Key takeaways

  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a premium rewards card that gets me heightened rewards on various travel purchases, as well as on dining.
  • I can score 50 percent more value for my points when I redeem them toward travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, and Chase offers a variety of hotel and airline transfer partners that bring me even more value.
  • The card also features top-notch travel benefits that bring me peace of mind on my trips.

For a long time, I’ve used a combination of Chase credit cards known as the Chase trifecta for all my family’s spending. My trifecta (there are a few possible variations) also includes the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, but my favorite rewards credit card of the bunch by far is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

While I’ve had the Chase Sapphire Reserve since it was introduced as a premium Chase card in 2016, this card now has even better rewards propositions. It does charge a $550 annual fee, but both my husband and I each have this card, and we come out way ahead considering all we get in return.

5 reasons I love the Chase Sapphire Reserve

This card has allowed me to travel extensively, even to Verona, Italy, which inspired me to write this piece. Here are the major reasons why the Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of my favorite cards:

1. It has an exceptional rewards rate

The Sapphire Reserve has a strong rewards structure that works especially well for travel. This card earns:

  • 10X points on hotels, car rentals and Chase Dining purchases made through Ultimate Rewards
  • 5X points on air travel booked through the Ultimate Travel (after earning the $300 travel credit)
  • 5X points on Lyft purchases through March 2025
  • 3X points on general travel (after earning the $300 travel credit) and dining purchases
  • 1X points on all other purchases

I don’t typically use my Sapphire Reserve for everyday spending and bills. Since it only offers 1X points on non-bonus category spending, I use my Freedom Unlimited to make sure I earn a minimum of 1.5 percent cash back on everything I buy.

Instead, the Sapphire Reserve is my go-to for general travel and dining — two categories that I’m able to maximize quite often. Each account year I spend $300 on purchases in the travel category, and those purchases are covered with an annual travel credit that’s automatically applied to my account. After that, I begin earning 3X points in for travel purchases.

2. It has some of the best airline and hotel partners among flexible cards

We mostly travel internationally to the Caribbean and Europe, and Chase transfer partners work splendidly for those trips. We transfer a ton of Chase points to the Air France / KLM Flying Blue program for cheap flights to Europe, as well as to the Southwest Rapid Rewards program for cheap flights to Mexico and the Caribbean. Other popular transfer partner rewards programs include World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy, United MileagePlus and Avios from British Airways.

For our trip to Verona, Italy, I transferred 120,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to the United MileagePlus program to pay for one-way flights home to Indianapolis from Milan. This was an especially good deal considering I snagged four one-way flights that were going for more than $1,200 each on the day I booked them.

In my opinion, Chase Ultimate Rewards has the best airline and hotel partners of any of the flexible travel programs, including American Express Membership Rewards and the Citi ThankYou program. Plus, according to Bankrate valuations, Ultimate Rewards points can be worth an average of 2.0 cents each toward high-value transfer partner travel, which is higher than Citi ThankYou points at an average of 1.6 cents each and tied with American Express Membership Rewards points at 2.0 cents each.

3. I love getting a 50 percent bonus on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Another reason to love the Sapphire Reserve is that it offers 1.5 cents per point in value when you redeem rewards for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, which partners with Expedia.

This is part of the reason I use the Chase trifecta to maximize rewards on all our personal and business spending. I use each card strategically to earn as much in rewards as possible, then I pool them in my Sapphire Reserve account to redeem them for airfare, excursions, hotels and more.

Not only do I book quite a bit of airfare with points through Chase, but I frequently book “things to do,” or excursions. I even sometimes use my points to splurge for something out of the ordinary!

On our trip to Verona, Italy, for example, we took a four-person cooking class with a Cesarine — a certified home cook in Italy who teaches travelers how to cook homemade pasta and other Italian dishes.

I paid for that class with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. While this special tour would normally cost over $644 for four people if we paid in cash, I redeemed 42,994 Chase points to make it free.

4. I get travel benefits that are actually useful

I love that Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a $300 annual travel credit. This credit is incredibly easy to use since it applies to any travel purchase and is automatically credited to your statement once you spend $300 on qualifying purchases.

Further, I frequently use the Priority Pass Select membership that comes with this card, which allows entry into more than 1,300 airport lounges around the globe. The lounge benefit is particularly useful to me since it gives me a quiet place to escape in the airport. Plus, I save money by popping into the airport lounge for drinks and snacks.

5. It offers consumer protections and insurance

Finally, it’s important to note that the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with more travel insurance benefits than many other travel credit cards. Perks include:

  • Primary auto rental coverage
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Emergency evacuation and transportation coverage

These benefits are the main reason I charge all our paid travel expenses to this card. Just the trip cancellation and interruption insurance alone are worth up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip, and it’s free when you use the card to pay for travel.

This is yet another way the Chase Sapphire Reserve actually saves me money. Each time I use the travel insurance instead of buying a separate travel insurance plan, that’s money I keep in my pocket.

The bottom line

Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium Chase credit card that comes with a slew of luxury benefits for the frequent traveler, and Chase’s boosted rewards for travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal is icing on the cake.

If you’re an ardent traveler and have been waiting for a sign to finally take the leap on the CSR, this is your moment.