From free nights in premium hotels to TSA PreCheck, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth the steep annual fee for Olivia French.
Olivia French smiled broadly when she hopped on a Zoom call to talk about her Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
As a senior content designer at CreditCards.com, Olivia is no stranger to credit cards and their many rewards and potential pitfalls, so she was eager to share her experience with the card.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium card that requires good to excellent credit. Like many of her millennial counterparts, Olivia knows that getting top credit cards can be a struggle without the benefit of a lengthy credit history.
“My first credit card wasn’t great, but it helped me start my credit history and once I built up my score, I applied for other cards to help make my debt-to-credit ratio better,” explained Olivia.
Olivia also built her credit history after college by paying her student loans and paying off her first credit card in full every month. It took a few years to build up her credit history, but, eventually, she was able to confidently apply for a top rewards credit card.
Here’s what Olivia likes most about her Chase Sapphire Reserve card:
TSA PreCheckThe Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is a top choice for world travelers – and for good reason. With perks such as statement credits of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership, airport trips can be a breeze.
TSA PreCheck is an expedited security program at airports. After an application and background check, people who have TSA PreCheck can go through security without having to remove their shoes or take out their electronics.
As of April 2021, 98% of passengers with TSA PreCheck waited five minutes or less to clear security. Compare that to the 10 to 37 minutes it takes an average passenger to get through security and frequent travelers can have a lot of saved time on their hands.
“In January, we walked into the airport 20 minutes before our flight was boarding and went straight through TSA PreCheck,” Olivia explained. “That was really nice, because we didn’t have to be in the airport for that long.”
Competitive rewards rates
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium credit card – and with its steep annual fee of $550, it should be. First-time cardholders can receive 50,000 bonus points (with no blackout or expiration dates) when they meet the minimum spend requirement of $4,000 in the first three months.
On top of bonus points, the Chase Sapphire Reserve also gives cardholders a $300 travel credit each year and free Priority Pass Select membership. Add that to the 1:1 point transfer with frequent flyer partners and the 50% bonus on travel rewards redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and the average Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder earns around $717 a year in rewards.
For Olivia, the Chase Sapphire Reserve essentially pays for itself.
“I’ve had the Chase Sapphire Reserve for almost three years and the annual fee when I got it was $450,” she said. “The TSA PreCheck is $100, so that, added to the $300 travel credit, made the annual fee like $50 for my first year.”
Free nights at premium hotels
Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Olivia – like so many of us – hasn’t been able to use her travel rewards like she would in a normal year. However, she was able to take a trip to Savannah, Georgia.
“I just redeemed my points for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I was able to pay for three nights at the JW Marriott in Savannah and it was super nice,” she said. “The room was great, and breakfast was included.”
Olivia estimated that she still has 35,000 points remaining after paying for her stay with rewards earned with her Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Something to consider
If you’re interested in a top rewards card without a high annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a good option. With an annual fee of $95, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers competitive perks for travelers and foodies alike.
Chase is currently offering 60,000 bonus points to card owners who spend $4,000 in the first three months. As with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, there are no blackout dates or exclusions on points earned, and we estimate the average spender can earn $572 in yearly rewards in the first three years with the card.
“The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great card if you travel and eat out (or order in!) a lot and are looking to get high returns for your spending,” Olivia said. “As long as you take advantage of all the card has to offer, it’s well worth the annual fee, especially if you pair it with another Chase card to maximize your Chase Ultimate Rewards.”