|Luxury Rating:||4.5 / 5|
|Annual Percentage Rate:||0.4|
|Issuer Customer Experience||3.6|
In a Nutshell:
Thanks to its generous $300 annual travel credit that covers nearly any travel expense, including airfare, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is an exceptionally valuable travel card that makes luxury travel benefits accessible for travelers on a wide range of budgets.
60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
Average Yearly Rewards Value ($75,000 spend)
Chase Customer Service Ratings
Other Notable Features: $300 annual travel credit; $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit; two $60 DoorDash credits (one in 2020 and another in 2021); 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; free DashPass membership for one year
|Rewards Rating:||4.5 / 5|
|Annual Percentage Rate:||1.8|
|Issuer Customer Experience||3.6|
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 $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; $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit; 2 $60 DoorDash credits (one in 2020 and another in 2021); 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; free DashPass membership for one year
Chase Sapphire Reserve Review: More Details
Considered by many to be one of the best travel credit cards on the market, the Chase Sapphire Reserve boasts some of the most generous travel perks available on a rewards card, as well as a top-tier sign-up bonus.
Indeed, March 2021 saw the card introduce its highest sign-up bonus since 2017. If you’re eager to take your first post-COVID “vaccine vacation,” the Chase Sapphire Reserve stands out as a terrific option. Not only can you score a very valuable bonus to get you off on the right foot, but the card can also be a valuable long-term addition to your wallet despite its high annual fee, thanks to its flexible travel credit, lounge access and other plush benefits, as well as a great ongoing rewards rate.
Read on to learn more about the Sapphire Reserve card’s value versus its cost, who this card is best for, and other cards and pros and cons to consider.
See related: Best Ultimate Rewards cards
Generous sign-up bonus
One of the most eye-catching features of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is its generous sign-up bonus. Right now, cardholders can earn 60,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first three months. Not only is this the highest Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonus since 2017, but these points are also worth 50% more when redeemed for travel purchases through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal. That means the sign-up bonus alone is worth $900 in Ultimate Rewards travel. As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also get a free one-year membership to Lyft Pink and DoorDash’s DashPass.
High annual fee
The $550 price tag on the Chase Sapphire Reserve can be a big deterrent for moderate spenders, but the card is not nearly as costly as it seems. For example, in the first year, the value of the sign-up bonus outpaces the annual fee by more than 1.5 times. The card is also packed with travel credits and benefits that can chip away at this cost – such as a $300 annual credit for travel purchases, up to a $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck and complimentary lounge access.
Luxury cards such as the Reserve might seem out of reach for most spenders, but in reality, cardholders who already travel every year can eke quite a bit of value out of plush travel perks.
Flexible travel credit
Each year, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders are awarded a $300 credit 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 the following:
- Hotel stays
- Parking garages
- Toll booths
- Pedicab rides
- Taxi rides (including ride-share services)
- UberEATS 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 kinds of transactions a year, this can make a huge dent in the $550 annual fee.
As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, through Dec. 31, 2021, gas station and grocery store purchases will also count toward earning the Sapphire Reserve travel credit.
|Tip: Not sure what purchases count as travel? Credit cards use a tool called merchant category codes to determine which transactions qualify for bonus points or travel credits like this one. If you aren’t sure if a particular purchase will code as travel, you can make a small sample purchase and see how it shows up on your credit card statement.|
Earning points with the Sapphire Reserve card
The rewards rate on the Chase Sapphire Reserve makes it pretty easy to earn Ultimate Rewards points. Cardholders earn 3X points per dollar on travel and dining purchases (excluding purchases covered by $300 travel credit) and 1X points per dollar on everything else. Additionally, through June 30, 2021, earn up to 10X total points (on up to $500) when ordering takeout or making prepaid reservations through Chase Dining in Ultimate Rewards. You’ll also earn 10 points per dollar on Lyft purchases through March 2022 and 10 points per dollar on Peloton bikes and treads as part of Chase’s Peloton partnership.
This is not the highest rate you can earn on either travel or dining purchases. The Citi Prestige Card*, for example, offers 5 points per dollar on air travel and restaurant purchases. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve travel bonus covers any travel purchase (not just air travel), and its points are worth a bit more. While this extra value is not quite enough to catch up to the Citi Prestige’s rate on travel and dining, it is still competitive.
What are Sapphire Reserve points worth?
A big perk to the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the fact 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 makes a significant impact on the card’s earning rate, as each point you rack up has a better value. In fact, when compared to other rewards cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve cards earn one of the highest values out of each dollar (factoring in earning rates and point value).
Through June 30, 2021, points are also worth 50% more when redeemed for purchases with Chase Dining, including takeout, pre-paid reservations and more. You can also earn 10 total points per dollar on Chase Dining purchases on the first $500 you spend.
|Tip: Many of these cards also come with travel credits and varying annual fees that contribute to their yearly value. Don’t forget to factor in perks like statement credits for travel purchases, lounge access and travel protections when deciding which card is best for you.|
See Related: Why are Chase Ultimate Rewards points so valuable?
Redeeming Sapphire Reserve points
Once you’ve racked up points with your Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you have a variety of redemption options through the Ultimate Rewards portal. When you log into your Chase account, you can view a quick snapshot of how many points you’ve earned and each of your options.
Ultimate Rewards points are one of the most flexible rewards currencies. They can be used for anything from travel credits to Apple products. You can apply points toward travel statement credits that cover practically any kind of travel purchase from any source. When you opt for a travel redemption, you won’t have to worry about any blackout dates or restrictions. Your points never expire, so you can stockpile them for a larger redemption. And, if you decide that you don’t want to use points for travel, you can redeem them for cash back at a value of 1 cent per point.
However, the value of your points shifts depending on which option you choose. Redeeming for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal is always your best bet, as it gets a 50% higher point value.
|Redemption option||Point value (cents)|
|Travel purchases (through Ultimate Rewards portal)||1.5|
|Regular travel redemption||1|
|Chase Pay purchases||0.8|
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. You’ll still earn points on these purchases and your points may be worth more when you redeem in certain categories. Through Sept. 30, 2021, Sapphire Reserve cardholders can redeem at a value of 1.5 cents per point when they redeem for purchases made at restaurants, grocery stores and home improvement stores, as well as on select charitable donations.
Transferring Sapphire Reserve points
Chase also allows cardholders to transfer points to 13 travel partners at a 1:1 rate. Since some airline miles and hotel points are worth more than 1.5 cents per point, you can sometimes stretch your points further this way.
|Transfer partner||Point value (cents)|
|World of Hyatt||2|
While there are several other cards that allow you to transfer points to airline and hotel partners, Chase offers some of the best transfer options, including United and Southwest Airlines.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with complimentary access to Priority Pass lounges, with more than 1,200 locations around the world. 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 an added 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. Just keep in mind that there is a $75 annual fee for each authorized user.
Though this isn’t the strongest lounge offering for a credit card (The Platinum Card® from American Express offers the world’s largest lounge network), the Sapphire Reserve is one of the most affordable options for gaining lounge access. While you’ll have to pay between $450 to $550 for most credit cards with lounge access, the Chase Sapphire Reserve only costs $250 per year once you factor in its $300 travel credit.
Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
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).
Primary car 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 is what most rewards cards offer in the U.S. – you’ll only be covered for anything not paid for by your normal insurance policy.
This might not seem like a super exciting benefit, but it can save you a lot of money in the case of an accident in a rental car. Since the Reserve card coverage is better than the standard packages offered by most rental companies, it is in your best interest to decline the company’s offer and pay with the Reserve.
Other Sapphire Reserve benefits
Rental car insurance is far from the only protection included with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Here’s a quick look at the card’s other benefits:
- 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 made 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 won’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.
- Free DashPass membership for one year – DashPass gets you free delivery on qualifying DoorDash orders (usually $9.99 per month)
- DoorDash credits – You’ll get up to $120 in DoorDash credits ($60 in 2020 and $60 in 2021).
All of these coverages can save you significant money when shopping or traveling if you use them strategically.
Chase has a relatively good customer service reputation, coming in fourth out of 11 major issuers in J.D. Power’s 2020 customer satisfaction survey. Its mobile app also gets good ratings, rating 4.4 out of 5 in the Google Play Store and 4.8 out of 5 in the Apple App Store. Unfortunately, the bank does not offer an online chat feature, which can make it difficult to get a quick answer to a simple question.
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 740). To boost your chances of qualifying, be sure you have a solid history of on-time payments.
In addition, Chase is one of the strictest issuers when it comes to 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.
Sapphire Preferred vs. Sapphire Reserve
If the $550 annual fee seems slightly out of your budget, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a similar rewards structure and only charges $95 per year. However, you won’t receive an annual travel credit, and you’ll only earn 2X points per dollar on travel and dining purchases. In fact, depending on your spending, you could earn enough more in rewards with the Sapphire Reserve card’s higher rate and credits to make up the difference in the annual fee. Before you opt for the Sapphire Preferred card because of its lower annual fee, you should figure out how much you are likely to spend on dining and travel in the next year – the Sapphire Reserve may be the better option for you.
Pairing with other Ultimate Rewards cards
If you are a fan of juggling rewards cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve makes a great pair to other Ultimate Rewards credit cards. Chase makes it easy to transfer points between any of these accounts, so you can carry cards with bonus points in different categories of purchases to boost your overall rewards rate.
For example, imagine you also have a Chase Freedom Unlimited card – which earns at least 1.5% cash back on purchases. Since the Chase Sapphire Reserve only earns 1 point per dollar on general purchases, you can use it just for dining and travel and then use the Chase Freedom Unlimited on everything else to earn more overall. If you want to boost earnings even further, you could introduce a third card with its own unique categories – such as the Chase Freedom Flex.
By our estimates, the average cardholder who rotates these three cards can earn around 2.06 points per dollar – a significant boost over the Sapphire Reserve’s earning rate of 1.44 points per dollar.
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:
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Citi Prestige card
American Express® Gold Card
|Rewards rate||Rewards rate||Rewards rate|
100,000 points if you spend $6,000 in first 6 months of card membership
50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 6 months
|Other things to know||Other things to know||Other things to know|
The Platinum Card from American Express is packed with travel credits and protections that make it a valuable option for frequent travelers – especially those who love luxury perks. The major downside is that its ongoing rewards rate makes it hard to earn points on non-travel purchases.
See related: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum
The Citi Prestige card offers the best rate you can earn on restaurant purchases as well as a fourth night free at any hotel up to twice a year. This can be a very valuable benefit when used strategically – enough to offset the card’s high annual fee. The card also offers a generous sign-up bonus, though it is slightly less valuable than the Sapphire Reserve card’s offer.
See related: Citi Prestige vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve
The American Express Gold card has fewer travel credits than other luxury cards, but its annual fee is also much more affordable. It is particularly rewarding for foodies, as it includes a generous rewards rate on restaurant, Uber Eats, and U.S. supermarket purchases.
Who should apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve?
- Cardholders who spend at least $3,425 on dining and travel purchases per year.
- Travelers looking for one of the most affordable options for lounge access.
- Frequent travelers who can take advantage of travel credits, lounge access and travel protections.
- Ultimate Rewards cardholders looking for a good pair to maximize rewards.
- Cardholders looking for a generous sign-up bonus.
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 3 points per dollar on travel purchases after you’ve used the whole 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 worth it?
If you are already spending 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 a bevy of generous travel protections and benefits, even a moderate spender can get significant value out of the card. Plus, the card is currently offering its highest sign-up bonus in over four years, making now a great time if you want to maximize your Ultimate Rewards earnings.
About the author
*Information about the Citi Prestige Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
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