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Updated January 13, 2017 8:24 PM PT

Chase Sapphire Reserve Review: Why $450 Worth It

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
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An ultra high-end travel rewards card has been announced: the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Read on to see why it's worth the $450 annual fee.

Overall Score

4.2

Rewards

4.5

Fees

3.0

Benefits

5.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Bonus points
  • Annual travel credit
  • Elite travel benefits
  • $450 annual fee
  • No introductory annual fee
  • No intro APR

Bottom Line

Ultra premium credit card for luxury travelers

Chase Sapphire Reserve has a jaw-dropping $450 annual fee… but for some, the rewards and benefits are almost impossible to resist.

We'll explain.

Why We Like It

Here are reasons to seriously consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve:

  1. Sign-up bonus: New cardmembers can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

    Redeeming your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, Chase’s portal, gives you the opportunity to use your points at 50% more value. For example: redeeming that 50,000 points for a statement credit will get you $500, while redeeming points for travel through Ultimate Rewards will get you the equivalent of $750.

  2. 3x points on travel and dining: You will earn 3x points on travel purchases and restaurants worldwide. This is a nice increase from the 2x points you earn on travel and dining with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar.

    We love that Chase has made this card rewarding to use as an everyday card with a good reward rate. A lot of other high-end travel cards focus on travel perks instead of earning rewards with purchases. With 3x points on travel and dining, you’ll rack up the points fast.

  3. $300 annual travel credit: Every year, you will get up to a $300 credit applied automatically to your statement as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card. This credit is eligible for any travel purchase (such as flights, hotels, and trains). It's not locked into any particular airline, unlike the AMEX Platinum which requires you to designate a specific airline.

    This is huge news. As long as you can spend at least $300 in travel expenses a year, this card is worth your consideration. This effectively helps justify $300 out of the $450 annual fee.

  4. $100 TSA Pre or Global Entry: You can choose to get an $100 application fee credit for either TSA Pre (expedite security screening) or Global Entry (expedite customs).

    Our tip: between the two, we recommend Global Entry if you qualify. Global Entry is more expensive ($100 for 5-year membership vs $85 for 5-year membership), but it includes TSA Pre.

  5. Airport lounge access: Some cards offer good rewards but mediocre benefits or vice versa. But the Chase Sapphire Reserve has good rewards and good benefits. This card offers you complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which means you'll have access to more than 900 airport lounges worldwide. You'll need to enroll in advance.

  6. 1:1 points transfer: One of our favorite features of Chase travel cards is that points can be transferred to partner travel programs at a full 1:1 value and with no fees.

    Airline transfer partners include Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United Airlines MileagePlus, British Airways Executive Club, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Hotel partners include Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, and The Ritz-Carlton.

    We find that transferring your points will often earn the best value and reward redemption rate. This also means complete flexibility in how you want to use your points.

  7. No foreign transaction fees: As with any good travel card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve does not charge a foreign transaction fee for purchases made outside of the U.S.

    Chase is also accepted almost everywhere worldwide, so this feature really comes in handy if you travel a lot internationally.

  8. $75 for additional users: The Chase Sapphire Reserve will charge $75/year for each authorized user. This is less than what other comparable cards charge (AMEX Platinum charges $175 per additional cardholder). Keep in mind that the $300 travel credit will not apply for the additional users.

Reasons to Skip It

We have to admit that we’re kind of drooling over the new Sapphire Reserve, but because we always aim to be fair, here are some reasons to skip this card:

  • The $450 annual fee: Yes, this card is among the priciest of cards. The annual fee is steep, but like we said, that $300 travel credit helps justify the expense. Add in the complimentary lounge access and it's clear the value of the card is justifiable to frequent travelers.

    Tip: But we understand that you may not be comfortable without some hard numbers, so here’s the math:

    Assume you spend just $65/week on dining out and travel. At 3x points per dollar, that equals $3,380 in a year, or 10,140 points. This equals just over $150 when you redeem the points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Combined with the $300 annual travel credit, you'll see why the benefits justify the $450 annual fee. Of course, you’ll get even more rewards with any extra you spend.

    If you don't spend enough annually on travel, you may want to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred instead.

  • Strict approval process: Generally speaking, you will need excellent credit to quality for this card.

    Keep in mind: Chase has stricter application rules for their credit cards in general. If you applied for too many credit cards in the past couple years, you might not be eligible, even if you have amazing credit.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Application

Is a $450 annual fee credit card worth applying for? It depends on your lifestyle. In our opinion, it's a worthwhile credit card to consider if you plan on using the perks and benefits such as Priority Pass Select, the $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre, and $300 annual travel credit. To apply, visit a local Chase branch to see if you are pre-approved or visit their website. Keep in mind, due to high demand, it's been known to take a few weeks from application to card approval. Don't wait until the last minute to apply if you have an upcoming travel purchase to make.

Reserve Benefits

© CreditDonkey

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is loaded with Travel Protection and Purchase Protection benefits. These benefits can help you save money.

Travel Protection Benefits We Like:

  • Do you need to cancel a trip because of sickness or severe weather? With Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance, you can be reimbursed for up to $10k per trip (for your prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses, including airfare, tours and hotels).

  • Do you plan to rent a car? You can decline the rental company's collision insurance. Unlike many credit cards with secondary coverage, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers primary coverage for auto rental collision damage waiver. The coverage provides reimbursement for up to $75k for theft and collision damage for most rental cars.

  • Do you hear airline horror stories from family, friends and coworkers? With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you also get lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement and baggage delay insurance. For instance, if your flight is delayed by more than 6 hours (or requires an overnight stay), you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses (such as meals and lodging) for up to $500 per ticket.

Purchase Protection Benefits We Like:

  • Have you made a purchase, only to find it advertised cheaper a few weeks later? Chase Sapphire Reserve includes Price Protection. If an eligible purchase you made (in the U.S.) is advertised for less (in print or online) within 90 days, you can be reimbursed the difference, for up to $500 per item, $2,500 per year.

  • Have you made a purchase, only to find out that you can't return it? Chase Sapphire Reserve includes Return Protection. That means you can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won't take back within 90 days of purchase (up to $500 per item, $1,000 per year).

  • Have you made a purchase, only for it to break right after the warranty is over? Chase Sapphire Reserve includes Extended Warranty Protection. This benefit extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer's warranty by an additional year on eligible warranties of 3 years or less.

Lounge Access

The Chase Sapphire Reserve includes airport lounge access via Priority Pass, the largest independent airport lounge access network. But keep in mind, it is not automatic. You have to request to activate this benefit on Chase's website once your card approved. Don't wait until the last minute as it takes time for Priority Pass to mail out the membership card. Once you are enrolled and with the card, you'll have access to over 1,000 lounges in the Priority Pass Select network. That means you don't have to fly business or first class to enjoy the benefits of Priority Pass lounge access. You'll often find free WiFi, complimentary drinks and open work space in airport lounges.

How It Compares

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs AMEX Platinum: The Platinum Card from American Express (a CreditDonkey partner) has been a popular card in the high-end travel card category. The new Chase Sapphire Reserve is a very worthy contender.

Both have annual fees of $450 and offer impressive travel perks.

But AMEX Platinum offers only a $200 airline credit for incidentals with a selected airline of your choice, while the Sapphire Reserve offers a $300 credit for any travel purchase.

Where the AMEX Platinum shines is its Platinum Concierge Service, access to Centurion Lounge, access to Delta SkyClub lounges, complimentary SPG Gold status, and complimentary Hilton HHonors Gold status.

But, American Express is not accepted everywhere, while Visa is accepted pretty much worldwide. Here is a side-by-side comparison:

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Platinum Card® from American Express

 

  • Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year for baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations worldwide. Terms Apply.
  • Enroll to enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton HHonors(TM) Gold Status with your Platinum Card.®
  • No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
 

Interest Rates and Fees

Purchase APR16.49% to 23.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factorsN/A
Balance Transfers APR16.49% to 23.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factorsN/A
Annual Fee$450 annual fee$450 annual fee
 

Benefits and Features

Airline RewardsAirline Rewards: 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programsAirline Rewards: Earn 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
Point RewardsPoint Rewards: 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.Point Rewards: Earn 1 point for virtually every dollar spent.
Airline StatusAirline Status: $300 Annual Travel Credit (as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card).
Complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership for access to 900+ airport lounges worldwide. Enrollment required for Priority Pass Select
Airline Status: $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year for baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
Access to 5 airport lounge networks including The Centurion® lounge network, The International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club® lounges, Priority Pass(TM) Select, and Airspace Lounge. Enrollment required for Priority Pass Select.
Airline Transfer PartnersAirline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Air France, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, Emirates, Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles), Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways and more.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Pricing information including interest rates, benefits and fees were obtained on January 13, 2017 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Sapphire Reserve has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred: This card has long been a favorite for travelers for its flexibility of use and good rewards rate. Compared to the new Sapphire Reserved, it’s like a baby version, with a way smaller annual fee of $95.

However, that smaller annual fee also gets you smaller rewards.

The Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on travel and dining worldwide and a whole laundry list of travel protection and benefits. You can use the points to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards at a discount (20%) or transfer 1:1 to a partner travel program. It does not offer any ultra-premium perks such as lounge access, annual travel credit, or TSA Pre/Global Entry credit.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred:

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Purchase APR16.49% to 23.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factorsSee Issuer's Terms
Balance Transfers APR16.49% to 23.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factorsSee Issuer's Terms
Annual Fee$450 annual feeIntroductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
 

Benefits and Features

Introductory Bonus Reward PointsIntroductory Bonus Reward Points: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Airline RewardsAirline Rewards: 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programsAirline Rewards: 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Point RewardsPoint Rewards: 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.Point Rewards: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
Airline StatusAirline Status: $300 Annual Travel Credit (as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card).
Complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership for access to 900+ airport lounges worldwide. Enrollment required for Priority Pass Select
 
 Apply Now

Blank fields may indicate the information is not available, not applicable, or not known to CreditDonkey. Please visit the product website for details.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Pricing information including interest rates, benefits and fees were obtained on January 13, 2017 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Sapphire Reserve has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

In our opinion, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great stepping stone for people not ready yet to commit to a $450 annual fee. If you travel only occasionally, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is easier to justify. Read our in-depth Chase Sapphire Preferred review to learn more.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
At Chase's Secure Site
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/ASee Issuer's Terms
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

Bottom Line

© CreditDonkey

What do you think? Is the new Chase Sapphire Reserve too rich for you? While the annual fee is steep, the rewards it offers are excellent. From the sign-up bonus to the impressive reward rate to a wide array of travel perks, we think the value of this card goes far. If you’re a frequent traveler, it’s a very worthwhile card to consider.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase.

Disclaimer: This content was first published on October 30, 2016. This content may have been updated on January 13, 2017. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check Chase website for updated information.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Sapphire Reserve has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

More from CreditDonkey:


Chase Sapphire Preferred Review


Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards


Chase Ultimate Rewards Review

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Compare Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Compare Chase Sapphire Reserve vs American Express Platinum

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Compare Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Premier Rewards Gold Card

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express


Chase Sapphire Points Transfer

Are you ready to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to a travel partner? Here is a step-by-step guide for how to complete the transfer.
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