Chase Sapphire Reserve® review
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Overview
The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card stands out as the top dog among all Chase credit cards. Although it also poses a “best in show” annual fee of $550, its portfolio of top-tier rewards rates, luxury travel perks and exhaustive travel protections might make the Sapphire Reserve worth it as Chase’s premier card for world travelers.
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What are the advantages and disadvantages?
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 3X points on eligible travel and restaurant purchases (after earning your $300 travel credit); 10X total points on Lyft purchases (through Mar. 31, 2022); 1X points on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months
- Annual fee: $550 for new cardmembers
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 16.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable
Current sign-up bonus
The current Chase Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonus will earn you 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within your first three months.
Considering the cost of luxury travel, this spending requirement could certainly be within reach if you plan to make good use of your travel perks early on. One of the main draws is that your points receive a 50 percent boost by redeeming for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, making your sign-up bonus worth a whopping $900.
This is one of the largest sign-up bonuses available, only outranked among Chase cards by its younger sibling—the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. For a mere $95 annual fee, the Sapphire Preferred delivers 100,000 points (worth $1,250 toward travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards) after spending the same $4,000 within three months.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, renowned as some of the most flexible and valuable credit card rewards on the market. Especially considering the aforementioned 50 percent boost in point value toward travel redemption, you’ll definitely get your mileage out of these rewards.
You’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent on eligible dining and travel worldwide, including airfare, hotels and more. Besides 1 point per dollar on all other purchases, you’ll also earn a total of 10 points per dollar (an additional 7 points per dollar) on qualifying Lyft rides through Mar. 31, 2022, plus 10 points per dollar on up to $500 of takeout orders and prepaid reservations through Chase Dining in the Ultimate Rewards portal (from Feb. 17, 2021, to Jun. 30, 2021).
However, keep in mind that your initial travel, grocery and gas purchases each year will count toward the annual $300 travel credit benefit (grocery and gas count through Dec. 31, 2021). Once the first $300 you’ve spent after your cardmember anniversary has been applied back to your account, you’ll begin earning 3X points on travel purchases.
Bonus category purchases are the main methods to earn Ultimate Rewards, but the Chase Offers and Shop Through Chase programs can net you a few extra points. Both allow you to earn additional points on limited-time promotions (up to a threshold) with participating retailers.
Chase Offers focus more on retailers in your everyday categories, while Shop Through Chase retailers lean more toward apparel. You won’t earn a fortune in bonus points, but maximizing your spending with these deals can rack up sizable rewards over time.
Ultimate Rewards points are more flexible than typical frequent flyer miles, since they can be redeemed for a wide variety of options, such as gift cards, merchandise (including shopping with points on eligible Amazon and PayPal purchases), travel experiences, cash back or statement credits.
However, the potential redemption boosts mean that using your points to book travel or transferring your points to Chase travel partners are usually the most valuable redemption choices.
If you’re not planning to travel any time soon, fortunately, you have a few other valuable redemption options at your disposal. Chase has extended the Pay Yourself Back feature through Sept. 30, 2021, so you can also redeem your points toward statement credits for recent grocery, dining and home improvement store purchases at an extra 50 percent value. Your extra 50 percent redemption value also extends to Chase Dining purchases through Sept. 30, 2021.
How much are the rewards worth?
Value-wise, your points are all worth 1 cent per piece when you redeem for cash back, travel, gift cards and merchandise through the Ultimate Rewards store. Paying with rewards on Amazon.com slightly devalues your rewards to 0.8 cents per point, however.
On the other hand, you can squeeze even more value from your Chase points by pooling them with a premier Chase travel card.
Your points gain far more value if you redeem them for travel in the Ultimate Rewards portal using either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card at a boosted 1.25 cents per point or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® at 1.5 cents per point. If you’re feeling generous, your Freedom Flex rewards can also bump up to 1.25 cents per point when you contribute them to participating charities using Chase’s Pay Yourself Back feature. But if you’ve been eagerly waiting to dine in at your favorite restaurant again, starting July 2, you’ll also be able to use your points through Chase Ultimate Rewards at a boosted $.0150 (one and a half cents) rate toward up to $250 of dining purchases until September 30, 2021.
Other cardholder perks
As a top-tier travel credit card, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better collection of travel perks, including luxury benefits, fee waivers, complimentary services and comprehensive insurance coverage.
$300 annual travel credit
Every 12 months from your account anniversary, you’re eligible for up to $300 in statement credits on qualifying travel, grocery and gas purchases. Outside the grocery and gas qualifying purchases through December 2021, this annual credit can cover anything that falls within your travel bonus category, including airfare, hotels, ride-shares, vacation packages and more.
Just remember: You won’t earn 3X points on travel purchases until you’ve collected your $300 travel credit.
Complimentary Lyft Pink and DoorDash DashPass membership
Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders will receive a complimentary DoorDash DashPass (if activated using your card by Dec. 31, 2021) and 12 months of complimentary Lyft Pink membership (if activated using your card by Mar. 31, 2022). On top of these memberships, you can also earn up to $60 in DoorDash statement credits through Dec. 31, 2021.
Luxury travel benefits
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the best cards for travel insurance and luxury benefits around. With this card, you’ll receive valuable perks including the following:
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee statement credit: By using your card, you’ll receive up to $100 statement credit to cover the Global Entry application fee or up to an $85 credit for the TSA PreCheck application fee.
- Priority Pass Select membership: You’ll have complimentary access to over 1,000 VIP airport lounges across more than 500 cities worldwide.
- Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection amenities: When staying with a property in this portfolio, you’ll have valuable amenities, program benefits, guest privileges and complimentary Wi-Fi based on the location.
- Travel insurances: The Sapphire Reserve carries one of the most extensive lists of travel protections, including coveted coverage like trip cancellation/interruption insurance (up to $10,000 per person, $20,000 per trip), emergency evacuation and transportation coverage (up to $100,000) and primary rental car insurance.
Rates and Fees
Of course, a key consideration is that the Chase Sapphire Reserve poses a $550 annual fee.
The question that follows isn’t whether the features can make up the annual fee, but if you’ll travel enough take advantage of them. Benefits like the $300 annual travel credit and complimentary memberships alone can nearly recover the cost, and the up to 2-cent point value means you’ll need to spend $2,292 per month in your 3X-point categories to break even.
This gets easier with authorized users on your account, which each carry a $75 annual fee. Apart from the annual fee, the ongoing cost is potentially low. There are no foreign transaction fees, for one.
Cardholders should make sure to keep spending in control and avoid carrying a balance, however. If you go overboard, there is a sizable 16.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable APR.
How the Chase Sapphire Reserve compares to other travel cards
The Sapphire Reserve is a leading travel credit card, but a much smaller annual fee and higher sign-up bonus might make the Chase Sapphire Preferred a competitive option.
If you’re on the fence in the Sapphire Reserve vs. Sapphire Preferred debate, the better choice boils down to whether you’ll utilize the rewards and benefits enough during your travels to offset the $550 annual fee.
Compared to other premium travel cards at the $450+ annual fee level, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Citi Prestige® Card, the Sapphire Reserve lags behind when it comes to some bonus categories, annual reward credits and hotel benefits. However, it could be the standout pick if you prefer travel protections, Lyft/DoorDash benefits and Chase’s rewards program.
Take a look at these competing cards to see how they stack up to the Sapphire Reserve:
|Card||Rewards rate||Annual fee||Welcome bonus||Other details|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||
||$95||100,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months||
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||
||$695||100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 within the first six months||
|Citi Prestige® Card*||
||$495||50,000 Citi ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 within the first three months||
Best cards to pair with the Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Sapphire Reserve card works best with other Chase credit cards. Since many earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, they can all be channeled into one pool and redeemed at a higher value with your Sapphire Reserve.
One of the cards in the Chase Freedom family can gather points from non-travel purchases like groceries or gas, and then you can add the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card if you have a business and want to complete the Chase trifecta.
Thanks to the help of the Chase Freedom Unlimited® with its 1.5 percent rewards on all purchases and the Chase Freedom Flex℠ or Ink Business Preferred’s bonus category rewards, you can maximize your Ultimate Rewards earnings across the broadest array of categories possible.
Bankrate’s Take—Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it?
As Chase’s premier travel credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve delivers the best the issuer has to offer for frequent jet setters. Its rewards on travel, dining and transit set up fantastic reward-earning combos, not to mention luxury travel benefits and top-of-the-line travel protections.
The Sapphire Reserve faces some fierce competition among other elite travel cards, but it’s the best choice among Chase cards if you can maximize its features for the annual fee.
Learn More: Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it?
*All information about the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.