Sapphire is the new color for Travel Purchases

Chase has a few new credit cards out that are high with prestigious marketing effect but actually offer less in rewards for current Chase consumers.  Some people are getting letters in the mail claiming they can be “upgraded” to a new Chase Sapphire(SM).

The Huffington post and Ad Age Magazine both claim that this new Chase Sapphire(SM) is for the top 15% of credit card consumers.  But the top 15% should deserve a card with much greater rewards than the gimmicks this card has to offer and would actually offend me if I received the mailing that is until I found out about the benefits of the Preferred version.   Consumers that receive the letter which notifies them there will be an automatic upgrade of their Chase Freedom or Perfect card may have to call an 800 number to opt out of the upgrade.

Closer look at the Chase Sapphire(SM)

They claim you can fly with any airline, stay at any hotel, shop at any store then get a statement credit.  There are no limits to what you can earn and the points never expire.  You get a 10,000 bonus after the initial purchase and get 1 point for every dollar you spend on the card.

You only get two points when you book airfare through Ultimate Rewards Travel (their travel booking site).  Which makes no sense when you can earn more booking through or a shopping mall that Chase has for most cards already.    The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is mostly marketing if you ask me but maybe there are bigger plans for the program in the future.

I am a long time card holder of Chase Credit Cards but am just not impressed with this new card.  If you currently have a Chase card make sure that you keep it because you may keep some of the grandfathered in benefits such as a real cash back credit to your statement and may benefit from the 3% or 5% rewards you just cannot find anywhere since the credit crisis.

To get cash back it is not too much hassle though.  You only need 2,500 points to get a $25 credit to your statement and 5,000 points to get a $50 check sent to you.  But if you already have a Chase card that gives you a credit on your statement automatically waiting for 2,500 points may be a bit more hassle for some.

You may see lots of new advertisements promoting this new travel card from the largest deposit bank in the nation but keep aware of the terms and conditions and the actual points to cash ratio.  Cool advertisements are one thing but keeping your wallet fat is another and we love our rewards and cash back.

Preferred Version can help “top off” your airline and hotel rewards

Saying a big no to the regular Chase Sapphire(SM) we found the preferred version of the card and were thoroughly impressed.  This could be the new Starwood Guest competitor but in a Visa or Mastercard version.   You not only get a bigger bonus with this card at 15,000 points (after spending $1,000) but you get the 1:1 transfer of points/miles into hotels or airlines programs.

This can really come in favorably to help you book that last minute trip to London or NYC where you may really need miles transferred over to your airlines or hotel programs.  The questions at hand here though are is there a fee to transfer points or miles over to another program like there is with the AMEX Membership Rewards.  We are not very fond of the fees that American Express charges with Membership Rewards to transfer to hotels such as Starwood properties.

Another benefit I liked is that if you book through their travel booking tool you get free Trip Cancellation Insurance offering reimbursement for travel due to covered cancellations, losses and emergencies when you purchase tickets with the Chase Sapphire.

If you book flights with the Chase travel booking tool your points are 25% more  which means a flight that normally costs $350 can be yours for only 28,000 points. So you can fly for fewer points now and keep some points for a future reward.

Dining is made simple with the Open Table system for reservations where you can book online and walk into your favorite restaurant.  You may also use their Ultimate Rewards for a gift card of $25 and up with the same point per dollar ratio of 2,500 points.  The dining partners with the Ultimate Rewards program did not seem to exciting though they were Chili’s, Ruth’s Chris steakhouse, and restaurants such as Olive Garden.

Chase Sapphire(SM) Exclusive Experiences are some additional benefits that may be something you get lucky enough for such as VIP passes to American Idol.  These events available for Chase Sapphire(SM) cardmembers, including the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and fashion week.  This competes with Citi and American Express cards on event exclusives and discounts.

The biggest fallback about the Premier version of the card is the annual fee after the first year of a whopping $95.  My recommendation is to get the card and carry it for a year and cancel it after you get the benefits and points then move on to another new Chase offer.

>> Southwest Rapid Rewards added to the Sapphire experience