The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is my favorite all-around travel credit card. There may be other cards that offer better benefits for a specific purpose, but for the average person who wants to simplify their wallet, I think the Sapphire Preferred is a great choice. Its key benefits are (1) points you can transfer to a variety of loyalty programs when and if you need them and (2) a flexible 2X bonus on points earned for travel and dining and restaurants.
Now you can sign up for the Sapphire Preferred and receive 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
One of the problems with travel loyalty programs is that your points or miles are often stuck with the program where you earn them. Sometimes you can transfer from a hotel to an airline (it’s much more rare to do the reverse), but you definitely can’t transfer between airlines or between hotels. That means once you start accumulating your miles with one program, you have to hope you’ll find award space with that same program.
By earning Ultimate Rewards points with a flexible card like the Sapphire Preferred, you can keep all your points in one place, search a variety of partners for award space, and then transfer the points. Say you find your outbound award space on United, your return award space on American, and there’s a Hyatt where you’re going. You can transfer some Ultimate Rewards to United MileagePlus, to British Airways Executive Club (one of American’s partners), and Hyatt Gold Passport to book the entire trip.
- British Airways Executive Club
- Korean Air SKYPASS
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Hyatt Gold Passport
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Rewards
- The Ritz-Carlton Rewards
You can even redeem Ultimate Rewards points like cash at 1.2 cents per point if there is a particular flight you want to book that doesn’t have award availability or which isn’t a partner. However, the award flights will generally offer more value. All transfers are 1:1, so as an example 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points are equivalent to 50,000 United MileagePlus miles, which I generally value closer to 1.7 cents each.
The bonus points earned for travel and dining makes the card an even better choice for frequent flyers. You don’t have to worry about if it’s a 3X bonus on flights or 2X on hotels or if you need to book with a specific website. Almost any travel expense — even parking meters — will qualify, and chances are you’ll be dining out during the trip. There are also no foreign transaction fees.
To earn more points faster, know that you can transfer the points earned from another Ultimate Rewards-affiliated credit card, such as the Chase Freedom. Or transfer points from a spouse. (Yes, a married couple can each apply for their own card and get two signup offers.)
The card does have a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year. However, another reason I keep this card has nothing to do with the rewards. I also like the customer service. Typically an agent will answer on the first ring and already knows who I am. There’s no annoying phone tree. Even my dad, who is skeptical of rewards cards, became a fan after an episode where he lost his wallet. Chase cancelled the card immediately and sent him a new one overnight. The entire call was just five minutes.