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In a Nutshell:
The price of admission for this luxury card is steep, but its large sign-up bonus and generous travel allowance more than make up for the card’s $550 annual fee.
60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
Chase Customer Service Ratings
Other Notable Features: $300 annual travel credit; up to $100 Global Entry/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; return protection; extended warranty; 24/7 customer service; exclusive events and experiences; zero fraud liability; year-end summary; free Lyft Pink membership for one year (activate by Mar. 31, 2025); free DashPass membership for one year (activate by Dec. 31, 2024)
If you’re eager to travel more in 2023 and beyond, the Chase Sapphire Reserve stands out as a terrific option. Not only can you score a very valuable sign-up bonus to get you off on the right foot, but thanks to its flexible travel credit, lounge access, and other plush benefits, as well as a great ongoing rewards rate, the Sapphire Reserve can also be a valuable long-term addition to your wallet despite its high annual fee.
Read on to learn more about the Sapphire Reserve card’s value versus its cost, who this card is best for, other cards to consider, and its pros and cons.
See related: Best Ultimate Rewards cards
- Offers some of the highest rewards rates available for travel and dining when booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Point values are increased by 50 percent when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
- Cardholders receive an automatic $300 travel credit each year on account anniversary, which can help to recoup the high annual fee
- This card has one of the most robust collections of travel protection benefits available
- Charges a $75 annual fee per authorized user in addition to the $550 annual fee
- Lacks luxury airport lounge and hotel options compared to competitors
- Current sign-up bonus offer is not its best
- Does not offer an introductory APR period
Why you might want the Chase Sapphire Reserve card
Whether you’re an Ultimate Rewards fan eager to maximize the value of your points or a frequent traveler looking to add some luxury perks to your toolkit, the Sapphire Reserve stands out as one of the best premium travel cards out there. Though the card carries a high annual fee, the card’s flexible travel credit and benefits can easily cover the cost if you take full advantage. Plus, the card offers extremely flexible rewards redemption options and boosts the value of your points by 50% when you redeem for travel.
Here are some of the key advantages the Sapphire Reserve offers as a travel rewards card:
Valuable, attainable sign-up bonus
One of the most eye-catching features of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is its generous sign-up bonus. Currently, cardholders can earn 60,000 points for spending $4,000 in their first three months. While that’s a 20,000-point decrease from the card’s previous offer of 80,000 points with the same spending requirement, this is still a very valuable bonus.
The value of this sign-up bonus is so high because Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for travel purchases through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards® portal – 50% more than if you redeem for cash back or with a no-annual-fee Ultimate Rewards card.
Assuming a 1.5-cent-per-point redemption value, the new bonus is worth about $900 when redeemed through the Chase travel portal. That’s one of the highest sign-up bonuses currently available on a travel card and can more than cover the card’s annual fee in the first year. Meanwhile, the spending requirement, though high, should still be attainable if you put all your spending on the Sapphire Reserve for your first three months (just over $1,300 per month to reach the $4,000 threshold).
Top-notch perks can cover the annual fee
The $550 price tag on the Chase Sapphire Reserve can be a big deterrent for moderate spenders, but the card is less costly than it seems. Even after your first year, with no sign-up bonus at play, the card’s travel credits and other benefits can easily chip away at this cost on an ongoing basis.
Valuable annual travel credit
Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders are awarded a $300 credit each year to use toward travel purchases. This credit is one of the most flexible among luxury travel credits, as it can be used toward a wide variety of purchases, including – but not limited to – these expenses:
- Hotel stays
- Parking garages
- Toll booths
- Pedicab rides
- Taxi rides (including ride-share services)
- Uber Eats purchases
- Public transportation
While many luxury cards limit their credits to purchases with a particular airline or hotel, the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s travel credit is easy to take advantage of. Any time you make a qualifying purchase, you will be automatically awarded a statement credit to cover it – until your $300 annual credit is reached. If you already spend at least $300 on these types of transactions a year, this can make a massive dent in the $550 annual fee.
Priority Pass lounge access
On top of this, the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with complimentary access to the more than 1,200 Priority Pass lounges worldwide. Access is unlimited, and each cardholder can bring up to two complimentary guests ($27 per additional guest). Any authorized users on the card are allowed their own access as a bonus – with their own guests. That means you can add a spouse or family member as an authorized user to bring more people into the lounge on each visit.
Considering a Priority Pass Prestige membership costs $469 per year and offers free member visits to lounges and $35 guest visits, the comparable Priority Pass Select membership included with the Sapphire Reserve is quite a deal.
Credits for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card will also cover the cost of your application for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every four years (the length of each membership). Both of these programs simplify your travel, as you can go through the PreCheck security line at the airport. With Global Entry, you’ll have additional ease when traveling abroad. Rather than visiting a border agent, you can use the Global Entry kiosk to streamline your entrance to the country.
When you apply to either one of these programs and pay with your Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll automatically receive a statement credit to cover the fee ($85 for TSA PreCheck, $100 for Global Entry).
Solid ongoing rewards
It’s not just the Sapphire Reserve card’s sign-up bonus and perks that impress, however. The card also carries a solid ongoing rewards rate, making it easy for frequent travelers to earn Ultimate Rewards points.
After the first $300 you spend on travel purchases (covered by the card’s annual travel credit), you’ll earn a total of 10X points on hotels and rental cars booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 5X points on Chase Ultimate Rewards® flights, 3X points on general travel spending and dining purchases and 1X points on everything else.
This is one of the highest rates you can get on travel purchases, matching or beating those of top-tier competitors like the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card (which offers 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel) and The Platinum Card® from American Express (which offers 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on your first $500,000 in spending and 5X points on eligible prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel).
High point value and flexible redemption
Another big perk to the Chase Sapphire Reserve is that any points you redeem for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal have a 50% higher value – for an average value of 1.5 cents per point. This significantly impacts the card’s earning rate, as each point you earn will take you further. In fact, when compared to other rewards cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card earns one of the highest values out of each dollar (factoring in earning rates and point value).
See Related: Why are Chase Ultimate Rewards points so valuable?
The card also boasts an almost unparalleled level of redemption flexibility compared to others in its category. Once you’ve racked up points with your Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you also have a variety of redemption options through the Ultimate Rewards portal. You can use Ultimate Rewards points for anything from travel credits to Apple products or apply points toward statement credits, all at a minimum redemption value of 1 cent per point (most competitors force you to sacrifice point value when you opt for non-travel redemptions).
|Point value (cents)
|Travel purchases (through Ultimate Rewards portal)
|Regular travel redemption
|Chase Pay purchases
If you are a fan of juggling rewards cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve also makes a great pair to other Ultimate Rewards credit cards. Chase makes it easy to pool points between these accounts, so you can carry cards with bonus points in different categories of purchases to boost your overall rewards rate. The points you earn with a no-annual-fee card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited* card – which earns at least 1.5% cash back on purchases – would be worth 50% more if you pooled points with the Sapphire Reserve and redeemed for travel.
You can also transfer points to one of many Chase travel partners at a 1:1 rate. Since some airline miles and hotel points are worth more than 1.5 cents per point, you may even be able to stretch your points further this way.
Tip: You can also use the Chase Pay Yourself Back feature to redeem points to pay for some or all of your purchases in select categories and get paid back with a statement credit.
Other handy perks for frequent travelers
Along with its flashier perks like the travel credit and credit for expedited security screen, the Sapphire Reserve boasts several valuable benefits for frequent travelers, including:
- Primary card rental insurance – One of the hidden perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is its top-tier car rental insurance. If you decline the rental company’s collision insurance on a car you’ve paid for with the Reserve card, Chase will cover you for up to $75,000 in theft or collision damage. The coverage you receive with this card is primary (both in the U.S. and abroad), which means that Chase covers all damages. With secondary insurance – which most rewards cards offer in the U.S. – you’ll only be covered for anything not paid for by your normal insurance policy.
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance – If you have to cancel or cut a trip short due to illness, severe weather or another covered situation, Chase will reimburse you up to $10,000 per person ($20,000 max per trip) for nonrefundable expenses.
- Lost luggage insurance – If your luggage is damaged or lost by the carrier on your flight, you can be reimbursed up to $3,000 per passenger.
- Purchase protection – Eligible purchases on your Chase Sapphire Reserve card are protected against damage or theft for the first 120 days (up to $10,000 per claim, $50,000 per year).
- Return protection – If the store doesn’t take back an item you purchased on your Reserve card in the first 90 days, you can be refunded $500 per item ($1,000 max per year).
- Extended warranty – With this perk, you can extend eligible warranties of three years or less by an additional year.
- Free Lyft Pink membership for one year – Lyft Pink is Lyft’s subscription service and is usually $19.99 per month. Lyft Pink promises 15% in savings on all Lyft rides, priority airport pickups, relaxed cancellations and more (activate by 3/31/25).
- Free DashPass membership for one year – DashPass gets you free delivery on qualifying DoorDash orders (usually $9.99 per month, activate by 12/31/2024)
These coverages can save you significant money when shopping or traveling if you use them strategically.
Why you might want a different card
Clearly, the Sapphire Reserve boasts a ton of advantages for frequent travelers, and if you take full advantage, you can easily make up for the card’s costs. However, the card may still fall short in a few key areas, including its rewards rate on general purchases, the scope of its lounge access and the size of its annual fee, which – even if you can justify it on paper – may simply prove too risky for some cardholders.
May not be the most rewarding option
While the right cardholder can cover the Sapphire Reserve card’s annual fee via the card’s generous travel credit and other perks, it may not be the most lucrative option overall if you don’t spend a ton on travel or if you also spend heavily on categories outside of travel and dining.
General purchases earn just 1X points with the Sapphire Reserve, so if you want to earn travel rewards but don’t actually spend a lot of money on travel, you may be better off with a card that earns rewards at a higher rate on general purchases or in popular everyday categories like groceries, dining and gas.
The Venture X card, for example, not only matches the Sapphire Reserve card’s travel rewards rates with 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel, but it also earns 2 miles per dollar on all other purchases. If you spend more annually on general purchases like groceries and gas than you do on travel, this elevated base rewards rate could earn you more in the long run – even considering the higher value of Ultimate Rewards points.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s set aside each card’s annual travel credit (the Venture X also offers $300 in annual credits for bookings through Capital One Travel) and say you spend $3,500 per year on airfare through each issuer’s portal (earning 5 points or miles per dollar), $2,000 on hotel bookings through each issuer’s portal (earning 10 points or miles per dollar), $1,800 per year on dining (earning 3 points per dollar with the Sapphire Reserve and 2 miles per dollar with the Venture X) and $18,000 per year on all other purchases, (earning 1 point per dollar with the Sapphire Reserve and 2 points per dollar with the Venture X). Factoring in each card’s annual fee and point value when redeemed for travel, here’s how the math would shake out:
|($3,500 x 5 miles) + ($2,000 x 10 miles) + ($1,800 x 3 miles) + ($18,000 x 1 mile) x 1.5 cents per mile value – $550 annual fee
|($3,500 x 5 miles) + ($2,000 x 10 miles) + ($19,800 x 2 miles) x 1 cent per mile value – $395 annual fee
As you can see, the Sapphire Reserve card’s higher point value gives it a head start over many competing travel cards, but its low base rewards rate can hold back its earning potential if you spend heavily outside its bonus categories.
If you’re not big on luxury perks, even the lower-tier Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can offer a lucrative value for just a $95 annual fee. For example, the value of its current sign-up bonus — 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first three months, which is worth $750 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Plus, a $550 annual fee is inherently risky, no matter how much value you can earn from the card.
Not the strongest luxury card lounge offering
Although Priority Pass lounge access gives you plenty of coverage, the Sapphire Reserve card’s lounge access benefits are not the most robust. If that’s your key priority, consider the Amex Platinum, which offers the world’s largest lounge network via Priority Pass and Centurion lounges.
Tough to qualify for
As a luxury credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the more difficult rewards cards to qualify for. It is designed for users with excellent credit (above a 740 FICO score). Some competing luxury travel cards, like the Amex Platinum, are available with good to excellent credit, potentially giving you just a bit more wiggle room for approval.
In addition, Chase is one of the strictest issuers regarding the number of credit card accounts you have open. It holds applicants to the Chase 5/24 rule, which means if you have opened five or more credit card accounts with any issuer in the last 24 months, it is likely you won’t be approved.
If you’re eager to start earning travel rewards but have less-than-excellent credit or can’t make the cut for the Sapphire Reserve due to the number of cards you’ve opened in the last 24 months, consider a mid-tier travel card like the Citi Premier® Card or the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card – which are both available with only good credit.
How does the Sapphire Reserve compare to other travel cards?
Though certainly one of the most valuable luxury cards, the Sapphire Reserve card might not be the best choice for every kind of spender. Here’s a quick look at some other great alternatives:
80,000 points if you spend $8,000 in first six months of card membership
75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
60,000 points if you spend $6,000 in first six months
|Other things to know
|Other things to know
|Other things to know
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum
The Platinum Card from American Express is packed with travel credits and protections, making it a valuable option for frequent travelers – especially people who love luxury perks. Take a close look at this card’s list of perks and ask yourself whether you can take full advantage. If so, it could easily be the most lucrative card on the market; if not, it may end up being a very expensive coupon book. As with the Sapphire Reserve, another major downside with the Amex Platinum is that its ongoing rewards rate makes it hard to earn points on non-travel purchases.
See related: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Capital One Venture X
Undoubtedly one of the best travel cards out there, the Venture X focuses on practical value with both its perks and rewards rate, offering one of the highest base earning rates available on a luxury travel card (2X miles) as well as two key annual bonuses – $300 back in annual credit each year for Capital One travel bookings and 10,000 bonus miles each account anniversary – that cover the card’s cost on their own. If you’re considering the Sapphire Reserve but aren’t entirely convinced it’s worth the $550 annual fee, the Venture X could be a terrific, lower-cost alternative.
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Gold
The American Express® Gold Card has fewer travel credits than other luxury cards, but its annual fee is much more affordable. It is particularly rewarding for foodies, including a generous rewards rate on restaurants and U.S. supermarket purchases. If you want to earn travel rewards, but your spending is largely focused on everyday purchases at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, the Amex Gold can be a very lucrative option and a great entry point to the world of luxury travel cards.
How to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve:
- Spend at least $4,000 in the first three months to qualify for the sign-up bonus.
- Use the $300 travel credit as soon in the year as possible. (You start earning 3X points on all Ultimate Rewards and general travel purchases only after you’ve used the full credit.)
- Book travel through the Ultimate Rewards® portal to get the most value out of your points.
- Consider applying for another Ultimate Rewards credit card to boost your rewards rate.
- Check Chase Offers regularly to earn bonus points on everyday spending.
Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve right for you?
If you already spend at least $300 per year on travel purchases, including parking garages or ride-share services, the Sapphire Reserve travel credit takes a huge chunk out of the annual fee. With an impressive list of generous travel protections and benefits, even a moderate spender can get significant value out of the card.
That said, if you spend heavily in categories outside of dining and travel, it’s worth doing the math to see if a card that carries a lower annual fee or offers bonus rewards in a wider variety of non-travel categories is a better fit for you.
*All information about the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
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