Chase’s premium travel card just got even better. Here’s how to use it to leap back into the travel game

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Chase just announced some improvements to what was already an incredible premium travel card. Boosted rewards rates for travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards mean you can now earn up to 10X points on certain travel purchases with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

For a long time, I’ve used a combination of Chase credit cards known as the Chase trifecta for all my family’s spending. The trifecta also includes the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, but my favorite rewards credit card of the bunch by far is the Sapphire Reserve.

In 2019, before the pandemic hit, my husband and I traveled for 18 to 20 weeks of the year. We accomplished this by maximizing rewards points and prioritizing our cash travel budget. This hectic schedule was also made possible by the fact that we’re self-employed and can work anywhere. Plus, we have reliable childcare options for when we want to travel by ourselves, just the two of us.

Obviously, the coronavirus pandemic brought our travel lifestyle to a screeching halt. But I never changed my travel rewards strategy, so I’m already set to make the most of Chase’s latest upgrades to the 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 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 also 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. As of August 2021, Chase has bumped that rate to reward cardholders for booking through their own travel portal, offering 5X points on air travel and 10X points on hotels and car rentals (after your $300 travel credit) when booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

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 and British Airways.

In my opinion, 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 in the airport. Plus, I save money by popping into the airport lounge for drinks and snacks.

5. Consumer protections and insurance

Finally, it’s important to note 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 are 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.

The bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a mainstay in the premium travel card realm and comes with a slew of luxury benefits for the frequent traveler. While it wasn’t the only card to see curtailed travel spending over the last year or so, Chase’s boosted rewards for travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal are a great incentive for cardholders to resume spending on travel.

If like me, you held steady with the Sapphire Reserve during the pandemic, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for to ramp up your travel rewards strategy again. And if you’re an ardent traveler and have been waiting for a sign to finally take the leap on the CSR, this is your moment, too.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson writes expert content on personal finance, credit cards, loyalty and insurance topics. In addition to writing for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, Johnson does ongoing work for clients that include CNN, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, Time Magazine and more.
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