While my hands-down favorite travel credit card is Chase Sapphire Preferred, a flexible travel card with a low annual fee of $95, it also has a sister card that’s worth a look.
Here is my Chase Sapphire Reserve review, so you can decide which of these two “Sapphire” cards is best for you, as you each person can only hold one.
In 2016, Chase introduced Chase Sapphire Reserve as a new travel credit card with some outstanding travel benefits. At the time, they offered a HUGE 100,000-point bonus upon meeting the minimum spend. It ended up being so popular that Chase ran out of the material it used to make the card!
While the bonus points have dropped from initial 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to 50,000 points currently (with no signs of returning to 100,000 points, as it’s been quite a while since that offer ended in January 2017), this can still be a great card for those who travel a lot. But because it charges a hefty $550 annual fee, you will need to be a frequent traveler to offset most of that fee in travel credits.
This is a GREAT card, because it earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which can be transferred to many different airline and hotel partners, including my favorite, Southwest Airlines, as well as British Airways, United and Virgin Atlantic.
Key Benefits of Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
- $300 reimbursement on any travel expenses put on the card each year. This includes hotel, airline, car rental, transportation (bus, cab, train), tolls, parking and cruise line expenses. See complete list.
- 3X points on dining and travel after you’ve earned your $300 travel credit (above); this one-ups Chase Sapphire Preferred (read my full review of this card here), which earns 2X points on dining and travel and is a KEY benefit! You also earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
- Access to more than 900 Priority Pass Select Airport Lounges around the world. (Check out this genius hack that I figured out that saves even MORE MONEY when using your Reserve Priority Pass)
- Credit for $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck application fee when purchased with the card once every four years.
- 10x points on ALL Lyft rides purchased with the card.
- 1-year complimentary Lyft Pink membership. Read more about Lyft benefits.
- Complimentary DashPass from DoorDash for one year, which includes free delivery for orders more than $12. Read more about DoorDash benefits.
- No foreign transaction fees when traveling internationally.
- Discounts at National & Avis Car Rental when paying with your card.
- Upgrades and other special amenities when staying at Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection properties.
- Trip cancellation insurance up to $10,000.
- Primary car rental collision insurance, which means you DO NOT have to file a claim with your insurance company, resulting in higher rates.
- $500 per airline ticket for accommodations and meals if your flight is delayed overnight and you paid for your airfare with this card.
- Emergency evacuation and transportation up to $100,000.
- $10,000 per claim for damage and theft of new purchases with this card for the first 120 days.
- And more insurance coverage…
Annual Fee: $550, You should earn back $300 in travel expenses and $85-$100 with TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. Then you are at a $150-$165 annual fee, which is reasonable. Take out the DoorDash pass, another $100 value, and you’re back to $50-$65.
Interest Rate: It has a high interest rate, so it’s not a card you’d want to carry a balance on from month to month!
Authorized Users: $75 annual fee for each authorized user (if you don’t want to pay this fee every year, be sure to remove any authorized users before the card renews!)
Reasons You Should Apply for This Card
- If you think you will use the $300 travel credit quickly and recoup $300 of the $550 annual fee.
- If you can pay the $550 annual fee charged to your account in the first month by the credit card due date.
- If someone in your traveling party needs TSA PreCheck, for which you will be refunded the $85 fee when paying with this card.
Reasons You Should Not Apply for This Card
- If you have not yet applied for or been approved for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Chase Visa personal and business cards and you plan to earn the Southwest Companion Pass or simply want to accrue the points for free flights. Chase will not approve you if you have applied for more than 5 credit cards in the last 24 months, so apply for Southwest cards FIRST and then Chase Sapphire Preferred OR Chase Sapphire Reserve.
- You don’t have $550 to spend out of pocket on the annual fee and/or can’t pay the $550 charged to your balance within 30 days. Instead, I’d suggest starting with Chase Sapphire Preferred, which has a lower $95 annual fee, earns 60,000 bonus points after a $4,000 minimum spend and earns 2X points (versus 3X for Reserve) on travel and dining. One of my all-time favorite cards!
- No one in your traveling party needs TSA PreCheck
You can instead, if it’s an option, allow one partner or spouse to hold Reserve while the other holds Preferred. That’s how we use these cards. I hold Preferred, while my husband holds Reserve.
How We Use Chase Sapphire Reserve
My husband applied for the card in December 2016 while it was at the 100,000-point bonus and it netted us four tickets to Ireland entirely on points (plus security fees and fuel surcharges) on Aer Lingus.
We used the card in on a trip to Europe to offset some of the fuel surcharges we had to pay out of pocket and get my oldest son, who turned 13, his own TSA PreCheck, as he was to old to fall under ours at that point.
We’ve also used the $300 credit to help pay for a cheap flight on Allegiant Airlines to get us from Indianapolis to Ft. Lauderdale, where we flew to Grand Cayman on Southwest for Spring Break for only ~3,150 points round-trip per person, using our Southwest Companion Pass for my husband to fly with us free. Read exactly how we did that.
We also try to use the card to pay for most of our out-of-pocket dining and travel expenses, especially when traveling, to net us 3 points per $1. We then transfer these points either to Southwest Airlines for more free flights or to British Airways, where we can use the Avios (British Airways’ frequent flyer currency) for free flights to Europe on Aer Lingus!
If you decide to apply, let me know if you are approved and how you like the card!
- Everything You Wanted to Know about Chase Sapphire Preferred
- How to Easily Fly a Family of Four to Europe Nearly Free
- What to Do If You Were Declined for a Southwest Credit Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred: Which Card Should You Choose?
- Reader Question: Which Card Should I Use for Purchases: Southwest or Chase Sapphire Preferred?
- How I Use Chase Sapphire Preferred Points for Free Hyatt Stays
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