In 2016, Chase launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card with a lot of fan fare. Ever since then it has been very popular rewards card, especially if you’re a frequent traveler. While this card has some similarities to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the benefits you get with the Sapphire Reserve card really stand out.
This card does have a $550 annual fee, which may seem high the first time you hear it. However, along with the higher annual fee come some excellent benefits that can easily offset it. The most notable is an annual $300 credit toward travel purchases. Even if you travel just a little throughout the year, you’ll be able to get the full benefit of this credit, which effectively lowers the annual fee to just $150. Let me show you the other reasons why this card can earn a spot in your wallet.
The welcome bonus for new qualifying cardholders is 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of being approved for the card. Chase values these at 1.5 cents per point if redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. That means the points you get from the sign-up bonus alone are worth $900 in travel. That’s right, $900 you can use towards your next vacation on virtually any airline or hotel. If you are new to the points hobby and just want to dip your toes in, this is an easy and hassle-free way to get good value from your points.
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve card you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points on every purchase. Ultimate Rewards points are some of the best out there because they offer so much flexibility. Not only are there ways to maximize the points you earn but there are so many options for redemption as well. This flexibility is definitely valuable when it comes to maximizing the points you earn.
The Sapphire Reserve card gives you a standard one Ultimate Reward point for every dollar you spend with the card. The card has the same two bonus categories as the Sapphire Preferred but the number of points you earn is higher. You will earn 3 UR points for every dollar spent on all travel and restaurant purchases. Chase is very liberal in what they consider to be travel and dining, so you’ll earn points on more purchases than you might think.
Travel – Travel purchases include the usual suspects of airplane tickets, hotels and car rentals. Each of these purchases will earn you triple points. Chase also includes purchases at parking garages, toll roads and even rides with Uber and Lyft as travel so you will earn you 3x points on these as well. One minor note, is that you won’t earn any points on the first $300 you spend on travel because of the annual travel credit.
Dining – You will earn triple points on almost every restaurant worldwide. Anything that codes as dining on your billing statement will give you 3x points. Once, I even had a snack I purchased from a vending machine code as dining and I received the bonus points.
Depending on how often you travel and eat out, these points can really add up fast. If you only spent $1,000 per month on travel and dining, you would earn over 11,000 more points with this card than the Sapphire Preferred card each year. If you travel and eat out more than this, the value of the extra bonus points alone could easily cover the annual fee.
The Sapphire Reserve card comes with a lot of excellent benefits for cardholders that can provide substantial value. This isn’t a complete list of benefits but these are the ones I feel provide the most value.
Travel Credit – Each year you get a $300 credit towards travel purchases. The great thing about this credit is that it’s automatic so there’s nothing you need to do to get it. For example, you take an Uber from the airport that cost $25. Once the charge posts to your account, a credit for $25 will post shortly thereafter. This will happen until you have reached $300 in credits.
TSA Precheck or Global Entry Application Fee – You will receive a credit for your application fee with either TSA Precheck or Global Entry once every four years. If you have never signed up for either of these programs, now is the perfect time.
The great thing about this credit, is that you don’t have to use it on yourself. My wife and I had already signed up for the program, so I used the credit for my oldest son’s application. All you have to do is pay for the application with this card and statement credit will automatically post to your account. It works just like the travel credit.
Priority Pass Lounge Access – Being a cardholder gives you a free Priority Pass Select membership. This gives you access to more than 1,200 airport lounges worldwide. While it won’t get you into a Centurion Lounge (you’ll need the American Express Platinum card for that) they do have some great locations like the Alaska Airlines lounge at JFK.
Insurance Coverage – By paying for your travel expenses with the Sapphire Reserve card you get some really great insurance benefits. You get primary insurance coverage for your rental cars. By using your card, you get great trip interruption, cancellation and luggage insurance as well. For example, if your flight is delayed for more than 6 hours, or requires an overnight stay, you can be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses, up to $500 per ticket.
Redeeming Chase Points
As I mentioned previously, the best thing about Chase Ultimate Rewards points, is that they are so easy to use. You can even combine the Ultimate Rewards points you earn with other cards you may have to get the most value from them.
With the Sapphire Reserve cared you can easily redeem them through the Chase travel portal. Through the portal, they are worth 1.5 cents per point when used towards travel. You can also unlock more value by transferring your points to one of their 12 airline and hotel partners. It can take a little time to research the programs and find availability. However, in doing so you can find sweet spots in these programs that will give you some incredible redemption options.
Below is a list, that’s in alphabetical order, of the travel partner loyalty programs that partner with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. You can redeem your UR points with any of these programs at a ratio of 1:1.
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- British Airways Avios
- Iberia Plus
- Jet Blue TrueBlue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United Airlines MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy
- World Of Hyatt
Sapphire Reserve Eligibility
Remember, this card is issued by Chase so it is subject to their infamous 5/24 rule. Make sure you haven’t opened too many accounts previously before you apply. Another thing to keep in mind before applying is that you can only earn one welcome bonus from ANY Sapphire card every 48 months. If you already have the Sapphire Preferred card, you can always call and upgrade your account to the Sapphire Reserve card. You won’t get a welcome bonus but you can take advantage of all the excellent benefits.
Don’t let the high annual fee scare you away from the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. This card has a lot of fantastic benefits and can be an excellent option for a lot of people. If you travel frequently, I would definitely recommend this card over the Sapphire Preferred. With the bonus categories and increased travel benefits, you’ll be able to extract a lot of extra value out of it . If you’re not sure if you’ll use the benefits enough, start out with the Sapphire Preferred card and then upgrade later if need to. Either way, this card definitely deserves some strong consideration.