Chase has increased the sign-up bonus for the Sapphire Preferred credit card for the first time since 2015

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For the first time since 2015, Chase has increased the standard sign-up bonus on its flagship Sapphire Preferred credit card, improving what was already a lucrative deal for new cardholders.

Starting today, eligible new cardholders can earn a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. This is up from the previous standard bonus of 50,000 points — it was raised from 40,000 points in fall 2015.

While its beefier sibling, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, offered a limited-time 100,000-point sign-up bonus when it was launched in 2016, the current offer on the Sapphire Preferred is the highest-ever standard offer on a Sapphire-brand card. The Sapphire Reserve’s bonus does not appear to be increasing, meaning the lower-tier Preferred now has a higher bonus than the premium card.

Also beginning today: The Sapphire Preferred will no longer waive its $95 annual fee for the first year. However, the additional 10,000 points in the sign-up bonus should more than make up for that. Ultimate Rewards (UR) points can be redeemed for 1¢ each as cash back, 1.25¢ each for travel booked through Chase, or potentially more by transferring points to frequent flyer partners.

The new sign-up bonus adds to the list of reasons why the Sapphire Preferred remains a powerhouse in the credit card rewards space.

Read on to see why it’s still one of the best rewards credit cards available.

Earn rewards on everyday spending quickly.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2x per dollar spent on travel and dining, and one point per dollar on everything else. Travel and dining are defined broadly — travel includes everything from taxis, subways, parking, tolls, and Uber to things like airfare, hotels, cruises, and Airbnb, while dining includes restaurants, bars, coffee shops, fast-food restaurants, most bakeries, and more.

Those points add up quickly. A significant portion of my own spending is on things that fall into the travel or dining categories, so getting bonus points on those purchases is incredibly lucrative.

Use points how you want, and get a great value no matter what.

The Sapphire Preferred earns Chase’s in-house rewards currency, known as Ultimate Rewards (UR) points. There are a few different ways you can redeem them.

One option is to simply redeem them for cash. One UR point equals one cent, so if you have 10,000 points, that’s $100. You can get the cash as a statement credit or direct deposited to your linked checking account.

Another option is to use points to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards travel website. It works like any other online travel agency, such as Priceline or Expedia. You can search for flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises, vacation packages, or more. The best part is that when you book travel through Chase and use points, you’ll get a 25% bonus, making each point worth 1.25 cents. If you have 50,000 points, they’ll be worth $625. If the trip you want to book costs more points than you have, you can always pay the difference.

The most valuable way to use points is transferring them to Chase’s travel partners, including nine airline frequent flyer programs and four hotel loyalty programs. While this is more complicated, you can generally get more value by booking frequent flyer award tickets than you can by using your points as cash or through Chase. You can even book flights in business or first class for fewer points than you might expect. You can read more about why transferable points are so valuable.

Even with the new changes, the Sapphire Preferred has a (much) lower annual fee than the Sapphire Reserve

While there are other cards, like Chase’s Sapphire Reserve, which offer slightly higher rewards earning or more benefits, they also come with higher annual fees. The Sapphire Preferred has an annual fee of $95, on the other hand. It’s easy to get way more than $95 a year in the form of rewards, not to mention other benefits the card has.

The sign-up bonus is extremely valuable.

When you open a new Sapphire Preferred card, you can earn 60,000 UR points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months. That’s worth $600 as cash back, $750 towards travel purchased through Chase, or more transferred to travel partners.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has some great benefits in addition to rewards.

Trip delay insurance covers your expenses if you’re traveling and end up delayed overnight, or for 12 hours. Each covered person on the trip can be reimbursed for up to $500 a day in reasonable expenses, including food, toiletries, a change of clothing, and hotel accommodations. This can be useful if you end up stranded due to delayed or cancelled flights — even when the cause is bad weather.

The Sapphire Preferred also offers a primary auto rental collision damage waiver, or free loss and damage coverage when you use the card to pay for a rental car. Just decline the collision/damage/loss coverage offered by the rental agency.

The card has several other benefits, including trip cancellation/interruption insurance, extended warranty coverage, luggage delay insurance, and other purchase protections.

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.

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