Today was a good day for those of us who have good credit and would like to use it to get free travel. Chase has just revamped the intro bonus paid by their Sapphire Preferred® travel card, bumping it from 40,000 to a whopping 50,000 points for those who use their card to make $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. Better yet, if you add a second user to your account (eg, family member or business associate) the bonus increases to a staggering 55,000 total points. That's worth $550 in cash, and $687.50 in travel, making it the largest intro bonus we've seen in a very long time.
While 55k points is already among the highest bonuses we've ever reviewed, the truly savvy among us can convert those points into even more value by leveraging an existing frequent traveler program. Unlike most miles rewards cards, Sapphire Preferred offers 1:1 transfers of points into miles at multiple airline frequent flier programs. For example, you can transfer your points 1:1 into United Miles Plus, where a round-trip coast-to-coast flight costs only 25,000 miles through their Saver Award program. That means you can convert the Sapphire Preferred intro bonus into more than 2 free coast-to-coast round trip flights, worth about $900 in travel value.* The same 1:1 transfer benefits apply to many other airlines and hotel programs, including Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt Gold Passport, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards.
While it's the size of the intro bonus that makes the Sapphire Preferred stand out, it's also a solid all around travel card, paying 2 rewards points for every dollar you spend on travel or in restaurants, and 1 point for every dollar you spend on anything else. It does not charge a fee on foreign transactions, and members gain access to Chase Ultimate Rewards, a website which provides members with a
Some things to consider: There is no annual fee during the first year, but the card does carry a $95 annual fee after that. We think of it this way: you get $500 to $687 for testing the card out, then a year to decide if the other benefits make it worth keeping the card before you have to think about paying an annual fee. You do need to have an excellent credit score to be approved for the card, and you do need to be able to spend $4,000 using the card in the first 3 months. So if you don't think you'll be able to use the card to spend $1,350 per month in the first three months, you may be better off going for either the Capital One VentureOne Rewards (which offers 20k bonus miles after spending only $1,000 in the first 3 months) or the BankAmericard Travel Rewards (which offers 20k bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days while charging $0 annual fee forever).
Overall, if you have the credit, and you will spend enough to qualify for the intro bonus, the Sapphire Preferred is offering the most intro rewards of any travel card we've reviewed. Banks change up their offers frequently, so we'd recommend applying soon if you do want to capture this offer.