Looking for a card with GREAT travel benefits, low annual fee and the flexibility to transfer to multiple loyalty programs, including Southwest Airlines? You’ll find it in my very favorite Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.
This card provides travel lovers immediate benefits from the time you’re approved with a high sign-on bonus. It’s a fantastic card if you want to travel free, because the flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards points that it earns can be quickly transferred to many different hotels and airlines — for an instant boost of points whereever you need them most.
While, of course, I LOVE my Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa cards, which are critical to earning the Southwest Companion Pass to fly free around the U.S. and which you should apply for FIRST due to Chase’s rule restricting to you only five card approvals within 24 months, the Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits make it THIRD on my list of credit cards.
It is also the card I most frequently use day-to-day and it’s a no brainer for anyone who wants to travel free.
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Chase Sapphire Preferred Quick Look
Bonus Offer: 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points with $4,000 spend in first 3 months
Annual Fee: $95 (no longer waived the first year)
Offer End Date: None
- Points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio to Southwest, Avios, United, IHG, Marriott and more
- Earn 2X points on dining and travel expenses
- No foreign transaction fees
Note: You can only hold ONE Sapphire card at a time, though you CAN be an authorized user on one and HOLD the other.
I’m going to tell you more about this card and show you why I think all travel enthusiasts need to have it in their wallet!
All About Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred consistently offers 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on the card within three months.
Because it earns at least 1 point per dollar spent, you should have a total of 64,000 points after meeting the minimum spend.
While the card’s points, which are called Chase Ultimate Rewards points, are not the same as Southwest points, they can be transferred INSTANTLY at a 1:1 ratio to Rapid Rewards, Southwest’s frequent flyer program.
This makes it a great travel credit card for those who fly Southwest Airlines a lot like we do. It extends the 110,000 Southwest points you have accrued by signing up for two Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa cards and earning the Southwest Companion Pass, stretching your points to allow you to fly even more places nearly free!
The Southwest Companion Pass lets one person fly free with you for up to two years (download my free cheat sheet below for 10 things you MUST know to earn the Southwest Companion Pass).
Download Your FREE Guide & Start Flying FREE on Southwest!
Read my post below on creative ways to use this card to earn Southwest points:
Please note, however, that Chase Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Southwest Rapid Rewards DO NOT qualify for the 110,000 points needed to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, but they CAN be used for free flights!
What Does It Cost to Hold This Card?
This card comes with a reasonable $95 annual fee, and if you read through the benefits below, you’ll see how easy it is to cover that cost.
I am in my fourth year of holding this card, and it’s the card I use for most day-to-day expenses.
Plus, you can quickly earn points with expenditures on airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises.
Now, more about the benefits that I believe are so great for travelers!
Chase Sapphire Preferred Benefits I Love
1. More Points for FREE Flights!
These 60,000 points (plus, at least 4,000 points you earn for meeting the minimum spend) can be a great addition to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account to help you continue to book free flights for yourself and family members while bringing someone along for free on the Southwest Companion Pass.
This is how we stretched our points far enough to fly to six destinations for less than $100 per flight for ALL four of my family members over the period of just ONE year. And we still CONTINUE to FLY FREE across the U.S. on Southwest!
You can also redeem these points for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through the Chase travel portal where $100=1.25 points when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
2. Earn More Points on Dining and Travel Expenses
I have made this my day-to-day card, which I use for most expenses, as it earns DOUBLE POINTS on restaurant and travel expenditures, which really add up when you travel a lot!
“Travel” is defined as airfare, hotels, taxis (I used my Chase Sapphire to pay for our New York City taxis and subways) and trains. The Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits of 2X points on dining and travel are excellent!
3. Flexible Points
I also like the fact that Chase Ultimate Rewards can be used for other airlines besides Southwest. I like having a bank of points ready to transfer if needed.
You can leave your Chase points until you are ready to use them and then transfer them for instant use on your preferred airline (some airlines take longer than others for the points to post, though Southwest points — and British Airways — have posted INSTANTLY for us).
Other partner airlines include:
- Singapore KrisFlyer (which you can use to fly to Hawaii nearly free)
- Virgin Atlantic
- British Airways
- Aer Lingus
We used Chase Ultimate Rewards transferred to British Airways to pay for all four of us to fly to Europe entirely on miles AND pay for most of our intra-Europe flights, including from Dublin to Paris and Bologna, Italy to Dublin.
5. Get FREE Hotel Stays
Ultimate Rewards can also be transferred to cover hotel stays. Partners include:
- IHG (EVEN Hotels, Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza)
- Ritz Carlton
6. No Foreign Transaction Fees
If you travel out of the country, you can use this card and not worry about added overseas fees. We used both Chase Sapphire Preferred AND Chase Sapphire Reserve on our trip to Europe to earn 2X and 3X points on travel and dining expenses with NO foreign transaction fees.
This card has great insurance benefits when you use it pay for airfare and car rentals. They include:
- $3,000 for lost or damaged luggage, primary auto rental theft and collision damage for the cash value of the vehicle (primary is better than secondary, meaning NO CLAIMS need to be filed with your insurance company, potentially increasing your premiums)
- Trip cancellation insurance if cancelled or interrupted due to weather, illness, etc. up to $10,000
- Baggage delay coverage of up to $100 a day for five days for essential purchases like clothing and toiletries
- Return protection for items a store won’t take back within 90 days up to $500
Want more? Check out this post:
So what else do you need to know about this card before you decide to apply?
Here are some other key details about Chase Sapphire Preferred:
- It has a high interest rate, so you’ll want to pay your balance off BY the due date every month, if not every few days
- $95 annual fee
- Earn 60,000 bonus points sign up bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months
- After meeting the minimum spend, allow 6-8 weeks for the points to be applied to your balance
- You cannot earn the bonus if you have earned it within 24 months from account opening or if you currently hold the card
- You can only hold ONE Chase Sapphire card (the other is Chase Sapphire Reserve)
- Your points never expire as long as your account remains open
- Named the best credit card for flexible travel redemption by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
Next, let’s go over why I don’t recommend you apply for this card first, but THIRD.
Why to Apply for This Card: THIRD
Chase generally will not approve you for any new credit cards if you have been approved for more than five cards in the last 24 months. This generally does not include business credit cards, so you can take those out of the equation.
If you want to travel free around the U.S. on Southwest Airlines, you will FIRST need to secure TWO Southwest credit cards, which are also both from Chase bank.
After you have those two, I’d recommend getting this card THIRD before you hit the total of five. You’ll want to get all the Chase cards you need before you start applying for other cards from AMEX, Citi Bank, etc., because these banks don’t have the same restrictions.
Chase has only allowed me three of their credit cards, so I hold two Southwest cards, one personal and one business, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred. This could happen to you, as well, so plan accordingly. My husband holds the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. More about it below.
Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve?
In 2016, Chase released a brand new card that was so popular they literally ran out of the material they used to manufacture the card. The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card offered a 100,000-point bonus, but came with a hefty $450 annual fee.
The annual fee for this card, however, is offset with a $300 travel credit and free TSA PreCheck sign up (worth $85) every four years, effectively costing you a $65 annual fee the first year, which is competitive with many travel credit cards. The bonus has now been dropped to 50,000 points, unfortunately.
The catch is you can only hold ONE of these two cards, though you CAN have one partner or spouse hold Preferred and the other hold Reserve. That’s what we’ve done!
I recommend Reserve only to those who have been navigating the art of traveling nearly free for a year or so and who travel frequently. You’ll need to be able to quickly recoup the $450 annual fee, which is charged to your first statement, through the $300 travel credit and purchasing TSA PreCheck. You’ll also need to pay this fee by the card’s due date to avoid paying interest on the charge.
If you’re new to traveling free, I’d recommend starting with Chase Sapphire Preferred, as it has a lower out of pocket spend, and it nets you an instant 64,000-69,000 points toward FREE TRAVEL after meeting the $4,000 minimum spend.
It couldn’t get any easier!
You can always later upgrade to Chase Sapphire Reserve to get 50,000 (or more if the bonus goes back up) bonus points and if you think you will be able to quickly use your $300 travel credit. You’d have to close Preferred, though, and it would have to be 48 months since you earned your Preferred bonus.
Have I convinced you yet? Here’s one MORE reason to love Chase Sapphire Preferred.
An Easy Way to Earn MORE Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
With this credit card, you can ALSO earn 10,000 points per person you refer to the card up to a maximum of 50,000 points per year.
By sharing the amazing travel you’ve completed thanks to this card and its points with your friends, family and colleagues, they may be interested in getting their own card using your referral link.
To find your referral link, you’ll need to use the Chase Refer a Friend feature.
Simply visit ChaseReferaFriend.com, enter your Last Name, zip code and last 4 digits of your card number to see if your card is eligible and to get your link.
Now, on to a question I am asked ALL the time just to make the answer absolutely clear!
Do Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?
Chase Ultimate Rewards points DO NOT qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass when transferred to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account, but they CAN BE USED FOR FREE TRAVEL on Southwest.
These Ultimate Rewards points balance transfers can continue to add to your Southwest points balance.
This is the quickest and easiest way to add to your Southwest points balance after the 110,000 points you can earn with these TWO SOUTHWEST CREDIT CARDS to keep you and your traveling companions flying free even longer.
I don’t know about you, but that’s my goal: to keep my family of four flying free everywhere we want to go!
To Sum It Up
Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great addition to the wallet of anyone looking to travel nearly free and I truly think everyone who loves to travel should have it.
Not only do the Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits grant you points that can be used for air travel on many airlines including Southwest, but they can be redeemed for hotel stays, as well.
The ability to earn 2X points on travel and dining helps build your points balance more quickly and the flexibility to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points quickly to many different airlines and hotel chains is unbeatable.
Two thumbs up! A MUST-HAVE for anyone who wants to travel free!
Thanks again for using the TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS links in the main menu above to sign up for this and any other credit cards.
Will you apply for this card? Comment if you were approved!
- The 7 Travel Credit Cards I Hold & Why
- Go to Travel Gal’s Travel Credit Card Plan: Which Cards When
- Which Credit Cards Earn Southwest Rapid Rewards Points?
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