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Updated May 30, 2017

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

The Chase Sapphire Reserve went viral when it was released. Now that the hype has died down and it's no longer offering the 100,000 points bonus, let's review if it's still worth getting.

It has a jaw-dropping $450 annual fee, definitely putting it in the league of luxury travel cards. And despite the smaller bonus, we still feel like the rewards and benefits do it justice.

We'll explain.

Why We Like It

Some cards offer good rewards but mediocre benefits or vice versa. But the Chase Sapphire Reserve has good rewards and good benefits. Here are reasons to seriously consider this card:

  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.

    What is this worth? The Chase Sapphire Reserve card gives you a 50% effective bonus when redeeming your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, Chase's portal. This is more than Chase Sapphire Preferred, which gives you a 25% effective bonus.

    With a 50% bonus, that 50,000 points equals $750 when redeeming points for travel through Ultimate Rewards.

  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 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 (from American Express, a CreditDonkey partner) 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 considering. This effectively helps justify $300 out of the $450 annual fee.

  4. $100 TSA Pre or Global Entry: Every 4 years, you can choose to get an $100 application fee credit for either TSA Pre (expedite security screening) or Global Entry (expedite customs). You get automatically credited for 1 application per account. So if you don't need it, you could "gift" it to someone else.

    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. So you kill both birds with one stone (or both memberships with one application).

  5. Airport lounge access: This card offers you complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which means you'll have access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide. You can even bring in guests into the lounges at no extra cost (though individual lounges may have their own rules). You'll need to enroll in advance.

  6. 50% bonus when you redeem points for travel on Ultimate Rewards: This is another awesome benefit. Your points are worth 50% more when you redeem points for travel on the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. So your points are always going to be worth at least 1.5 cents each. This means that a $450 flight will only cost 30,000 points.

    You can book travel on Ultimate Rewards with any airline, any dates. So you have completely flexibility and don't have to worry about seat restrictions or blackout dates.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Visa Infinite Concierge: A lot of luxury card holders forget this is a service available to them, but it really could be a godsend. It's great for performing the tasks that you don't have time to do yourself or have difficulty doing. They can help with making reservations at busy or international restaurants, getting entertainment tickets, or planning a trip. The service is free, but you'll have to pay for anything you want to buy, of course.

  10. $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.
    Authorized users get Priority Pass Select membership. And they also get 3x points on travel and dining purchases. However, they don't get their own Global Entry/TSA-Pre credit or the $300 travel credit.

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. It has a 5/24 rule, where if you opened 5 new credit cards in the past 24 months, you might not be eligible, even if you have amazing credit.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Application

© CreditDonkey

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.

Even if you just spend $65/week on travel and dining, the rewards you earn plus the $300 annual credit will make up for the $450 annual fee. Of course, many people spend more than that.

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.

Did you know: The luxury Chase Sapphire Reserve card was so insanely popular when it was first released that the manufacturer actually ran out of the materials to make it. Thankfully, it was just temporary and metal cards were soon mailed out to those approved.

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.

    You also get rental privileges with National, Avis, and Silvercar. Benefits may include discounts and upgrades.

  • Ever had an emergency while driving? You get roadside assistance up to $50 per incident, up to 4 times a year. Incidents covered include towing, jumpstart, tire change, locksmith services, or gas fill.

  • 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.

  • Sick on a trip? If you are at least 100 miles from home, you can get reimbursed for emergency medical care up to $2,500 for you or immediate family members. And you can be covered for emergency evacuation up to $100,000.

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

© CreditDonkey

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.

If you are solely after travel perks, then we have to say that the AMEX Platinum offers more benefits. It does have a higher annual fee at $550/year.

AMEX Platinum shines with its Platinum Concierge Service, access to Centurion Lounge, access to Delta SkyClub lounges, $200 annual Uber Savings, complimentary Boingo membership, complimentary SPG Gold status, and complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status. Added together, the value of these Platinum benefits are worth more in our opinion.

However, the Sapphire Reserve may be better for everyday use for most people. Because it gives you 3x points for dining, and most people dine out more than they buy airfare. So you'll be able to rack up points faster.

It also has more flexible annual travel credit. AMEX Platinum offers only a $200 airline credit for incidentals with a selected airline of your choice, while the Sapphire Reserve's $300 credit is for any travel purchase.

Also, 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 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • New! Up to $200 Uber Savings Annually.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • 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 around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More. Terms Apply.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
 

Interest Rates and Fees

Purchase APR16.74% to 23.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factorsN/A
Balance Transfers APR16.74% to 23.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factorsN/A
Annual Fee$450 annual fee$550 annual fee
 

Benefits and Features

Airline RewardsAirline Rewards: 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programsAirline Rewards: 5X Membership Rewards® points on 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 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide. Enrollment required for Priority Pass Select
Airline Status: $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year in 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.
 Apply Now

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Pricing information including interest rates, benefits and fees were obtained on April 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 APR16.74% to 23.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors16.74% to 23.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR16.74% to 23.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors16.74% to 23.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
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 1,000+ 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 April 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/A
16.74% - 23.74% Variable
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is each Sapphire Reserve point worth?
This depends on how to redeem it. If you purchase travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, each point is worth 1.5 cents. Since you get 3x points on travel & dining purchases, this means that each of your dollar spent on travel and dining could be redeemed for as much as 4.5 cents (if you redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards). If you transfer your points to airline and hotel partners, you can make each point worth even more.

Redeeming for statement credit or direct deposit makes each point worth only 1 cent.

What airline and hotel partners can you use with Chase Sapphire Reserve?
Here is the list of current Chase Sapphire Preferred airline transfer partners:

Hotel partners are:

What counts as travel to use the $300 annual credit for?
Chase considers the following as travel: airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, rideshares (such as Uber), car rentals, cruises, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds, trains, buses, taxis, limos, ferries, highway & bridge tolls, and parking lots and garages. Though not specifically stated, community-powered services, such as Uber and Airbnb, count as travel too.

Things NOT considered travel include: real estate agents, in-flight services, on-board cruise services, sightseeing activities & tourist attractions, excursions, and merchants within hotels and airports.

How does this credit work?
It's automatically credited to your statement after a travel purchase. If you make a lot of small purchases, you'll get credited back until you reach $300. If you make a large travel purchase, you'll be credited up to $300 of it.

This credit resets on each anniversary year (for applications submitted on or after May 21, 2017), and leftover amounts are NOT rolled over.

Can the $300 travel credit count as part of the minimum spend?
Yes. You can purchase travel items as part of your minimum spend period, and get the $300 annual credit reimbursement. You do not need to spend another $300 to meet the $4,000 requirement.

What benefits do authorized users get?
In our opinion, authorized users get limited benefits. They only get Priority Pass Select membership. They are also allowed to bring in guests with them into the lounges (though individuals lounges may have their own rules). Authorized users also get primary car insurance when renting with the card.

So is it even worth it to add authorized users?
Adding each authorized user will cost $75. With the limited benefits, is it worth it? It depends. If your partner often travels without you, he/she may like to get lounge access as well. If he/she uses lounges a lot, that Priority Pass Select membership will be well worth it.

Also, it will help you meet the minimum spend easier and rack up the points faster. Authorized users all get 3x points on travel and dining as well.

Chase lets you transfer your points to your authorized user's hotel or airline loyalty programs. So if they just need a little bit of help to get a free night or flight, you can gift them some points.

Can I transfer or pool the points with other cards?
Yep. The Sapphire Reserve is part of the Ultimate Rewards family of cards. So you can pool your points with any of the following cards: Sapphire Preferred, Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Ink Business Cash, and Ink Business Preferred.

You can also transfer your points to Ultimate Reward cards belonging to anyone in your household, as long as they share the same address.

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 May 30, 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, Chase Freedom, Ink Business Cash Credit Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited, and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card have 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 to:

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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