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Premium credit cards have always been a hard sell to millions of Americans, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is nonetheless one of the most successful rewards credit cards on the market.
Why? Let’s take a closer look at this premium travel card to see whether it’s a good investment for you.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been around for several years as a top-tier rewards credit card, and it’s only gotten better as of January 2020.
It recently saw an update to its annual fee and its rewards, though the price uptick has been largely well-received by the card’s current holders thanks to new discounts and special offers.
All told, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a premium and valuable card if you can stomach the high annual fee and will take full advantage of its different rewards opportunities to maximize your rewards return rate.
Put simply, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a luxury travel rewards credit card. For starters, it comes with an annual reward of $300 in travel credit, plus a variety of other rewards and discount programs that you can transfer to a host of other companies’ loyalty programs, including airlines and hotel chains.
In addition, just holding the card grants, you access various luxury lounges, like airport lounges for major airline brands.
You’ll get 3x points on travel expenses after earning your $300 travel credit reward, plus 3x rewards points on dining expenses, including dining and restaurants, take out, and various eligible delivery services like Uber Eats.
Even after all this, you’ll get an additional point for every $1 spent on all other purchases. This all adds up to an overall general rewards rate of between 1.5% and 4.5%.
As mentioned, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a variable rewards rate depending on whether you take advantage of the 3x points boosts through dining at certain restaurants or using the card for travel expenses.
In addition to the cash back points program, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides a variety of lifestyle and luxury benefits, such as one year of DoorDash’s DashPass (which saves you from delivery fees for any orders over $12) or Lyft Pink.
If you want to make the most of this rewards card, you’ll want to earn as many points as possible and use them to book travel or pay for other expenses.
This is all done through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal or URP. It’s through this portal that you’ll also exchange your points between different retailers or loyalty programs.
When you redeem the points for travel, you’ll benefit from a 50% increase, making each point worth 1.5 cents instead of 1 cent.
It’s less valuable to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for Apple or Amazon purchases, as you’ll only make about 0.8 cents in rewards per dollar spent instead.
Fortunately, the Ultimate Rewards never expire while your card account is still open.
As for the loyalty program, you can transfer the points at a ratio of 1:1 through any of the many Chase travel partners.
This allows you to use your points as efficiently as possible and take advantage of limited-time offers through the various airline travel partners.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is a travel-lover’s dream, featuring an excellent reward point accumulation rate and a ton of quality bonuses.
Luxury perks, easy points transferring, and lounge access make this the premium credit card for any frequent flier with money to spend.
In total, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers over a dozen different rewards for cash back aspects. These are:
Let’s take a closer look at each of these rewards in detail.
As mentioned, the sign-up bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is generous, particularly if you plan to use the card often for travel and luxury expenses.
You’ll get 60,000 bonus points after spending just $4000 on purchases in the first three months. That sounds like a lot, but you could easily reach this with a few long-distance plane flights and some nights in nice hotels.
Redeem the points through the Ultimate Rewards Portal, and you’ll get $900 in travel credit. Talk about savings!
Cardholders will benefit from complement or access to over 1300 different airport lounges through Chase’s Priority Pass Select program.
In a nutshell, this allows you to enter any participating lounges for free whenever you travel, plus bring any two guests of your choosing. In total, this is equivalent to about $399 in annual value.
No one likes the mandatory fees for TSA Precheck or Global Entry, but you don’t have to stomach the cost just to get into the airport more quickly.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® will automatically reimburse you with credit for these expenses up to $100.
Each year you maintain an active account with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you’ll get $300 in travel credit that can automatically be applied to travel purchases you make with the card itself.
That’s enough to knock off a stay in a decent hotel room, rent a car, or more. It’s an excellent bonus that reminds you of just how much value this card has to offer every 12 months.
As you use the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you’ll earn Ultimate Rewards points, which can be exchanged between this card and other cards in the shared program.
The transfer rate is 1:1, which means that, with some clever transferring, you can increase your rewards rate overall with the right moves by transferring points to different cards that have better exchange rates for various purchases.
Chase maintains a wide range of different loyalty programs you can transfer your rewards points to. These include British Airways Executive Club, United Mileage Plus, Marriott Bonvoy, and JetBlue.
One of the biggest benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the fact that you can boost your points reserve by transferring rewards points from other Chase cards under your name.
Then, using the URP, you can use the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to make travel purchases and get 50% more points from those purchases simultaneously.
In other words, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® rewards you for gaming the system.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® relieves you of having to pay for the collision or theft or damage waiver that usually comes when you rent a car (this can normally cost around $20 per day).
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you don’t have to pay for this waiver, as Chase will help to cover the loss instead if something does go wrong with your rental car.
In total, this insurance covers you and any other authorized drivers on the rental agreement for:
However, it doesn’t cover everything, including rentals for vans, vehicles with open cargo beds, limousines, other recreational vehicles, and so on.
The coverage protects you for up to $75,000 and also requires that your vehicle rental lasts no longer than 31 consecutive days.
Qualify for this card, and you’ll also enjoy several security features. These include multiple authentication checks whenever you log into your account, profile monitoring for fraud, personal information encryption, and more.
The 24/7 fraud monitoring is particularly noteworthy, as Chase will quickly alert you if there’s any unusual activity with your account.
Furthermore, Chase will provide card replacement services if your Sapphire is lost or stolen, and they never hold you responsible for any unauthorized charges.
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve® does have a lot of positive aspects, it’s important to go into the contract with both eyes open, fully aware of its few but significant downsides.
The biggest downside is the high annual fee, which is $550 per year. There’s a very good chance that you might save much more than this just by using the card regularly and as intended, but it’s important to keep in mind regardless.
In addition, the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a $75 fee for every extra authorized card user.
While having access to over 1000 premium lounges sound like a lot, there are plenty of other cards that provide better lounge access.
For instance, the Platinum Amex card gives you access to Delta’s Sky Clubs, whereas Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard comes with American Airlines Admirals Clubs access.
If you want to maximize the use of your Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you should start by taking advantage of the introductory bonus.
Granted, you’ll need to spend at least $4000 within your first three months to get the bonus 60,000 points. But you might be able to hit this easily if you frequently travel (and thus have to pay for hotels and airfare all the time).
Take a look at any other Chase card you might have that contributes points to the Ultimate Rewards program.
Then compare the points to the rewards rate you get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Since you can transfer points from any of your other cards to the Sapphire or the other way around, you can use whichever Chase card that offers the best reward rate or deal.
Lastly, keep loyalty programs in mind. You might find it to be efficient with your budget to transfer points to various Chase travel partners.
Remember, you always earn 50% bonus points when using your points to buy travel packages or services using the Chase URP.
In the end, you have to decide whether spending $550 a year for a credit card is worthwhile. At its core, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a card designed for frequent travelers who really enjoy premium or luxurious benefits and who will take advantage of points boosts by using the card for regular travel purchases.
The card becomes more lucrative and advantageous as you use it more often.
In short, if you have the requisite money to pay for the annual fee, you probably have the budget to spend enough money to make the card worthwhile as well. The reverse is true if the $550 annual fee gives you stomachaches.
To an extent. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides insurance for trip cancellations, interruptions, and even some accidents.
In total, the card covers:
All told, the travel insurance benefits are pretty robust and extensive, especially for frequent flyers.
Given the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s high costs, it makes sense to compare it to other cards before making a final decision.
The Reserve’s primary competitor is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, which has a much lower $95 annual fee.
However, it also only gives you two points per dollar spent on dining and travel expenses worldwide, along with one point per dollar spent on anything else.
In many ways, it is a cheaper but less expensive version of the Reserve card, offering good points transfer options and DoorDash’s Dash Pass subscription.
It notably lacks many of the other benefits included with the Reserve card, such as TSA pre-check reimbursement, airport lounge access, and more.
The Platinum Card® from American Express also comes with a $550 annual fee, but it offers 5x membership rewards points for any flights booked directly through certain airlines, plus 5x points accumulate and for prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel.
A variety of other complimentary benefits and Gold Elite statuses with hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton make this a solid travel card for frequent flyers who spend money at the same brands over and over.
The Citi Prestige Credit Card was relaunched in 2019 and offers 5x points for air travel and dining purchases, plus a wide range of transfer partners that is nonetheless not as extensive as the list offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
It’s not as good a card overall, featuring a 4th Night Free benefit that is unfortunately capped at twice per year.
Absolutely… provided you travel frequently and will actually make use of the wide range of benefits and perks available.
You’ll need an excellent credit score of at least 720 to qualify for this card.
It costs $550 annually no matter what, so you’ll benefit from using the card as much as possible to get rewards that pay for the annual fee over time.
No, but it does provide a variety of travel insurance protections.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers travel protection for a wide range of accidents, injuries, and more (see above).
Yes, up to $3000.
Yes, both to various loyalty programs and to other cards within Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program.
Overall, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a solid premium credit card that provides a huge selection of rewards and perks.
It’s most useful for frequent travelers that want to fly and dine in style, but it’s less appropriate as a general-use rewards card for average folks.