all-time high. The minimum spend threshold remains at $4,000.
The other side of the coin is that the $95 annual fee is no longer waived the first year. This move puts it in line with the Sapphire Reserve as well as competitors in the same tier.
While I love the increased bonus, Chase has made the Sapphire Preferred less “beginner-friendly” by removing the annual fee waiver. Until now, new cardholders were able to “test-drive” the Preferred for one year without the annual fee. Now, potential cardholders should read PYCR before deciding.
Is It Worth It?
Simply put, you’re getting 10,000 additional points for $95 upfront. The increased bonus is worth it regardless of how you redeem points. Even if you redeem points for cash back (I don’t recommend doing this!), you will still get $100 in cash back for $95, a $5 profit.
However, if you redeem using the travel portal, you will still receive 1.25 cents per point (CPP). That makes the 10,000 points worth $125. These numbers are what’s advertised on Chase’s website. But they assume that you will use the portal, which might not be the case.
Most travelers will transfer the 10,000 points to partners, making them go much farther than $125. Your mileage may vary here, but you can potentially get hundreds in value for the 10,000 points.
2019 has been a busy year for Chase’s card lineup. They recently announced the partnership with SBE, adding hotel perks to the Reserve. That’s not to mention the new categories for the Freedom and a 3x points promotion for the Freedom Unlimited.
Now, the Sapphire Preferred is joining its counterparts in the spotlight. Even though the annual fee is no longer waived, the additional points more than compensates. You will be getting more value out of the Preferred, making it a more viable option than before.