I hold my Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) card near and dear. In fact, it was the first card I applied for when I started collecting points and miles. It helped me earn my first 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points and has literally saved me thousands of dollars since. I do plan on applying for the new Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) in the future, but there are plenty of reasons the CSP is all the travel card one would will ever need.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Benefits
The CSP has much to offer:
- 2x points on travel and dining, 1x points on everything else
- Very generous travel and dining category
- No foreign transaction fee
- Visa Signature benefits
- Primary Rental car coverage
- Sleek, all metal design
- Card number on back of card
- 25 percent more in travel redemption
- Travel and purchase coverage
The Chase Sapphire Preferred’s travel category covers anything from airfare to parking fees and public transportation and the dining category even covers purchases made at vending machines. If you’re on the move, chances are you’re able to earn 2x points with this card. Points then yield an extra 25 percent when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. That means, the current 50,000 point sign up bonus is worth $625 in travel, and that’s just through the UR portal. Chase UR has 7 airline and 4 hotel partners, anyone of which potentially increasing the value of each point to 2+ cents. The 7 airline partner list includes at least one airline from each of the 3 major airline alliances; Star Alliance, SkyTeam and OneWorld. That means the destinations and possibilities are virtually endless.
Another very lucrative and also practical feature is the Primary Rental Car Coverage. If you use this card for a rental car transaction, the rental car itself is fully covered. Most major credit cards only offer secondary coverage, which is designed to “fill coverage gaps” from your personal auto insurance, such as loss of usage, or even pay the deductible. But primary coverage ensures you only need your personal insurance if another vehicle or property is involved in the accident and you’re at fault. This feature enables you to skip the collision damage waiver at the counter.
I personally find the fact that the card number is on the back of the card a very simple, but effective, security feature. It makes it much harder for the person behind you in line to see your card number. The all metal design is more of a vanity feature, without much practical use, but it does look and feel pretty nice. I also appreciate the fact that this card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, especially because the travel and dining category extends beyond our borders, unlike that of certain Amex cards.
Lastly, this card does come with a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year, to give you a chance to try it out. I’m no big fan of credit card churning, and I do believe the card easily pays for itself, when used as intended. For those that don’t know what credit card churning is, it’s applying for a card, collecting the sign up bonus, then cancelling the account before the annual fee is due, moving on to the next and repeating the process over and over, thus constantly avoiding annual fees and only collecting the sign up bonus. It is for this reason that credit card companies impose deeper restrictions, such as Chase’s infamous 5/24 rule, and cut benefits. I’m a big fan of earning and collecting points, but abusing benefits hurts us consumers in the end. Hence the term: “That’s why we can’t have anything nice”.
Unfortunately, just as with the Sapphire Reserve, there is no way for military members to get around paying that annual fee, as Chase is “by the book” with SCRA benefits. But, like I said, this card is well worth the annual fee and pays for itself already after the first car rental and skipping the collision damage waiver offered by the rental car company, never even mind the value of the points you’ll earn.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is an excellent card with amazing benefits, even if the sign up bonus has recently been reduced to 50,000 points (in-branch applications offer 100,000 points until 12 March 2017). It has a $450 annual fee and $75 for each authorized user, but offers everything the CSP has to offer plus:
- 3x points on travel and dining
- $300 annual travel credit
- Priority Pass lounge access
- Global Entry fee refund
- 50 percent more point value,
- an even more generous primary rental car coverage
- Visa Infinite benefits
It’s been the most anticipated new credit card in 2016 and rightfully so. One may argue that it has the potential to cannibalize its older sibling, the CSP, but I’m not yet convinced.
Which one should I get?
For the frequent traveler, the Sapphire Reserve is difficult not to justify. It offers unparalleled earning potential, lounge access and an unheard of annual travel credit. The Sapphire Preferred, on the other hand, may be for you if you:
- Cannot immediately shell out the $450 annual fee; it is not waived the first year
- Can’t take full advantage of the $300 travel credit
- Never rent high dollar vehicles
- Already have Priority Pass access and Global Entry refund through another card
- Are new to collecting credit card points or are “testing the waters”
- Have a Good, instead of an Excellent, credit score
- Cannot justify $75 for authorized users
- Aren’t sure if you’ll accrue enough points in the bonus spending categories
Any one of these points is potentially enough to make the Chase Sapphire Reserve difficult to justify for yourself and your family. The only way to know for sure is to sit down and crunch some numbers, especially because each family and financial situation is unique. I personally had to do some number crunching because I already have the Amex Platinum, which offers many of the same benefits as the CSR. Since I’m on active duty, I do not pay an annual fee for any of my Amex cards, which made the math especially tricky. In the end it came down to earning potential and point value for me.
I’m still not sure…
While the 100,000 point CSR sign up bonus offer is now all but history, both cards still have a combined sign up offer of 100,000 points, at 50,000 points each. If you’re unsure that you can truly benefit from the CSR, get the CSP first. Test it out and, after 10 – 11 months, determine your YTD bonus category point accumulation (very easy to do on the Ultimate Rewards website). Then add 50 percent to that number to determine what you would’ve earned with the CSR instead. If you like what you see and the additional points justify the annual fee, go for it and apply for the CSR. Just make sure to do it before the $95 annual fee of the CSP becomes due and then close that account immediately upon approval for the CSR. I do not consider this process churning, because you’ll have used one card’s introductory period as intended and still have ended up paying the annual fee for a card you decided upon instead.
There is nothing wrong with starting small. We all did it and it helped us gain experience without risking too much or even taking a financial hit. This month marks my one year anniversary of actively collecting points and miles and while I have learned, earned and traveled so much these past 12 months, there is still much for me to learn. Having had the Sapphire Preferred for a year now has helped me understand my personal spending habit, which was instrumental in deciding that I will apply for the CSR as soon as I am below 5/24.
Do you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred? What do you think about it and which features do you value most? Anything I may have missed? Leave your Comments below and make sure to follow us on social media.