Re-thinking the Chase Sapphire Preferred

The other day I read an article by Doctor of Credit (great site, check it out if you haven’t) about keeping the Chase Sapphire Preferred after the first year. I thought It was a really good article, the comments were pretty intriguing to me as well and since I read it, I’ve been thinking. Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred worth the $95 annual fee for me?

The Ultimate Card?
The Ultimate Card?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card (it’s even made of metal!), it has a large bonus, free for the first year and comes with a list of benefits. I even said it was the one card I’d keep if I got rid of all my card. I even think Ultimate Reward points are the most valuable flexible currency around (even though I think Citi might be passing them!), but devaluations are happening all over and it seems to be happening at such a fast pace!

Southwest recently devalued their program and who knows the actual redemption you’ll get now unless you break out the calculator to see (currently redemptions are about 1.25 to 1.43 cents per point). Their current lack of transparency doesn’t sit well with me either. Delta Jr, I mean United will probably follow suit and devalue their programs within the next year, probably making their points worth less than Southwest. To me, it’s starting to seem like Hyatt or using British Airways for short hauls might be the most useful.

Don’t get me wrong, there are value left in these programs, but it seems they are being watered down faster and faster. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about booking 2 one-way tickets for me and Kristin to Europe for 60,000 United miles and $75. We transferred our Ultimate Reward points to United using our Chase Sapphire Preferred card. It was a great value for us, but I don’t think we will always get redemptions like that because the game is always changing.

According to that article, I am a keeper, but I think I’m a fool for being one. I have already paid 1 yearly fee on the card and I might pay it again this year. I have a specific redemption in mind and I would need to transfer points. I have a couple of months to figure it out.

But back to the original question, is the $95 annual fee worth it on the Chase Sapphire Preferred?

For me, I am starting to think not. It earns 2 Ultimate Reward points on travel and dining, 1 Ultimate Reward point on everything else. I NEVER earn just 1 point or 1% on anything. I always maximize my earnings, I use Wallaby to help me with that. I earn no less than 2% on any transaction. We don’t eat out too often, if we do, we usually utilize Groupon (I even use a shopping portal) to save even more money.

Looking at our budget, we have spent around $500 this year dining out. The travel we have booked, I was working on my Barclay Arrival minimum and didn’t use my Chase Sapphire Preferred. My Chase Freedom and Ink Cash (both fee free) get more use than Chase Sapphire Preferred, while earning me more points ( or cash).

Earning More Cash Back!
Earning More Cash Back!

With our work schedules, we will probably get to travel domestically a couple of times a year. This year my goal is to earn cash back over points/ miles. So far this year, I have earned quite a bit of cash back and using cash makes you the ultimate free agent to book with who ever you choose.

I don’t care about elite status. I have no issue booking with Delta or anybody for that matter, as long as they give me the best price. My loyalty is to my wallet and keeping my cost to a minimum, not to an airline or hotel (their loyalty surely isn’t to the consumer).

Using the Sapphire Preferred to transfer points to different airlines or hotels is great. It can save you a lot of money. Although, when I plan my trip, I look to see which airlines fly to that area and the amount of points/miles it will cost. There are so many large bonuses on co-branded credit cards that picking up a new card or two would easily cover my airline cost.

Best hotel transfer for Ultimate Rewards
Best hotel transfer for Ultimate Rewards?

Ultimate Reward hotel transfer partners? Hyatt is the only one worth transferring too. Recently, I have put more effort looking at Airbnb and I like the thought of renting a whole house, instead of hotel room, while having more options for less money. Outside of using my free night certificate from IHG, I might not need to transfer points to a hotel. Even if I needed a hotel, there are always deals available to get a nice room for less.

It’s funny that one article has made me re-think the one card I thought I’d keep over all the others. I think my time is coming to an end with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but that doesn’t mean I won’t open it again. Depending on what is needed for a future trip, it could be on my radar to re-open.

Do you think the fee is worth it on the Chase Sapphire Preferred? Which card(s) would you pay the annual fee for?

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