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Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred 100,000-point welcome bonus is the best we've ever seen

This bonus is worth at least $1,250 toward travel, but it's possible to get even more value.

Leslie Josephs | CNBC

Some of the Chase offers below may no longer be available. Please visit our list of the best Chase cards for the most current offers.

The U.S. is starting to emerge from the pandemic, and Americans are revving up their spending on travel. And credit card issuers are trying to get in on the action by offering huge welcome bonus offers to entice new customers.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card just launched its biggest welcome bonus ever, and one of the best bonuses we've ever seen on a credit card.

If you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card now you'll earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.

Those 100,000 points are worth $1,000 in cash back, $1,250 when redeemed through the Chase Travel portal and potentially way more if you transfer the points and redeem with the right travel partner like United or Hyatt.

Why this bonus is special

While 100,000-point welcome bonuses on credit cards aren't new, they are rare.

When Chase launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve® in 2016, it had a 100,000-point bonus. There was so much hype around the Sapphire Reserve that a huge number of people signed up for the card so quickly that Chase ran out of metal to produce it. While 100,000 points was a huge haul, at the time, the Sapphire Reserve had a $450 annual fee. (It's since increased to $550.)

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card was already one of the top travel credit cards available, and we ranked it the best travel credit card with an annual fee under $100. Typically, credit cards usually offer bonuses from 50,000 to 60,000 points. The Sapphire Preferred bonus normally sits at 60,000 points, but Chase had raised it to 80,000 in recent months. The new offer means you're getting nearly double the value for a bonus that is already considered one of the best for a rewards card.

But what makes this new bonus on the Sapphire Preferred card so special is that you don't have to pay a large annual fee or spend tens of thousands of dollars to get the bonus. The Sapphire Preferred has a modest $95 annual fee and the minimum spending requirement is quite reasonable. Spending $4,000 to reach the bonus may feel more achievable if you spread it out over three months, averaging to roughly $1,333 a month. (It's important to remember that rewards points are only worthwhile if you're able to pay your card off on time and in full each month, so you're not paying interest charges on your balance.)

We've never seen this high of a bonus, with a reasonable minimum spend, on a $95 card that offers valuable and flexible points.

What you can get with 100,000 Chase points

A 100,000-point welcome bonus is a big deal on any card, but 100,000 Chase points may be more valuable compared to competitors'.

You can redeem Chase points for cash back at a rate of 1 cent apiece, meaning 100,000 points would be worth $1,000. Or, you could book travel through the Chase Travel Portal, and Sapphire Preferred cardholders get a 25% boost on the value of your points. So, the welcome bonus would get you $1,250 of airfare, hotel stays, rental cars and more.

Last year, Chase launched the Pay Yourself Back tool, which allows you to "erase" grocery, dining and home improvement purchases from your statement. Points are also worth 25% more this way, meaning you could cover $1,250 of eligible purchases with Pay Yourself Back. The Pay Yourself Back benefit ends Dec. 31, 2022.

But where Ultimate Reward points really shine is when cardholders can redeem them with Chase travel partners for outsized value. You can transfer points to 13 of Chase's travel partners including United, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Marriott and Hyatt.

For instance, you can transfer 100,000 Chase points to Virgin Atlantic and book two business class flights to Europe on Delta. Those two tickets could easily cost more than $5,000 if you paid out of pocket.

Looking for a luxury hotel stay? Transfer points to Hyatt and book a room at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, as made famous by the Bill Murray classic Lost in Translation. You'll only need to use 30,000 points for a room that can go for more than $1,000 a night.

If you really want to stretch your points, you could transfer them to British Airways and book American Airlines flights. With 100,000 points, you could book 11 one-way flights on American Airlines (flights must be under 1,250 miles in distance, so you could fly from New York JFK to Miami or between Los Angles and Seattle).

Bottom line

If you've been considering signing-up for a travel credit card, this would be the time to do it. The 100,000-point bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best we've ever seen. With a reasonable minimum spending requirement to receive the huge welcome bonus and a modest annual fee, it's hard not to like this offer.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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