Chase’s Sapphire duo is comprised of two of the best cards on the market for travelers, but narrowing down your own travel and spending needs can help determine whether the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® is best for you.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the more approachable of the two cards, with a $95 annual fee, while the Reserve is the more premium option with a price tag to match: $550 annually. With both, you’ll earn rewards on travel and dining plus a competitive sign-up bonus.
Making the choice between the Sapphire cards comes down to your own spending habits and determining which will offer the most long-term value for you. Here are some things to consider:
|Features||Chase Sapphire Preferred||Chase Sapphire Reserve|
|Welcome bonus||100,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months||60,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months|
|Rewards rate||2X points on restaurant and travel purchases, 1X points on everything else||3X points on dining and travel purchases worldwide (after earning your $300 travel credit), 1X points on everything else|
Sign-up bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
With the lower annual fee Chase Sapphire Preferred, new cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. While new Sapphire Reserve cardholders earn 60,000 bonus points (after spending $4,000 within the first three months). That’s a no-brainer in favor of the Preferred.
Things get a little more interesting when redemptions come into play, though.
When you redeem points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, you’ll get a 25 percent boost with the Preferred card and a 50 percent boost with the Reserve, boosting each point to about 1.25 or 1.5 cents in value, respectively. If you choose to redeem outside the portal, though, you’ll earn about 1 cent per point, putting the Preferred card’s 100,000 point bonus on top.
Rewards rate: Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Sapphire Reserve wins here not only for its higher rate on dining and travel purchases (3X points compared to the Preferred card’s 2X points), but also for the added benefits cardholders receive in annual credits.
Here’s a rundown of each of the added benefits offered by the Reserve:
- $300 travel credit, reimbursed as a statement credit for any travel purchases you make throughout the year
- Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounge access
- Up to $100 every four years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement
- One free year of Lyft Pink membership (usually $19.99 per month) and 10X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
- Up to $120 in DoorDash credits ($60 in 2020 and $60 in 2021), plus at least one free year of DashPass membership (usually $9.99 per month)
You’ll also earn one free year of DashPass membership and a lower rate of 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022 with the Preferred card.
Both cards’ rewards may be redeemed by booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards or transferring points 1:1 to airline and hotel partners.
Annual fee: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
The Sapphire Preferred card’s annual fee, at $95, is $455 less than the Sapphire Reserve’s $550 fee. Unless you’re able to offset that cost through added spending or by maximizing all the offered credits annually, the Preferred card wins here.
Foreign transaction fee: Tie
Both cards offer zero foreign transaction fees for purchases that you make while traveling abroad.
Which card earns the most?
Ultimately, the Reserve is the Sapphire card with the potential to earn the highest rewards, but you’ve got to be willing to spend. If you can take full advantage of the benefits and much of your spending is focused on dining and travel, you’ll easily earn back the Reserve’s steep $550 annual fee. If those credits aren’t useful for you, though, the Preferred will likely be of much more value.
Disregarding the credits, say you spend $20,000 each year on your card ($8,000 at restaurants, $8,000 on travel and $4,000 on miscellaneous other spending).
With the Sapphire Preferred, that would equal 32,000 total points on dining and travel and 4,000 on everything else, for a total 36,000 points. That’s equivalent to about $450 in value when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards with the 25 percent boost.
With the Reserve, though, your spending would bring in 48,000 points on dining and travel plus 4,000 points for your other spending for a total 52,000 points. With the 50 percent boost you can get when redeeming points through Chase Ultimate Rewards with the Reserve card, that’s about $780 in total value. Keep in mind that in order to earn the Sapphire Reserve’s 3X on dining and travel you need to earn your $300 statement credit first each year.
Subtracting each card’s annual fee, the Preferred’s annual value is about $355 and the Reserve’s value is about $230 in this example. As your spending increases, though, and as you redeem the Reserve’s annual credits, the value of the card improves. Use your own spending as a guide to help determine which Sapphire card can help you maximize your spending.
Why you should get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
If you travel a decent amount throughout the year but you’re not jet-setting every week and traveling in style isn’t your main priority, the Preferred is likely the right Sapphire card for you. You can earn great rewards with flexible redemptions for a reasonable $95 annual fee. This is an especially great card for beginners looking to dip their toes into the world of travel rewards credit cards.
Why you should get the Chase Sapphire Reserve
If you spend much of your time each year on a plane and you can fully maximize all the added credits and benefits offered by this card, then the Reserve is right for you. The $300 annual travel credit, DashPass and Lyft Pink memberships and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck reimbursement credits will easily wipe out the sizable annual fee cost.
Anyone who already frequently spends on ride-share and delivery services, travels often and is looking for lounge access to make long airport waiting periods a little more comfortable will be happy choosing the Reserve.
The bottom line
Your individual annual travel itinerary and ability to maximize credits is going to be the deciding factor between these cards.
If you like the flexibility of redemption options offered by Chase Ultimate Rewards and want to earn on your dining and travel spending, but you only travel a few times each year, you’re likely better off paying less for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. If you’re a frequent flyer, though, and you travel enough to make up the $550 annual fee on the Reserve, its rewards and benefits are tough to beat. Both of these cards are great travel options that can help you earn hundreds of dollars in value each year, but you should take time to consider your specific needs before making a decision.