The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card has high eligibility requirements, including a 700+ credit score. But if you check the boxes, you’re in for high rewards, generous benefits, and one helluva signup bonus.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is the Keanu Reeves of travel rewards cards; it’s aged well, remains incredibly generous, and hasn’t let its popularity go to its head.

So why is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® so popular, even among non-travelers?

Let’s dive into the uncanny popularity and eligibility requirements of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card.

What’s so special about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card?

Year after year, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card retains a loyal following for a combination of reasons:

A super generous sign-up bonus

At the moment, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is enticing new applicants with a crazy-high 60,000-point bonus once you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening.

And none of these “points are worth 0.6 cents when redeemed for cash” BS that other banks pull — points are worth a minimum of one cent apiece (or more if you redeem for travel).

Generous rewards and cash back

Here’s a quick and dirty summary of the Chase Sapphire Preferred®’s cash back:

  • 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3x back on dining, grocery stores, and select streaming services.
  • 2x on travel (airfare, hotels, taxis, and trains).
  • 1x back on everything else.
  • 10% account anniversary points boost.
  • $50 annual hotel credit.

Sure, some American Express cards manage to beat the Chase Sapphire Preferred® on rewards — but they also charge higher annual fees ($250+ versus $95).

Beaucoup travel benefits and insurance

In addition to travel-centric rewards, Chase bundles in generous travel insurance that under the right (or wrong) circumstances could save you $10,000 or more:

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance.
  • Trip delay reimbursement.
  • Travel accident insurance.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement.
  • Baggage delay insurance.
  • Travel and emergency assistance.

Related: Best credit cards for travel insurance

The rock-solid Chase app and customer service

To round out the Chase Sapphire Preferred®’s offerings, you get access to a solid, stable app and a responsive, professional customer support team. Having reviewed several Chase cards, I’ve never had to wait longer than 10 minutes to speak to a Chase rep.

Read more: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review: the travel rewards credit card that changed the game

Neato, so what are the eligibility requirements?

Very Good to Excellent credit (700+)

You’ll want to have a credit score in the 700s for a chance at the Chase Sapphire Preferred®.

FYI you can always check your score for free over at Credit Karma. If you’re a few points shy, let us help you bump your numbers before applying.

You should never apply for a credit card without knowing for sure that you meet the credit requirements, since a rejection can needlessly ding your credit with a hard pull.

No existing Sapphire account

Chase actually has three cards that sound like expensive, top-shelf booze, and they only let you hold one at a time:

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred®.
  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
  • The Chase Sapphire (no longer accepting new applications).

For the curious, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is basically the Preferred® on steroids. Here’s a quick comparison chart:

FeaturesChase Sapphire Preferred®Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Annual fee$95$550
Sign-up bonus60,000 points80,000 points
Credits$50 hotel credit$300 travel credit
Rewards5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®;
3x on dining, groceries, streaming;
2x on travel;
1x on all other purchases.
10x on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®;
5x on flights; 3x on travel and dining;
1x on all other purchases.
Chase Ultimate Rewards® redemption bonus1.25x1.50x

Read more: Chase Sapphire Preferred® vs Reserve® Card: Which one is right for you?

You haven’t received a sign-up bonus from a Sapphire card within the last 48 months

Technically this isn’t a requirement to get the card, but you won’t get the 60k bonus if you already got one from a Sapphire-family card within the last four years.

Hang on; does that mean if you’ve had a Sapphire card for more than four years, you can cancel it, reapply, and score $800?

Can I cancel and reapply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® just to get the sign-up bonus?

While you can theoretically get the 60,000-point sign-up bonus again on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® after having waited 48+ months since the last time you got it and closing your card, I’d be cautious of trying to game the system.

Also, canceling your first Chase Sapphire Preferred® card will void your points, so you’ll want to either:

  1. Convert them to cash first, redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program or transfer them to one of Chase’s 14 airline and hotel partners.
  2. Downgrade your Chase Sapphire Preferred® to a non-Sapphire card (Chase Freedom FlexSM, Chase Freedom Unlimited®) to keep your points.

Just remember, the act of canceling a line of credit and applying for a new one are both actions that can drop your credit score by several points. So be sure to carefully weigh whether the sign-up bonus is worth it.

If you’re applying for a big loan within the next three months (mortgage, auto loan, student loan refinancing), then I’d say it’s probably not worth the risk.

Oh, and don’t forget Chase’s funky 5/24 rule…

Lastly, current and future Chase customers should all know about the infamous Chase 5/24 rule.

In short, Chase will reject any applicant who has already applied for five new credit cards from any card company within the last 24 months.

So if the Chase Sapphire Preferred® is your sixth card in two years, best to wait a while before you get auto-rejected and suffer a needless hard pull of your credit.

How can you maximize your 60k sign-up bonus?

You can always cash out your 60k sign-up bonus for $600, but consider this: those points are worth $750, when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Chase Ultimate Rewards® is like a Kayak.com clone offering flights, hotels, cars, cruises, and “activities,” which include museums, hikes, tours, etc.:

Source: Chase Ultimate Rewards®, screengrab by Chris Butsch

 

Nobody would blame you if you cashed out your sign-up bonus — especially considering you can invest it for better than 1.25x returns.

But if you do travel often, you might want to keep your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points in the bank to subsidize your next trip.

Read more: The travel hacker’s secret weapon: how to fly free (and faster) with Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Should you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® if you qualify?

As slick as it is, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® isn’t for everyone. Here’s who I think would benefit most — and conversely, who can safely take a pass:

You should get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® if:

If you’re looking for a travel rewards card and you’re eligible, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® is our top pick among competitors.

Even if you don’t intend on doing much traveling, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® would make an excellent backup credit card with its $600 sign-up bonus and comparatively low annual fee ($95).

You should get a different card if:

If you fall just shy of the Chase Sapphire Preferred®’s credit requirements, you might want to start with one of Chase’s more mainstream, no-fee cards like the Chase Freedom FlexSM or the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Those cards have a looser credit requirement (~680+) and still manage to offer nice sign-up bonuses and rewards. And if you’re earlier on in your credit-building journey, check out our picks for the best credit cards for building credit from scratch.

The bottom line

Apply Now On the Secure Website

Like Keanu Reeves, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card isn’t for everyone (just ask my girlfriend, who I dragged to see “John Wick 3”).

But if you’re eligible, can afford a minor ding on your credit score,  and in the market for a travel rewards credit card, it’s a superb choice.

Now, snag that 60,000-point sign-up bonus before it’s gone for good.

Featured image: Atstock Productions/Shutterstock.com

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About the author

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Chris helps people under 30 prosper - both financially and emotionally. In addition to publishing personal finance advice, Chris speaks on the topics of positive psychology and leadership. For speaking inquiries, check out his CAMPUSPEAK page, connect with him on Instagram, or watch his TEDx talk.