Chase Sapphire Reserve® review

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Garrett Yarbrough  in  Excellent Credit How we rate our cards  | 

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Excellent (740 - 850)

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Best for luxury card perks

Annual Fee:
$550
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
16.99%-23.99% Variable
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Bankrate Rating

 

Best for travel perks and protections

  • 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) and on up to $500 of Chase Dining takeout orders and prepaid reservations via Ultimate Rewards (through Jun. 30, 2021); 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

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.

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 80,000 points (worth $1,000 toward travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®) after spending the same $4,000 within three months.

Rewards

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.

Earning 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.

Redeeming rewards

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 points worth?

On paper, the Chase Sapphire Reserve values each point at 1 cent, which can be increased to 1.5 cents per point toward travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

In application, Ultimate Rewards points are much more valuable compared to many other travel cards’ rewards. The Points Guy estimates Ultimate Reward points to be worth 2 cents—matching American Express Membership Rewards as two of the most valuable travel points on the market. This valuation boosts your sign-up bonus up to a massive $1,200.

Benefits

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
  • 2X Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining
  • 5X total points on Lyft rides through Mar. 31, 2022
  • 10X total points on up to $500 of takeout orders or prepaid reservations through Chase Dining in Ultimate rewards (through Jun. 30, 2021)
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards points on all other purchases
$95 80,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months, plus up to $50 in statement credits toward grocery store purchases within the first 12 months
  • 25 percent value boost when points are redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, plus Chase Dining purchases (Chase Dining offer through Sept. 30, 2021)
  • 12 months of complimentary DoorDash DashPass (must enroll by Dec. 31, 2021)
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance (up to $10,000 per card, $20,000 per trip), baggage delay insurance, trip delay insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver coverage
The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • 5X Membership Rewards points directly booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel
  • 10X Membership Rewards points on up to $15,000 of combined U.S. gas station and U.S. supermarket purchases within the first six months of Card Membership
  • 1X Membership Rewards points on all other purchases
$550 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within the first six months of Card Membership
  • Up to $200 in airline fee credits (annually) for incidentals with a select airline
  • Up to $100 to $200 in annual statement credits toward Uber rides and delivery (plus automatic Uber VIP status when available), Saks Fifth Avenue purchases and qualifying hotel purchases
  • Access to Priority Pass Select lounges, The Centurion Lounge, The International American Express Lounge and Delta Sky Clubs (for Delta flights only)
  • Up to a $100 reimbursement credit (every five years) for Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fees
  • Up to 12 months of complimentary Uber Eats Pass membership (must enroll by Dec. 31, 2021; see terms)
Citi Prestige® Card
  • 5X Citi ThankYou Points on eligible air travel and restaurant purchases
  • 3X Citi ThankYou Points on eligible hotel and cruise line purchases
  • 1X Citi ThankYou Points on all other purchases
$495 50,000 Citi ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 within the first three months
  • Up to $250 travel credit every year for eligible travel purchases. Supermarket and restaurant purchases also count toward this credit through December 2021
  • Complimentary fourth-night hotel stay (up to twice per year) at a hotel of your choice after booking at least four consecutive nights through ThankYou.com
  • Complimentary access to Priority Pass Select lounges
  • Up to a $100 reimbursement credit (every five years) for Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fees

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.

Pros

  • 50 percent boost in point value when redeemed toward travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards (and Chase Dining purchases through Sept. 30, 2021), and retains 1:1 value with several transfer travel partners
  • Flexible $300 annual travel purchase statement credit (covering grocery and gas purchases as well through Dec. 31, 2021)
  • One of the most robust collections of travel protection benefits available

Cons

  • $550 annual fee, $75 annual fee per authorized user
  • Although the Sapphire Preferred has a lower $95 annual fee, its sign-up bonus offers 80,000 points for the same spending requirements as the Sapphire Reserve’s 60,000-point offer (after spending $4,000 within the first three months)
  • Doesn’t offer as many luxury airport lounge and hotel perks as its competitors

All information about the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.