The Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards offer two of the most valuable sign-up bonuses among travel rewards cards, thanks to the value and flexibility of Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
If you are planning your next vacation and hoping to fund it with a large sign-up bonus, applying for a Chase Sapphire card may be the first item on your to-do list.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offer two of the most valuable sign-up bonuses among travel rewards cards, thanks to the value and flexibility of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The Sapphire Reserve card offers 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months, while the Sapphire Preferred card offers a whopping 100,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two cards is that the Sapphire Reserve is a premium travel rewards card that charges $550 annually, while the Preferred card charges $95 per year.
Which Chase Sapphire card is better in the first year?
At first glance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card may seem like the better value. Along with offering a much higher sign-up bonus, the Preferred card’s annual fee is only $95.
The Reserve card, by contrast, comes with a $550 annual fee. In fact, along with charging $550 per year, the card has a fee of $75 for each authorized user.
So why would anyone choose the Reserve card over the Preferred card? Read on to see why we think the Reserve card could be worth paying a much higher annual fee.
Comparing Chase Sapphire cards
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Reserve
|Sign-up bonus||100,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months||60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months|
|More things to know|
Despite its high annual fee, the Reserve card’s value becomes apparent when you redeem your points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a 50% bonus on Ultimate Rewards travel, compared to a 25% bonus for the Sapphire Preferred.
Additionally, the Reserve card offers $300 in annual travel credits, which can be applied to airfare and other travel costs, and a $100 statement credit every four years for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck applications. Plus, the card has added up to $60 in DoorDash credits this year that can also add to its value. These travel and dining bonuses, which can average $385 in statement credits per year, help cancel out the majority of the Reserve card’s annual fee.
See related: Are credit card annual fees worth it?
Recent changes to the Chase Sapphire cards
The Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred cards’ sign-up bonuses do not change frequently. The Sapphire Reserve card – which premiered with a 100,000-point sign-up bonus in August 2016 – has updated its sign-up bonus only twice since then to 50,000 points and now to 60,000 points. The Sapphire Preferred card recently increased its sign-up bonus by 20,000 points and is now also offering 100,000 points – the highest bonus in the card’s history.
|CHASE SAPPHIRE RESERVE CARD RECENT CHANGES|
|Change date||Sign-up bonus|
|March 23, 2021||60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months|
|Jan. 12, 2017||50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 90 days|
|Aug. 24, 2016||100,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 90 days|
|CHASE SAPPHIRE PREFERRED CARD RECENT CHANGES|
|Change date||Sign-up bonus|
|June 4, 2021||100,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months|
|March 23, 2021|
|Nov. 25, 2020||60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 90 days|
|Sept. 15, 2020||80,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 90 days|
|March 19, 2019||60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months|
(formerly 50,000 points after $4,000 spend in first 90 days)
Who is eligible for the sign-up bonus?The Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonuses are only available to new cardholders who have not received a new cardmember bonus for any Sapphire card in the past 48 months. Also, Chase only allows you to own one Sapphire card at a time, so you are not eligible for the bonus if you are already a Sapphire cardholder. Of course, you have to qualify for the cards first, which means you need a credit score in the excellent range (at least 750).
Chase doesn’t appear to have a hard limit on how many cards you own, though it may deny your application if you have too large of a credit limit across your other Chase cards. Also, while there is no strict rule on how many Chase cards you can apply for within a certain time frame, many applicants report a limit of one to two new cards per month.
Chase has come down hard recently on applicants who open many accounts at once. Though it’s not an official policy, Chase appears to be enforcing a “5/24” rule on new credit card applications. If you have opened at least five credit card accounts in the past 24 months with any issuer (not just Chase), your application will likely be denied. The rule seems to apply to any credit card account that shows up on your credit report, including co-branded store cards and authorized user accounts. (On the plus side, business credit cards that don’t report to your personal credit report do not affect your chances of being approved.)
Best way to use the Chase Sapphire cards’ sign-up bonus
The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cards are flexible point cards that offer a wide array of options for redeeming or transferring your points. You can redeem points as statement credits, direct deposits into a bank account, gift cards or travel, or purchase merchandise through Amazon.com or the Chase Pay app.
As you can see from the table below, travel redemptions are by far the best option with the Chase Sapphire cards. When you redeem your points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, you get a 25% to 50% bonus (depending on which card you own), drastically boosting the value of your points.
Redemption options for Chase Sapphire cards
|Redemption option||Point value||Value of 100,000-point sign-up bonus|
|Ultimate Rewards travel portal – Chase Sapphire Preferred card (25% redemption bonus)||1.25 cents||$1,250|
|Statement credit||1 cent||$1,000|
|Direct deposit||1 cent||$1,000|
|Gift cards||1 cent||$1,000|
|Amazon.com purchases||0.8 cent||$800|
|Chase Pay purchases||0.8 cent||$800|
Moreover, you can transfer your points at a 1:1 value to one of Chase’s many travel partners to get even higher values on your points. For instance, we value Southwest Airlines points at 1.6 cents on average (though, the value can vary widely depending on the ticket that you purchase), which means a 60,000-point bonus can net you $960 of value on average when used for Southwest airfare:
Transfer options for Chase Sapphire cards
|Transfer option||Point value||Value of 100,000-point sign-up bonus|
|Singapore Airlines transfer||2.36 cents||$2,360|
|World of Hyatt transfer||2 cents||$2,000|
|Southwest Airlines transfer||1.6 cents||$1,600|
|JetBlue transfer||1.53 cents||$1,530|
|United Airlines transfer||1.52 cents||$1,520|
|British Airways transfer||1.4 cents||$1,400|
|Air France transfer||1 cent||$1,000|
|Virgin Atlantic transfer||0.8 cent||$800|
|Marriott Bonvoy transfer||0.8 cent||$800|
|IHG Rewards Club transfer||0.55 cent||$550|
An extra 50,000 bonus points per year
In addition to a sign-up bonus, Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a referral bonus worth up to 75,000 points each year. Chase’s “Refer-a-Friend” promotion gives Sapphire Preferred cardholders 15,000 points for each person they refer who is approved for the card – up to five people per year. To take part in the promotion, enter your last name, ZIP code and last four digits of your credit card on Chase Sapphire Preferred’s refer-a-friend page. On the following page, you will enter the first name and email address of each person you wish to invite. You also have the option to post an invitation link to Facebook or Twitter or refer friends through the Chase app.
Should you apply for a Chase Sapphire card now?
Now is certainly a good time to sign up for a Sapphire card – especially the Chase Sapphire Preferred with its ultra-generous 100,000-point bonus. The bonuses rarely change and the points can take you practically anywhere you want to travel. Also, because the 5/24 rule limits the number of Chase cards you can sign up for in a 24-month period, we recommend applying sooner rather than later to get the clock started.