It’s been an exciting few days from Chase: just last week we had the introduction of the Chase Freedom Flex along with some substantial updates to the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

And just this week, we have more good news from one of the most popular cards in points and miles: Chase has just increased the welcome bonus on its Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to 80,000 Ultimate Rewards Points after $4,000 spend in 3 months.

Previously only available via on-again off-again targeted offers, this new welcome bonus is worth up to $1,000 when booked via the Chase Travel Portal. Of course, far more than $1,000 in value can be obtained from 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points if you know how to utilize the Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.

The Sapphire Preferred has long been the most recommended card for dipping your toes into the points and miles game if you’re a beginner, and this update just further reinforces this as it allows you to get even more additional value out of the welcome bonus without an increase in the minimum spend requirement.

And as Travis wrote last week about how his next card will be the Sapphire Preferred, this must just be icing on the cake for not only him, but also anyone with the Sapphire Preferred on their shortlist.

Remember, you’re only eligible for the Sapphire Preferred if you’re under 5/24, don’t currently hold a Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve AND haven’t received a bonus on a Sapphire product in the last 48 months.

Lack of Product Improvements

Other than the increase in the welcome offer, it’s pretty disappointing to see that Chase didn’t make any other improvements or updates to the Sapphire Preferred.

The Sapphire family of products historically has been at or near the top in the premium travel card space, but with a lack of additional earning offerings and perks on cards like other banks have done over recent years, they’re not as clear cut favorites anymore as they used to be.

The recent temporary increases Chase offered for specific spending categories such as gas, Instacart, streaming and grocery was exciting to think and hope that these might become a more permanent feature on both the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve. However, while they were nice and timely to use during most of our adjusted spending patterns during COVID-19, alas they were short-lived and only temporary.

As of now, the Sapphire Preferred is absolutely an excellent card to get primarily for the 80,000 point welcome bonus. But admittedly, I have found it and its premium counterpart the Chase Sapphire Reserve, to be harder and harder to justify paying the annual fees for as more and more time passes without any additional benefits or more permanent earning improvements being made.

Sure the Pay Yourself Back offer has been interesting and valuable for some folks. But again its only temporary and doesn’t look like it will be a permanent feature as of now.

Remember just last week, Chase updated the Chase Freedom Unlimited bonus categories and also introduced the Chase Freedom Flex. The Freedom Unlimited is no-annual-fee card that now earns 3x on dining as of today, September 15th, along with the Freedom Flex. Compare this to earning just 2x on dining with the Sapphire Preferred, which also has a $95 annual fee, and you could argue that you’re better off long-term with the Chase Freedom Unlimited or Freedom Flex.

What to Do With 80,000 Ultimate Rewards Points

With 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points in your pocket, well technically at least 84,000 after meeting the minimum spend, there are loads of ways to redeem them:

Transfer to Flying Blue for very reasonable round-trip flights to Europe. Use the Miles Price Estimator to determine your flight’s cost in miles, but 80,000 is more than enough for a round-trip economy ticket to a number of destinations in Europe. Bonus: take advantage of Flying Blue Promo Awards offer up to 50% off of award flights to specific destinations and stretch your miles even further by possibly being able to book multiple roundtrip economy tickets, or even possibly a roundtrip business class ticket for <80,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

Transfer to Hyatt and relax in luxury at some fabulous Hyatt properties around the world. A number of Park Hyatt’s like the Park Hyatt Sydney and Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme are Category 7’s, costing 30,000 Hyatt Points per night. So this bonus could easily cover just shy of 3 nights there (you’d have to top off or spend a little bit extra to get to 90,000 points), but with cash rates at both properties regularly eclipsing $1,000 per night, that would translate into exception value from this bonus. Or head south to the Park Hyatt Mendoza in Buenos Aires, which will only run you 12,000 points per night, which is good enough for a week long stay!

Transfer to Southwest to book one or more round-trip flights to Hawaii. Southwest has been running some great fares to Hawaii, and being able to book them with points can make these deals even better. Sure, short-term the outlook is unknown for future travel to Hawaii due to COVID-19, but in the future you could book multiple roundtrip tickets to Hawaii with the bonus from the Sapphire Preferred. You can stretch these miles even further if you’re earned the Southwest Companion Pass, essentially a buy-one-get-one-free pass on all Southwest flights.

Book a great cash fare in the Chase Travel Portal. One of the outcomes over the last few months of dealing with COVID-19’s impact on travel, is that we’re seeing excellent cash fares across the board to a number of destinations. Which means if you find a great cash fare, you could get great value booking through the Chase Travel Portal. Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents per point in the portal, which means you have up to $1,000 to book travel with. Maybe you’ve found a cheap flight, or a great hotel rate that you can book through the portal. Either way, the Sapphire Preferred bonus can help with a serious savings on future travel.

Bottom Line

If you’re under 5/24 and haven’t received a Sapphire bonus in the last 48 months, you absolutely need to make the Sapphire Preferred your next card. It’s a pretty incredible bonus for the spend requirement, and Ultimate Rewards are extremely value, so being able to earn 80,000 of them pretty quickly will be a nice boost to your balance.

But if no benefits and updates are made to the card, you’ll have to decide for your self if it earns a long-term spot in your wallet.