Who Is This Credit Card Best For?
Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free See more cards
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
Hits the road often, whether for work or play See more cards
Loves to explore places and experience new things See more cards
If you have excellent credit and spend a lot of money on dining and travel, this credit card could be great for you. Once you’ve earned your travel credit, you’ll break even on the annual fee as long as you spend $16,667 per year (or about $1,389 a month) on any combo of travel and dining purchases, assuming you redeem your points for 1.5 cents each in the travel portal. That’s not hard for many people who travel frequently or with family.
- Extra points for travel and dining purchases: Very few travel cards attach the highest possible reward earning rates to both of these categories. Getting 3 points per $1 spent on dining expenses makes it easy to earn points while indulging during your travels and on dinners out when you’re home. Cardholders will also earn 3 points per $1 spent at grocery stores through April 30th, 2021 and 10 points per $1 spent on Lyft rides through March 2022.
- Lots of purchase types that count as travel spending: Chase defines travel spending more broadly than many competitors. It includes everything from airlines and hotels to campgrounds and parking garages (more on that below). That makes it easier to earn rewards.
- Lucrative redemption options: You have two stellar choices: transferring to other eligible loyalty programs on a 1:1 basis and booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal at a bonus redemption rate of 1.5X. That's 50% more value for your points when redeeming through Chase for travel.
- Statement credits help make up the annual fee cost: You'll get a $300 travel credit each year, and you can also get up to $60 in statement credits in 2020 and 2021 for DoorDash food deliveries.
- Big annual fee: As is with many premium rewards cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a hefty annual fee: $550 for new cardholders. There are ways to offset it, but you’ll need to travel and dine out fairly frequently.
- High APR: Because this card requires a large volume of spending to earn rewards, it’s important to note the high annual percentage rate (APR). If you don’t pay off your balance each month, you’re looking at an APR of 16.99-23.99%, based on your credit.
If you run a balance, interest charges will quickly negate the value of any rewards you earn. Don’t use this card unless you can pay off the balance in full every month.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Bonus for New Cardholders
You’ll get 60,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000—about $1,333 a month—on purchases in the first three months after opening a new account. That’s a sizeable bonus, considering Chase values it at $750 if you redeem your points for airfare, hotels, rental cars, or cruises offered through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
Even better, if you choose to transfer your points to an airline or hotel loyalty program that partners with Chase, they could be worth as much as $1,188, based on The Balance’s calculations of point values. Considering other premium travel card bonuses range from $500-$1,000 in value, this bonus is not too shabby. However, you can get more points for the same spending requirement with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card right now.
This bonus is available to new Sapphire cardholders only. If you’ve held another Sapphire credit card within the past 48 months or are an existing cardholder, you won’t be eligible.
Earning Points & Rewards
Your first $300 of travel purchases annually with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card will be refunded in the form of a statement credit, essentially giving you an extra $300 of travel rewards each year. Once you meet that limit, you’ll earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points for each $1 spent on travel-related purchases, including some you might not expect, such as bus fares, highway tolls, and parking fees. Through March 2022 you'll also earn 10 points per $1 spent on Lyft rides. If you're a rideshare fan, this offer is a great way to stack up extra points.
On an ongoing basis, you’ll also earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining purchases, which makes it even easier to earn rewards with this card than with other premium travel cards. All other purchases will earn 1 point per $1 spent.
If you’re a Chase Freedom Flex account holder, you can combine Ultimate Rewards points on that card with those you earn on the Sapphire Reserve to reach reward goals even faster. There’s no limit on the number of points you can earn, and points never expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing.
Chase Sapphire Reserve points are most valuable when redeemed for travel, either through the Chase Ultimate Rewards site or by transferring your points to an airline or hotel loyalty program.
In the Ultimate Rewards site, which works very much like a typical travel search site, you’ll get 1.50 cents per point when booking airline tickets, hotel accommodations, car rentals, activities, and cruises. By comparison, using your points for cash back (via statement credit or electronic deposit) will get you 1 cent each—the baseline sought by rewards chasers. That's not a bad rate, but you can get more value when you redeem for travel. In other words, 20,000 points would buy you $300 worth of travel, compared to only $200 if redeemed for cash.
You can also:
- Buy gift cards and experiences
- Shop with points online
There’s no limit on how many Ultimate Rewards points you can redeem each year, and no minimum requirement for how many points you must use when redeeming them for travel, cash back, or through Amazon.com.
To see how the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card’s miles stack up, check out our in-depth analysis of what credit card points are worth.
You may get even more value by transferring your points to the loyalty programs of one of 13 hotel and airline partners. Points with both Hyatt hotels and United Airlines, for instance, are worth more than 2 cents each, on average, according to our research. You can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to any partner at an impressive 1:1 ratio (in 1,000-point increments).
If the airline is part of an alliance, your redemption options expand even further. For instance, United miles may be used for flights on more than 20 Star Alliance partners.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
Start by spending $300 on travel ASAP to use up the annual travel credit right away, as you won’t earn triple points on travel until that happens. Next, focus on reaching your $4,000 spending requirement within the first three months to get your bonus points. Those alone will make up for the $550 annual fee the first year.
Then, redeem points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal or, even better, transfer them to partner airlines or hotels with high-value points.
For advice on maximizing rewards with this card, read "Chase Ultimate Rewards Program: Your Complete Guide."
Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Benefits
This card has a slew of benefits that we think go beyond what’s often offered by travel rewards cards. Besides the travel purchase credit, just some of the others include:
- Global Entry/TSA Precheck fee reimbursement: Global Entry and TSA Precheck can speed your way through airports. Use your card to pay the application fee for either to get one statement credit—either $100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA Precheck—every four years.
- Airport lounge access: Unlimited access to Priority Pass Select lounges, cafes, and markets—a $429 value. This benefit is free for primary cardholders and up to two guests, but additional guests cost $27 each.
- Coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, or delay: If your trip is canceled or cut short due to circumstances beyond your control, you can get reimbursed for non-refundable travel expenses. And if your travel is delayed for more than six hours or overnight, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses. Both plans are subject to limits.
- Coverage for lost or delayed baggage: Damaged or lost luggage is covered up to $3,000 per passenger. A separate plan reimburses for essential purchases if your baggage is delayed over six hours.
- Primary auto rental collision damage waiver: This benefit is unusual among credit cards because you don’t have to use your own insurance policy first if your rental car is lost or damaged in a collision. You’ll be covered for up to $75,000.
- One year of Lyft Pink membership: Activating this new offer (which has a minimum $199 value, according to Chase) will give you access to 15% off Lyft rideshare purchases, priority airport pickups, and more.
- DoorDash DashPass membership: This subscription waives delivery fees on all DoorDash food orders of $12 or more. A DashPass membership typically costs $9.99 per month, so this perk has an annual value of more than $100.
Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Other Features
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Refund when merchant won’t accept returned item
- Extended warranties
In the 2020 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, J.D. Power ranked Chase fourth out of 11 national card issuers. Chase scored 809, one point below the average. Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders have several resources at their disposal that reinforce the high ranking.
You can view your FICO Score online and on the Chase mobile app for free, at any time after a one-time enrollment. Track your credit health via Credit Journey, a credit dashboard that summarizes your credit report and credit score insights.
Other than standard security features like alerts about suspicious transactions, Chase also allows you to easily lock your card via the Chase mobile app if you misplace your card, to avoid potential fraud. Lost or stolen cards are replaced for free, too.
Fees to Watch Out For
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a standard lineup of fees, most of which won’t apply if you make on-time payments and only use the card for purchases. There’s no foreign transaction fee, which is great for travelers, but the card still touts a $550 annual fee. High annual fees are common among premium travel rewards cards, but still, be prepared to pay for the value you’re getting. You also have to pay a $75 annual fee for each authorized user.
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is essentially a high-end model of the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Both award extra Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases, but the Reserve offers 3 points per $1 instead of 2 like the Preferred does. The Chase Sapphire Reserve charges a much higher annual fee, too ($550 compared to $95). Both cards are made of metal and offer new cardholders generous bonuses, but it’s the Reserve that really shines when it comes to travel rewards and benefits.
When you use your Ultimate Rewards points from your Chase Sapphire Reserve account to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, they’re worth 1.50 cents each, while points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card are worth just 1.25 cents each when redeemed this way.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is also packed with a number of luxe travel benefits, including a $300 annual travel credit, airport lounge access through Priority Pass Select, and reimbursement for TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee credits. The Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn’t offer any of those high-value perks. However, both cards offer primary rental car insurance coverage.
Here’s a head-to-head comparison of what each travel rewards card offers:
|Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred|
|Card Feature||Chase Sapphire Reserve||Chase Sapphire Preferred|
|Bonus offer||60,000 points for spending $4,000 within the first 3 months||80,000 points for spending $4,000 within the first 3 months|
|Points earned on travel & dining||3 points per $1||2 points per $1|
|Point value when used to book travel through Chase||1.50 cents each||1.25 cents each|
|Primary rental car insurance||Yes||Yes|
|Annual travel credit||Yes, $300||No|
|TSA precheck/Global Entry fee credit||Yes, up to $100 every 4 years||No|
|Airport lounge access||Yes||No|
|Estimated annual rewards value*||$447||$320|
*We estimate the value of the rewards an average American household would earn with each card based on annual spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources. We subtract a card’s annual fee from that figure, and add the value of any travel reimbursement credits a card may offer.
Deciding which Sapphire card to apply for really comes down to your expected level of travel and the travel benefits you value. If all its extras are appealing, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is easily worth the high annual fee. But if you don’t care that much about lounge access, you already have Global Entry or TSA Precheck, and/or you don’t think you’ll travel enough to use the travel credit plus earn a substantial amount of points on top of that, you may be better off with the Preferred.