So you got yourself a Chase Sapphire Preferred®, one of the best travel rewards cards ever. Nice work!
The envelope containing your slick metal card also contained a bunch of paperwork and pamphlets — your guide to benefits, terms and conditions, and such.
It’s helpful stuff, but wouldn’t it be easier if someone consolidated all that info into “do these five things to maximize your points?”
Speaking as a credit card nerd and a fellow Sapphire Preferred cardholder, here are five things you should do with your shiny new Chase Sapphire Preferred® card right now.
1. Set it as your default payment method in lots of places
Ever had that moment when you accidentally used the wrong card, needlessly missing out on 3x points or cash back?
For a split second you consider asking the merchant to reverse the transaction so you can use the “right” card — but you stop yourself, because you realize that you shouldn’t burden others with your first-world problems.
Well, let’s avoid all that awkwardness — and ensure you get your sweet, sweet points — by setting your shiny new Chase Sapphire Preferred® card as your default payment method in a few key places, like:
If you have an account with Hertz, Enterprise, or any of the other major rental car chains, you’ll definitely want to set your Chase Sapphire Preferred® card as your default payment method. For two reasons:
- You’ll get 2x points back.
- You’ll get a free auto collision damage liability waiver through Chase, which covers theft and damage to your rental and can save you ~$20 per day, versus getting it from the rental car company.
Sadly, neither bonus applies to cars rented through Turo.
Airlines and hotels
In a similar vein, you’ll want to set your Chase Sapphire Preferred® as your default payment method on websites like Delta.com, Southwest.com, Marriott.com, etc.
Again, it’s for two very important reasons:
- You’ll score 2x points back (as long as you book through the airline or hotel directly).
- You’ll get tons of free trip insurance automatically applied to your trip, including:
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance.
- Trip delay reimbursement.
- Travel accident insurance.
- Lost luggage reimbursement.
- Baggage delay insurance.
- Travel and emergency assistance.
That trip insurance is like a fire extinguisher — when you need it, you’ll be really glad you had it.
Restaurant and dining apps
If you’re like me, you have apps for every major dining chain near your place. Chili’s, Popeyes, the whole gamut of calorie-heavy temptation.
Now, it’ll be tedious, but swapping your default payment method in each dining app to your new Chase Sapphire Preferred® will save you 3x back on everything for as long as you have the card. As a fellow foodie, lemme tell ya — those 3x points add up quickly.
Your Chase Sapphire Preferred® will score you 3x points on the following subscriptions (the list changes often, so check here for the most up-to-date list).
- Apple Music.
- Apple TV.
- Fubo TV.
- HBO Max.
- YouTube Premium.
- YouTube TV.
And considering Gen Zs spend an average $377 per month on streaming services, 3x back for the year is $135.72, or $169.65 when applied to travel. That’s a free flight, just for switching your default payment method.
Online groceries and meal kit delivery
If you like ordering your groceries online, your Chase Sapphire Preferred® will net you 3x points on those purchases, so swap your default payment method accordingly.
Target, Walmart, and Costco/BJs sadly don’t qualify — but they do often appear in the Chase Freedom FlexSM’s rotating 5x rewards categories, so keep your eyes peeled if you have one.
Now, interestingly, the 3x online grocery category also includes meal kit delivery, but doesn’t specify which. So I called and they said HelloFresh, Blue Apron, and RealEats should all qualify.
Finally, your Chase Sapphire Preferred® comes with $60 back on Peloton subscriptions and 5x back on equipment purchases through June 2022.
I don’t think either incentive should sway you to buy a $1,200 stationary bike with a $39 monthly subscription attached, but if you already have a Peloton and love it, then save yourself $60 by swapping payment to your CSP.
Next, you might consider adding an authorized user to your Chase Sapphire Preferred® account.
Someone you frequently travel with — like a spouse or partner — would be a great pick. If they book travel using your CSP, you’ll rack up points while they build their credit score.
Keep in mind, though, that you’re ultimately responsible for all of the charges they put on the card.
Read more: Authorized cardholders: the pros and cons
3. Browse and tinker with Chase Ultimate Rewards® Travel
What’s better than 2x on travel?
How about 5x?
That’s why all new Chase Sapphire Preferred® cardholders should familiarize themselves with the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal, which is like Chase’s own Kayak.com.
There are two ways you can subsidize your travel bookings through Chase Ultimate Rewards®:
- Pay using Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for a 1.25x multiplier (so your 80k sign-up bonus is worth $1,000 in travel).
- Or book using your Chase Sapphire Preferred®, and get 5x points back.
So although we updated your payment method on Delta.com earlier to ensure you got at least 2x on bookings, you’ll definitely want to try finding a flight through Chase Ultimate Rewards® first to get 5x.
4. Set a (sensible) spending plan to score your $800 bonus
If you’re like me, a big motivator for getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred® was that amazing 80k-point sign-up bonus worth $800 cash.
That’s simply unheard of for a card that costs just $95 per year. By comparison, The Platinum Card by American Express has a “mere” $750 sign-up bonus with a $695 annual fee.
Read more: Are Amex cards worth it?
Anyways, let’s talk about how to responsibly spend $4,000 within the next 90 days.
- How much of your monthly budget can you put on your Chase Sapphire Preferred® for the next three months? If you don’t already track your monthly spending, head to your most recent account statement for your existing primary card. How many of those expenses can you charge to your CSP, at least temporarily, to trigger the bonus?
- If you don’t have $1,333 in monthly expenses that you can move to your CSP, ask yourself: how short will I be? What planned annual or one-time expense can I put on the card?
Some expenses that can help you “cross the line,” so to speak, are:
- Booking travel well in advance.
- Your six-month auto insurance premium.
- Pet insurance premiums.
- Your annual non-profit donations.
- Furniture and/or minor home improvements.
- All of the above from your authorized user.
If all else fails and you’re $128 short of $4,000 worth of spending on day 85, consider stocking up on non-perishables via an online grocery purchase.
Now, it’s important to remember not to overspend just to trigger the bonus. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® has a 18.99% - 25.99% Variable APR that kicks in the second you miss a payment, so you’ll need to tread carefully.
That being said, if you were hoping to finance a big purchase to trigger the bonus, one option is to use My Chase Plan, which lets you break up card purchases of $100 or more into fixed monthly payments at 0% APR.
5. Set a calendar reminder for next year, before the annual fee hits
The last little bit of housekeeping you’ll want to consider upon receipt of your Chase Sapphire Preferred® is to set a calendar reminder just before the $95 annual fee hits your account.
That way, in 51 weeks you can reflect upon your account statements and points balance (minus the sign-up bonus) and determine whether the card is worth keeping for another year.
Because you might consider switching to a different card with another sign-up bonus.
But before canceling/switching, remember that:
- Canceling a card voids your points, so you’ll want to cash those in first.
- Canceling a line of credit can hurt your credit score, but converting your Chase Sapphire Preferred® to a different Chase card can avoid that.
- Applying for a new card (not converting) will always involve a hard pull of your credit — and due to Chase’s infamous 5/24 rule, you can’t apply for a new Chase card if you’ve already applied for five cards within 24 months.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card can be immensely rewarding if wielded correctly.
By filing your CSP as your default payment with the right merchants, familiarizing yourself with Chase Ultimate Rewards®’ travel portal, and setting a safe spending plan to score the $800 sign-up bonus, you’ll be using your Chase Sapphire Preferred® to its full potential.
Featured image: Jeramey Lende/Shutterstock.com
What We Like:
A monster of an up-front bonus; 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
Points are worth 25% more when you redeem travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®