The recent proliferation of outsized bonuses for new credit card accounts has been a boon to miles- and points-collectors. And, more good news, there's no end to the offers anywhere in sight.
The latest noteworthy sign-up incentive is from Chase—which has displaced American Express as the most prolific issuer of travel-rewards cards—for its Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
The Sapphire Preferred card—not to be confused with the cheaper, less robust Sapphire non-Preferred card—is a proprietary rewards card, linked to Chase's own rewards program, Ultimate Rewards, but not to an airline program, at least not directly.
It's a category of card I generally recommend for those who fall on the frequent-buyer end of the spectrum—i.e., those who earn the bulk of their miles by using a credit card rather than by flying or logging hotel stays.
But with its mileage-transfer feature, the Sapphire Preferred card manages to incorporate some of the best features of both airline-affiliated cards and proprietary rewards cards.
Chase Sapphire Preferred card details:
- Annual fee: $95, waived the first year
- Annual percentage rate: variable, currently 13.24 percent
- No foreign transaction fees
- Cardholders earn 1 point for every $1 charged for most purchases, 2 points per $1 for travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and up to 10 points per $1 for purchases through the Ultimate Rewards Mall.
- Cardholders earn a 7 percent dividend on points earned during the year.
- When redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, points are worth 1.25 cents each.
- Points can be transferred 1:1 for miles/points in the programs of British Airways, Continental, Hyatt, InterContinental Priority Club, Marriott, and Amtrak.
- Customer service calls are "answered by people, not prompts."
And then there's the bonus:
- New Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders earn 50,000 points after charging at least $3,000 to the card during the first three months.
Assuming they are redeemed for travel—flights, cruises, etc., with no capacity controls or blackout dates—through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the bonus points are worth $625.
There's no published end date to the 50,000-point bonus, so it could be scaled back or discontinued at any time.
Deal or No Deal
Let's begin with the annual fee: for the first year, nothing. That means the bonus is effectively free, and you have 12 months to decide whether to re-up for a subsequent year at the normal $95 rate. So, there's no cost or risk, except for the opportunity cost of earning Chase points in lieu of a different loyalty currency.
On the reward side, the 50,000 points can be redeemed for $625 in travel, or transferred to one of the aforementioned airline or hotel programs. So you have your choice of using the points for travel with a predictable value and no availability constraints, or combining them with miles or points in other programs.
And on an ongoing basis, the combination of the 25 percent bonus on points redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, plus the 7 percent annual bonus on earned points, makes for return-on-spending value that's competitive with the most generous cards in the marketplace.
Bottom line: This is a card that's well worth signing up for, even if only for the bonus, and may be a keeper long term as well, especially for those who participate in the programs of one or more of the transfer partners.
Reader Reality Check
Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred card on your radar? In your wallet?
Should it be?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.