5 reasons the decade-old Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a powerhouse within the increasingly competitive credit card space

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The Points Guy

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the all-around best rewards credit cards available, when taking everything into account - annual fee, sign-up bonus, rewards earning, ways to redeem rewards, travel perks and protections, and more.

The Sapphire Preferred was the singular must-have card before the Chase Sapphire Reserve launched in 2016, and is still a powerful contender for those who don't want to front the $450 annual fee for the "CSR."Advertisement

The credit card rewards space has gotten more and more competitive over the past few years, but here's why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a powerhouse.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the credit card rewards and benefits that make this card a great option, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.

When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.

1. You can get 60,000 points when you sign up

In early 2019, Chase increased the sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Preferred - the first time it's raised the card's bonus since 2015. Now, when you open a new card, you can earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

The value of the sign-up bonus depends on how you choose to use those points, but based on subjective valuations by travel website The Points Guy (a Business Insider e-commerce partner), 60,000 points is worth about $1,200. While the points can be redeemed for $600 of cash or $750 of travel booked through Chase, you can get a significantly higher value when you transfer them to an airline frequent flyer partner - hence The Points Guy's higher valuation.This bonus is actually higher than the Chase Sapphire Reserve's, which only offers 50,000 points for the same spending requirement.Advertisement

Because of that, a smart move for someone just getting into credit card rewards would be to open the Sapphire Preferred, and then, if they decide the Sapphire Reserve would be a better fit, convert the card after the first year.

Converting, or product-changing, is easy: a simple call to the number on the back of the card should be all you need.

Read more: After months of contemplation, I finally upgraded to the Chase Sapphire Reserve with a 10-minute phone call.Advertisement

2. You'll earn double points on every travel and dining purchase

The Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on all travel and all dining, and both categories are defined incredibly broadly. "Travel" includes everything from subways, taxis, parking, and tolls to hotels and airfare, and dining including bars, restaurants, delivery services like Seamless and Grubhub, and more.

The card has no foreign transaction fees, and the card offers the travel and dining bonus on purchases made outside of the US, too.

You'll earn even more points with the Sapphire Reserve, which offers 3x points in the same categories, which brings us to the next benefit...Advertisement

3. It has a low annual fee for such a high-earning rewards card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has an annual fee of $95. That puts it right in the "mid-tier" range, despite its high-earning rewards structure. While it has an annual fee, it's under $100, and the card still offers lucrative rewards and premium benefits.

For comparison, the Sapphire Reserve's fee is $450. Although the rewards and benefits more than make up for that, you'd still need to have the liquid cash available to pay the fee up front, then get the value back later.

4. There are a ton of redemption options when it's time to use your points

Chase offers a few valuable ways to use your points - you can read our full guide here.Advertisement

One option is to redeem them for cash or gift cards at a rate of 1¢ per point. That means that your 60,000-point sign-up bonus would be worth $600.

The next option is to use points to book travel through Chase. When you do that, you'll get a 25% bonus in value - points will be worth 1.25¢ each, so that 60,000 points would be worth $750.The best option - the one that gets the most value - is to transfer them to one of Chase's 13 frequent flyer and hotel loyalty partners.Advertisement

While that last method can get complicated, it can easily be worth it; that's how I've booked flights in international first class for as few as 62,500 points.

5. The card comes with a suite of useful travel benefits and protections.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a handful of excellent travel benefits, including primary rental car insurance, trip and baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation/interruption coverage, and more. These benefits can save you hundreds of dollars when something goes wrong on a trip - or every time you rent a car, since you can decline the rental company's collision damage waiver.

Read more: Having primary rental car insurance can save you time, money, and stress - here are the top credit cards that offer it.Advertisement

The bottom line

Combine normal points earning with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months, and you'll be able to build a hefty balance of points quickly - especially if you and a partner use "two-player mode."

For example, to earn the points we needed for our first-class Japan flights, I opened a Sapphire Preferred. Between the sign-up bonus, our normal spending, and a few reimbursable travel expenses for work trips - plus a handful of frequent flyer miles we already had - we had enough miles for the flights. We even saw our credit scores increase, since the new accounts added to our credit history.

There are a few different ways to use your Chase points - and tricks to get the most value - but no matter how you plan to redeem them, there's no doubt that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a great value.Advertisement

Click here to learn more about the Sapphire Preferred.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.