In 2019, before the pandemic hit, my husband and I traveled for 18 to 20 weeks of the year. We were able to accomplish this with a combination of rewards points and our cash travel budget, with about half of our travel with our kids and the rest with just the two of us. The fact we’re self-employed and can work anywhere also made our hectic travel schedule possible, along with reliable childcare.
Obviously, the coronavirus pandemic brought our travel lifestyle to a screeching halt, yet I never changed my travel rewards strategy then, and I certainly will not now. While I use a combination of Chase credit cards known as the Chase trifecta for all our spending, which includes the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, my favorite rewards credit card by far is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
5 reasons to love the Chase Sapphire Reserve
You may be wondering why I continued paying the high annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Reserve over a period of time I couldn’t really travel. The thing is, I knew that travel would come back eventually once the pandemic started winding down. Not only did I want to continue earning rewards for when that day came, but I wanted to maintain the exceptional perks I get with the Sapphire Reserve.
Here are the major reasons this card is my favorite:
1. Exceptional earning rate
The Sapphire Reserve earns 3X points on travel and dining purchases, which are two categories I am able to maximize quite a bit. However, many people don’t know you also get 10X points on rides with Lyft (through March 31, 2022), which I take quite often around town and to and from the airport.
As a side note, I don’t typically use my Sapphire Reserve for everyday spending and bills. Since it only gives 1X points on non-bonus category spending, I use my Freedom Unlimited to make sure I earn a minimum of 1.5X points on everything I buy.
2. The best airline and hotel partners among flexible cards
We mostly travel internationally to the Caribbean and Europe, and Chase travel partners work splendidly for our goals. Specifically, we transfer a ton of Chase points to the Air France / Flying Blue program for cheap flights to Europe, as well as to the Southwest Rapid Rewards program for cheap flights to Mexico and the Caribbean. Other popular transfer partners include World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy, United MileagePlus, British Airways and more.
By and large, Chase Ultimate Rewards has the best airline and hotel partners of any of the flexible travel programs, including American Express Membership Rewards and the Citi ThankYou program.
3. I love getting 50 percent off travel through Chase
Another reason to love the Sapphire Reserve is the fact it gives you 1.5 cents per point in value when you redeem rewards for travel through the Chase portal, which partners with Expedia.
This is part of the reason I use the Chase trifecta to maximize rewards on all our personal and business spending. I use each card strategically to earn as much in rewards as possible, then I pool them in my Sapphire Reserve account so I can redeem them for airfare, excursions, hotels and more.
4. Travel benefits I can use
I love the fact that the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a $300 travel credit. This credit is incredibly easy to use since it applies to any travel purchase, and since it is added automatically to your card as you use it.
Further, I frequently use the Priority Pass Select membership that comes with this card, which allows entry into more than 1,300 airport lounges around the globe. The lounge benefit is particularly useful to me since it gives me a quiet place to escape to in the airport. Not only that, but I save money by popping into the airport lounge for drinks and snacks.
5. Consumer protections and insurance
Finally, it’s important to note that the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with more travel insurance benefits than any other travel credit card. Perks include primary auto rental coverage, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, emergency evacuation and transportation coverage, and so much more.
These benefits are the main reason I charge all our paid travel expenses to this card. Just the trip cancellation and interruption insurance is worth up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip, and it’s free when you use your credit card to pay for travel.
This is yet another way the Chase Sapphire Reserve actually saves me money. Each time I use the travel insurance instead of buying a separate travel insurance plan, that’s money I don’t have to spend.