Chase Sapphire Reserve® review: Chase’s premier credit card
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Chase Sapphire Reserve® Overview
The Chase Sapphire Reserve isn’t just one of the best Chase credit cards. Thanks to its elevated rewards, long list of luxury travel perks and host of travel and consumer protections, the Sapphire Reserve is one of the Big 3 premium travel credit cards.
In head-to-head matchups with the other two stand out luxury options—The Platinum Card® from American Express and the equally impressive Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card—the Sapphire Reserve does more than just hold its own. Its high earning and boosted redemption rates through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal helps it to stand out as one of the best travel credit cards.
The Sapphire Reserve is a good fit for frequent travelers looking for an upgraded travel experience. But if the combination of travel and dining doesn’t match your spending habits and you don’t plan to take full advantage of the card’s biggest perks like complimentary lounge access, it may not make sense to put down $550 per year for this card. And if you’re not interested in making a fee that large a part of your budget, you’ll definitely want to take a look at another travel rewards card.
What are the pros and cons?
- In addition to the $550 annual fee, there is a $75 annual fee per authorized user. Some travel cards, including the Venture X, don’t charge for additional users
- Low sign-up bonus: The Sapphire Reserve’s 50,000-point offer (after spending $4,000 within the first three months) is worth $250 less than the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which has a lower $95 annual fee.
- Doesn’t offer as many luxury airport lounge and hotel perks as its competitors, although new Chase Sapphire Lounge locations are in development
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 3X points on general travel and restaurant purchases; 10X total points on Lyft purchases (through March 2025); 10X total points on Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards; 10X total points on hotel stays and car rentals through Ultimate Rewards; 5X total points on air travel through Ultimate Rewards (after earning your $300 travel credit); 1X points on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: 50,000 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: 17.24 percent to 24.24 percent variable
Current sign-up bonus
You can earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 with your Chase Sapphire Reserve card within the first three months. Redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, this sign up bonus can be worth up to $750.
This is one of the largest sign-up bonuses available, though it’s outranked by its little 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.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, one of the most flexible and valuable credit card rewards on the market. In addition to its regular redemptions, the Sapphire Reserve gives cardholders a 50-percent boost in point value toward travel redemptions.
How you earn
The Sapphire Reserve’s rewards program can be quite rewarding—and somewhat confusing, especially compared to flat-rate credit cards that earn the same rate on all purchases or other travel cards that offer straightforward rewards in only two or three categories.
To earn the highest rewards for dining and travel with the Sapphire Reserve, you’ll have to use the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal. You’ll also need to first spend $300 on travel purchases at the start of each year to earn the travel credit, which will give you boosted rewards rates.
Once you’ve earned the credit, you’re eligible for the following rates when booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal:
- 10 points per dollar on hotel and car rentals
- 5 points on flights
All other travel you book elsewhere earns 3 points after you’ve earned the credit.
You won’t have to earn the $300 credit to get the following rewards:
- 10 points on dining booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3 points on all other dining purchases, including eligible delivery services and take out
- 1 point for all other purchases
You can also earn 10 points on Lyft rides purchased with the Sapphire Reserve. This is a limited time offer that Chase has extended through March 2025. It’s also one of the largest offers for a rideshare, as most travel cards only offer 3 points back on transit purchases in general, including Lyft or Uber rides.
Bonus category purchases are the main methods to earn Ultimate Rewards, but there are also Chase Offers and Shop Through Chase programs that 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 like Starbucks, Panera, Groupon and Chipotle among many others on a rotating basis. 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 and rewards rates can sometimes climb as high as 20 percent back.
How to redeem
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. One of the main draws with the Sapphire Reserve is that your points receive a 50-percent boost by redeeming for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
But if you’re not planning to travel any time soon, Chase has extended the Pay Yourself Back feature through March 31, 2025. With this feature you can redeem points toward statement credits for non-travel purchases like charitable donations or internet, cable or phone services. Your extra 50 percent redemption value also extends to Chase Dining purchases through March 31, 2022.
These redemption options aren’t as flexible as redeeming for travel through the Chase portal or transferring to Chase’s partners and the Pay Yourself Back feature is only good in select, rotating categories. You also won’t be able to take advantage of Chase Dining at any restaurant of your choice, as not all restaurants participate in the program, and most are based in larger cities like Boston and New York.
How much are the rewards worth?
Value-wise, your points are all worth 1 cent when you redeem for cash back, travel, gift cards and merchandise through the Ultimate Rewards store. But paying with rewards on Amazon.com slightly devalues your rewards to 0.8 cents per point.
To get the best value for your points, make sure to take advantage of the 50 percent boost by booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, where each of your points will be worth 1.5 cents. Or you can transfer your points to Chase travel partners. Based on the latest valuations by The Points Guy, the right transfer partner could boost the value of your points all the way up to 2 cents per point.
Other cardholder perks
As a top-tier travel credit card, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better collection of travel perks than the Sapphire Reserve benefits. Here’s a look at the best luxury features, fee waivers, complimentary services and comprehensive insurance coverage that comes with the Sapphire Reserve.
$300 annual travel credit
Every 12 months from your account anniversary, you’re eligible for up to $300 in statement credits on qualifying travel purchases. 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 general 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, 2024, and 12 months of complimentary Lyft Pink membership if activated using your card by March 2025.
Luxury travel benefits
With the Sapphire Reserve you’ll receive the following valuable travel benefits:
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee statement credit: By using your card, you’ll receive an 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 1,300 VIP airport lounges across more than 500 cities worldwide. What’s more, your Sapphire Reserve and Priority Pass membership will admit you to lounges in the Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club network when they open later in 2022.
- Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection amenities: When staying with a property in this portfolio, you’ll have access to exclusive amenities and guest privileges like early check-in and late check-out (subject to availability).
- Travel insurances: The Sapphire Reserve is one of the best cards for travel insurance and luxury benefits, offering 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.
- Reserved by Sapphire: Available through Chase Dining, Chase’s new program exclusively for Sapphire Reserve cardholders will help you secure reservations at some of the highest-rated restaurants in the nation.
Buy now pay later plan
If you have some upcoming purchases that will take some time to pay off, the My Chase Plan lets you break up purchases of $100 or more into fixed, smaller payments. This lets you avoid having to deal with interest charges, though you’ll have to pay a fixed monthly fee, which is currently 1.72 percent of the amount of the eligible purchase.
$120 credit toward Peloton membership
Thinking of upping your fitness game? Thanks to Chase’s Peloton partnership, cardholders can earn up to 10X points on Peloton Bike, Tread and Guide purchases over $450 paid with your Sapphire Reserve, or by an authorized user on your card (with a max earn of 50,000 total points) through June 30, 2022.
Rates and fees
The Sapphire Preferred has a variable APR of 17.24 percent to 24.24, which is typical for a premium rewards card. As long as you can pay your credit card balances in full and on time, you can avoid interest charges, which can cost you more than you would earn in rewards and make it harder to justify the high annual fee.
On the bright side, the card carries no foreign transaction fees, which is always a nice feature to have with a travel rewards card. Here are the three notable fees it does have that you should know about.
Since the Sapphire Reserve is a premium travel rewards card, its annual fee is one of the highest you’ll find. It sits right in the middle, between the other two top contenders for best premium travel card. The Amex Platinum Card tops the list with an annual fee of $695. The Capital One Venture X carries a $395 annual fee, which looks quite moderate compared to the Platinum card and the Sapphire Reserve.
Authorized user fee
Another fee to look out for with the Sapphire Reserve is for authorized users. You’ll have to pay $75 for each additional user you add on to your account. This is quite a disadvantage, as there are plenty of travel rewards cards that don’t charge you for additional users. Even the top-of-the-line Venture X doesn’t have a fee for additional users.
If you have family members who use the card often, this might work out, as their travel and dining purchases could help you rack up points faster. But each user you add increases the amount of fees you owe, which slowly decreases the card’s value making it difficult to offset what you’re paying with what you’re earning with rewards.
Balance transfer fee
The only other noteworthy fee to look out for is the balance transfer fee. Chase charges a $5 or 5 percent fee for balance transfers, whichever is greater. This is on the high end, considering the best balance transfer credit cards typically only charge 3 percent.
If you are looking to pay down credit card debt, the Sapphire Reserve may not be your best option. Look first at a 0 percent intro APR credit card that will let you make interest-free payments for a certain length of time. Some of the best options give you 15 months or longer to pay down debt without interest charges, and will typically only charge you 3 percent to transfer over your balances.
First-year value vs. ongoing value
The most intimidating aspect of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is its $550 annual fee. You’ll need to take advantage of as many of the card’s features as possible to help offset its yearly cost, but if you can manage this the rewards certainly pay off.
Maximizing the card’s offers shouldn’t be a problem in the first year. The 50,000-point sign-up bonus alone is worth $750 toward Chase travel. That more than makes up for the annual fee in the first year.
After the first year, it will take a bit more work to ensure the card’s long-term value. But as long as you like to travel, you should have no problem. Benefits like the $300 annual travel credit and complimentary memberships alone can nearly recover the cost, and the card’s rewards program gives you plenty of chances to make up the rest.
Since your points are worth 1.5 cents when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, you would need to spend about $1,019 per month in your 3X-point categories to break even at $550 in rewards. Taking advantage of the higher bonus categories can greatly reduce that spend to just $612 in monthly flights or about $306 per month across hotel stays, car rentals and Chase Dining purchases instead.
|Benefits and Costs||First-year value||Ongoing value (no welcome offers)|
|Welcome offers||+$750 value (50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months)||—|
|Perks (of monetary value)||
|Compared ongoing variable APR value**||
*Based on our formula used to calculate each card’s average rewards rates and average ongoing rewards value, using Bureau of Labor Statistics spending data and an assumed $15,900 yearly spend over three years ($1,325 per month).
**Based on the average credit card interest rate at the time of writing.
How the Chase Sapphire Reserve compares to other travel cards
The Sapphire Reserve is a standout option for frequent travelers looking for top-of-the-line perks. But depending on your spending habits and the features that matter most to you, it may not be the best option. Here’s a look at how the Sapphire Reserve stacks up against a travel rewards card with a much smaller annual fee and one with a higher annual fee.
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Sapphire Reserve is a leading travel credit card, but a much smaller annual fee, a higher sign-up bonus and a chance to earn rewards on more than just travel and dining make the Chase Sapphire Preferred an appealing choice.
If you’re on the fence about 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 Reserve’s $550 annual fee. The Sapphire Preferred offers a better value if you travel less, but its upgraded dining category and new online grocery, select streaming service and Chase Ultimate Rewards travel categories make it a better all-around card for everyday spenders who aren’t looking for top-of-the-line perks like complimentary lounge access.
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. The Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express has a number of features that help justify its high annual fee of $695. The sign-up bonus, extensive lounge access, elite hotel status and incredible number of travel and consumer credits give it a clear edge over the Sapphire Reserve–for the right cardholder who plans to use all of these added perks.
But the Sapphire Reserve gets a leg up over the Amex Platinum in a few key areas. You get far more chances to earn valuable points for your travel and dining purchases. And the card’s 50-percent earning boost when redeeming for travel through the Ultimate Rewards Portal tops the one-cent value you get when redeeming rewards through Amex’s travel portal, though both provide great value when transferring your points to travel partners.
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. Although the travel-oriented categories are a little redundant, the Chase Sapphire Preferred may also be a good candidate to pair for its new streaming service category, online grocery category and $50 annual hotel stay credit.
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 its high-earning rewards potential and valuable redemption options make the card more than ready to meet the challenge.
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.