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The Chase Sapphire credit card set a standard for no annual fee travel rewards cards. It was considered a good “starter card” for low- to moderate-spending consumers who wanted to accumulate travel rewards. Although the Chase Sapphire card is no longer available to new applicants, Chase continues to maintain it for existing cardholders.
Chase’s entry card is now the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which charges a $95 annual fee, but it is a step up in almost every way. For existing Chase Sapphire cardholders, the question becomes whether they should stick with their current card or consider an upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The answer depends on a few factors that boil down to whether going from a $0 to a $95 annual fee is worth the expense.
What Chase Sapphire cardholders get for $0 annual fee
The Chase Sapphire Card is a popular choice for consumers who like the idea of earning travel rewards for dining out but aren’t necessarily big travelers. The card has no annual fee, so the rewards and other travel benefits offered seem like a bonus. Cardholders earn 2x points on restaurant purchases and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Points can be redeemed through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, which offers different travel rewards, cash back, merchandise, or gift cards. The number of rewards you can earn is not capped and there is no expiration date on points. When redeeming travel rewards through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards, there are no travel blackout dates. Not bad for a $0 annual fee travel rewards card.
Where the Sapphire Card really shines, however, is with its benefits and perks. Its protection plans include purchase protection, extended warranty, price protection, and return protection.
For occasional travelers, the cards’ travel benefits are comparable to many annual fee cards, the biggest of which is collision coverage on eligible car rentals when you charge the entire rental on the card. Most low- or no annual fee cards only offer secondary CDW coverage.
What you get for the $95 annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Preferred
The first thing you will get for the $95 annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a 60,000-point bonus if you can spend $4,000 on the card within the first three months. Plus, you can earn up to $50 towards grocery store purchases in the form of a statement credit within the first year of account opening. You will also earn 2x points on both dining and travel purchases. Finally, all other purchases will earn one point per dollar spent.
Other benefits include 25% more redemption value when points are redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, no foreign transaction fees, and other partner benefits.
If you are not a frequent or world traveler, the Sapphire Card is a solid rewards card that will reward you for dining out and all other purchases.
The main reason for upgrading to the Sapphire Preferred Card is if you do travel frequently and would like to earn free travel. That might be worth the $95 annual fee.
If you are considering upgrading from the Sapphire Card to the Sapphire Preferred Card, you should have good to excellent credit. It likely takes a credit score of 700 or better to qualify.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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