The Chase Sapphire Reserve: My Ultimate Go-To Travel Card

by joeheg

It’s a good idea to switch your credit cards before going on a trip. This involves removing cards you typically use for day-to-day purchases, such as those that offer the best rewards for gas and groceries, and replacing them with cards that you use for expenses related to dining out, hotels, public transportation, and accessing airport lounges.

For most trips, my wallet looks like this.

a wallet with several credit cards in it

I’ll switch out the hotel card for whichever chain we’re staying at for a particular trip. I used to carry an airline card for in-flight purchases, but now I store those cards in my Apple Wallet since most airlines accept contactless payments.

What’s My Go-To Card?

When traveling, I reach for my Chase Sapphire Reserve card from my wallet over others because it provides the best return on our travel expenses. I usually pay for most of my trip expenses, such as flights and hotels, beforehand, so the only thing we need to pay for while traveling is food and local transportation. During my recent visit to New York, I used my Sapphire Reserve card for almost everything, including subway rides, coffee and bagels, pre-theater drinks, and late-night cheesecake at Juniors, earning 3X Ultimate Rewards on every purchase.

I have my Sapphire Reserve linked to my Lyft account, where I get complimentary Lyft Pink service and earn 10X Ultimate Rewards with each ride.

I also like to have it with me in case of any problems, since it has excellent travel insurance coverage including:

  • Lost Luggage – $3,000 per person per trip
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption – $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip
  • Trip Delay – $500 per ticket if a trip is delayed by more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay
  • Baggage Delay – $100 per day for up to 5 days if bags are delayed for more than 6 hours

It also includes emergency evacuation coverage and primary CDW coverage for rental cars.

I also use my Sapphire Reserve card for international travel since it doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees.

When Don’t I Use The Sapphire Reserve?

If we’re buying anything when traveling, I’ll use a different card since the Sapphire Reserve only earns 1X points on purchases other than travel and dining. I’ll typically use the Capital One Venture X card for those purchases and earn 2X Capital One miles.

If we choose to have a meal at the hotel where we are staying, I charge the bill to our room. That’s because hotel co-brand credit cards offer better returns on hotel spending compared to the rewards offered by the Sapphire Reserve card.

What If You Don’t Have A Sapphire Reserve (Or Don’t Want To Pay The $550 Annual Fee?)

A good replacement for the Sapphire Reserve would be the Sapphire Preferred. It earns the same 3X on restaurants and 2X on travel expenses. Although the travel coverages provided by the Sapphire Preferred are not as comprehensive as those of the Sapphire Reserve, they are still better than most other credit cards.

Another card that you may want to consider is the American Express Green Card, which offers 3X Membership Rewards points for both travel and restaurant expenses.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

1 comment

Retired Gambler February 13, 2024 - 2:43 pm

Same for me when I travel internationally. Typically in the US I use my Amex Gold for restaurants and groceries due to the 4X MR points. I don’t use either my CSR or Amex Platinum on a day-to-day basis in the US but, instead, use them mainly for the credits and other benefits (like lounge access and having both pretty much let’s me get in any lounge except airline clubs which I have covered other ways). However, when I travel internationally the CSR is my go to card for almost all spending (outside of hotel card if staying at that chain). Main reason for me is Amex is not widely accepted internationally (even though they profess to be). Sure most hotels and retail shops take Amex but my experience across Europe and Asia is the vast majority of restaurants, smaller shops and misc service providers don’t accept Amex. That is fine since almost everything I charge falls under the definition of restaurants or travel for 3X Ultimate Reward points. I don’t sweat the small stuff of only getting 1X points fur the several hundred dollars I may spend on gifts or souvenirs.


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