Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns 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.
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!
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!
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
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:
- 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel and dining
- 1X Chase Ultimate Rewards point per $1 spent on other purchases
- 5,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase within the first 3 months
- Primary car rental insurance – Covers damage or theft to your rental car, when you pay for the rental with your card
- Trip delay reimbursement – Get up to $500 back per ticket when your trip is delayed more than 12 hours (even when you’re flying on an award ticket)
- NO foreign transaction fees
- The ability to transfer Ultimate Rewards to Chase’s transfer partners such as United Airlines, Southwest, and Hyatt
- Use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book paid travel (no blackout dates!) at a rate of 1.25 cents per point through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal. This includes flights, hotels, rental cars, and more.
The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.
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).
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
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.
Rental Car Coverage
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.
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:
|Earns Chase Ultimate Rewards Points||Yes||Yes|
|Bonus Categories||2X on dining and travel booked through Chase's Travel Portal||2X on dining and most travel expenses|
|Transfer Ultimate Rewards to Airline & Hotel Partners||Only if first transferred to a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold card||Yes|
|Book Paid Travel Through Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal||Yes - points are worth 1 cent each||Yes - points are worth 1.25 cents each|
|Trip Cancellation / Interruption||$5,000 per occurrence||$10,000 per occurrence|
|Rental Car Insurance||Secondary||Primary|
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.
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.
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!