For travel lovers, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a lot of power in its heavy metal package. The main thing about this card is that it can get top rewards. Arguably more flexible than Simone Biles, the Chase Ultimate Rewards can redeem statement points, gift cards and merchandise, or more importantly, book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal for 50% more value. You can also transfer your points to more than a dozen popular airline and hotel partners, and the value can be even greater.
Sapphire Reserve offers a full suite of benefits, including Priority Select Lounge Access, Global Pass Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement, and benefits at Visa Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection hotels. The benefit that helps most potential applicants cross the finish line is likely to be a $300 annual credit for qualifying travel. Those leaving home can find a way to maximize that credit.
In addition to potentially increasing the redemption value by 50%, this card has another trick for maximizing rewards: if you strategically pair it with a complementary Ultimate Rewards card, such as the Chase Freedom Flex℠ or the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you can be combined to add up all your points and exchange them for great value at Sapphire Reserve. You can even earn points from family members or your small business account to increase the value of all your Ultimate Rewards.
At first glance
- $550 annual fee
- Welcome Bonus: 50,000 Bonus Points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Get a $300 credit on your travel bill for all travel expenses charged to your card
- Earn 5 points per dollar for air travel and 10 points per dollar for hotels and rentals when you purchase travel immediately after spending the first $300 per year on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Earn 3 points per $1 on other travel and dining purchases, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
- Earn 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2022
- Get an additional 50% value when you redeem travel credits and eligible Pay Yourself Back purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
- No foreign transaction fees
- 10% Anniversary Points Bonus. On each account anniversary, cardholders earn bonus points equal to 10% of the previous year’s total purchases
- Transfer points 1:1 to partner airline and hotel programs
- Benefits include Priority Pass Select membership ($429 retail), up to $100 in Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership points, and more
- Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Insurance, Trip Delay Insurance, Baggage Loss and Delay Insurance
- Primary Rental Car Insurance Coverage
Chase Sapphire Reserve Rewards
Sapphire Reserve cardmembers will earn 5 points per dollar for air travel and 10 points per dollar for hotel and car rentals when they book travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after spending the first $300 in travel spending each year. Earn 3 points per $1 on other travel and dining purchases and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
There is also a welcome bonus of 50,000 points in the first year after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.
In addition to the ongoing rewards you can earn with the card, Sapphire Reserve gives you a $300 annual travel credit that applies to all travel purchases charged to your credit card.4
Chase Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed for account credit, cash back or gift cards for 1 cent per point. You can also use your points to shop directly from brands like Amazon.com and Apple, although each point is usually worth less than 1 cent.
When you redeem travel rewards through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website, they’re worth 50% more. For example, when used this way, the travel value for 10,000 points is $150. You can also spend your points on select purchases in rotating categories with Chase’s Pay Yourself Back program for 50% more value.
Plus, you can transfer your points 1:1 to more than a dozen airline and hotel partners, including programs like United, Southwest, and Hyatt. Please note that once a reward has been transferred to a travel partner, you cannot transfer it back to your Ultimate Rewards account.
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To determine the reward potential of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, we reviewed the elevated reward tiers and calculated the average spending by U.S. households in these regions. Forbes Advisor uses data from multiple government agencies to determine basic income and average spending for different categories. 70% of working people bring in $100,172 per year, and we used that number to estimate spending in each category.
Forbes Advisor estimates that a typical American family with this income level spends $1,755 on a flight and earns 8,775 points for bookings made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. All other trips booked any other way are estimated to cost $1,410 and earn an additional 4,290 points.
Our sample household also spent $4,406 on food, earning 3 points per dollar for a total of 13,218 points. After deducting travel and living expenses, Forbes consultants estimated that the U.S. households cited would have a reasonable charge of $18,819 to their credit cards. At 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar, these spends will generate 18,819 Ultimate Rewards per year.
This brings the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card’s annual income to 45,102 Ultimate Rewards. The card also offers a 10% bonus on annual spending, which in our example would earn an additional 2,641 points – a total of 47,743 Ultimate Rewards per year. That’s $477 worth of cash back or $716.15 worth of travel booked through Chase, not counting the welcome bonus needed after meeting minimum spend, annual travel credits, or any bonus additions from Lyft spend.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Benefits
- Lyft Pink Membership: Cardholders receive one year of Lyft Pink for free. Get 15% off Lyft rides and other benefits with 1-year membership.
- No International Transaction Fees: You don’t have to pay extra for items purchased outside the US.
- Buyer Protection: Get 120 days of coverage on new purchases against damage or theft, up to $10,000 per claim, up to $50,000 per year.
- Extended Warranty: Extend your U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by one year for a three-year or less qualified warranty.
- Travel Insurance Benefits: Eligible for travel protection, including Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance, Primary Rental Car Insurance, Baggage Loss Compensation, Travel Delay Insurance, Emergency Evacuation Insurance and Marine Insurance.
- Regular APR: 16.99% – 23.99% variable
- Purchase introductory APR: Not applicable
- Introduction to Balance Transfer APR: N/A
- Annual fee: $550
- Transfer Fee: $5 or 5% of each transfer amount, whichever is greater.
- Cash Advance: $10 or 5% of each transaction amount, whichever is greater.
- Foreign purchase transaction fee: $0.
How Chase Sapphire Reserve Cards Stack Up
Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Cards
If Sapphire Reserve is a gold medalist, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card should earn a silver medal in the travel rewards card contest. The annual fee is only $95, but the card’s elite income structure is better than more expensive travel cards. This card earns 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3 points per dollar on dining, 2 points per dollar on all other travel purchases, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Sapphire Preferred rewards are redeemed in the same way as Chase Sapphire Reserve®, but you only get 25% of the value when redeeming travel credits through Chase or Pay Yourself Back.
It also offers some decent travel protection, but not quite as much as the Reserve. If you don’t think Reserve’s perks are worth the $550 annual fee, this makes the Sapphire Preferred a better choice.
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
If you’re unhappy with Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee, or just don’t want to bother making the most of your rewards, the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card might be a good option. $95 annual fee, earn 5 miles per $1 on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel, and unlimited 2 miles per $1 on other purchases. The card also comes with an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck members.
Redeeming the rewards earned on the Venture Card is a breeze. You can use your earnings to book travel through the Capital One Travel Center, use it to pay for qualifying travel purchases you make otherwise, or transfer it to one of Capital One’s travel transfer partners. The best value on this card is limited to travel purchases, as cash back or other redemptions are worth less than a cent per point.
American Express’s Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Platinum Cards
If you want the most luxurious air travel perks and don’t mind paying a hefty annual fee, the Platinum Card® from American Express (see Fares and Fees. Terms that apply) may be for you. Like Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards are flexible and can be used as a statement to book travel through American Express Travel or transfer to multiple American Express airline and hotel partners.
With an annual fee of $695, the card allows cardholders to earn 5 bonus points per dollar on flights booked directly through the airline or American Express Travel, up to $500,000 per calendar year, at prepaid hotels, through American Express Travel Earn 5 points per dollar on travel booked with American Express and 1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases. Exclusive benefits include extensive access to airport lounges—including enrolling in Priority Pass, American Express Centurion Lounges, and Delta Sky Lounges (when you fly with Delta on the same day), annually on eligible airlines of your choice Earn up to $200 per year in airline incidental credits (registration required), up to $200 in Uber Cash per year for rides or meals in the US when you link your Platinum Card to your Uber account , Gold Elite – Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors membership, Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fee credits, digital entertainment statements, and more.
Choosing between Amex Platinum and Sapphire Reserve may depend on your spending habits, which transfer partners you want to access, and which credit card benefits are most valuable to you. Terms and conditions apply.
Is The Chase Sapphire Reserve right for you?
If you’re looking for a premium travel rewards card, Sapphire Reserve stands out from the crowd. While annual fees may seem awkward, anyone who can take advantage of these benefits can stand out.
But if you rarely travel or eat out, or if the annual fee is too high for you, a card that better suits your spending habits is likely to be at the top of your wallet.
To view American Express Platinum rates and fees, visit this page.