Million Mile Secrets supports our readers with thousands of hours of research and writing to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us (and you!) by signing-up for credit cards through partner links on our site, which earn us a commission. This keeps our small team employed and working hard for you! Here’s a longer explanation of our Advertising Policy.

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

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

Million Mile SecretsPros & Cons of Changing Your Sapphire Preferred to the No-Annual-Fee Sapphire CardMillion Mile Secrets Team

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!

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.

12 comments

by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Is the no fee Sapphire card metal?

No it is not

Great comparison!! Thank you so much!

If my spouse downgrades to the "mere" Sapphire, can she still transfer points to my Sapphire Preferred account (as she has been doing with her Sapphire Preferred to my Sapphire Preferred)?

Thank you John & Hilary

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.

Load more