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Why Chase Sapphire Preferred Is the BEST Card for Traveling Free

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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, which lets you earn 60,000 points after a $4,000 minimum spend on the card in the first 3 months.

My family saves more than $8,000 every year flying free and I can show your family how to make flying free a LIFESTYLE too, and maximize these 100,000 points! Join my Families Fly Free program to get access to my simple Fly Free Formula, so you can start making more priceless travel memories before your kids — or grandkids — leave home. Learn more below…

Families Fly Free logo (correct colors)

 

This card provides travel lovers immediate benefits from the time you’re approved with a high sign-on bonus, and it pairs perfectly with Southwest Airlines, the top airline I recommend if you want to easily fly your family free. 

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 wherever you need them most.

It is also the card my family most frequently uses day-to-day, and it’s a no brainer for anyone who wants to travel free.

To review or apply for any of the cards in this post, please use the links within this post or the CREDIT CARDS links in the main menu above (shown in the image below). This allows us to earn a commission—at no cost to you—to support our small business. Thanks so much for taking that step!

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred Quick Look

Chase Sapphire Preferred

 

Bonus Offer: 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points with $4,000 spend in first 3 months

Annual Fee: $95 

Offer End Date: Unknown

Card Benefits:

  • Points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio to Southwest Airlines, British Airways/Aer Lingus Avios, United, IHG, Marriott, Hyatt and more
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on dining, online grocery and select streaming purchases
  • Earn 2 points per $1 on travel expenses
  • Get 5 points per $1 when purchasing Lyft rides
  • Get a 10% points bonus on your anniversary date based on your previous year’s spending where $10,000=1,000 points
  • Complimentary DashPass from DoorDash, which grants you one year of free delivery for orders more than $12. 
  • No foreign transaction fees

 

Hot Tip: 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

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred now 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.

But by stacking the opportunities above to earn DOUBLE and TRIPLE points, you could potentially earn up to 8,000-12,000 additional points simply by completing your 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 125,000 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!

Read my post below on creative ways to use this card to earn Southwest points…

[4 Ways to Use Chase Sapphire Preferred to Earn Southwest Points]

 

Please note, however, that Chase Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Southwest Rapid Rewards DO NOT qualify for the 125,000 points needed to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, but they CAN be used for free flights!

 

What Does It Cost to Hold This Card?

Chase Sapphire Preferred Go to Travel Gal
Chase Sapphire Preferred is my FAVORITE travel credit 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 sixth 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, dining (including take-out and delivery) and cruises.

Now, more about the benefits that I believe are so great for travelers!

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred Benefits I Love

Southwest check in Indianapolis
Chase Sapphire Preferred helps us keep earning points to fly free on Southwest!

 

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, vacation rentals, car rentals and cruises through the Chase travel portal. Each point you have is worth 1.25 cents.

So to book a $250 hotel room, you’d first need to figure out how many “cents” that is. So you divide $250 divided by .0125 = 20,000 cents, which is also the number of points you need.

You don’t actually have to figure it out yourself, as it’s already calculated for you in the portal when you choose to book in points, but wanted to make sure you understand how that works. Hope that’s clear as mud ;-). 

 

2. Earn More Points on Dining and Travel Expenses

Bologna restaurant
Enjoying a delicious meal in Bologna

I have made this my day-to-day card, which I use for most expenses, as it earns DOUBLE POINTS on travel expenditures and TRIPLE POINTS on dining, online grocery and select streaming services, which really add up, especially if you travel frequently!

“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 DOUBLE and TRIPLE points are excellent!

 

3.  Flexible Points

Chase refer a friend

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:

  • Air Canada
  • Singapore KrisFlyer (which you can use to fly to Hawaii nearly free; learn how to fly to Hawaii free in one of many travel courses inside my Families Fly Free membership)
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • United
  • JetBlue
  • 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.

You can ALSO learn how to fly free to Europe for only 26,000 miles roundtrip per person inside my Families Fly Free membership.

 

5. Get FREE Hotel Stays 

InterContinental Dublin
The InterContinental Dublin is just one of tons of hotels you can book with Chase Ultimate Rewards points!

Ultimate Rewards can also be transferred to cover hotel stays.

Partners include:

  • IHG (EVEN Hotels, Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza) – 100,000 points = 10 free hotel nights at 10,000 points/night + 2 more FREE nights when you hold IHG Premier
  • Marriott
  • Hyatt (has some great options, especially for all-inclusive resorts in Mexico!)
  • Ritz Carlton

Read how Go to Travel Gal team member Cami uses Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book free Hyatt stays.

 

6. No Foreign Transaction Fees

Paris France Eiffel Tower

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.

 

7. Insurance

Southwest car rental vertical

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:

7 Ways Chase Sapphire Preferred Can Get You Free Travel

 

Who’s Eligible to Apply for This Card?

Chase Sapphire Preferred pool

You’re eligible to be approved for this card if you meet the following criteria…

  • You don’t already have this card OR Chase Sapphire Reserve 
  • You haven’t earned the sign-on bonus for either Chase Sapphire Preferred OR Chase Sapphire Reserve in the last 48 months
  • You haven’t been approved for another Chase card in the last 30 days 
  • You haven’t opened 5 or more new cards of ANY type in the last 24 months (aside from Chase, Citi and AMEX business cards)

If you DO already have Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve AND it’s been at least 48 months since you last earned the bonus on these cards, you can close your card, wait about 7 to 30 days and re-apply.

If get declined because the credit bureaus have not recognized that your original card is closed, wait another 7 days and then call the Chase Reconsideration Line. 

Another alternative is to have a spouse or traveling companion apply for the card if you already have it or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

I recommend one spouse hold Preferred, while the other holds Reserve.

That’s how we do it! 🙂

 

Other Details

Here are some other key details about Chase Sapphire Preferred:

  • It has a high interest rate, so you’ll want to pay your balance in full BY the due date every month, if not every few days
  • $95 annual fee 
  • After meeting the minimum spend, allow 6-8 weeks for the points to be applied to your balance
  • 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

Since you can only hold either Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, let’s go over the difference between the two.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve?

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 (currently $550).

 

TSA PreCheck
Chase Sapphire Reserve gets you one free credit for TSA PreCheck

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 $165 annual fee the first year, which is competitive with many travel credit cards.

The bonus has now been dropped to 50,000 points.

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 $550 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 104,000 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 if you want.

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

Luggage Storage

With this credit card, you can ALSO earn 20,000 points per person you refer to the card up to a maximum of 100,000 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?

Best Travel Credit Cards
Credit Southwest Airlines

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 125,000 points you can earn with these one or two SOUTHWEST CREDIT CARDS (1 personal, and 1-2 business cards if you can get them) 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 DOUBLE points on travel and TRIPLE points on dining, online grocery and streaming 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 links within this post to sign up for this and any other credit cards.

 

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18 thoughts on “Why Chase Sapphire Preferred Is the BEST Card for Traveling Free”

  1. Hi Lyn,
    I have the Chase SP which I use for all my daily expenses. I also have 2 Southwest cards (had signed up for the SW cards in 2016 to earn the companion pass).
    I plan to get rid of one of the two SW cards to avoid paying a penalty.
    My dilemma: Should I move all expenses to my sole SW card or should I discontinue the sole SW card too? I am tempted to earn RR points but most websites value the Chase UR points higher.

    Thanks,
    Ash

    Reply
    • I would just say you need a plan to earn your Companion Pass again in 2018 (assuming you want to earn it again :)). So that would be the reason to continue to earn Rapid Rewards points versus Chase Ultimate Rewards. If it’s been 24 months since you earned the bonuses on your SW cards, you can close them and reopen them next year, earn the bonuses and spend on them until you reach 110,000 for a pass good through 2019. For now, you could certainly close them — knowing you have your pass through 2017 (unless you want to try to earn it again this year for 2018) — and do your spending on Chase Sapphire Preferred until you’re ready to shoot for the Companion Pass again. Does that help/make sense??

      Reply
  2. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and at least 1 Southwest card, would it be a good idea to cash in points on the Chase Sapphire Preferred and buy your flight with your Southwest card obtaining 2x points and pay the bill with the cash you received from the cashed in points?

    Reply
    • I’m not a math whiz, but that doesn’t make sense to me. Say you started with 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points worth $.01 each. That would give you $300 if you cashed it in. Then say you bought a $300 flight on Southwest. You’d earn 2X points for the purchase using your SW card and 6X points for a Wanna Get Away Fare, so that’s 2,400 points. You just went from 30,000 points you could use to book flights on Southwest to 2,400 + 1 flight. Doesn’t add up to me, at least. Anyone better at math want to weigh in?

      Reply
  3. How do you continue to earn big reward points year after year for companion travel if you have all credit cards mentioned?

    Reply
    • Hi Kim-
      That’s a great question! I share in this post how I earned the Companion Pass in 2017 without signing up for ANY cards. And I did the same in 2016. They key is:
      -Referral points
      -SouthwestHotels.com (up to 10,000 points per night)
      -Keeping your current cards so you can earn anniversary points and points on spending
      -Rapid Rewards Shopping – not just the points per dollar deals, but stayed tuned to my blog so you can grab hundreds or thousands of points for signing up for cheap subscriptions and more. Here’s my weekly Rapid Rewards Deals post.
      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have more questions.
      Lyn

      Reply
  4. Hi Lyn,
    I posted earlier on this thread (in April-2017) and have been able to maintain my Companion Pass (CP) thanks to business travel.

    I was posed an interesting question by a friend who want to earn his CP. He can’t open any new cards in his name due to Chase’s 5/24 rule so he plans to open the 2 SW credit cards in his wife’s name. Great, she’ll do that, hit her spend requirement and add him as her companion on the pass.

    Now – he is the one who has a bank of SPG points which he can transfer to SW points. Can my friend book an award ticket for his wife and she adds him as a companion? Is there any requirement where his wife has to book the ticket herself in order to add a companion? Hope that makes sense.

    Reply
  5. I just completed my minimus spend Last week for the Sapphire Preferred card for 60,000 points.

    Would it be worth calling and asking for the 80,000 point new offer , or is it a done deal for me. I would love to have the additional 20,000 points

    Reply
  6. Lyn, we jumped on your recommendation of getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred hoping for that 100,000 pts offer. Got the card and I do not see that offer anywhere? Where can I find it?

    Reply
    • Hi Kirk, the 100,000-point offer ended Thursday but as long as you applied while the 100,000-point offer was available, you can still get 100,000 points after you meet your $4,000 minimum spend in the first 3 months. Thanks!
      Lyn

      Reply

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