Special Bonus Sign Up Annoucement - Since it's introduction in 20091, this Card has become arguably the best rewards card in the market right now (rivaling Starwood and Amex Premier Rewards Gold). At this moment, they are offering 40,000 bonus when you spend $3,000 within the first three months. This is the best sign up bonus deal available in the market today. We are urging our readers to take advantage of this because there are lots of things you can do with the 40,000 bonus points.
OK - now let's get back to our review.
Summary - The "Preferred" version of this card is an upgrade over the regular no annual fee version. It comes with a $95 annual fee. So what extra features doees the upgrade bring? Let's now investigate this card in greater detail.
Reward Program - OK - let's get straight to the reward program. The reward program is based on Chase own Ultimate Rewards program. This is also the program of Chase's other rewards card like the regular Sapphire Card, Chase Freedom and the Ultimate Ink Rewards Card. But there are a few differences that sets this card apart from the rest of the pack.
Earning Points - Like most reward programs, cardholders will earn one point for every dollar that they spend on the card. You will earn double points earned on airfare, hotel accommodations booked through Ultimate Rewards online travel site and also for dining2. Points never expire.
Incentive For Booking Your Travel With Chase Ultimate Rewards - One of the great features about the Chase Ultimate Rewards is that there are a few ways you can use your points to redeem for travel rewards. For example, you can book your own flights with whoever you want and then claim the points as statement credits. You can also use the Chase online travel portal. To encourage you to use it, Chase not only gives you double points (as mentioned above), but also gives you 25% more value for your points. What does this mean?
As an example, 40,000 points can be redeemed for travel worth $500, which would usually cost 50,000 points. For most reward programs, 50,000 points gets you $500 worth in travel expenses.
Transfer points To Frequent Flyer and Guest Programs - With this card (much like Membership Rewards and Starwood), you can also transfer points to frequent flyer and frequent guest partners (mostly for one to one ratio). Their airline partners are Continental and British Airways. Their hotel partners include Marriott, Priority Club and Hyatt. You can also transfer points to Amtrak.
7% Annual Point Dividends - Every year, cardholders can get to earn 7% extra points based on the points you have earned during the calendar year.
No Foreign Transaction Fee - This is perhaps one of the best features of this card, and that is that there is no foreign transaction fee. This feature will really appeal to those who travel abroad a lot.
Phones answered by real people - Another point that this card likes to emphasize is that when you call customer service, it will be picked up by a real person and you do not have to go through numerous telephone prompts!
When Chase introduced this card, I felt that it was a card that would compete with cards like the Amex Green and Gold Card, and also the Citi ThankYou Premier Card (formerly Citi PremierPass Card) and perhaps the Capital One Venture and Discover Escape Card. We will do some comparisons with these cards. But first, let's highlight the differences between this card and the regular Chase Sapphire Card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred(SM) Card vs Regular Chase Sapphire® Card - The "preferred version" offers a few features that the regular Sapphire Card does not. The first thing is that you can transfer points to their airline and hotel partners. Secondly, you get an extra 7% more points annually based on the points you earn with this card whereas the regular Sapphire Card does not offer this feature. Thirdly, there is no foreign transaction fee. Overall, I think the $95 annual fee is fully justified by the additional features.
vs Citi ThankYou Premier Card - Another card worth comparing with is the Citi ThankYou Premier Card, which has a higher annual fee at $125. The key feature of the ThankYou Premier Card is that not only can you earn points with the dollars you spend, you can earn points with the miles that you fly as well. These points can be redeemed with Citi's ThankYou Rewards online travel portal (which is powered by expedia.com). The other feature of this card is that you can get 15% discount of airline tickets when booked through their partner, Spirit Incentives. And you also get an annual complimentary domestic flight ticket.
Hence, there are some features which are unique to both cards, which makes this quite a difficult comparison to make. But one thing you should note is that Citi's online travel portal has stopped showing American Airlines flights. And SouthWest Airlines cannot be booked through it (whereas Chase can book both AA and SouthWest flights). The Citi ThankYou Premier Card charges a foreign transaction fee whereas the Sapphire Preferred does not. This card also has the edge in that you can earn double points when you book your flights through the Chase online travel portal and you get 25% more value for your points when used for travel expenses.
Overall, comparing these two cards is tough. But I would give the slight edge to Chase because it has no FX transaction fee, has a better online travel portal and allows you to earn more point on travel.
vs Amex Green Card - I feel that when Chase introduced this card, it was aiming directly at Amex consumer charge cards. The Amex Greem Card also has an annual fee of $95. But the Chase has neat features that the Rewards Green Card does not have. Like having no FX transaction fee, the ability to get 25% more points for travel and annual 7% dividend on the points you earn that year. But at this moment, the Membership Rewards Point has more airline partners.
In terms of features, this card is slightly better than Amex. But if you are choosing this card to transfer points to, then the determining factor will be their airline and hotel partners. Having said that, though Membership Rewards has more partners, many of the partners that Chase have are (or will be) unique to them. For example, Chase has Continental and BA as their airline partners. BA is not in Membership Rewards and Continental will no longer be part of MR after September 2011.
vs Capital One Venture - The Capital One Venture Card has an annual fee version that comes with a $59 annual fee. The key feature is that you can earn double miles for every dollar of purchase you make and that there is no transaction fee. Hence, both cards match each other in having no foreign transaction fee. The Venture Card allows you to redeem flights with their online travel portal or you can book your travel with anyone and claim your miles as a statement credit. The Venture Card has the advantage of letting you earn double points. But this Card has the 7% annual point dividend, double points for using their online travel portal and having 25% more value when you use your points for travel. But Chase also has the added advantage of allowing you to transfer points to their partners, something which Capital One does not have.
vs Discover Escape Card - The Discover Escape card is really similar to the Capital One Venture. The annual fee is $60. But Discover has a feature that no other card has. And that is you can earn 5% rebates when you shop with their online merchant partners. And they include Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity etc.
But since this card allows you to transfer points to miles of their partners and you also get 25% more value when you book your travel with them. Since they also charge no FX transaction fee, I think the Chase has the slight edge over the Discover Escape Card for those who travel abroad and also for those who are frequent flyer or guest members with their partners.
vs Blue Sky Preferred - The Blue Sky Preferred Card comes with a lower annual fee at $75. Like the Capital One Venture and Discover Escape Card, you book your travel with whoever you want and use your points to get statement credit. Because you only need 7500 points for $100 in travel value, the Blue Sky Preferred Card beats Chase slightly in terms of exchange value (but only very slightly). You also have a $100 allowance each year which you can use for things like baggage fees and in flight meals. But Chase has no transaction fee and allows you to transfer points into miles with their partners. Furthermore, you can earn double points when you book your travel with Chase (a feature that the Blue Sky Preferred does not have). So overall, I think that the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes out slightly ahead for folks who travel abroad and also for those who want to occasionally transfer points into miles.
How Does It Rank?
Pros - This card really has a lot of great features. There is no FX transaction fee. You get 25% more value when you use points for travel. You earn double points when you book your travels online with Chase. You can also transfer points to airline and hotel partners.
Cons - Annual fee (though it is waived for the first year).
Verdict - This is one of the better travel rewards card in the market today. It has a unique set of partners for you to transfer points to. And their partners are quite unique and many are exclusive to Chase. You can earn double miles when you book your travel online with Chase travel portal and you get 25% more value than other cards when you use points for travel. It also joins one of the few exclusive cards that do not charge any foreign transaction fees when you use the card overseas.
There are lots of travel rewards credit card out there (as you can see from the peer comparisons). Each has it's own unique features that will appeal to certain folks with different quirks. If you travel abroad and you want to occasionally transfer your points into your frequent flyer or guest program (assuming they are part of Chase), then this is an ideal travel credit card for you.
1. Newsroom: Chase Introduces First-Ever Proprietary Rewards Credit Card for Affluent Consumers
2. Chase Sapphire Preferred Announces Double Points For Purchases On Travel And Dining
3. Newsroom: Chase Adds United Mileage Plus As Travel Partner To Ultimate Rewards Program