If you’re a frequent traveler and a foodie, you’ll love all the benefits that come with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
If you’re looking to get the most value possible out of your credit card and you spend a lot on food and travel, then it’s hard to beat the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. The biggest drawback of this luxury travel card is the price: $550 per year, which isn’t cheap.
However, if you know how to use the benefits that come with this card, you can easily recoup the cost of the annual fee and then some. We’ll show you how you can do that in this Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits guide.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve at a glance
Like many cards in its class, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is geared more toward cardholders looking for luxury benefits and who have a credit score to match. You’ll need an excellent credit score (740 or higher) in order to get it.
The card’s APR (19.99 percent to 26.99 percent variable) isn’t anything to write home about. However, it’s always best to avoid carrying a balance if you can, in which case the APR wouldn’t matter if you pay your full bill on time every month. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about any foreign transaction fees with this card, which means it’s easy to bring with you on travel abroad.
When the Chase Sapphire Reserve card first launched in 2016, it made waves by offering a 100,000-point sign-up bonus, worth $1,500 toward travel. These days, it’s 80,000 points — still worth $1,200 when redeemed toward travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. To earn it, you’ll need to spend $4,000 within the first three months of getting this card.
The sign-up bonus will get you off to a good start and allow you to recoup the high annual fee of the card in the first year. But after the first year, you must leverage the card’s rewards structure and other benefits to get your money’s worth.
The way you’ll earn rewards is pretty straightforward with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Every dollar from purchases you make with the card will earn at least 1 point. For general travel and restaurant purchases, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent. These have been the standard earning rates since the card launched.
Chase also offers elevated rewards on travel purchases you make through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal:
- 10X points spent on hotels and rental cars booked through the portal
- 5X points on airfare booked through the portal
It’s important to note that you’ll only earn points at these high rates after you’ve earned your $300 annual travel credit, which we’ll discuss further below.
Travel is at the heart of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. What you’ll get is as follows:
- Up to a $300 annual travel credit: The first $300 you spend each year on travel purchases will be automatically reimbursed with a statement credit. Purchases that qualify for travel include flights, hotel stays, taxi rides, public transportation and more.
- Priority lounge access: You’ll get a free Priority Pass Select membership that gives you, and two guests, unlimited access to more than 1,300 airport lounges around the world. (A Priority Pass Prestige membership, which also grants free unlimited access, costs $429 a year.)
- Extra hotel perks: When you stay at a Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection property, you’ll enjoy special guest privileges including daily breakfast, free Wi-Fi, early check-in and late check-out. To enjoy these perks, you must book at least a double occupancy room on the LHRC website through Ultimate Rewards.
- Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit: Every four years (the length of these memberships) you’ll be eligible for an up to $100 statement credit against the cost of your application for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Membership in either program will expedite your way through security when you play.
- Lyft benefits: You’ll get a free Lyft Pink membership (which usually costs $19.99 a month) if you activate it by March 31, 2025. You’ll also get 10X points on Lyft rides through that date.
One of the best features of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is how far you can stretch your points. The card is part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, one of the best and most valuable travel rewards programs out there. Which card you have your points on when redeeming could give you different redemption values.
At the low end, such as with the Chase Freedom Unlimited, your points are worth 1 cent each. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card performs slightly better, with points worth 1.25 cents each (25 percent increase), but only when redeemed for travel.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve, on the other hand, offers the most value: Each point is worth 1.5 cents each (50 percent more) when redeemed for travel through the Chase portal. This is, in fact, the highest-value way to redeem your points, but you can also choose from other options like cash back, gift cards or even merchandise. Your redemption rate will be lower, however, for non-travel redemption options.
The best part is that you can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points from your other Chase credit cards to your Chase Sapphire Reserve account. For example, if you have 50,000 points on your Chase Freedom Unlimited account, you could transfer them to your Chase Sapphire Reserve account — where their value could shoot up from $500 to $750.
Other insurances and perks
The Chase Sapphire Reserve also comes with a host of other benefits that might not offer a ton of value every year, but they could save the day if you run into problems or offer you smaller ways to maximize your value.
- Primary rental car insurance: If you decline the optional rental car insurance from the rental car company, you’ll be covered against damage from collisions. You won’t even need to use your own car insurance first like with most policies — this will kick in first.
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance: We all hate it when a trip is canceled or delayed, and it can be costly, too. You’re covered for up to $10,000 per person ($20,000 max per trip) with this insurance when that happens.
- Lost luggage insurance: Losing your bag can be a major headache, but you can file for reimbursement of up to $3,000 per passenger per trip with this coverage.
- Purchase protection: If something you recently bought with your card is damaged or stolen, you can file for reimbursement of up to $10,000 per claim within a 120-day time limit.
- Return protection: If you bought something within the past 90 days and the merchant won’t allow you to return it, Chase will reimburse you for up to $1,000 per year.
- Extended warranty protection: Did you crack your cellphone screen right after the warranty ended? The card provides an extended warranty of one year after eligible warranties of three years or less.
- Special event access: Chase offers early-access tickets and priority seating to many popular sporting events or concerts with Chase Experiences. It also offers reservations at top restaurants.
- DoorDash benefits: You’ll get a free DoorDash DashPass membership, which gives you free delivery, 10 percent off service fees on eligible orders and a $5 DoorDash credit every month (activate by December 31, 2024).
How to maximize your Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits
Figuring out how to maximize the value you get from this card isn’t as difficult as managing a rotating category rewards card, per se, but it will take some forethought on your part.
The easiest way to recoup some of this card’s costs is by making sure you’re able to spend at least $5,856 per year (or $488 per month, on average) on travel and dining with this card.
How does this break down? Your first $300 in travel expenses is essentially free each year because of the travel credits. After that, you’d need to spend an additional $5,556 on travel and dining expenses (which earn 3X points) to earn 16,668 points. When redeemed for travel, those points are worth $250. So, if you spend around $500 per month, you should earn enough rewards to fully recoup the cost of the card every year.
That’s not even including the other ways you can maximize your benefits, such as using the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credits, accessing Priority Pass airport lounges often and more. The best way to take advantage of all that is available to you is to become familiar with your benefits portal through Chase’s website.
Chase is always proactive in updating its cards to continually give value, so make sure you stay updated on your card benefits.
There’s no doubt that the Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the costliest cards out there. But there’s also no doubt that if you utilize all the benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll get more value out of the card than what you spend on the annual fee each year. It might take a bit more planning than with a no-annual-fee rewards card, but for the serious traveler, it’s worth the effort.