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® Card 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 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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® Card
- 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:
|Features||Chase Sapphire Preferred®||Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card|
|Sign-up bonus||60,000 points||60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.|
|Credits||$50 hotel credit||$300 travel credit|
|Rewards||5x 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 bonus||1.25x||1.50x|
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:
- 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.
- Downgrade your Chase Sapphire Preferred® to a non-Sapphire card (Chase Freedom Flex℠, 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.:
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
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.
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