Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it?

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a $550 annual fee, which is higher than what many other rewards credit cards charge. However, if you’re often on the go and interested in benefits geared toward travel, the Sapphire Reserve can be well worth the cost.

Read on to learn about the Sapphire Reserve’s benefits and see how much value you can get from this travel credit card.

Chase Sapphire Reserve card details and benefits

Charging purchases to the Sapphire Reserve is rewarded with points, which are typically each worth $0.01 when redeemed for cash or 50 percent more when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. As a cardholder, you earn:

  • 10X total points on Chase Dining purchases made through Ultimate Rewards
  • 10X total points on hotel stays and rental cars through Ultimate Rewards
  • 10X total points on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
  • 5X total points on airfare paid through Ultimate Rewards (after first earning your $300 travel credit)
  • 3X points on general travel and restaurant purchases
  • 1X points on all other purchases

Score $750 in travel

The Sapphire Reserve offers an enticing sign-up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account. If you use those bonus points to book a flight, hotel room, cruise, rental car or other travel experience through Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points will be worth $750.

You also have the option to transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to any of the 14 hotel and airline loyalty programs Chase partners with, including Southwest Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt. If one of those programs is offering a deal on a seat or room you want, transferring your points and booking directly through that company might make your rewards go even further.

$300 travel credit

Each year, purchases in the travel category are rewarded with statement credits up to a total of $300 annually. This is more generous than the travel credits offered by some other travel cards, such as the up to $200 in incidental airline fee credits offered by The Platinum Card® from American Express (which can only be applied to purchases with one airline per year) or the up to $100 in airline incidental statement credits offered by the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card.

While those cards apply their travel credits to only a few specific expenses like baggage fees and seat upgrades, the Sapphire Reserve automatically awards its credit on any purchase coded as travel—whether that’s airfare, accommodations or a rental car. Thus, you can snag this credit without having to give it much thought.

Airport lounge access

The Sapphire Reserve offers Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you access to over 1,300 airport lounges around the globe. A primary cardholder and any authorized users can each bring up to two guests with them. You can also get additional guests admitted for $27 per guest, per visit to a lounge.

The amenities offered at lounges vary, but perks often include free food and beverages, WiFi, mobile device charging, conference rooms and showers.

You could gain access to Priority Pass lounges without a participating credit card by joining directly at the Prestige membership level, which grants unlimited free visits for members with an annual fee of $429. Considering the cost of a standalone membership, getting admittance with your credit card is a pretty sweet benefit.

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a statement credit of $85 for a TSA PreCheck application fee or $100 for the Global Entry application fee. You can claim this benefit once every four years, giving you plenty of time to renew your membership before the five-year expiration date for either program.

Global Entry membership gets you through customs screening faster when returning to the U.S. from a trip abroad, while TSA PreCheck lets you go through a shorter security screening line when starting your journey from a U.S. airport. Global Entry members automatically get TSA PreCheck benefits, so if you travel internationally, you’ll likely want to use your credit to apply for Global Entry.

Primary rental car insurance and rental discounts

The Sapphire Reserve provides several insurance benefits, including baggage delay insurance and trip cancellation insurance. It offers primary rental car insurance that protects you against up to $75,000 in damages from theft or collision. It also grants you discounts when booking a rental car through Avis, National Car Rental and Silvercar.

Complimentary DashPass and up to $60 in statement credits for DoorDash

The Sapphire Reserve gets you a free, one-year DashPass subscription if you activate by Dec. 31, 2021. This includes unlimited free deliveries on DoorDash orders of more than $12. DoorDash purchases also earn up to a total of $60 in statement credits through Dec. 31, 2021.

The DashPass subscription alone costs $9.99 a month without this promotion, so this can be a worthwhile benefit if you regularly order takeout.

Up to $120 in statement credits on Peloton purchases

Sapphire Reserve cardholders can earn up to $120 in statement credits toward Peloton Digital or All-Access memberships purchased and paid with their card or that of an authorized user (through Dec. 31, 2021).

One year of complimentary Lyft Pink membership

Another Sapphire Reserve benefit is a free year of Lyft Pink membership if you activate by March 31, 2022. That gets you 15 percent off rides, priority airport pickups and free restaurant delivery with Grubhub+. Lyft Pink membership costs at least $199 a year if you pay for it out-of-pocket.

On top of that saving, charging Lyft rides to your card through March 31, 2022, earns 10X points. Thus, buying a $25 Lyft ride would net you 250 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth its annual fee?

If you’re frequently on the move and intend to take full advantage of the Sapphire Reserve’s travel benefits, this card can easily pay for itself. The $300 travel credit, Priority Pass Select membership (worth $429) and up to $100 in statement credits toward a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application together more than cover the $550 fee. And when you consider the Lyft Pink, DoorDash and Peloton benefits, plus the substantial sign-up bonus, the Sapphire Reserve provides a lot of value.

How to offset the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee

If you’re on the fence about whether you will actually use the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s benefits, you may want to do the math to see whether your typical yearly spending will generate sufficient rewards to offset the annual fee.

As an example, let’s say you spend $3,500 on travel with your card. You earn the $300 statement credit, and the remaining $3,200 earns 3X points for a total of 9,600 points. Next, suppose you spend $900 to book a hotel stay through the Ultimate Rewards portal, gaining 10X points and adding 9,000 points to your total earnings. You also spend $1,800 at restaurants, netting you 5,400 points, and $1,000 in non-category spending for an additional 1,000 points. Overall, you accumulate 25,000 points. Redeeming those points for cash at the rate of $0.01 per point gets you $250 (which together with the $300 travel credit covers the $550 fee). Even better, redeeming those points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards makes them worth as much as $375.

In this scenario, you offset the annual fee by spending $7,200 throughout the year, or an average of $600 per month. You could cover the fee even faster if you dedicate a larger portion of your spending to travel or restaurants or book more travel, hotel stays or dining through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

When the Chase Sapphire Reserve isn’t worth it

The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee probably won’t be worth it if you don’t spend at least $300 a year on travel. You won’t get the annual travel credit, and it may be challenging to earn enough points in non-travel categories to offset the $550 fee.

Additionally, the Sapphire Reserve likely isn’t the right card for you if you want to transfer a balance or don’t pay your credit card bill in full each month. The Sapphire Reserve doesn’t offer an introductory 0 percent APR on balance transfers. And if you tend to carry a balance, the interest you’d owe will probably add up faster than any rewards you might earn.

If the Sapphire Reserve’s travel benefits appeal to you but you’re reluctant to spend $550 upfront, you might want to apply for a different travel rewards card with a lower fee. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 5X points on travel purchased through the Ultimate Rewards portal, 2X points on travel purchased elsewhere and 3X points on dining, select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs). With an annual fee of $95, it’s a more affordable option.

The bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with a relatively high annual fee, but its extensive travel benefits can more than make up for the cost if you’re an avid traveler. If you don’t travel frequently enough to justify paying $550 for the Sapphire Reserve’s perks, you might prefer a travel card with a lower fee or a rewards credit card with a different focus, such as cash back.