Chase Sapphire Reserve® Review
- 50,000 bonus point offer after spending $4,000 on Purchases within the first 3 months
- 3x points on travel and dining after using the full travel credit
- Travel perks and protections, like credit for TSA Pre-Check and trip cancellation insurance
- Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards®
How We Reviewed Chase Sapphire Reserve® Credit Card
10 hours of research
4 standout features
3 competitors compared
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Review
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit card is a premium card targeted to frequent travelers and offers a variety of perks and protections for those always on the go, including extra points on travel, restaurants, and airport pre-check and lounge access. As with most premium cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® also comes with a premium price tag. The annual fee is $450, compared to the $95 charge that comes with the less premium, but still mega-popular, Chase Sapphire Preferred®. Also, to get the introductory bonus offer of 50,000 points (equivalent to $750 in Chase Ultimate Rewards), you need to spend $4,000 in purchases in the first three months of the account opening. In our roundup of Best Travel Credit Cards, we awarded the Sapphire Reserve with “Best for Big Spenders.”
It’s also more difficult to qualify for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, as it requires a good credit score and adherence to the 5/24 rule, which rejects your card application if you’ve applied to five or more personal credit cards in the previous two years. But we think that if you can comfortably afford the annual fee and would take advantage of all the rewards it comes with, the Sapphire Reserve card is one of the best travel credit cards you can get right now.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit card promises “exceptional travel rewards and benefits,” fulfilling Chase’s guarantee of “a card for every need.”
Is it true?
Yes. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a slew of benefits for the frequent traveler, including 3x points on travel and dining purchases, credits toward Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application, airport lounge access, and more. Furthermore, the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program gives you the opportunity to redeem points with a variety of major airlines and hotels, including JetBlue, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Hyatt, and Marriott.
Frequent travelers, cardholders who will pay the full balance every month
Those with minimal spending habits and infrequent travel needs
50,000 bonus point offer
If you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first three months of activating the card, you can get 50,000 bonus points (equivalent to $750) that can be redeemed toward plane tickets, car rentals, hotel stays, and cruises via Chase Ultimate Rewards®. While this is a generous bonus, we don’t recommend overspending in order to achieve it. It’s only beneficial for those who can comfortably afford to spend that amount in three months.
3x points on travel and dining
Every year, Chase will automatically reimburse up to $300 spent on travel (including hotels, flights, taxis, and more) through a statement credit on your account anniversary. After that first $300 spent at the beginning of each year (which counts toward the statement but won’t accrue points), you’ll earn 3x points per $1 spent on travel thereafter. You’ll also receive 3x points on money spent at restaurants and 1x point on all other purchases.
Travel perks and protections
In addition to no foreign transaction fee — a plus if you travel overseas regularly — the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers other exciting travel perks, such as a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check, free access to airport lounges in more than 500 cities worldwide, and benefits at Chase’s partner hotels and resorts.
“If your rewards card offers insurances that protect you when you lose your luggage, have to cancel a trip due to illness or get in an accident in a rental car, you need to ensure you are putting all major travel purchases on your card. That way, you are protected in case things go wrong. You should also carefully read the terms and conditions that came with your card to see what is covered under each of these protections.”
Chase also offers vital travel protections, like trip cancellation and interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, and more. These benefits are only available for travel expenses charged to your Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit card.
Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Chase has one of the most flexible loyalty programs out there. If you’re a frequent traveler, you can apply your rewards for a free or discounted flight, hotel stay, car rental, or experience. Chase has preferred airline and hotel partners, including JetBlue, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Hyatt, and Marriott.
You can also use your points to pay for eligible purchases with Amazon or Apple, redeem a gift card, or convert to cash (1 point = $0.01), though we recommend keeping your points redemption within the Chase family, since points go further than cash-back.
$450 annual fee
Many credit cards require an annual fee for management, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit card has a sizeable fee of $450. For comparison’s sake, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card — a highly popular travel credit card alternative — has an annual fee of $95. If you take the $300 annual travel credit into account, you could consider the annual fee to be $150 instead, but that’s still a large out-of-pocket expense every year.
Sherman advises, “Consider if you will take advantage of perks like travel credits and protections, elite status or lounge access before signing up for a card with a high annual fee.”
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit card has a higher-than-average APR, coming in at 18.74% - 25.74% (variable, based on creditworthiness). We recommend that, as with any credit card, you pay the balance in full each month to avoid interest and avoid dings to your credit score, but it’s especially important when you can potentially get charged one-fifth of your balance every month.
According to Chase’s “5/24” rule, if you have opened five or more personal credit cards in the last 24 months (with any bank), your application for a Chase card may be rejected. If you’re someone who applies for lots of cards based on the travel rewards, this is something to be aware of. The rule is subject to lots of caveats, so we recommend this 5/24 rule guide from The Points Guy as additional reading.
Data correct as of October 17, 2019
Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred®
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the newer, higher-end version of the highly popular Chase Sapphire Preferred®. Both have introductory bonus offers and take advantage of Chase Ultimate Rewards, which lets you redeem points for airfare, hotels, rental cars, cruises, and more. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® does come with additional travel benefits, like an annual $300 credit for travel purchases, 3x points on travel and dining purchases, a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check, and free access to airport lounges around the world. These perks do come at a cost, though. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has an annual fee of $450, versus the $95 annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Preferred®. If you’re on the fence about the Sapphire Reserve’s out-of-pocket cost, we recommend trying out the Sapphire Preferred first to see if you like the rewards program and find it amenable to your travel needs.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express
On the surface, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express cards are very similar: they both have expensive annual fees ($450 and $550, respectively), generous introductory point bonuses, airport lounge access, and credits for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check. However, The Platinum Card® from American Express doesn’t come with the travel protections that the Chase Sapphire Reserve® does (including baggage delay and trip delay reimbursements) and may not be worth it for people who won’t use the Uber and Saks Fifth Avenue credits it awards. We do recommend it, though, if you wouldn’t qualify for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® under the 5/24 rule.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Citi Prestige® Credit Card
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Citi Prestige® Credit Card also have similarities, namely in the annual fees ($450 and $495), nearly identical bonus point offers, trip protections, Global Entry or TSA-Check application credits, and airport lounge access. But one exciting perk of the Citi Prestige® Credit Card — and its biggest differentiator — is the 4th Night Free benefit, in which Citi will pay for the fourth night of your hotel stay at any hotel you book through ThankYou.com. Beginning in September 2019, the benefit was capped to twice per calendar year.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Credit Card FAQ
What is one Chase point worth?
One point is equal to one cent cash back. But if you spend your points using the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, one point is equal to 1.25 cents in travel credit.
What rewards can I get with Chase Ultimate Rewards®?
One of the greatest values of a travel rewards card is that points go further than simple cash back. With the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program, you can redeem your points for a free or discounted flight, hotel stay, car rental, or experience. Chase’s preferred airline and hotel partners include JetBlue, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, and more. Points can also be redeemed for cash-back or used as credit for purchases with Amazon or Apple, but we recommend the travel rewards over those options since it stretches your dollar further.
While this card is best for the frequent traveler, you don’t necessarily have to be a jet-setter to enjoy the benefits. Emily Sherman of CreditCards.com says, “Even less frequent travelers can eke plenty of value out of perks like free travel credits or a high rewards rate on dining purchases. I think it is important to really do the math on how much you think you can get out of a particular card before deciding if it is right for you.”