The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a well-respected credit card that’s placed Chase at the forefront of travel-centric credit cards. It competes with a number of luxury annual fee credit cards in the sub-$250 range, from American Express Gold Card and Luxury Card Mastercard® Titanium Card™ to individual airline and hotel credit cards such as the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire and The World of Hyatt. It’s a more affordable version of Chase’s ultra-luxury Reserve credit card that still offers many of the Reserve’s frills. Here, we look at some of the card’s competitive advantages and disadvantages.
Earnings and burning points
The Chase Sapphire Preferred typically offers a great bonus to sweeten the sign-up deal to help defray the annual fee of $95. Currently, the standard public offer for Chase Sapphire Preferred is a generous 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. That’s impressive!
Cardholders earn double miles on every dollar spent on travel and dining, which includes airfare, hotels, travel agencies, taxis/ride-shares, and restaurants (domestic and international). These can add up quickly. On the flip side, all other purchases are one point per dollar spent, which is weak considering other cards can give you twice that.
On the redemption side, this isn’t a card you’ll want to use if you like cash back. Ultimate Rewards points are redeemed for cash back at a rate of 1%. On a positive note, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers an excellent array of choices for redeeming Ultimate Rewards® points. Cardmembers can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to 13 different frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs (though some of these programs like United are becoming worthless). Points for unrestricted award travel are redeemed at 1.25 % (a number far better than, say, Amex Gold, but lower than the Luxury Card Mastercard Titanium Card’s 2%).
Customer service and concierge service
Cardmember customer service is a major downfall of the Chase Sapphire Preferred (and the Reserve, for that matter). Unlike many cards that have added chat services via Web and mobile apps, Chase requires an old-fashioned phone call or online message. As for calls, representatives are available 24/7 by phone but not always immediately. For example, on a recent trip to China, a payment would not go through and we had to hang up and call several times to reach a representative to clear up the situation.
In using the online message center, disputes have been handled very poorly. On four separate occasions of filing valid online charge disputes, phone calls were received from call centers with less than helpful representatives (one was downright aggressive). In some cases, we were not able to clear the charges even though the services paid for hadn’t been provided. Complaints did not get us anywhere.
The customer service situation improves, thankfully, with Visa Infinite® Concierge Service, available to Chase Sapphire Preferred cardmembers (and all other Visa Infinite cards) via telephone or email. In theory, this concierge service helps secure tables at popular restaurants and seats to sold-out events, and helps fulfill special requests. Though we weren’t blown away by the responses to our requests, the outcomes were solid.
Implicit travel insurances
The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a great suite of implicit insurances on travel purchases. Most cardholders aren’t even aware of these travel benefits, but they’ll help you travel with peace of mind, knowing you are covered in many situations.
To start, the card does not offer any Medevac insurance policy like sister credit card Chase Sapphire Reserve. But it does provide an excellent trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance policy, the best auto collision waiver for rental cars in the credit card industry, and a superb worldwide travel accident insurance policy.
The card’s implicit trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance policies compensate loss from such issues as “financial insolvency of the Cardholder’s travel agency, tour operator, or travel supplier” up to $10,000 per trip and loss from “severe weather, which prevents a reasonable and prudent person from beginning or continuing on a Covered Trip” up to $10,000 per trip. Meaning, if your airline goes bankrupt (which seems to happen more often than we’d like) or if a hurricane strikes, you are usually covered.
As for the auto rental collision damage waiver benefit (Auto Rental CDW), coverage is primary within and outside the United States—most other credit cards provide only secondary coverage or restrictions with primary coverage. The amount covered is up to the actual cash value of the rental car. (Note: Previously this primary coverage was exclusive to Reserve cardholders.) The coverage period is 31 consecutive days or less within or outside country of residence.
Moreover, when charging the entirety or a portion of a common carrier fare to the Chase Sapphire Preferred and/or use Ultimate Rewards points or reward points accumulated through Chase with associated frequent flyer programs to book travel, expect automatic coverage for travel accident insurance. This insurance includes common carrier insurance as well as Chase’s 24-Hour Travel Accident Insurance, which combined cover losses for the full duration of a trip up to 30 days. The common carrier insurance payout is up to $500,000. The 24-Hour Travel Accident Insurance policy is also unique in the industry in covering accidental loss of life, limb, sight, speech, and/or hearing for the full duration of a trip (not just the flight or common carrier trip). This payout is up to $100,000.
Finally, when charging a trip’s entire common carrier fare to Chase Sapphire Preferred, expect automatic coverage of lost luggage protection up to $3,000 for each covered person for eligible items, excluding high-risk items, and $500 for high-risk items like jewelry, cameras, and other electronics.
Other travel benefits
The Chase Sapphire Preferred does NOT provide complimentary membership to the Priority Pass™ Select lounge network, which isn’t uncommon for a $95 per year credit card (though there are some that do like the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire).
Cardmembers do have access to The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection program, which grants perks at over 900 hotels and resorts around the world. Amenities may include room upgrades, late check-out, and complimentary food and beverage. However, this program is not exclusive to Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders; it is open to all of Chase’s Infinite cardholders and gives no extra perks for being a Preferred cardmember.
Surprisingly, Chase Sapphire Preferred—or any Chase card for that matter—does not offer price protection or return protection. Both of these shopping benefits were eliminated in 2018. Price protection is an insurance that covers price drops, insomuch that cardholders can be reimbursed the difference in price on most products if recorded at a lower price in a printed advertisement at any retail store or nonauction Internet advertisement. Return protection reimburses cardholders for the purchases within 90 days of purchase in cases when the merchant would not accept the return.
One shopping benefit that remains is purchase protection. This is insurance that covers specific purchased items if they are lost, stolen, or accidentally damaged within a specified period after the date of purchase. Chase Sapphire Preferred’s purchase protection is an industry standard: up to $500 per claim and $50,000 annually for 120 days after purchase.
Another shopping benefit is extended warranty protection. When charging a purchase to the Chase Sapphire Preferred or using Ultimate Rewards points, cardholders are automatically entitled to the extended warranty protection, which adds one year on eligible manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less. There are no extra years provided on extended in-store warranties or service plans. (Other cards have better extended warranty protection plans with two extra years on both manufacturer’s and extended in-store warranties.) From personal experience, extended warranty protection is our favorite shopping benefit as Macs, IPhones, and other electronics always seem to bite the dust around years three or four. Thankfully, we never buy these products on the Chase Sapphire Preferred!
Who should get the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is great for those who want a solid card without a huge annual fee. It’s also great for those who travel and dine out frequently—double points add up fast. It’s ideal for travelers who typically buy travel insurance, as the card’s implicit insurances can save thousands per year. Plus, redeeming points for free travel offerings seems endless with this card, especially given 13 different hotel and airline partners for points transfers.
On the flip side, if you like great customer service, buy lots of electronics, or prefer to redeem your hard-earned points for cash back, this is not the card for you.