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We often recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card for anyone that is new to award travel, and for good reason: it has some of the best benefits, earns one of the most valuable transferable currencies, and comes with an extremely reasonable annual fee of just $95. Similarly, the Sapphire Reserve is a top contender for the best premium card on the market by providing Priority Pass lounge access, a $300 yearly travel credit, and enhanced travel protections. Currently, Chase is offering 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points as a welcome bonus on the Preferred card. Not only that, they have recently added additional benefits to both the Sapphire Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve to make them even more powerful.
Today, we’ll outline the changes made to these two powerhouse credit cards.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: the Sapphire Preferred is the best first credit card you can get. With a great welcome bonus, excellent benefits, and low annual fee it doesn’t get any better for initial perks. Its earning structure prior to the updates were quite simple: 2 Ultimate Rewards Points per dollar spent on travel purchases, 1 point per dollar on everything else.
The new benefits on this card include, as shown above:
- 3x Dining, Streaming Services, and Online Grocery (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs).
- 5x Travel Booked through the Chase Travel Portal. A nice boost to earning in these categories.
- 10% Anniversary point bonus. This is a little confusing – in effect, it adds .1x to all purchases throughout the year. So, if you spent $20,000 on the card throughout the year, you would receive 2,000 bonus points.
- $50 Hotel Credit. This credit is earned on hotel stays booked through the Ultimate Rewards Portal.
While these new benefits aren’t jaw-dropping, it’s nice to have a boost on dining and grocery spend as well as the anniversary points and hotel credit. There are ways to get higher earning potential (such as 5x on rotating categories with the Freedom Flex), but what’s most enticing about the Preferred is its current welcome bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after $4,000 spend in 3 months – it’s a fantastic deal, especially if you want to use those points to get to Hawaii or somewhere more exotic.
What’s more, Chase did not increase the annual fee when they rolled out these new benefits which was a surprise. Usually when banks update the benefits of a card they are doing so to justify a higher cost to the consumer, but Chase decided to leave it at $95, making it one of the lowest fees for travel cards with this level of benefits.
The big brother to the Preferred is the Sapphire Reserve – a great card, but its hefty $550 annual fee may be too much for beginners to swallow right off the bat. However, it offers a wide range of benefits including Priority Pass Lounge access, improved travel protections such as delayed baggage reimbursement, and a $300 credit for travel purchases per year. Below are the new benefits that were added to the Reserve card last month:
- 10x on Chase Dining and hotel and car rental purchases through the Ultimate Rewards Portal. This benefit seems really nice, until you actually look at Chase Dining and realize there’s not much available. Hotel and car rentals can be lucrative, but always check to ensure they are offering the best price compared to other options.
- 5x on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal. Same as the Preferred.
The Reserve’s new benefits are less exciting than the Preferred, as is its 50,000 point welcome bonus, though the card still boasts the best-available travel protections, lounge access that includes Priority Pass restaurants (not the case with Amex-offered Priority Pass memberships), and solid base earnings on travel and dining.
it used to be possible to open multiple Chase cards per year and per day, but that is no longer the case. To be eligible for either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® or Sapphire Reserve card and its associated welcome bonus, you must meet the following criteria:
Be within “the 5/24 rule”. If you have opened five or more credit cards with any bank in the last two years, Chase will not approve you for either of these cards (or most others) until you get under that threshold.
Meet the “24/48 month rule”. With Chase cards, you can generally receive the welcome bonus on the same card after a period of 24 months. However, with Sapphire cards (both Preferred and Reserve), you must wait 48 months. You also cannot have the card open at the time you apply for a new one.
Chase continues to revamp their travel credit cards in an attempt to secure a spot among the top offerings. Though the new benefits outlined above, which took effect on August 16, 2021, add some additional earning potential for each card they are not game changers in and of themselves.
The major takeaway here is that the Sapphire Preferred is an excellent travel card to have in your wallet, especially with the current 60,000 point welcome bonus currently offered. If you need the additional travel protections and credits that the Reserve offers, that is a solid choice as well. In either case, ensure you are eligible before submitting your application and happy earning!
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