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With a steep $550 annual fee, it’s right to ask, “Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve® worth it?” before applying. You may also be asking this question if you’re an existing Sapphire member that’s re-evaluating their credit card portfolio to make sure you have the best travel credit cards.
Is The Chase Sapphire Reserve Worth It? What is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Best For?
You may have read our other “Does Chase Have Good Business Credit Cards” post and learned about the number of benefits that come with Chase cards. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is no exception. It is an excellent card if you want to earn and redeem travel rewards.
Some of the best reasons to have the Sapphire Reserve include the following:
- 50% travel redemption bonus: Your Chase Points are worth 1.5 cents (50% more) when booking award travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. In comparison, most credit card points are only worth 1 cent for award travel.
- 1:1 points transfers: You can transfer your Ultimate Rewards to several airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio in 1,000-point increments without fees. Some of the most valuable transfer partners include Emirates, Etihad, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Marriott, and World of Hyatt.
- Travel credits: Receive up to $300 in annual statement credits to reimburse your first travel-related purchases each year. You can also receive complimentary on-property benefits at The Luxury & Hotel Resort Collection and a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
- Airport lounge access: Cardholders and up to two additional guests can visit Priority Pass lounges free of charge after enrolling in Priority Pass Select. The Sapphire Reserve is one of the best airport lounge credit cards.
- Travel and purchase coverage: This card has some of the best travel and purchase protection benefits. Specifically, its travel coverage includes trip cancellation/interruption coverage ($10,000/person and $20,000/trip), primary car rental insurance, emergency evacuation, and transportation. Purchases can be eligible for return protection.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve review goes into further detail regarding these benefits.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Rewards Categories
Chase Sapphire Reserve® purchases earn up to 10x Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Cardholders can earn unlimited:
- 10x total points on hotels and car rental purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards (after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually)
- 10x total points on Chase Dining purchases with Ultimate Rewards
- 5x total points on flights when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards (after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually)
- 3x points on other travel worldwide (after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually)
- 3x points on other dining at restaurants, including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out
- 1x points for all remaining purchases
You will not receive rewards points on your first $300 in annual travel purchases as the annual travel statement credit reimburses these purchases.
How Much Do I Have to Spend for the Chase Sapphire Reserve to Be Worth It?
Make the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it when you travel and dine. You will need to spend at least $5,850 in combined annual spending on travel and dining to break even with the Sapphire Reserve annual fee. That is assuming these purchases only earn 3x points instead of the up to 10x points.
To offset the fee, you will first need to make $300 in travel purchases to redeem the entire annual travel statement credit. Unfortunately, these transactions don’t earn points, and you won’t start earning rewards on travel spending until after spending $300 per membership year.
Here’s how one traveler used the $300 travel credit.
The $300 travel credit reduces the effective annual fee to $250. By earning 3x on travel and dining instead of the 5x or 10x bonus categories, you will need to spend $5,556 to earn 16,668 points, which are worth $250 with the 50% travel redemption bonus.
Utilizing the additional travel and retail benefits can reduce your annual spending limit if you would typically pay for these expenses without the Sapphire Reserve. Two prime examples include airport lounge access and travel insurance.
Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Signup Bonus Worth It?
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® signup bonus is 60,000 Ultimate Rewards worth $900 in award travel, thanks to the 50% travel redemption bonus. This bonus is only worth $600 for non-travel redemptions for cash back and gift cards. You must spend $4,000 in the first 3 months to earn this bonus.
This bonus is worth it if you can use it for award travel and also use the card’s other benefits.
New Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Member FDIC
Why is the Chase Sapphire Reserve So Popular?
Many people enjoy the Chase Sapphire Reserve for a variety of reasons that include:
- Earn up to 10x Ultimate Rewards on purchases
- 50% travel redemption bonus (each point is worth 1.5 cents vs. 1 cent)
- 1:1 point transfers
- Annual $300 travel credit
- It’s a metal credit card
- Priority Pass Select membership
- Complimentary travel insurance
- Luxury travel benefits provided by Chase and Visa Infinite
- Retail partner benefits with Lyft, Gopuff, Five Iron Golf, DoorDash, Instacart
Despite its high annual fee of $550 for the primary card and $75 per authorized user, frequent travelers can easily utilize the luxury travel benefits. Additionally, it can be easy to earn and redeem points for maximum value on travel.
So, Should You Try For It?
Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it for you? Yes, it can be if you can use its travel benefits. Its 50% travel redemption bonus, 1:1 point transfers, and the annual $300 travel credit offer the most potential.
If you can use these three benefits regularly, you are an excellent candidate. The Reserve can definitely be worth it when you can periodically or frequently use its additional travel and lifestyle benefits.
Its best secondary perks include Priority Pass lounge access, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement, complimentary travel protection, and retail partner benefits.
What are the Best Chase Sapphire Reserve Alternatives?
While the Sapphire Reserve is an impressive travel rewards card, two challenging premium credit cards can be a better fit for different reasons.
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: This card earns up to 10x on travel, offers complimentary access to Priority Pass and Capital One Lounge locations, and has a $300 annual travel credit. Its annual fee is a more reasonable $395, and additional cards are free.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: The Amex Platinum is better for luxury travelers. You have access to multiple airport lounge networks, several travel-related statement credits, hotel elite status, and retail benefits. It also has more 1:1 airline transfer partners. Unfortunately, its primary weakness is a $695 annual fee (See Rates & Fees).
Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred Better?
Beyond premium travel credit cards with similar benefits to the Sapphire Reserve, you shouldn’t overlook the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Its similarities include the same 1:1 travel transfer partners, the ability to earn Ultimate Rewards on purchases, and some of the best credit card travel insurance benefits.
However, as the Sapphire Preferred’s annual fee is $95, you can only earn up to 5x points on purchases, its travel redemption bonus is only 25% instead of 50%, and its complimentary travel insurance coverage isn’t as comprehensive.
To help make up the difference, the Sapphire Preferred offers an annual $50 hotel statement credit through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Additionally, you receive a card anniversary points bonus equal to 10% of your yearly point earnings.
Compare both cards in our Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred review.
Final Thoughts: Is The Sapphire Reserve Worth It?
In conclusion, is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it? You should go for the Sapphire Reserve (here’s the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit score needed for approval) if you want the most luxurious Chase travel credit card. You should also consider if you can use the 50% travel redemption bonus, 1:1 point transfers, and complimentary travel benefits. However, a different card is better if you will struggle to use the premium benefits or you already have access to similar perks through a competing card.
- The Best Chase Credit Cards For Rewards
- The Best Credit Cards For International Travel
- Chase Sapphire Reserve vs American Express Platinum
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.