The Chase Sapphire Reserve launched back in the fall of 2016 to compete with higher-end credit cards like the Amex Platinum and the Citi Prestige.
When I first started blogging back in 2015, I responded to a reader’s question asking what my favorite travel rewards credit card was. I easily answered the Chase Sapphire Preferred. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve swept in and changed my answer.
What makes the Chase Sapphire Reserve so exciting?
- Chase offers a generous welcome bonus of Ultimate Rewards point after meeting the required minimum spend. These travel rewards points are one of the most valued flexible miles and points currency available.
- You’ll get a $300 annual travel credit to use for travel-related expenses. Chase’s definition of travel is quite broad and not limited to just checked bag or lounge fees. You can use the annual credit for things like airfare, hotels, train tickets, and car rentals, even parking, public transportation, and tolls, too.
- You’ll earn 3x the points on travel and dining worldwide. All other purchases earn 1x the points. Maximizing bonus categories to earn more miles and points is a fantastic long-term travel hacking strategy. Be sure to register the card with your preferred dining rewards program to earn even more miles when you dine out at participating restaurants. In this way, the Chase Sapphire Reserve sets itself apart from competitors like the Amex Platinum.
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve has no foreign transaction fees. Take it with you when you travel and don’t worry about surprise fees when you return! You’ll also want to pay for hotels and other travel-related expenses with your card to earn 3x the points.
- Your Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to all of Chase’s 11 travel partners, including United, British Airways, KLM, and Hyatt!
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a complimentary membership to Priority Pass Select. You’ll have access to 900+ airport lounges around the globe. Authorized card users are also eligible for free enrollment. While traveling, your membership allows you to bring up to 2 guests into the airport lounge, as well.
- You’ll get a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck when you pay with your Chase Sapphire Reserve. Whether you travel often or a couple of times a year, everyone likes to skip long lines and breeze through border control.
- The points you earn with the Chase Sapphire Reserve are worth 50% more when you use them in the Chase Travel Portal. I’ve always found a better value using Chase’s travel transfer partners for flights, especially. However, it’s worth investigating if you’re looking to book a boutique hotel or a super cheap flight.
- There are no blackout dates. You can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for travel anytime. Check availability with your chosen airline and hotel partner first because transferred points cannot be transferred back.
- In addition, the Sapphire Reserve comes with additional hotel and car rental perks like free upgrades, early check-in/late check-out, and primary car rental insurance.
- The card has a $450 annual fee which isn’t waived the first year. This is less than what Citi and American Express charge for their premium cards. (Is that annual fee making you squirm in your seat? Keep reading!)
The annual fee is too high! Why would I pay for that?
Will I be approved?
What if I already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
If you think the perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve are better suited to your spending and travel needs and it’s been less than 48 months since getting that welcome offer, you could call Chase to request a card upgrade. You wouldn’t be eligible for the Reserve’s welcome offer but you’d be able to access the higher earning rates and travel perks, like Priority Pass Membership and the travel credit.
If it’s been more than 48 months since you received the welcome bonus on your Sapphire Preferred, you could downgrade that card to a Freedom or Freedom Unlimited, before applying for the Sapphire Reserve.
Just a few things to keep in mind if you plan to downgrade. Make sure you have another credit card like the Ink Preferred or a spouse with an Ink or a Sapphire to ensure you still have access to Chase’s airline and hotel transfer partners.
If you don’t, it’s not a good idea to downgrade. Any Ultimate Rewards points in your account would devalue to a fixed 1 cent per point value and only be usable for the Chase travel portal and cash back rewards.