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If you are new to the points and miles hobby and want to learn how you too can travel for free, you’ve come to the right place. To paraphrase the famous saying, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single credit card. 

You might be wondering why the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best credit card for newbies. The simple answer is it has a generous welcome bonus and great travel-related benefits, all for a very reasonable annual fee. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

LEARN MORE 

Chase Sapphire Preferred Welcome Bonus

Right now the Chase Sapphire Preferred has a bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after meeting the minimum spending requirements. I still remember when my husband opened this card six years ago and we were so happy to earn the 40,000 welcome bonus. 

So if you’ve been eyeing this card, and can meet the minimum spending requirement by spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, now is the time to act.

Annual Fee

The card has a $95 annual fee, and this is more than reasonable for this premium card.  

The “I don’t want to pay any credit card annual fees” attitude is only too common among beginners. And really, who likes paying any kind of recurring annual fees? However, this might be a bit short-sighted. 

Just think about it, in the first year, for $95 you are getting at least $1,250 worth of travel, plus all the awesome benefits we’ll discuss in a minute. 

What Are the Points Worth?

So what are 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points worth? At a minimum, when you redeem your points through the Chase Travel Portal, they’re worth 1.25 cents per point. This means that the 60,000 point welcome bonus on the Sapphire Preferred is worth $750. 

But that’s just the floor, and you can get much better value out of the welcome bonus by transferring the points to one of Chase’s travel partners. 

For example, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt. 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Hyatt can buy you five nights at Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. This all inclusive resort is located on a beautiful stretch of Pacifc coast not far from the town of Puerto Vallarta. The rates in high season, such as during the Christmas holidays, can be in the $400-600 range, which means your welcome bonus could be worth between $2,000 and $3,000! 

If you’d rather use the points for flights, there are lots of great options too. You can get at least one round-trip ticket to Europe in economy by transferring to United Airlines. 

Want to travel in style? That’s also not a problem – you’ll need about 60,000 United miles for a one-way flight in business class. And you’ll even have some points leftover for a short domestic flight.  

You do need to have one premium card, i.e. a card with an annual fee like the Sapphire Preferred, to be able to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners or redeem them through the portal. 

Travel Benefits

Let’s look at a couple of the most valuable Chase Sapphire Preferred card’s travel benefits. Two of the most valuable benefits, in my opinion, are the trip delay and interruption insurance and the rental car insurance. 

Let’s break down the trip cancellation insurance, trip interruption insurance, delayed baggage insurance, lost luggage insurance and trip delay insurance that you get with this card, all at no extra cost. 

Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance

If your trip is cancelled or interrupted because of sickness, severe weather or other covered situations, the trip interruption insurance will reimburse you up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for pre-paid non-refundable travel expenses.  This includes airfares, tours, and hotels.

Trip Delay Reimbursement

If your flight is delayed more than 12 hours, or if you need an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, for up to $500 per ticket. So no need to spend a night sleeping on the airport floor, you can just go and get yourself a nice hotel and warm meal. 

Get up to $500 per ticket for unreimbursed expenses like meals, lodging and more during a flight delay of more than 12 hours.

Baggage Delay Insurance

If your bags are delayed by more than six hour, your luggage insurance will cover the basic necessities you had to buy while waiting for your bags to arrive. You are eligible to be reimbursed for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing up to $100 a day for five days.

Baggage Delay Insurance on the Chase Sapphire Preferred will cover the reimbursement of up to $100 per day for five days for basic necessities while waiting for your bags to arrive.

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

The car rental insurance is also an awesome benefit. Because the card has the rental car collision damage waiver insurance, if something goes wrong and you incur damages to the rental car, you don’t need to involve your own personal auto insurance at all. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has rental car collision damage waiver insurance as an included benefit. This means you can skip paying for the additional coverage from the rental car company when you pay for your rental with your Sapphire Preferred. 

To take advantage of this benefit, when you are renting a car, just decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. The coverage that comes with the Sapphire Preferred is primary and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad. 

To be eligible and to take advantage of all cancellation, interruption, and delay coverage benefits, all you need to do is pay for your trip with your Chase Sapphire Preferred. If you are booking an award ticket with one of Chase’s partner airlines, just pay the taxes and fees and you’ll have all the same protections. 

You get all of these benefits for the $95 annual fee! 

Why Should You Choose the Chase Sapphire Preferred

The short answer is value and simplicity. If you are a beginner, you’d want a card that’s universally accepted, has great benefits and has an easy to understand rewards structure. The Chase Sapphire Preferred checks all the boxes. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred card earns 3x on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), 2X on all other travel purchases outside of the Chase Travel Portal and 1X on everything else. Chase has very broad definitions of these categories. For example, things like tolls and parking garages fall into the travel category. Dining is also very broadly defined and includes pretty much all dining establishments and food delivery services, such as Grubhub. 

The rewards are very easy to use, either through the Chase’s own travel portal or by transferring the Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners. Chase has some of the best and easiest to use travel partners, such as Hyatt and United Airlines. 

The minimum spending requirement is quite manageable too. You’ll need to spend $4,000 in the first three months after account opening which is much more reasonable than some other cards on the market. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

LEARN MORE 

Because this is a Visa card, you’ll have no problems finding places that accept the Chase Sapphire Preferred. From small family run diners to paying taxes, you can use the card everywhere at home and abroad. 

And the card comes with some of the best travel perks and benefits in the business! For a very reasonable annual fee of $95, you get a whole set of travel protection benefits and an excellent rental car insurance benefit.

Keep in mind that Chase has its infamous (unwritten) 5/24 rule in place, so you’d want to get this card sooner rather than later. That means that Chase won’t let you get a new credit card if you opened five or more cards across all banks in the last 24 months. Business cards from most banks don’t count toward 5/24. 

Quick note about Chase business cards: while the business cards don’t add to your 5/24 count, you do have to be under 5/24 to qualify for any Chase card. 

Cards to Pair with the Chase Sapphire Preferred

If you have any of the no fee Ultimate Rewards earning cards, such as the Chase Freedom Flex℠, you can combine the points earned with the no fee cards with the points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and use them for travel. 

For a small business owner, the Chase Ink Business Cash® Credit Card would be a great option. It is very easy to combine the points earned with multiple credit cards into one account, and yes, you can combine the Ultimate Rewards points earned with the business card with your Sapphire Preferred points. 

In short, having the Chase Sapphire Preferred card opens up more and better redemption opportunities for people who already have one of Chase’s no fee cards. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture

As a beginner, you might be thinking that the Capital One Venture card is a better option. After all, the Venture card has a simple earning structure so shouldn’t everyone start with it? The short answer is no, the Chase Sapphire Preferred should still be your first card. Let’s look at why specifically:

  • Right now the Sapphire Preferred has a bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points 
  • Ultimate Rewards points can be much more valuable than Capital One miles when transferred to the travel partners. Ultimate Rewards points transfer 1:1 and Capital one miles transfer 2:1 or 2:1.5, depending on the partner 
  • Chase transfer partners are easier to use by a beginner than Capital One transfer partners 
  • If you’d rather redeem the miles through each card’s respective travel portals, Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25c and Capital one miles are worth 1c/each

Capital One Venture might have a place in your credit card portfolio later on and it definitely has its uses, but because it adds to the 5/24 count, you should start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.  

Final Thoughts

If you are just starting out in this hobby, you want your beginner card to be uncomplicated and easy to use. And that doesn’t mean having to settle for some second rate options. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is actually the best card for beginners thanks to its very generous welcome bonus, a very affordable annual fee and great travel benefits that come with the card.  

Picking the right first card will give you the best foundation and when you see how easy it is to use your Ultimate Rewards points that you’ve earned with this card, you’ll want to keep going and learn more and delve deeper into this hobby. 

And right now is the right time to take the plunge and apply, while the welcome bonus is at 60,000 points.