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Perhaps you’re thinking of getting a Chase Sapphire Reserve® but feel intimidated by the $550 annual fee. While that amount feels hefty, the $300 travel credit you receive each year helps offset that cost, so it’s more like $250 — and totally worth it. The card comes jam-packed with perks, including Global Entry (worth $100) and access to over 1,300 Priority Pass lounges at U.S. airports and overseas (143 countries).

Plus, earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

New Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,125 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Travel.

The Fairmont San Francisco Hotel April 2014. Credit: Johnny Jet

Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 Travel Credit

In order to receive the $300 travel credit, you need to spend in certain travel categories that range from flights to transportation and hospitality. The categories are pretty generous in terms of what’s considered travel.

Thanks to Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 travel credit, here are five things I got for free in January. Note that the total reimbursements listed come out to $302.

1. Parking garage fee: $35

Travel credit category: Parking lots/garages

I live in the Bay Area but hardly ever drive into San Francisco unless it’s absolutely necessary because parking is crazy expensive. A $35-50 a day parking garage is normal.

However, after realizing that my travel credit kicked in (I was notified when I signed into Ultimate Rewards), I confidently drove into the city. Not only was the $35 fee covered, but it was a nice change of pace to drive into the city and run my errands instead of taking the subway.

2. Parking meters: $12

Travel credit category: Parking lots/garages

Did I mention parking in San Francisco is expensive? Garages are pricey but so are parking meters. I usually pay $9 or more per hour on the rare occasion when I need to drive to my office. On this particular occasion, I got $12 back in meter fees.

I also got reimbursed for the Bay Bridge toll fee on the way into the city. This brings me to the next freebie in this Chase Sapphire Reserve® $300 travel credit list…

3. Monthly FasTrak fee: $25

Travel credit category: Ferries, toll bridges, highways

Driving into the city requires paying the toll fee for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which is currently at $7.

Like many drivers, I have a FasTrak, which lets me pass through the tolls in a FasTrak lane. The monthly $25 fee is automatically deducted from my Chase Sapphire Reserve®, so for that particular month, I got it for free.

4. Roundtrip flight to Denver on Southwest Airlines: $175

Travel credit category: Airlines

Whenever I book flights and hotels, I try to book it through Chase Travel℠ (Chase’s travel portal), so I can earn 3x the points. You can learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve review. However, this past holiday season when I wanted to fly to Colorado, the lack of flights and expensive tickets ultimately forced me to look elsewhere.

I ended up booking a super cheap, roundtrip flight from SFO to Denver on Southwest Airlines. Even though I didn’t get 3x points, I was reimbursed for the cost of the ticket.

5. Airport shuttle: $55

Travel credit category: Buses, taxis, limos

Once I landed at Denver International Airport, I took a shuttle to Colorado Springs. The local shuttle picked me up. Since this was free, all I needed to do was pay the driver his tip in cash.

What travel purchases count towards the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 travel credit?

Here are Chase’s travel categories:

  • Airlines
  • Hotels and motels
  • Car rentals
  • Campgrounds
  • Cruises
  • Discount travel sites
  • Operators of passenger trains
  • Buses, taxis, limos
  • Ferries, toll bridges, highways
  • Parking lots/garages

What does not qualify:

  • Real estate agents
  • In-flight goods and services
  • On-board cruise line goods and services
  • Sightseeing activities
  • Excursions
  • Tourist attractions
  • Merchants within hotels and airports
  • Merchants that rent vehicles for the purpose of hauling
  • Purchases of points or miles do not qualify in this category

Given the above, it’s no wonder why the Chase Sapphire Reserve is considered one of the best airline credit cards and even one of the best rewards credit cards.

$300 is gone in a flash

The travel credit certainly came in handy, and it only took me a few weeks to spend and recoup $300.

If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve® and are unsure about whether a purchase will count towards the $300 credit, make a small purchase and check your statement to see if you got reimbursed. Or you can just call Chase to find out.

If you have an authorized user on the account, that person’s spending will count towards the $300 credit, as long as it’s made in the proper categories.

Why is it so easy to spend the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 travel credit? This question both worries and delights me. On the one hand, $300 adds up fast, but on the other, Chase picked up the tab, so I can’t complain!

New Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,125 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Travel.

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