We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Gary from View From The Wing countered that while the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card, it is NOT the best card for everyday spending because other cards such as the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card, Asiana American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest American Express, Alaska Airlines Visa, Diners Club, British Airways Visa offer better benefits.
I agree with Gary that the Chase Sapphire Preferred is NOT the best card for everyday spending.
Moreover, you would have to spend much more on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card to travel in First and Business class than by using another card.
The Sapphire Preferred is also not the card with the highest current sign-up bonus (that’s the Citi AAdvantage cards with 75,000 miles) nor the best card for domestic US airfare (that would be regular cash back cards which give you more than 1.25% cash back).
For example, you would need to spend $400,000 on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card to earn a $5,000 business class ticket from the US to Europe if you redeem through their Ultimate Rewards portal.
To put that in perspective, the top 1% of US households had an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $380,354, so they would have to spend more than their entire yearly income to get that business class ticket to Europe!
But the Sapphire Preferred card lets you transfer to Continental and British Airways as well, so you would transfer 100,000 points to Continental and then redeem 100,000 points for a Business Class ticket to Europe. This would require you to spend only $100,000 on the Sapphire Preferred card to get that business class ticket to Europe.
But, you require 20% less spending ($80,000) on the SPG American Express to earn the same award. 80,000 SPG points would get you 100,000 US air miles which would get you the same business class ticket to Europe (more details below).
I categorize credit card spending into 2 categories – spending to get the sign-on bonus and everyday spending.
1) Spending to get the sign-on bonus
- This means using the credit card just to get the sign-on bonus and then using a different credit card for day-to-day use after you get the sign-on bonus.
- For example, you spend $1,500 on the Citi AAdvantage Visa credit card to get the 75,000 mile AAdvantage mile bonus.
- But once you get the 75,000 AAdvantage mile bonus, you would switch to a different credit card because you earn only 1 AAdvantage mile per dollar spent (and there are credit cards which let you earn more miles per dollar spent).
2) Everyday spending
- Everyday spend means that you use this credit card for your day-to-day purchases. And you do this only after you have spent the minimum amount to get the sign-up bonus on your other credit cards
- For example, once you have completed the $1,500 spend required to get the 75,000 AAdvantage miles on the Citi AAdvantage Visa you would switch to a card which earned you more than 1 AAdvantage mile per dollar spent.
I prefer the Starwood SPG card, the British Airways Visa (for the companion pass), and the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card for everyday spend.
Starwood SPG American Express Card
You earn 1 point per dollar spent on regular purchases. However, when you transfer 20,000 points to most airlines you earn a bonus of 5,000 points so your earning rate is 1.25 points per dollar spent.
SPG points are a terrific redemption option on the mid-range SPG hotels and using the “Cash & Points” option gives you even better value on SPG hotel redemptions.
Moreover, you can redeem these miles for travel in First and Business Class by transferring to airline partners which would cost much more if you used the Chase Sapphire Preferred card since you don’t get the 20% transfer bonus.
For example,you need 100,000 US Air Dividend Miles for a business class ticket to Europe. You would have to transfer only 80,000 SPG points (because of the 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred) to US Air to get this award.
Now, to earn 80,000 SPG points you would have to spend $80,000 on the SPG card. $80,000 is a lot to spend, but is 20% less than the $100,000 in spending required to earn the same award on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
British Airways Visa
You earn 1.25 British Airways miles per dollar spent, but the real benefit of this card is that you can get a free companion certificate when you spend $30,000 in a calendar year. This is a terrific value when combined with the 100,000 mile sign up bonus which was recently offered!
Now, British Airways charges fuel surcharges and taxes on awards, but by spending $30,000 you can redeem 2 tickets for the redemption rate of 1 ticket on British Airways.
For example, it costs 150,000 British Airways miles from the US to Europe in First Class. But by spending, $30,000 for the companion certificate, you will get a redemption worth an extra 150,000 British Airways miles.
So, in effect, by spending $30,000 you can save 150,000 British Airways miles (by using the companion certificate).
That is an earnings of 5 British Airways miles per dollar (assuming you used the companion certificate for a First Class redemption from the US to Europe).
Right now, I am using the British Airways Visa as my primary everyday spending card since I want to get the companion certificate and then redeem for 2 First Class awards!
Now, you are limited to only 1 companion pass per year, but this is still a great deal compared to the Chase Sapphire card where you have to spend $100,000 to get a business class ticket to Europe.
American Express Premier Rewards Gold
You can transfer points to more partners through the Amex Premier Reward Gold and there are numerous bonuses for transferring points.
You also earn double points for certain everyday purchases like gas and groceries. Together with the bonuses and double points, you will likely have an earnings rate greater than the 1.25 cents per dollar spent with the Chase Sapphire Preffered card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred card
Yes, the 50,000 bonus point sign-up bonus is great, but once you get the bonus, I don’t see much point in using the card regularly.
Sure, you don’t pay foreign transaction fees but that’s not reason enough to keep it in my wallet.
As we’ve just seen there are better options, such as the SPG card, BA card, or even regular airline cards such as the Chase United card, if you want to redeem points for experiences which you couldn’t afford otherwise, such as first and business class travel.
If you want to redeem points for domestic airfare, you are better off with the Capital One Venture card where you earn 2 points per dollar (versus 1.25 with the Sapphire Preferred) or better yet, a cash back card which gives you more than 2% cash back on purchases.
If you’re looking for the largest sign-up bonus, than you should look at the 75,000 mile Citi AAdvantage cards.
Bottom Line: The “best” everyday card is going to largely depend on your travel and spending patterns, together with how you use your miles and points (for the cheapest fare or first or business class travel).
Choosing your everyday spending credit card wisely is very important to have Big Travel with Small Money!
But I will confidently say that for most people the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is likely NOT the best card for everyday spending.
What are your favorite credit cards for everyday spending? Tell us about it in the comments!
Disclosure: You should know that I have checking and credit card accounts with Chase.
However, I don’t get any commission or payment from Chase, Citibank, American Express or anyone else for this post or for the links in this post. I also do not have a direct financial interest in American Express and Chase, and own negligible amounts of Citibank stock.