Credit Card Review: Chase Sapphire Reserve

by joeheg

While I have many credit cards, the majority of them don’t get used on a regular basis. Occasionally, they’ll get pulled out of the drawer when I get a bonus offer or if I need to buy airfare so I can get a free checked bag, but there are only a few cards that earn an everyday spot in the wallet.

A card that has kept a place in my wallet for years is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This card shook up the travel credit card market when it was introduced in 2016. You can check out my posts about how happy I was when I finally got the card or why I decided to keep it past the first year.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

If you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve by using our referral link, we’d appreciate it because we receive bonus Ultimate Rewards points for everyone who gets the card. Thanks!

Annual Fee

$550 per year. Additional Cards for authorized users are $75 each.

Sign Up Benefits

This card currently has a 60,000-point bonus if you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Per Chase’s rules, this product is only available if you do not have a Sapphire card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for any Sapphire card in the past 48 months. Applicants must also be under Chase’s 5/24 requirement.

$300 Annual Travel Credit

Every account anniversary year you get reimbursed for the first $300 of travel charges made with the card. This is good for any charges coded in the travel category. While I don’t think of statement credits like cash, this is money you would have spent anyway. Since these credits are broadly applied, show up quickly on the statement, and take no effort to redeem, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they lower the effective cost of the card to $250.

Temporary Credits

Cardmembers get free DashPass membership and a $5 monthly credit with DoorDash thru December 31, 2024.

Spending Bonus Categories

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3X points on travel worldwide – from airfare and hotels to taxis and trains (not including charges covered by the $300 travel credit). Unlike the American Express Platinum card, the travel expenses do not have to be directly from the airline. Chase rewards 3x points from any travel provider. The Sapphire Reserve pays 5X Ultimate Rewards for Airfare and 10X points for hotels and rental cars booked through the Chase travel portal.

It also earns 3x points on dining worldwide (as long as the establishment is coded as dining) and 10X for dining experiences booked through Chase.  My experience is that Chase is pretty good at giving proper credit for purchases as charges made I’ve at bars, food trucks, street fair booths, and theme park restaurants have all coded correctly as dining expenses. The card earns one point per dollar for all other charges.

Temporary Bonus Spending Categories

No Foreign Transaction Fees

As you would hope a card that’s marketed to travelers would, the Chase Sapphire Reserve doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees.

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

Another great feature of this card is that it acts as primary coverage when you rent a car. In normal terms, if you get into an accident in your rental car, you can use the coverage from Chase before filing a claim with your own insurance. Most other companies offer secondary coverage (where you need to file a claim with your auto insurance first).

Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection

Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection

If you’re looking to stay at a nice hotel, you can get some wonderful bonuses when booking through The Luxury Hotel and Resort Portal, exclusive to Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders.

For example, if you wanted to stay at the Hotel Goldener Hirsch, one of my most memorable hotels ever, you’d get these additional perks.

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Priority Pass Select Membership

Priority Pass Membership (with guesting privileges) – We’re past the stage of planning to get to the airport early just so we can go to an airport lounge. However, there are times when you happen to get to the airport really early or have a long layover, and sitting in a lounge is a nice perk. Priority Pass has relationships with lounges around the world and we’ve used this benefit to get us into lounges at Heathrow, New York and smaller cities like New Orleans and Orlando. The Chase Sapphire Reserve allows you to bring 2 guests into the Priority Pass lounge with you, with additional guests costing $27 each. You do need to enroll with Priority Pass after getting your Reserve card; just showing your Chase card isn’t good enough.

Club MCO Airside 1

Points are worth 1.5 cents each when using the Chase portal

If you book travel through the Chase portal, your Ultimate Rewards are worth 1.5 cents each. This isn’t the best value for your points but it’s better than the 1 cent that you’ll get redeeming them for a statement credit.

Use Chase Ultimate Rewards to Erase Charges

With the Pay Yourself Back tool, Ultimate Rewards points are worth 50% more when you redeem them for statement credits against purchases in select categories (currently Airbnb, dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services), select charities, or to pay the $550 annual fee). Just choose an eligible purchase you made in the past 90 days, and apply points for all or part of the purchase.

Chase Ultimate Rewards can be transferred to other programs at a 1:1 value

Several programs partner with Chase allowing you to transfer points to other programs. This allows you to take advantage of the values in multiple programs without being locked into any particular one. Here are the partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards:

  • AerLingus AerClub (Avios)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • British Airways Executive Club (Avios)
  • Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
  • Emirates Skywards
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Iberia Plus (Avios)
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
  • United MileagePlus®
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt

We transferred Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt for a stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai.

$100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® credit

Every four years you can get up to a $100 statement credit for the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®. 

Trip Delay Reimbursement

If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket. The Sapphire Reserve provides some of the best trip delay coverage available

Additional Coverages

The Sapphire Reserve also provides several other types of travel protections like luggage delay, lost luggage, trip cancellation, emergency evacuation, and purchase protection, return protection and extended warranty coverage.

Final Thoughts

I’m a big supporter of the Chase Sapphire Reserve for people who are looking for a top-tier travel credit card. It provides good multiples for spending on travel and dining while also providing excellent coverage for car rentals and other travel mishaps. If you’re looking for an entry-level card from Chase, the Sapphire Preferred is a better choice with a $95 annual fee. Since you can only have one card or the other and need to wait four years between getting a signup bonus once you’ve had the other cards, you need to decide if the extra annual fee is worth it for you.

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