Battle of the big bonuses: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase United Quest Card

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One of the most exciting moments for serious points and miles enthusiasts is coming across a new card with a huge, enticing welcome bonus. If that sounds like you, you’re in luck: Chase’s New United Quest℠ Card offers you one of the best airline credit card bonuses available right now.

Here we’ll lay out the details of this hot new card and see how it stacks up against the highly popular Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, so you can figure out which one is right for you.

We chose to compare these two cards because in addition to their lucrative sign-up bonuses, both offer similar ongoing rewards on categories like travel and dining. Both offer enough perks to help offset the annual fees, including valuable travel protections.

In comparing the two cards, however, we ultimately found that one outshines the other for a variety of reasons. Read on to see which of the two stands out as the overall clear winner.

Chase United Quest vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred 

Card nameWelcome bonus
United Quest CardEarn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening.

Plus, earn 20,000 more bonus miles after you spend $10,000 on purchases within 6 months of account opening.  

This combined 100,000-mile bonus is worth $1,300 in travel on United Airlines, since we estimate United miles are worth an average of 1.3 cents each. 
Chase Sapphire Preferred CardEarn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.  This is worth $750 when redeemed on travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards
United Airlines plane
The United Quest card offers an annual purchase credit and 2 free checked bags per flight for you and a companion. (Photo courtesy of United Airlines)

Chase United Quest Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Best sign-up bonus

Both the United Quest Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card are currently offering elevated welcome bonuses, which are a great way to earn a large number of points to devote toward free travel.

With the United Quest card, you can earn up to 100,000 bonus miles after hitting tiered spending requirements as follows: Once you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months after opening the account, you’ll earn 80,000 bonus miles. Then, you’ll also earn 20,000 more bonus miles after spending $10,000 on purchases within the first six months.

Based on our estimation that United miles are worth an average of 1.3 cents apiece, this 100,000-mile bonus translates to $1,300 in travel with United Airlines. You can increase the value of these points even more if you know the best way to use United miles.

By way of comparison, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card pays out 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Since we calculate these points to be worth 1.7 cents apiece, this bonus would be worth $1,700 in travel.

A points value of 1.7 cents is significantly higher than the 1.3-cent value we affix to United miles. That’s because Chase points are so flexible! You can transfer them to travel partners like Southwest, Hyatt, Iberia, and more to get outsized value.

Winner: The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers the more valuable bonus of the two cards. It also wins when it comes to a lower minimum spending threshold and excellent flexibility (you can even transfer the points to United Airlines, if you want!). However, if your specific aim is to earn United Airlines miles, the United Quest is your winner.

Best earning rate

The two cards offer points earnings in some of the same categories, with both paying out 1x miles or points on all other purchases.

With the United Quest card, you’ll earn:

  • 3 miles per dollar spent with United (immediately after earning your $125 annual United purchase credit)
  • 2 miles per dollar spent on travel, dining, and select streaming services
  • 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn:

  • 5x total points on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out
  • 3x points on select streaming services
  • 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • 2x points on all other travel
  • 1x point on all other purchases
Credit card points bonus for dining
Various travel cards pay out nice mile or point bonuses points for dining purchases.
(Photo by djile/Shutterstock)

Again, with the United Quest Card, we estimate the value of United miles to be worth an average of 1.3 cents each (that number is significantly higher if you know the best ways to use them).

On a side note, we should also point out that while the United Quest Card provides some decent bonus mile payout rates, there are faster ways to earn United miles. For instance, a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns 3 Chase points per dollar (which you can instantly transfer to United) on travel and dining. That’s right — you can effectively earn United miles faster by using a non-United credit card!

When it comes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn through this card are worth the following:

  • 1 cent each when you redeem them for cash
  • 1.25 cents when you redeem them for travel through the Chase Travel Portal
  • 1.7 cents (on average) when you transfer them to Chase travel partners

With the 2 points per dollar spent on dining and travel purchases, this comes out to a return of 3.4 cents per dollar spent in those categories, and 1.7 cents per dollar on everything else. It also gives you a return of 8.5 cents per dollar on Lyft rides (through March 2022).

Winner: The Chase Sapphire Preferred wins in every category except actual spending with United Airlines. If you make a habit of purchasing airfare directly with United, the United Quest ekes out the victory with its 3x bonus — though there’s no reason you should be paying for flights at all!

Best redemption value

Miles earned with the United Quest card can be redeemed for United Airlines flights at an average value of 1.3 cents per mile. That number will vary, however, based on the route you’re flying, any award ticket fees, and whether you’ll be traveling during peak times. In all, these points can at times be worth even 10+ cents apiece!

In addition to flights with United and its partner airlines, you can also redeem United miles for stays at participating hotels, TSA PreCheck, in-flight Wi-Fi, and other merchandise. However, we would not recommend using United miles for any of these purchases, as their value will likely translate to significantly less than the average 1.3 cents for United flights.

Hotel check-in
While you could use your United miles to pay for a hotel room, we wouldn’t recommend it.
(Photo by Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you’ve got a few redemption options: Redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for cash back at one cent per point. Or, use them for paid travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal at a rate of 1.25 cents per point.

Alternately, with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to United or a host of other travel partners like British Airways, Hyatt, IHG, JetBlue, Marriott, and Southwest. These options can increase the value you get for your points to an average of 1.7 cents each.

Winner: It can vary based on each redemption transaction, but Chase Sapphire Preferred beats out the United Quest in cases where you can transfer your points to United or its partners and get a value of 1.7 cents or higher (whereas the average value for United miles is just 1.3 cents).

Best travel protection benefits

Both cards offer travel protections as follows:

  • Trip delay reimbursement: If your flight is delayed more than 12 hours, or an overnight stay is required from a delayed flight, you’re covered at up to $500 per ticket to help offset meals and lodging.
  • Trip cancellation insurance: If your trip is canceled or cut short due to problems like illness or severe weather, you can be reimbursed for certain pre-paid expenses.
    • The United Quest card reimburses you up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for pre-paid, non-refundable passenger fares.
    • The Sapphire Preferred reimburses you up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for pre-paid, non-refundable expenses like passenger fares, tours, and hotels.
  • Baggage delay insurance: You can be reimbursed up to $100 for items like clothing and toiletries when baggage delays occur over 6 hours.
    • With the United Quest card, you’re covered for up to 3 days.
    • With the Sapphire Preferred card, you’re covered for up to 5 days.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement: If the luggage of you or an immediate member becomes lost or damaged (bags that are either checked or carried on), you’re covered at up to $3,000 per passenger.

Winner: The Chase Sapphire Preferred provides more generous coverage for both baggage delay insurance and trip cancellation insurance.

Best annual fee

The Chase United Quest carries a $250 annual fee, whereas the Chase Sapphire Preferred only charges $95 per year.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Best foreign transaction fee

Fortunately, neither the Chase United Quest nor the Chase Sapphire Preferred card carries foreign transaction fees. 

Best worldwide acceptance

Since the United Quest and the Sapphire Preferred are both Visa cards, both will be accepted equally around the world.

Bottom line

The Chase United Quest and the Chase Sapphire Preferred cards both have attractive sign-up bonuses and similar ongoing rewards structures when it comes to categories of general travel and dining.

For those who purchase airfare directly with United, the United Quest card would be the better bet, thanks to its 3x bonus. Loyal and frequent United Flyers might also find this card’s additional perks worth its annual fee, as you’ll get up to two free checked bags for yourself and a traveling companion, as well as a $125 annual United purchase credit and up to 10,000 miles in award flight credits each account anniversary year.

For most travelers, however, the Chase Sapphire Preferred will be the better way to go. It offers a more valuable welcome bonus that’s tied to a lower spending requirement. It also provides an overall better value for your earned rewards and more generous travel protections.

Karen Bennett is a writer at Million Mile Secrets and covers points, miles, credit cards and travel. Her writing has appeared in publications like USA Today, The Cheat Sheet, Ezvid Wiki and various local newspapers. She holds degrees in Journalism and English from the University of Illinois and Columbia College Chicago.

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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