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Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred: Which Card Should You Choose?

In my travel credit card plan, which is all about getting the MOST possible miles and points, for the LEAST possible effort, I included Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve as the THIRD recommended card to add to your wallet.

These are some of my very FAVORITE travel credit cards!

I think ALL travelers should hold either one of these cards, so long as you frequently use one of their partner airlines or hotels frequently!

But, because Chase will only allow you to hold ONE “Sapphire” card, which should you get?

Here is my review of Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Reserve to help you determine which is the best option for you.

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Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred


These are two of the very best travel credit cards around in my opinion.

Both earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which are flexible points that can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to airlines and hotel groups, including:

  • Southwest
  • British Airways
  • United
  • Singapore
  • IHG
  • Marriott
  • Hyatt

My family largely focuses on earning Southwest points, because we always hold the Southwest Companion Pass, which lets one of us fly free.

Our top priority is getting enough points for the rest of us to fly free, too!

We find these cards to be a great way to quickly earn points, especially double and triple on dining and travel, that we can INSTANTLY transfer to Southwest to book FREE flights.


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We have also used Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book a trip to Europe for all four of us ENTIRELY on miles. 


Overall Summary

Chase Sapphire Preferred Go to Travel Gal
Chase Sapphire Preferred is my FAVORITE travel credit card.

Generally, I recommend Chase Sapphire Preferred to those new to collecting miles and points for free travel because it has a low $95 annual fee, making it a FREE way to get started, while Chase Sapphire Reserve I recommend for more advanced travel hackers or those who travel A LOT for business or pleasure, as it has a high annual fee but it can be largely offset with travel credits and perks.


How to Hold BOTH Cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred review

If you have a partner or spouse with whom you work to earn miles and points, I recommend having one person hold Preferred and one person hold Reserve.

That way you can can take advantage of both cards’ benefits and earn both cards’ sign-on bonuses!

My husband holds Reserve and I hold Preferred, and that’s worked great for my family!


Feature-by-Feature Comparison

Travel Credit Card Plan

I’ve written this post to compare side by side key features and benefits of each card, as I think that may be the easiest way to see the differences.


Sign-on Bonuses

If you have one spouse or partner sign up for one card, while the other applies for the other card, you can net BOTH BONUSES.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred:
    • 60,000 points after a $4,000 minimum spend
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve:
    • 60,000 points after a $4,000 minimum spend in 3 months
    • It COSTS $75 to add an authorized user, which you will need to do to transfer points to one another. It IS also handy if you want your authorized user to also have Priority Pass access and the ability to bring 1 guest (a great perk of this car) into airport lounges and get credits and some airport restaurants. Check out this amazing Priority Pass hack I figured out to save even MORE money! 🙂


Annual Fees

  • Preferred: $95 
  • Reserve: $550 largely offset by the below credits


Travel Credits

southwest engine vertical

  • Preferred: None
  • Reserve
    • $300 credit each year for any travel expenses you charge to the card. Travel expenses includes hotel, airline, car rental, transportation (bus, cab, subway), tolls, parking and cruise line expenses. Here is the complete list. We’ve used this credit to book a cheap flight on Allegiant to get us to Ft. Lauderdale, where we used ~12,600 points to fly four of us to Grand Cayman.
    • Credit for $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck application fee once every four years when purchased with the card. I highly recommend TSA PreCheck or Global Entry (same as PreCheck, but expedites customs when coming back into the US) if you travel a lot to help bypass long security lines and to avoid having to remove shoes, laptops, etc. We used this credit to get my son TSA PreCheck when he turned 13 in 2017, requiring him to have his own.
    • If you take advantage of these two benefits the first year, you will be down to a reasonable annual fee of $150-$165 (most airline cards have $69-$99 annual fees) or for the second year (when the TSA PreCheck is not credited) to a $250 annual fee.


Points Earned By Spending

Bologna restaurant

This is the MAIN benefit of these cards for me, aside from the initial sign-on bonus.

By using them to pay for your travel and dining expenses, you can quickly net points that can be transferred to your favorite airline or hotel chain.

Most airline and hotel credit cards only allow you to earn 1 point per dollar on travel and dining expenses (on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Chase cards, for example), so this is a much more effective and efficient way to earn MORE Southwest points than using the Southwest cards to pay for the same purchases.

By using our Chase Sapphire Reserve card to pay for travel and dining on a spring trip to Europe (where we flew entirely on miles!), we pretty much covered our fall break flights to Los Angeles on Southwest.

  • Preferred: 2X points on travel; 3x points on dining, online grocery purchases and streaming services
  • Reserve: 3X points on dining and travel


Foreign Transaction Fees

Eiffel Tower from below
Use either card to pay for tickets to visit the top of the Eiffel Tower and pay no foreign transaction fees!

If you travel overseas at all, it’s helpful to use a credit card that DOES NOT charge foreign transaction fees.

BOTH Preferred and Reserve DO NOT charge foreign transaction fees, so they are great to use on your travel expenses when out of the country.


Insurance Benefits

Southwest car rental vertical

Many people overlook the insurance benefits on travel credit cards, but they can be extremely helpful!

Chase Sapphire Preferred

    • $3,000 for lost or damaged luggage, primary auto rental theft and collision damage for the cash value of the vehicle (primary is better than secondary, meaning NO CLAIMS need to be filed with your insurance company, potentially increasing your premiums)
    • Trip cancellation insurance if canceled or interrupted due to weather, illness, etc. up to $10,000
    • Primary car rental collision and theft insurance, which means you DO NOT have to file a claim with your insurance company, resulting in higher rates.
    • Baggage delay coverage of up to $100 a day for five days for essential purchases like clothing and toiletries
    • Return protection for items a store won’t take back within 90 days up to $500


    • Trip cancellation insurance up to $10,000.
    • Primary car rental collision and theft 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.


Lyft and DoorDash Benefits

Lyft Chase card benefits
Credit: Lyft


  • 5x points when purchasing Lyft rides
  • Complimentary DashPass from DoorDash for one year, which includes free delivery for orders more than $12. Read more about DoorDash benefits.


  • Earn 10x points on ALL Lyft rides.
  • Get a 1-year complimentary Lyft Pink membership. Pink membership normally costs $19.95 per month, making this a $240 value each year. Benefits of Lyft Pink Membership:
    • 15% off unlimited car rides
    • Priority airport pickups 
    • Relaxed cancellations
    • Surprise discount offers 
    • Waived lost and found fees
    • 3 free bike or scooter rides per month
  • Complimentary DashPass from DoorDash for one year, which includes free delivery for orders more than $12. Read more about DoorDash benefits.


Other Benefits

Rome Leonardo Da Vinci Airport Priority Pass lounge
The Priority Pass lounge at Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci Airport


One more perk I love about Chase Sapphire Reserve is access to airport lounges across the globe by granting you a complimentary Priority Pass!

Both you AND your authorized user get a Priority Pass and you can EACH bring 1 guest with you.

We love using Priority Pass lounges, as they are a quiet refuge in the chaos of an airport.

Many airports also have restaurants where the Priority Pass grants you a $28 PER PERSON (guests included) credit, excluding tip. 

We’ve used this several times in Denver at the Timberline Grill.

That + the $300 travel credit more than covers our expenses for this card every year. (Note: Timberline Grill is no longer a participating Priority Pass Select restaurant.)

Plus, check out this genius hack I figured out to save you even MORE money using the Reserve’s Priority Pass.


Who Should Pick Chase Sapphire Reserve?


Chase Sapphire Reserve


Choose Chase Sapphire Reserve if you:

  • Will be spending at least $300 on travel in the coming year, which you can put on the card to offset part of the $550 annual fee
  • Travel enough to warrant getting TSA PreCheck or have a need to get TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, again to offset another $85-$100 of the annual fee
  • Frequently use one of Chase Ultimate Rewards airline or hotel transfer partners
  • Don’t mind spending $50 to $150 as an out-of-pocket annual fee to reap the benefit of 3X points earned on dining and travel, and access to Priority Pass airport lounges (Rome, JFK, ATL, Dublin and more)
  • Can meet the $4,000 minimum spend within 3 months without putting yourself in financial trouble
  • Would love a free 50,000 miles to spend on FREE flights or hotel rooms!
  • Would use a $28 credit PER PERSON at some airport restaurants like ones at JFK.


Who Should Pick Chase Sapphire Preferred?


Chase Sapphire Preferred


Choose Chase Sapphire Preferred if you:

  • Would rather pay a lower annual fee ($95)
  • Frequently use one of Chase Ultimate Rewards airline or hotel transfer partners
  • Would like to earn at least 2X points on travel and 3X points on dining expenses
  • Can meet the $4,000 minimum spend within 3 months without putting yourself in financial trouble
  • Would love a free bonus points to spend on FREE flights or hotel rooms!

Please note for both of these cards, Chase will NOT approve you if you have opened 5 or more new credit cards in the last 24 months (some business cards, including Chase and Citi, are not included in this total).

Also, if you plan to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, I advise getting one personal and one business Southwest card FIRST before applying for a “Sapphire” card.


To Sum It Up

As you can see, these cards are a great way to quickly and easily earn a bunch of points that can be used for free flights on your favorite airline or free rooms at your favorite hotels. This is accomplished by…

  • Earning the sign-on bonus
  • Using them for travel and dining spending

Which will you pick? Preferred or Reserve?


Read More:


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4 thoughts on “Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred: Which Card Should You Choose?”

  1. You mention in your article about canceling your card after 24 months, reapplying and getting the sign on bonus again. Do I have to cancel my card and then wait 24 months to reapply? Or can I cancel it once I’ve had it for 24 months and reapply the next day? Thanks for all the advice! You totally helped me earn my companion pass!!

  2. Yea! So glad I could help and thanks for your question! No, you don’t have to wait 24 months to re-apply, so long as it’s been 24 months since you last got the bonus, you can cancel and re-apply the next day, though I’d advise you to wait 30 days between cancelling and re-applying if you can. Hope that helps!

  3. With the Chase card if u transfer the 50,000 points to Southwest, will these points count towards earing the companion pass?

    • Hi Tracy, No, unfortunately, points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards (or any program to Southwest) do NOT qualify for the Companion Pass. Thanks for the question!


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