The Chase Sapphire Travel Credit Card: A Nomad’s Honest Review

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a favorite credit card, most-recommended by international travelers. (Not to be confused with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the upgraded — and more costly — version of the Preferred.)

A $95 yearly membership fee. No foreign transaction fees on purchases. A $50 hotel credit per year. Fraud protection. Pay Yourself Back, a yearly points boost, and other rotating benefits. 

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, each $0.01 spent accumulates one point, with 2x the points on travel, 3x the points on dining, and 5x the points on travel booked through the Chase portal.

That means if you put $2,000 a month on your credit card, the minimum you’ll earn in rewards is $20 a month — and most likely more, depending on your categories of spending. I’ve definitely been one definitely reaping those rewards, as a full-time traveler the past few years!

Still… the perfect credit card does not exist. Here’s my honest review, now a couple years into being a cardholder. 

But before you read on, here’s a few things to note:

  • I’m no expert credit card points hacker, just a financially-aware and savvy person who spends a fair amount of money and time traveling.
  • There are more pros than cons to this card (although there are still cons). 
  • It’s my card of choice, and as someone who travels 90% out of the year, I will continue to recommend it (for now). 

Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred the best travel credit card? The pros

First, some good news:

  • The Preferred card has more than paid for itself, even outside the card signup points benefit (currently, if you sign up as a new cardholder, you’ll earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months — that’s worth $600 to $750). Last year, I saved or was refunded $1,586!! And isn’t saving money the whole point of using a credit card?
  • The fraud prevention has proven pretty helpful. I was double charged on a taxi in Tulum, and after calling Chase Customer Service, they instantly refunded the second identical charge. 
  • It doesn’t take a lot to accumulate points that have REAL value!!

Now, onto the bad news…

Cons of the Chase Sapphire travel credit card (Preferred)

…My complaints with this credit card all stem from the Chase Travel portal. (Which, as you recall, cardholders who spend through the portal will accumulate 5x the points.)

THE PROBLEM: IT’S NOT USER-FRIENDLY. The travel booking portal does not standalone from the Chase banking app, making it not-so-user-friendly. For those of us who are used to having handy mobile phone apps at our fingertips and the ability to search and book instantly through apps like, this is a disappointment. 

THE SOLUTION: I just RARELY USE IT. Yes, I forego the points multiplier and just book travel the standard way, most of the time. As somebody on the move ALL the time, I just can’t be bothered!

THE PROBLEM: INABILITY TO MAKE CHANGES. Changes are next-to-impossible, or at the very least, a huge headache. Back in October 2021, I booked a hotel stay through the Chase portal — in Montreal, Quebec. However, I was challenged with my arrival to Canada because of the Covid testing requirement: prior to crossing the border, I needed to get tested within 72 hours. (BUUUUUT, none of the Covid testing sites in Vermont guaranteed test results within 72 hours of testing, and weekends slowed down testing as well. Ummm, huh?) So when my test results didn’t seem to be coming back in time, I tried to call Chase to change my refundable booking. Even though I was within the cancellation window, they couldn’t make the change, telling me to call Expedia. Expedia said they couldn’t make a change, and told me to call the hotel. The hotel said they could only change my refundable booking had I booked through them, but I had used a third-party site (Chase, who contracts out to Expedia). After hours being tossed around on the phone, I ended up canceling the entire stay and re-booking directly with the hotel for more flexibility. I don’t have time to waste with unhelpful customer service — it’s just not worth the extra points!

MY SOLUTION: ELIMINATE THE POSSIBILITY FOR CHANGE. So, my solution is, to eliminate any situations that will mean I need to contact customer service. I will now ONLY book through the Chase portal to 1) receive the $50 hotel credit and 2) if I’m 100000% certain I will not change a booking. This pretty much means I only book one hotel a year through the portal, and flights I’m sure I won’t change. 

THE PROBLEM: INFLATED POINTS VALUATION. When I was traveling through upstate New York in 2021, I decided to redeem my points for a free stay. A week’s stay at the boutique hotel came to $767.20. I paid with points, which cost me 61,376. Chase’s shtick is that “your points are valued 25% more if you redeem for travel in the portal” — but I spoke with the hotel and learned the price of the room had been inflated and it was not as expensive on other travel platforms. Maybe to the tune of 25%? I don’t know for sure, but the marketing ploy made me roll my eyes. 

MY SOLUTION: EVALUATE EVERY OPTION for redeeming points to ascertain the best value. This changes on almost a quarterly basis, as Chase makes changes and bonuses rotate out. (I’m deeply disappointed that the 25% Pay Yourself Back bonus is no more!)

All that being said… I’m still overall a happy cardholder, as someone who lives 90% of the year outside the U.S. , and has a fair amount of travel spending. I might even upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve soon!!

»If you want to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, use my referral link to make my day — I get bonus points!

Are you a Chase cardholder? What other headaches and annoyances have you dealt with? Other travel cards you recommend?

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