Why the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is Worth the Annual Fee

If you’re a frequent traveler, you could actually save money using the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card — even with the high annual fee.
Last updated Jan 10, 2020 | By Lindsay Frankel
Young woman traveling with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

FinanceBuzz is reader-supported. We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

The coveted Chase Sapphire Reserve Card comes with a ton of perks, from airport lounge access to a $300 annual travel credit. And with a 50,000 point sign-up bonus, this card could easily cover the cost of your next trip. But is it worth the $550 annual fee?

9 times the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is worth it

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card isn’t the right choice for everyone, but if you travel and dine out frequently, you can rack up some serious rewards that more than offset the cost of the annual fee.

To decide if the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is right for you, consider the value you’ll get from the benefits this card provides. If you can check off most of the items below, you should definitely consider applying for this premium rewards card.

1. You can comfortably earn the sign-up bonus

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card comes with a generous welcome bonus, allowing you to earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, equal to $750 towards travel when booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

If the minimum spend is more than you’d typically charge to a credit card, this card may not be the best choice for you, since the sign-up bonus is one of the factors that offsets the annual fee.

2. You spend at least $300 per year on travel

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card offers an annual $300 statement credit toward purchases in the travel category. If you use the annual travel credit every year, that essentially drops the net cost of the annual fee to only $250.

You could easily spend $300 on just one plane ticket, so you don’t have to be a jetsetter to make this card worth the fee. Even expenses like Uber rides and parking fees can count toward your annual travel credit, so most people could likely max out this perk.

3. You’ll benefit from TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

Going through airport security can be a total nightmare, but it’s a lot easier to bear if you have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. TSA PreCheck gets you expedited security at domestic airports, which means you can skip the long lines and avoid removing your shoes or belt. Global Entry qualifies you for TSA PreCheck and also allows you to get through U.S. Customs faster if you’ve been traveling internationally.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card offers you a credit for either option, up to a $100 value every four years. If you’ll get good use from this benefit, you can knock off another $25 from the net cost of the annual fee each year.

4. You regularly spend on travel and dining

When you put travel and dining purchases on your Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, you’ll get triple points back. And since points go 50% further when used to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, you could essentially get $4.50 toward travel for every $100 you spend on travel or dining. That’s a better return than a typical fee-free card can provide.

5. You would make use of airport lounges

Of the many perks offered with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, the complimentary Priority Pass membership is one that will definitely make you feel like an elite cardholder. You and up to two guests can set up shop in an airport lounge and enjoy free beverages and snacks while you wait for your plane to arrive. You could even get free food at Priority Pass-affiliated restaurants in the airport.

If that sounds like something you’d take advantage of, this card could be a great choice for you.

6. You can use the DoorDash benefits

Newly added in 2020, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders who frequently get food delivered can make good use of a few DoorDash perks. 

First, you can activate a free DashPash membership, which is the app's subscription service. With it, you'll have zero delivery fees on eligible orders over $12. Depending on when you activate this perk, you could qualify for 12 to 24 months of free membership. Since DashPash is normally valued at $9.99 a month, that translates to roughly $120 each year you can make good use of this benefit.

In addition, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders will get an annual $60 DoorDash credit to use on orders in 2020 and 2021.  

7. You frequently get Lyft rides 

If you use rideshare apps regularly, you could get serious value from the card's recently added Lyft perks. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you'll be eligible for a complimentary year of Lyft Pink membership (normally valued at $19.99 a month). With it, you'll get 15% off all Lyft rides, priority airport pickups, relaxed cancellations, and more.

In addition, you can also earn more Chase Ultimate Rewards when you use your Sapphire Reserve card to pay for Lyft purchases. You'll get 10X points per dollar spent on Lyft rides. If rideshares are a significant part of your monthly budget, that could translate into serious rewards. 

8. You can make use of the Ultimate Rewards redemption options

If you’re going to redeem your points for cash back, this card may not be the right choice for you. What really makes this card worth it is the 50% boost in value that you get when you redeem your points through the Chase portal for travel.

One of the best parts of the Chase portal is that there are a variety of airlines to choose from and no blackout dates. You can also transfer your rewards to airline and hotel loyalty programs to potentially get even more value.

9. You spend $5,560 or more on travel and dining each year

We’ve already determined that, when accounting for the $300 travel credit, the net cost of your annual fee would be $250. And while there are no-fee cards that offer triple points on dining and travel, the Chase Sapphire Reserve gets you 50% more value for your points when you redeem them for travel. So if you spend enough on travel and dining costs, you can offset the remaining $250 of the annual fee.

Exactly how much would you need to spend to make this card worth it when compared to a card with no annual fee? You could break even after spending roughly $5,560 on travel and dining costs — and that doesn’t even take into account the points you earn from purchases in other categories.

When the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee isn’t worth it

If you’re carrying a credit card balance or looking to cut down on your spending, the Chase Sapphire Reserve probably isn’t the right card for you. Focus on paying off debt before you start thinking about travel rewards.

Similarly, if you don’t travel that often and don’t care about premium travel perks, this card probably won’t be worth it to you. The real value of this card comes from money spent on travel and dining, so if you don’t spend frequently in those categories, you could be better off with another card.

But if you love to travel and dine out, don’t be put off by the $550  annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Between the annual travel credit, the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, Lyft and DoorDash perks, the triple points on some categories, and the airport lounge access, you could more than offset the cost of the annual fee.

Still have questions about the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and all it has to offer? Check out our full review and FAQ for more information.

#1 Premium Travel Credit Card

Benefits

  • 50,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 3X points on travel and at restaurants
  • 10X points on Lyft rides
  • $60 annual DoorDash credit in 2020 and 2021
  • Priority Pass airport lounge access