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The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve are both highly coveted travel cards. While the Reserve offers luxury travel perks like a $300 travel credit and Priority Pass Select membership, it comes with a hefty $450 annual fee that makes some wary to commit to the card.
Both cards have a 50,000-point sign-up bonus (after spending $4,000 in the first three months), travel and dining bonus categories, unlimited earning potential and impressive travel benefits such as primary rental insurance, roadside assistance, travel accident insurance, purchase protection and more. However, the Reserve offers higher levels of coverage on many of those travel benefits, plus added perks for frequent travelers.
Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and there is no clear overall “winner.” It’s all about deciding which card will fit your specific needs.
Here’s the breakdown:
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||Chase Sapphire Reserve|
|Annual Fee||$95 (waived the first year)||$450|
|Sign-up Bonus||50,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months)||50,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months)|
|Rewards Rate||2x points on dining and travel, 1x points on all other purchases||3x points on dining and travel*, 1x points on all other purchases|
|Redemption Value||1.25 (when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal)||1.50 (when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal)|
|Travel Credits||N/A||$300 statement credit for travel purchases; Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit**|
|Lounge Access||N/A||Priority Pass Select membership|
*Cardholders will earn 3x points on travel after earning the $300 travel credit.
**The Global Entry/TSA PreCheck statement credit of up to $100.
Which card is right for you?
Both cards will add a lot of value to your wallet; the right one for you depends on your budget and how often you travel. The Reserve offers better rewards, hands down. However, the $450 annual fee can be a dealbreaker for some.
If you’re a points and miles beginner just looking to take one or two trips each year, the Preferred might be a better fit. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year, and you still get an amazing sign-up bonus and generous rewards rate.
On the other hand, frequent flyers who plan to utilize the Reserve to its full capabilities will find significantly more value with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Is the annual fee worth it?
The only caveat to the Chase Sapphire Reserve is that $450 annual fee; however, the cost of the card is worth it if you truly maximize the Reserve and all of its perks.
Even though both cards offer 50,000 bonus points in their introductory offer, the higher redemption rate on the Reserve adds an extra $125 in value to its sign-up bonus.
Let’s say you plan to spend $1,600 each month on your chosen card, utilizing the travel and dining bonus categories for half of your purchases. After one year, your points earnings and redemption values on the Preferred vs. Reserve would look like this:
|Card||Dining and Travel Expenses||Other Purchases||Total Points Earned|
|Preferred||19,200 (2x points per $1 spent)||9,600 (1x points per $1 spent)||28,800|
|Reserve*||27,600 (3x points per $1 spent)||9,900 (1x points per $1 spent)||37,500|
*Note: Valuations for the Reserve points take into account that you’ll only earn 1x point on travel purchases until you earn the $300 travel credit each year.
|Card||Redemption Rate||Value (when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards portal)|
|Preferred||28,800 x 1.25 cents per point||$360|
|Reserve||27,500 x 1.5 cents per point||$562|
The extra $216 you would earn with the Reserve makes up for quite a bit of the $450 annual fee. If you plan on using the $300 statement credit for travel each year, Global Entry application fee credit every four years and your Priority Pass Select membership, that’s more than $650 in added value with the Reserve — which more than makes up for the annual fee.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Better for beginners
If you aren’t planning on fully utilizing the travel perks that come with the Reserve, you’re better off choosing the Preferred. It’s a great credit card that will help you earn unlimited Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all of your purchases. You’re still getting a minimum of $625 in value from the 50,000-point introductory offer if you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and you still have access to great travel benefits and Chase’s 13 transfer partners.
Beginners who are just jumping into traveling more frequently might find it less intimidating to upgrade to the Reserve after learning the ropes with its sister card.
The bottom line
You really can’t go wrong with either card — it all comes down to which fits your lifestyle. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great choice for points pros looking for a top-tier card to boost their travel experiences. Beginners and budgeters will find a lot of value with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which can help you earn rewards to use on travel without breaking the bank with a hefty annual fee.
No matter which card you choose, remember that you can pair them with other Chase credit cards to further maximize the value they can add to your wallet.
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