Why do we call the Chase Sapphire Preferred a beginner card when it’s clearly not?

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Training wheels are for babies.

We always say that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best beginner travel credit card. That’s true, but perhaps not in the sense that you think. See, the word “beginner” often carries with it a negative connotation. If you’re a beginner at something, you work hard to graduate as far away from that category as you can.

Wouldn’t it have been awesome if your parents handed you the keys to a cherry red Porsche on your 16th birthday, instead of a rusty old jalopy that you could swear you recognized from last week’s episode of Antiques Roadshow? Yeah, they did that because you needed thousands of practice hours before turning the key on anything remotely valuable.

When we say the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a beginner credit card, we don’t mean it’s a stepping stone credit card to bigger and better things. In some senses it is, but in many other ways, it’s not. I’ll explain.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a blue slope credit card with a black diamond payoff. (Photo by Cascade Creatives/Shutterstock)

Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred a beginner card?

Imagine beginning a new hobby and immediately receiving the best equipment for the job. You decide you want to play guitar, and Jimi Hendrix hands you his Fender Strat. Or you aspire to be a professional chef and are instantly granted industrial kitchen appliances.

The miles and points hobby is one where you actually can start off with one of the best tools in the world: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It’s what the professionals use. But we call the Sapphire Preferred a beginner card because it’s so accessible to anyone. Here are some reasons why.

It only requires a “good” credit score

If you’ve got a credit score of 700+, you shouldn’t have an issue being approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred (though of course approval is not a guarantee, no matter what your credit score). it’s worth noting that many have been approved for the card with scores in the mid 600s, but we suggest you not enter this hobby until your score is at least in the upper 600s.

It’s easy to get big value out of the sign up bonus

Right now, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with a massive sign up bonus: you’ll earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening the account. That bonus can be cashed out for an $600 statement credit or $750 of travel (hotels, flights, rental cars, etc.) booked through the Chase Travel Portal. And if you transfer to Chase travel partners (like United, Hyatt or British Airways Airways), you can easily get $1,020 of travel (or more) according to our points valuations.

Much of its benefits are automatic

The card comes with unbelievably good travel coverage, including baggage delay insurance, trip delay insurance, and rental car insurance. All you have to do is pay for your travel with the Sapphire Preferred, and you’ll be covered. It literally could not be easier.

The credit card rewards are as easy or complicated as you make them

You can redeem the points you earn with the card for cash at 1 cent each or through the Chase Travel Portal for 1.25 cents each. Or, you can transfer them to travel partners like Hyatt, United Airlines, and Southwest to get WAY more value. The card’s rewards are versatile enough to serve any level of miles and points enthusiasts. Read our post on the best ways to use Chase points for ways to get big value from Chase Ultimate Rewards.

For example, transferring points to Hyatt could easily yield 2 cents per point in value when booking a luxury property like the Park Hyatt Maldives.

The Park Hyatt Maldives cost 30,000 points a night, but can easily go for more than $600 a night. That means you’d be getting at least 2 cents per point in value.

The card fits any travel style

If you’re just beginning your travels, you may not be sure of your goals yet — you just know you want to explore. This card’s rewards can serve any travel style. For example, with the points I’ve accrued from this “beginner” card, I have:

  • Booked a free coach flight to the Philippines in 2015
  • Reserved a free room in Charleston, SC, for the 2017 for the solar eclipse, avoiding exorbitant nightly rates
  • Booked two free lie-flat business class flights to Europe in 2018
  • Stayed for free at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico in 2019
  • And tons more

That’s some pretty advanced capabilities if you ask me.

These points are important to understand because they illustrate why most points experts never cancel the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I’ve had mine for six years, and I see no reason to cancel it. The card isn’t something you graduate from.

Yes, there are technically “better” cards out there, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. It’s got a higher annual fee, but comes with a bunch of extras that the Sapphire Preferred doesn’t offer. But honestly, the card doesn’t fit as many lifestyles as the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Its reasonable $95 annual fee makes it a much easier pill to swallow and ensures you don’t have to worry about maximizing every credit or benefit to get back the value of the $550 annual fee you paid.

My wife and I used points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred for an award stay at the all-inclusive Hyatt Zilara in Cancun, Mexico. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

Bottom line

Don’t be off-put by the term “beginner” when it comes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Just because it can be easily wielded by beginners doesn’t mean it’s less valuable.

If you’re just starting your miles and points journey, there’s no better card than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, especially considering the larger-than-usual sign-up bonus. And if you operate your points game like the pros, it’ll still be with you on every trip years down the road.

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Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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