All in all, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is an excellent travel rewards credit card. With an outstanding welcome bonus, high redemption rate, and added benefits, this card offers plenty of incentive.
The new and improved version of the already popular Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, is loaded with value, making it one of the most frequently used travel credit cards around.
Superior reward points earning and a generous sign-up bonus make this card a good choice, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve® does have its drawbacks. Take a look at this thorough analysis of one of the newer Chase credit card offers to see if it’s the best match for your spending needs.
- People who love to travel for fun
- People who travel frequently for business
Chase Sapphire Reserve Overview
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® packs a lot of punch into its offer. A juicy sign-up bonus kicks things off to a great start, and the sizeable travel credit makes sticking with this card an obvious choice. Additionally, many of the benefits like global lounge access and precheck credit create every incentive for frequent travelers to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
The one drawback to this credit card is the high annual fee, but you can easily recoup this fee when spending on travel, as we’ll demonstrate later on in this review.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Key Features
Here is a quick breakdown of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® perks:
- 50,000 sign up bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
- 5 reward points per $1 spent on groceries.
- 3 reward points per $1 spent on travel and dining.
- $300 annual travel credit
- VIP lounge access after a one time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
- $100 precheck credit
Taking a Closer Look At The Chase Sapphire Reserve
As you can see, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is packed with great advantages for the average traveler.
To begin with, the sizable sign-up bonus is a great reason to get started with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. You’ll receive 50,000 points as a welcome bonus. Note that you will have to spend $4,000 using your card within the first three months in order to claim this bonus, but that’s not an unrealistic estimation. Booking a single trip or paying for the usual expenses will likely come to that amount anyway. By the way, 50,000 reward points is one of the most generous sign-up bonuses out there. That translates to $750 worth of travel expenses when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards!
Additionally, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a big travel credit. Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders will receive a $300 travel credit each year.
$300 is a nice amount, but the really great thing about the Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit is that you can use it on any travel expenses including restaurants and purchases, as opposed to competitors that require you to spend the travel credit on airline tickets only.
Reward points program
The biggest advantage of all that comes from the Chase Sapphire Reserve® though is the reward points program. It has a higher earn rate, and a higher redemption rate than the competitors and even higher than the other Chase cards around like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card that it was modeled after.
Using the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you’ll earn three points for every dollar you spend on travel and dining. This includes airfare, taxis, hotels, restaurants, and more. In addition to that, you will earn one point per dollar spent on all other purchases in other categories.
If you do the calculations, that works out to 4.5 percent or 1.5 percent rewards value respectively using the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption program. That is an amazing value. If you redeem via a partner hotel or airline (instead of through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program), the exchange rate will be 1:1.
TSA PreCheck and Global Entry
Travelers who hate waiting in line will enjoy the precheck credit. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides up to $100 application fee credit for either Global Entry or TSA Precheck. Additionally, if you travel a lot, you’ll appreciate the VIP lounge benefits from this card. Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders can access more than 1,000 airport lounges around the world using Priority Pass Select membership. So, you can wait pleasantly for your flight, take advantage of free WiFi to get some business done before you take off and enjoy complimentary snacks and drinks whenever you want.
Rates & Fees
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a hefty annual fee ticketed at $450 per year. While this sounds astronomical compared to many of the other travel credit cards you can find, like the Discover it® Miles that has no annual fees at all, remember that the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is designed to compete with some of the top tier, higher level credit cards.
In this category, a $450 annual fee is not unreasonable. This is because of all of the benefits that are built into the card. With so much to offer, a higher annual fee actually pays for itself quickly.
Balance transfer fee
You’ll pay a balance transfer fee of 5 percent or $5, whichever is higher, on all balance transfers. If you’re looking for a balance transfer card specifically, another good option is the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, which has an intro APR of 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers and intro 0% for 18 months on Purchases (after that the standard 13.74%-23.74% variable APR applies). Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Foreign transaction fees
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® charges no foreign transaction fees. This is a huge savings for anyone who regularly travels, and it will also save you a lot if you shop in a foreign currency online.
Rewards & Benefits
Travel credit cards are filled with benefits, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is no different. Here’s what else you’ll get from this card:
No blackout dates
Additionally, cardholders will enjoy the flexibility that the Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit card affords them when planning their trips. You can book any flight of your choosing, at any time, using the Chase Ultimate Rewards program without any restrictions or blackout dates.
Car rental benefits
Using your Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you’ll get special privileges with rental car companies like Avis, Silvercar, and National Car Rental. The card also entitles you to collision coverage that will pay up to $75,000 worth of damages to your rental car and covers auto theft, as well.
This is a good value because it means you can save money by skipping the car rental company’s usual insurance and still be covered in the event of damage or theft.
Trip cancellation or interruption insurance
If you have to cancel your trip at the last minute, this insurance policy will be a godsend. Instead of losing your ticket and any money spent on travel expenses such as hotel and rental reservations, the trip cancellation policy will cover you up to $10,000. This also applies if your trip is ended early because of sickness, inclement weather, natural disasters, and other circumstances covered by the policy. This is a really big benefit that takes the sting out of a ruined trip.
A fringe benefit of this policy also covers trip delays. Any expenses that are incurred because a trip is delayed (hotel stays, meals, etc.) that aren’t covered by the airlines will be covered by Chase up to $500 per ticket. This covers cardholders and family members travelling together.
Lost luggage compensation
Any bag that is checked or carried onto the flight that was paid for using the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is covered by this insurance. That includes the cardholder as well as family members traveling with them. You’ll receive up to $3,000 per passenger for lost or damaged luggage.
In addition to the considerable travel advantages you’ll receive from the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, cardholders also enjoy certain shopping privileges.
This starts with 5 points per $1 spent on groceries, with no activation required. There’s a limit of $1,500 per month, but no activation is required. This offer expires June 30, 2020, but applies whether you’re buying your groceries in-store, picking them up curbside, or having them delivered to your front door.
You’ll also get purchase protection that covers all new items for up to 120 days after purchase against theft or damage. You can receive up to $10,000 per claim and make up to five claims each year.
You can also get reimbursed for new purchases that the store will not take back (on eligible items) for up to 90 days from the date of purchase. Claim up to $500 per item and up to $1,000 per year. This is helpful if you bought something from a store that is particularly difficult to deal with.
Finally, cardholders will enjoy the extended warranty on certain items for additional security on your new purchases.
Chase Security Features
Chase is big on security, so it does a lot to keep its customers safe. 128-byte encryption is used on all of its web pages, and even the mobile app uses secure technology to ensure everything is kept safe.
In addition to the security measures mentioned above, you can keep your Chase Sapphire Reserve® safer by setting up security alerts to warn you of suspicious activity on your card. You can opt to be notified when strange actions are being taken with your card such as charges above a certain amount, charges made in a foreign currency or location, or an unusual number of transactions in a short period of time.
You can also set up alerts for your convenience (not just your security). Get notifications when your monthly payments are due or when your available credit is running low to help maintain a healthy account and avoid unnecessary charges like late fees and over limit charges.
Cardholders can receive alerts via email or mobile devices as push notifications and SMS.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with 24/7 customer support via the free 800 number. Alternatively, cardholders can access help via the online email contact form or reach out via the Chase Twitter handle. Chase also has a comprehensive FAQ section you can browse to find answers to commonly asked questions.
Card Comparison – Chase Sapphire Reserve VS. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Can’t decide if the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the best option for your travel plans? Check out this side-by-side comparison of another great Chase travel credit card that many travelers use as well to decide which one works best for you:
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Chase Sapphire Reserve®
|Sign up bonus||100,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening the account, worth $1,250 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®||50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months of opening the account, worth $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
|Earn rate||2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining expenses, 1 point for every dollar spent on any other category||5 points for every dollar spent on groceries (expires June 30, 2020), 3 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining expenses, 1 point for every dollar spent on any other category
|Redemption rate||1.25 cents per point earned (when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program)||1.5 cents per point earned (when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program)
|Other benefits||$300 travel credit each year
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® certainly has a high annual fee compared to the $95 annual fee from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. But, let’s do the math for a moment.
If you receive a $300 travel credit, then you cut down that charge considerably (by ⅔ in fact). With the higher earn and redemption rates for reward points, you would only have to spend around $3,000 a year to break even. And, with all of the other benefits (plus the flat rate one percent for all other categories excluding travel), the Chase Sapphire Reserve® makes a compelling argument.
Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Right For You?
All in all, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is an excellent travel rewards credit card. With an outstanding welcome bonus, high redemption rate, and added benefits like VIP access to airport lounges, lost luggage compensation, trip cancellation insurance, and no foreign transaction fees, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers plenty of incentive.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a good option if you just don’t want to spend the money on a high annual fee or if you don’t travel that often. However, if you travel a lot, whether for business or pleasure, you will quickly glean the benefits inherent from this top rate credit card.