Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
Hits the road often, whether for work or play
Loves to explore places and experience new things
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 start earning rewards, you’ll break even on the annual fee as long as you spend $3,087 per year ($258 a month) on any combo of travel and dining purchases. That’s not hard for many people who travel frequently or with family.
Triple points for travel and dining purchases
Lots of purchase types that count as travel spending
Lucrative redemption options
$300 annual travel credit
Big annual fee
- Triple 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.
- 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 loyalty programs on a 1:1 basis and booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal at a good redemption rate.
- $300 annual travel credit: Statement credits wipe out travel charges and partially make up for the annual fee.
- Hefty annual fee: As is with many premium rewards cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a big annual fee. 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 18.49-25.49%, 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 Sign-up Bonus
You’ll get 50,000 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. And if you choose to transfer your points to an airline or hotel loyalty program that partners with Chase, it may be worth $810, based on The Balance’s calculations of the average point value. Considering other premium travel card bonuses range from $500-$1,000 in value, that’s not too shabby.
This sign-up 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.
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.
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.
If you’re a Chase Freedom 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.
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 1.5 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. 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
- Pay with points via Chase Pay at participating retailers
- 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.
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). That's much better than the ratio some competitors offer.
If the airline is part of an alliance, your redemption options expand even further. For instance, United points may be used for flights on most of the 28 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 sign-up bonus points. Those alone will make up for the $450 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.
Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Excellent Perks
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 $343 value. This benefit is free for primary cardholders and authorized users, 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 you 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.
Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Other Features
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Refund when merchant won’t accept returned item
- Extended warranties
In 2019 J.D. Power ranked Chase ranked No. 4 for customer satisfaction, scoring 807 on a 1,000-point scale. 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 $450 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.