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Chase hasn’t given us anything to get terribly excited about since the introduction of the Chase Freedom Flex and updates to the Chase Freedom Unlimited a few months ago, but today Chase has decided to shake things up again.

Chase has just bumped up the welcome bonus on its most popular card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, to 80,000 Ultimate Rewards Points after $4,000 spend in 3 months. You can also earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within the first year from account opening.

Previously only available via on-again off-again targeted offers, this new welcome bonus is worth up to $1,000 if redeemed 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 bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve has also been bumped up to 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. This is less exciting than the increased bonus on the Sapphire Preferred, but if you’ve been waiting to get this ultra premium card, now would be a good time.

The Sapphire Preferred has long been the most recommended card for beginners who wanted to learn the points and miles game. This update makes this card even more enticing as it allows you to get even better value out of the welcome bonus without an increase in the minimum spend requirement.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

LEARN MORE 

If one of these cards has been on your shortlist then now is the time to act.

Remember, you’re only eligible for either of the Sapphire cards if you’re under 5/24, don’t currently hold a Sapphire Preferred or a 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 and the $50 statement credit, it’s pretty disappointing to see that Chase didn’t make any other improvements or updates to the Sapphire Preferred. There were no improvements made to the Sapphire Reserve.

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 the clear cut favorites they used to be from an ongoing perspective.

The recent temporary increases Chase offered for specific spending categories such as gas, Instacart, streaming and grocery were exciting and we were hoping that these might become a more permanent feature on both the Sapphire Preferred and the 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. If you’re eligible for it, in almost all certainty you should get it.

But admittedly, after receiving the bonus, I have found it harder and hard to justify continuing to pay the annual fee for the Sapphire Preferred (and its premium counterpart the Chase Sapphire Reserve) after a few years of having as more and more time passes without any additional benefits or more permanent earning improvements being made. Especially when you factor in the rule requiring 48 months to pass between bonuses on Sapphire products.

Sure, the Pay Yourself Back offer has been interesting and valuable for some folks. But again, its only temporary, very limited in scope and doesn’t look like it will be a permanent feature going forward.

Just recently, Chase updated the Freedom Unlimited bonus categories and also introduced the Freedom Flex. The Freedom Unlimited is no-annual-fee card that now earns 3x on dining 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.

Keep in mind that you do need one premium card, i.e. a card with an annual fee, to be able to redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel.

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 for tons of value:

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 award flights to specific destinations and stretch your miles even further by possibly being able to book multiple roundtrip economy tickets, or maybe even 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 hotels, like the Park Hyatt Sydney and Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, are Category 7 and cost 30,000 Hyatt Points per night. So this bonus could easily cover just shy of 3 nights at one of these properties (you’d have to top off or spend a little bit extra to get to 90,000 points). With cash rates at both properties regularly eclipsing $1,000 per night, that would translate into exception value. Or head south to the Park Hyatt Mendoza in Buenos Aires, that will only run you 12,000 points per night — 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. With Hawaii slowly reopening to travelers from the mainland U.S. you could book multiple roundtrip tickets to Hawaii with the bonus from the Sapphire Preferred. You can stretch these miles even further if you’ve earned the Southwest Companion Pass, essentially a buy-one-get-one-free pass on all Southwest flights.

Book a great cash fare through the Chase Travel Portal. As the travel restrictions are gradually being lifted, the airlines are competing for customers and we’ve started seeing some excellent cash fares to a number of destinations. So if you find a great cash fare, you could get great value by booking through the Chase Travel Portal. Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents per point in the portal and that means you have $1,000 to spend on travel.

Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve?

The welcome bonus for the Sapphire Reserve has also gone up to 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points (the standard offer is 50,000 points). So should you get the Sapphire Reserve or the Sapphire Preferred?

Is Sapphire Preferred still a better choice? The annual fee is just $95 as opposed to $550 on the Sapphire Reserve and the $50 grocery credit brings the effective annual fee to $45. The welcome bonus is also higher, making the Sapphire Preferred the better choice for most people.

If you are after the better benefits of the Sapphire Reserve, such as the Priority Pass membership, you can get the Sapphire Preferred now and upgrade it to the Sapphire Reserve on your first cardmember anniversary.

Thanks to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003 (SCRA) and the subsequent Military Lending Act (MLA) the annual credit card fees are waived for active duty military members. So if you are in the military and would like to take advantage of the Sapphire Reserve’s excellent benefits, such as $300 annual travel credit, $60 DoorDash credit, Priority Pass membership and trip delay and interruption insurance, then consider opening the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Yes, the welcome bonus is smaller, but the $300 credit alone more than makes up for it.

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 yourself if it earns a long-term spot in your wallet.

Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a best-ever bonus of 100,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months and 2x points earned on dining and travel spend, this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!


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