Pros & Cons of Changing Your Sapphire Preferred to the No-Annual-Fee Sapphire Card

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Million Mile Secrets reader Amy commented:

I had the Chase Sapphire Preferred and downgraded to the Chase Sapphire (no longer available to new applicants) card after the first year of no-annual-fee was up.  Does the Chase Sapphire offer the same travel coverage as the Chase Sapphire Preferred?

Great question, Amy!

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for beginners because it has a terrific sign-up bonus, earns points you can transfer to airline and hotel partners, and has excellent travel benefits like primary rental insurance.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.  While I’ve kept this card for years, some folks decide to downgrade the card to the no-annual-fee Chase Sapphire instead of canceling it, to avoid paying the Preferred version’s annual fee.

But you will NOT get all the same benefits as the Chase Sapphire Preferred!

Pros Cons Of Changing Your Sapphire Preferred To The No Annual Fee Sapphire Card

You’ll Miss Out on Valuable Perks, Like Primary Rental Car Insurance, If You Downgrade Your Chase Sapphire Preferred to the Chase Sapphire

I’ll explain the differences between the cards and why it’s worth paying the annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Preferred!

There Are Big Differences!

Some folks might consider downgrading their Chase Sapphire Preferred card to the Chase Sapphire to avoid an annual fee.  But you’ll miss out on important perks that can make the annual fee worth paying!

Keep in mind, you can also downgrade a Chase Sapphire Preferred to a Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited.  Those cards might make more sense depending on your spending habits!

But keep in mind, you won’t earn the sign-up bonus if you switch to those cards!

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is my favorite card for getting Big Travel with Small Money!

You’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.

And you’ll get:

The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

I gladly pay the annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Preferred because I eat out and travel a lot.  So the 2X category bonus on travel and dining is worth it!

Plus, I use the card for car rentals because it offers primary rental insurance.  And you can get reimbursed up to $500 if your trip is delayed!

And you’ll need a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer offered) if you want to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners like United Airlines, Hyatt, and Southwest!

Chase Sapphire (not Preferred)

On the other hand, the Sapphire (not Preferred) is the free version of the card.  You can’t apply for the regular Sapphire anymore, but you can still downgrade your Sapphire Preferred to the regular Sapphire to get some of the benefits without the annual fee.

The Chase Sapphire also earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  But you can only transfer those points to Chase’s travel partners if you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer offered).

Rumor 100,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Point Sign Up Bonus With New Card Coming Soon

You Can’t Transfer Points Earned From the Chase Sapphire to Travel Partners Unless You Have Certain Other Cards!

One key difference between the Chase Sapphire and Chase Sapphire Preferred is that the Chase Sapphire only earns 2X points on dining and travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal.

To compare, the Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2X points on all travel, which Chase defines as:

Airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges, and highways, and parking lots and garages

So you if spend a lot in these categories, it may be worth keeping the Chase Sapphire Preferred!

Note:   If you have the Chase Sapphire, you can also book paid travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but your points are only worth 1 cent each.

Other Travel Benefits

Link:   Chase Sapphire Travel and Purchase Protection Benefits

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred Travel and Purchase Protection Benefits

Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption coverage

There are also differences in the travel benefits between the 2 cards.  The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage that reimburses for pre-paid expenses for up to $10,000 per occurrence.

The regular Sapphire only provides coverage for $5,000 per occurrence.

Pros Cons Of Changing Your Sapphire Preferred To The No Annual Fee Sapphire Card

Only the Sapphire Preferred Offers Primary Rental Insurance – The Regular Sapphire Offers Secondary Protection.

Rental Car Coverage

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers primary rental car protection whereas the Sapphire coverage is secondary.

Secondary coverage means if you have your own personal or business vehicle insurance, you would have to file a claim with your insurance company first.

Trip Delay

Both cards offer the same trip delay protection – a maximum of $500 will be reimbursed for expenses incurred (such as a hotel) when your flight is delayed 12 hours or more (or overnight).

Here’s a summary of the card differences:

 SapphireSapphire Preferred
Earns Chase Ultimate Rewards PointsYesYes
Bonus Categories2X on dining and travel booked through Chase's Travel Portal2X on dining and most travel expenses
Transfer Ultimate Rewards to Airline & Hotel PartnersOnly if first transferred to a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold cardYes
Book Paid Travel Through Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel PortalYes - points are worth 1 cent eachYes - points are worth 1.25 cents each
Trip Cancellation / Interruption$5,000 per occurrence$10,000 per occurrence
Rental Car InsuranceSecondaryPrimary
Trip Delay$500$500

So the regular Sapphire offers some of the same benefits as the Sapphire Preferred, but not all.  Since the annual fee is waived for the first year for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, it’s a great card to try out to see if you use the benefits that make the annual fee worthwhile.

And if you decide that you don’t utilize those benefits, you can downgrade to the regular Sapphire (or Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited) to earn Ultimate Rewards.

Then pair it with the Ink Plus or the Ink Bold (no longer available) and you can continue to transfer points to Chase’s airline and hotel partners.

Bottom Line

You’ll lose some great benefits if you downgrade a Chase Sapphire Preferred card to the no-annual-fee Chase Sapphire (not available for new applications).

While you’ll still earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you won’t earn 2X points on travel (unless you book through the Chase Travel Portal).  And you’ll only get secondary car rental insurance and less trip cancellation & interruption coverage.

And remember, you need a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer offered) if you want to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners like United Airlines, Hyatt, and Southwest!

Thanks for the question, Amy!

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8 responses to “Pros & Cons of Changing Your Sapphire Preferred to the No-Annual-Fee Sapphire Card

  1. Hi. Do you think you can do a comparison on primary car rental insurance coverages between cards like chase sapphire preferred, chase United club, and American Express (premium)? I was surprised to recently see that chase club did not cover lost rental car keys, but American Express premium (paid) version supposedly does. I am sure readers would love to know these differences especially if they have all those cards. It would have been $250 out of my pocket if I had not found my rental car keys, despite thinking I was covered due to using my chase United club to book the rental car. Thank you.

  2. What happens in an instance where you have purchased tickets to fly in the future on a CSP card but then want to downgrade to a Freedom card. Will you still receive the old CSP travel and trip protection benefits, or do you have to be a current cardholder to receive the benefits?

  3. I would like to second Amit’s question. Is it possible to review or point to a review of the best cards for primary rental car insurance? Thank you in advance, V

  4. Can we upgrade a downgraded card to preferred anytime? With 5/24, “downgrade/upgrade” option helps us to pay the fees only when we need to transfer points, otherwise just keep using Freeom/ Unlimited:

  5. John Richard Stewart

    Yes.

    Can you downgrade to the Chase Sapphire, to avoid the AF, then later, a year or two, upgrade back to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and pay the AF, when you’re ready to transfer Ultimate Rewards?

    This would be a benefit to those of us way, way over 5/24, who use other cards instead of CSP anyway and don’t want to pay the AF.

  6. Kuma- I was told by a CSR when I downgraded, that yes, You are able to upgrade, pay the AF immediately, transfer points, and then downgrade whenever you want and get the prorated AF back. But also keep in mind- If someone else at your same address has a CSP, you can transfer your points to them and let them transfer to partners, instead of upgrading.

  7. Kumar- I was told by a CSR when I downgraded, that yes, You are able to upgrade, pay the AF immediately, transfer points, and then downgrade whenever you want and get the prorated AF back. But also keep in mind- If someone else at your same address has a CSP, you can transfer your points to them and let them transfer to partners, instead of upgrading.

  8. Thank you John & Hilary