Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is Best for All-Purpose Travel in 2024

I’m a Texan, but I live in Colorado. Besides any planned vacations I take, I travel to the Lone Star State a few times a year to visit family and friends, which adds up to a lot of flying. I use multiple credit cards to help me cover the cost of these trips, but the stalwart Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is easily the most important card in my wallet.

Compared with other cards in its class, this $95-annual-fee card might not seem that flashy. It won’t help you skip the line at airport security or sip a cocktail in a lounge before your flight. But even though it won’t do much to make you feel fancy at the airport, its suite of perks can help you save significant money on trips and help you cover any mishaps you might encounter along the way.

Travel protections can be extremely valuable

First things first: if you’re a traveler, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card could be worth getting just for the travel protections alone. You’ll get:

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  • Primary rental car insurance.

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance.

The card’s cancellation and delay coverage can come in handy if your flight is significantly delayed or the airline loses your luggage.

But the real star for me is primary rental car insurance. After a single wreck in a rental car caused my car insurance to spike for several years, I’m a big believer in having separate rental car coverage apart from my personal car insurance. But the cost of the protections rental car companies offer can add up quickly.

Meanwhile, the insurance you’ll get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is free and automatically covers your rental car, assuming you use the card to pay for the full amount and decline the rental company’s insurance. Say you rent a car with an insurance fee of $35 a day. It would take just three days to completely cover the cost of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s annual fee.

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, making it a good companion for international travel.

Solid rewards rates help me rack up points

Because I live a plane ride away from family, I like to keep a healthy stash of credit card rewards on hand. And the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives me multiple ways to top up my reward balance. It earns:

  • 5 points per $1 spent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 3 points per $1 spent on dining, select streaming services and online grocery purchases. 

  • 2 points per $1 spent on all other travel.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.

Shop Through Chase

Besides these regular rewards, cardholders also have access to Shop Through Chase, a shopping portal that offers elevated rewards on certain online merchants. These points are stacked with rewards you’d already earn. For example, as of January 2024, Safeway.com earns 2 points per dollar through Shop Through Chase. Since online grocery purchases already earn 3 points per dollar, you’d earn a total of 5 points per dollar.

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Cardholders also receive a 10% point bonus each cardholder anniversary. So if you spent $10,000 per year, you’d earn an additional 1,000 points.

Combine rewards with other Chase cards

If you prefer to keep only one card in your wallet, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great one-and-done option. But you can also combine your rewards with those from other cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Chase Freedom Flex
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I pair my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card with the Chase Freedom Flex℠, which earns 5% back on rotating categories (on up to $1,500 each quarter). I usually earn more rewards on my Flex than my Preferred, so this option allows me to maximize my earnings while still taking advantage of the Preferred’s superior redemption options.

How redeeming points helped me celebrate the World Series

Growing up, I spent my summers watching Texas Rangers games with my family. When we weren’t at the game, we watched it on TV or listened on the radio. Now that I’m living out of state, I usually listen to the radio broadcast alone in my Colorado apartment. But when the Rangers clinched a 2023 playoff spot, I knew if they made it to the World Series I needed to at least watch with my family if I couldn’t make it to the games.

I already had a planned trip to Texas for a wedding the week after the World Series. But, call it baseball superstition or maybe heartbreak from loving a team that hadn’t ever won a championship, I couldn’t bring myself to move my flight up until I knew my team was headed to the Fall Classic.

But last-minute ticket prices are not so great for my wallet. Thankfully, I was able to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, not only to be in Texas during the World Series, but also to take a trip to Florida with my sister a few weeks earlier to watch our team play in the Wild Card round.

Transferring my points helped me get outsize value

My favorite way to redeem rewards is to transfer them to one of Chase’s travel partners, which includes multiple airline and hotel loyalty programs. Rewards transfer at a 1:1 ratio, and smart redemptions can often give you more value for your points.

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® to a number of U.S.-based airlines, including United, JetBlue and Southwest, plus a number of U.S.-based hotels. But I normally get the most value out of the issuers’ international airlines — even for domestic travel. My usual go-to’s are British Airways and Air Canada, because you can often use rewards to book flights for fewer miles on alliance partners American Airlines and United Airlines, respectively.

It’s these transfers that helped my sister and me book multiple last-minute flights to watch the Rangers play. Between our trip to Florida and my additional flight to Texas, we took a total of five last-minute flights within a month. We were able to snag great redemption rates by transferring Chase points on three of them:

  • My sister’s flight from Tampa to Dallas: 9,000 British Airways Avios rewards.

  • My flight from Tampa to Denver: 12,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles.

  • My flight from Denver to Dallas: 10,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles.

For reference: Booking last-minute flights with miles on United would generally cost me around 15,000 miles one-way. (Note that each airline’s program charges varying taxes and fees in addition to the required miles.)

Scoring great deals by transferring points isn’t always a guarantee. My Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card couldn’t, for instance, conjure up an affordable flight to Phoenix that would have let me watch my team win the World Series in person. But it did help me make it home in time to catch the Rangers’ victory from the couch with my family and pizza, without blowing my budget.

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