Chase Sapphire Reserve card review

Chase Sapphire Reserve card review

Published: November 15, 2017
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Ratings Policy
Rewards Rating:
4.6 rating
4.6 rating
4.6 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.5
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.4
Rewards Flexibility: 4.9
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

The price of admission for this luxury card from J.P. Morgan Chase is steep, but its large sign-up bonus and generous travel allowance more than make up for the card’s $450 annual fee.

Rewards Rate

  • 3:1 travel and restaurants
  • 1:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$450

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$501

APR
16.99-23.99% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No blackout dates
  • No expiration dates
  • No point limits
  • Redeem points for gift cards, travel, merchandise and cash back
  • Purchase travel from outside sites and redeem for statement credits
  • Pay for travel with partial points
  • 1:1 point transfer to frequent flier partners
  • 50% bonus on travel rewards redeemed through Chase website
  • Combine points from other Chase cards

Cons

  • Lower rewards value for merchandise

Other Notable Features: $300 annual travel credit; $100 Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit; no foreign transaction fee; complimentary access to more than 1,000 airport lounges; select Visa Infinite hotel, air and car rental perks; trip cancellation and interruption insurance; car rental insurance; baggage delay insurance; lost luggage insurance; trip delay insurance; purchase protection; refund price differences; return protection; extended warranty; 24/7 customer service; exclusive events and experiences; zero fraud liability; year-end summary

Travel Rating:
4.5 rating
4.5 rating
4.5 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.4
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.6
Rewards Flexibility: 4.9
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is more than a posh luxury travel card – it’s a great value for frequent travelers, thanks to a large bonus and a very flexible $300 travel credit that covers most of the annual fee.

Rewards Rate

  • 3:1 travel and restaurants
  • 1:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$450

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$501

APR
16.99-23.99% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No blackout dates
  • No expiration dates
  • No point limits
  • Redeem points for gift cards, travel, merchandise and cash back
  • Purchase travel from outside sites and redeem for statement credits
  • Pay for travel with partial points
  • 1:1 point transfer to frequent flier partners
  • 50% bonus on travel rewards redeemed through Chase website
  • Combine points from other Chase cards

Cons

  • Lower rewards value for merchandise

Other Notable Features: $300 annual travel credit; $100 Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit; no foreign transaction fee; complimentary access to more than 1,000 airport lounges; select Visa Infinite hotel, air and car rental perks; trip cancellation and interruption insurance; car rental insurance; baggage delay insurance; lost luggage insurance; trip delay insurance; purchase protection; refund price differences; return protection; extended warranty; 24/7 customer service; exclusive events and experiences; zero fraud liability; year-end summary

Don’t be deterred by the new Chase Sapphire Reserve card’s three-figure annual fee. If you’re used to getting a large amount of value from no-fee or low annual fee cards, plunking down several hundred dollars on another card may not sound like a wise investment. But if you have $450 to spare and can manage another $4,000 in spending in the card’s first three months, you’ll get your money’s worth with this generous travel card.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card stands out by offering a large 50,000-point sign up bonus – worth, by some estimates, up to $500 or more – and a large $300 travel credit that you can use to pay for airfare, hotel stays or other travel-related purchases. With such a generous opening offer, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card joins an elite group of high-value luxury cards, such as the Citi Prestige card and the MasterCard Black card, that offer a wide array of freebies and elite benefits in exchange for a hefty up-front fee.

A large sign-up bonus

One appealing benefit of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is its large sign-up bonus, which matches the bonus on similar luxury cards. If you spend just $4,000 in the card’s first 90 days – roughly $1,334 a month – you’ll take home 50,000 bonus points that you can use to pay for free travel or redeem for gift cards or cash.

Because Chase Sapphire Reserve points are worth more than average, you’ll get more value out of your points than you might expect. Depending on how you redeem it, a Sapphire Reserve point could be worth as much as $.015 or more. Most credit card rewards points, by contrast, are only worth a penny. As a result, your 50,000-point bonus could surpass the annual fee by more than 50 percent – not a bad return for a three-figure investment.

A travel credit that rivals competitors’ best bonuses

On top of its large sign-up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card also offers a $300 annual travel credit that’s more generous than many of its competitors’ best sign-up offers – and those offers only last a year. In exchange for paying a $450 annual fee, Sapphire Reserve cardholders receive what essentially amounts to a $300 discount, effectively cutting the card’s annual fee down to $150.

Unlike other cards that strictly limit how cardholders can use their travel credit, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card allows cardholders to apply the credit to most any card purchase within the travel category. You can use your credit on round-trip airfare you purchased through a discount website, on a block of luxury hotel stays or on the taxi you took to get to your hotel.

Good points bonus on travel and restaurant spending

You can also help make up for the card’s annual fee by using your card to pay for all your restaurant and travel purchases. The Chase Sapphire Reserve gives cardholders an unlimited three points for every dollar they spend on travel and dining, making it a good choice for cardholders who travel frequently or spend a lot of evenings out. Because Chase Sapphire Reserve points are worth more than an average rewards point, the bonus points cardholders receive for travel and dining are especially valuable. Like most rewards credit cards, the Sapphire Reserve card also gives cardholders one point for every dollar spent on general purchases.

Hassle-free redemption

If you don’t like dealing with a credit card’s travel service and would rather book travel through an alternate service, you’ll especially like the Sapphire Reserve card’s rewards program. Unlike most rewards cards that make you go through the issuer’s travel agents to book a rewards-funded flight or hotel room, Chase lets you book your travel yourself and have it refunded.

As a result, you could get even more value out of your rewards points by shopping around for the best deals when you book travel. Booking through an outside service also means you don’t have to worry about travel blackout dates or other travel restrictions. However, if you use the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to book travel, you’ll earn a 50 percent bonus. If you don’t want to use your points on travel, you can also redeem your points for gift cards or cash.

Luxury perks

Like most super premium cards with three-figure annual fees, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers a wide array of freebies, exclusive services and other high-value perks. For example, cardholders are awarded a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck so that they can speed through airport security lines. They are also get unlimited free entry to more than 1,000 airport lounges around the world. In addition, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with premium travel perks, including travel and baggage insurance and exclusive discounts on travel.

All in all, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a superior travel rewards card that should be highly coveted by rewards card enthusiasts, though rewards seekers on a modest budget will probably want to seek a different card. The steep $450 annual fee is a major barrier for cardholders who don’t have a ton of extra cash. It also charges a relatively high APR, starting at 16.99 percent and maxing out at 23.99 percent, so you wouldn’t want to use this card to carry a balance.

Why get the Chase Sapphire Reserve card?

  • You travel and dine out frequently and so would benefit from the card’s triple point bonus on travel and restaurant spending.
  • You can easily afford to pay $450 up front and wait for your rewards.
  • You plan to spend at least $4,000 in the card’s first three months in order to qualify for the sign-up bonus.
  • You prefer flexibility in booking travel rewards, rather than having to go through the card issuer to book travel.
  • You spend enough on travel expenses to take advantage of the card’s $300 annual travel credit.

How to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve card:

  • Use your card for all your restaurant and travel purchases in order to cash in on the extra point bonus.
  • Be sure to spend at least $1,334 a month for the card’s first 90 days in order to receive its ample sign-up bonus.
  • To get the most value out of your rewards spending, book your travel through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal or book travel using a third-party comparison service that offers steep discounts.
  • Pay off your card in full each month. The Sapphire Reserve card’s APR is steep.

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