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Chase Sapphire Reserve® Review [2024]: Why I Chose It As My Next Travel Card

The Sapphire Reserve's premium perks and flexible rewards make it a top choice for those who spend big on travel, but the high annual fee is a drawback for infrequent travelers.

Updated July 24, 2024
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Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
5.0

OUR VIEW

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a premium travel rewards card that offers an impressive array of valuable perks and benefits for frequent travelers. With a generous welcome offer, up to $300 in annual travel credits, lucrative earning rates on dining and travel, and comprehensive travel protections, the Sapphire Reserve packs a powerful punch.

I'll personally upgrade to this card next year, as I believe the value it provides will far outweigh its $550 annual fee. While the high annual cost may be a dealbreaker for some, I know that taking advantage of the card's benefits will make my travels more comfortable, rewarding, and stress-free.

Pros

Up to $300 in annual travel credits
Great rewards on travel purchases and dining
Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership
Comprehensive travel protections, including trip delay and cancellation insurance
50% point redemption bonus when booking through Chase Travel

Cons

$550 annual fee
High spending requirement for the welcome offer
$75 annual fee for each authorized user
How we evaluate products

Card basics

Card type Travel
Card issuer Chase
Credit card network Visa
Annual fee $550
Welcome offer Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Reward rate 5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually; 3X points on other travel and dining & 1X points per dollar on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Excellent
Foreign transaction fee None

Who should get the Chase Sapphire Reserve®?

Frequent travelers will get the most bang for their buck with the Sapphire Reserve. If you often find yourself hopping on planes, booking hotel stays, and dining out while on the road, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a no-brainer. The card's 3X points on travel booked through Chase and lucrative bonus categories will have your points balance climbing in no time.

I go on personal trips about once a month and travel for work a couple of times a year, so I'm excited to see how quickly my points will add up with the Sapphire Reserve. Based on my current spending habits, I estimate I'll earn around 50,000 points per year on travel and dining alone. This card offers a 50% redemption bonus when I redeem through the Chase Travel portal, so these points can be worth $750.

One of the perks I'm most looking forward to with the Sapphire Reserve is the complimentary Priority Pass Select membership. With access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide, I'll be able to turn layovers into relaxing breaks instead of stressful ordeals.

Instead of shelling out money for overpriced airport food, I'll be able to enjoy complimentary meals, drinks, and Wi-Fi in a quiet, comfortable space. That alone will make the $550 annual fee worth it for me. Not to mention that the card offers up to $300 in annual travel credit, which alone effectively reduces the annual fee to $250.

Who should skip?

The Sapphire Reserve is a premium travel card, so if my travel habits change and I find myself taking fewer trips, the $550 annual fee and travel-focused rewards structure might not be the best fit. If that’s your situation and you don’t travel often enough to justify the fee, consider its sister card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which has a lower $95 fee and still offers solid travel perks.

Alternatively, if you want to cut annual fees out of your credit card strategy altogether, you should consider a $0-annual-fee cash back card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or a travel card like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, which also has a $0 annual fee.

How I plan to use the card

When I upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve, my plan is to use it for all my travel and dining purchases to take advantage of the 3X earning rate.

I'll continue using my Chase Freedom Flex®, which I use for its rotating 5% cash back categories and my Chase Freedom Unlimited® for my non-bonus everyday spending to earn at least 1.5%. Both Freedom cards earn their cash back in the form of Ultimate Rewards points.

Here's an example of how I expect this strategy to play out in a typical year:

Credit card Category Annual spend Rewards rate Points earned
Sapphire Reserve Hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Travel℠ (after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually) $3,000 10X 30,000
Sapphire Reserve Flights purchased through Chase Travel℠ (after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually) $2,000 5X 10,000
Sapphire Reserve Other travel and dining $2,000 3X 6,000
Freedom Flex Rotating quarterly categories you activate (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through Chase Travel℠ $3,000 5% 15,000
Freedom Unlimited All other purchases $6,000 1.5% 9,000
Total $16,000 70,000

The best part is that I can transfer all my points to the Sapphire Reserve so I can redeem them through Chase Travel at a 50% bonus. That means 70,000 points can provide me $1,050 in travel value.

Here's a closer look at this card's top benefits

A $300 annual travel credit that is effortless to use

I'm particularly excited about the Sapphire Reserve's $300 annual travel credit, which is one of the most generous and flexible among premium travel cards. While some other cards limit their credits to specific purchases like airline incidentals, Chase's travel credit automatically applies to a wide variety of travel expenses, such as:

  • Airfare
  • Hotels
  • Car rentals
  • Cruises
  • Campgrounds
  • Tolls
  • Parking garages
  • Taxis and rideshares
  • Public transportation

With my upcoming trips, I expect to use up the full $300 credit within the first few months of card membership. I can simply use the card for these purchases and this benefit gets applied to my account as a statement credit. Between flight bookings, hotel stays, and ground transportation, it won't be hard to spend $300 on travel-related expenses. It's a simple way to offset a substantial portion of the annual fee without having to change my spending habits.

A generous welcome offer

The Sapphire Reserve enables you to earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

When redeemed through the Chase Travel Portal, those points are worth an impressive $900. That's enough to cover a round-trip flight or a luxurious hotel stay.

Lucrative rewards rates on travel and dining

One of the standout features of the Sapphire Reserve is its impressive rewards rates. You'll earn a whopping 5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually; 3X points on other travel and dining & 1X points per dollar on all other purchases.

That's a huge incentive to book your travel through Chase, as you're essentially getting a great return on your spending.

Even on travel purchases not booked through Chase, you'll still earn 3X points per dollar. And with 3X points on dining, the Sapphire Reserve is a top choice for foodies like myself.

50% more value when redeemed through Chase Travel

Speaking of redeeming points, the Sapphire Reserve offers one of the best redemption bonuses out there. When you use your points to book travel through the Chase Travel portal, they're worth 50% more. So instead of each point being worth the standard 1 cent, you're getting a value of 1.5 cents per point.

This redemption bonus is a game-changer, as it significantly increases the value of your rewards. For example, if you have 100,000 points, you can redeem them for $1,500 worth of travel instead of the standard $1,000.

Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

Another valuable perk of the Sapphire Reserve is the $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every four years. These trusted traveler programs can make your airport experience much smoother by providing expedited security screening and customs processing.

Global Entry, which includes TSA PreCheck benefits, normally costs $100 to apply. But with the Sapphire Reserve, you'll get that fee reimbursed when you charge it to your card. If you already have Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, you can use the credit to cover the application fee for a friend or family member.

I already have Global Entry through the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, and it's been a huge time-saver. On my recent trip returning to the U.S., I was able to breeze through customs and immigration in just a few minutes while other passengers waited in line for over an hour.

Lounge access for a luxurious airport experience

The Sapphire Reserve's complimentary Priority Pass Select membership grants you access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. This allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of the terminal and enjoy free food, drinks, and Wi-Fi.

I've visited dozens of Priority Pass lounges during my travels, and they've made a world of difference in my airport experience. Instead of fighting for a seat at the gate or paying exorbitant prices for a mediocre meal, I can relax in a quiet, comfortable space with all the amenities I need.

Some of my favorite lounge experiences include enjoying a three-course meal and champagne at the Turkish Airlines Lounge in Washington-Dulles (IAD) and taking a solid three-hour nap in a private sleeping pod at the Miracle First Class Lounge in Thailand (BKK).

Considering that a single lounge visit costs $35 or more, the Priority Pass membership can provide hundreds of dollars in value each year. But more than that, it makes the travel experience so much more enjoyable and stress-free.

Protect your trips and purchases with top-notch coverage

In addition to its rewards and luxury benefits, the Sapphire Reserve offers some of the best travel and purchase protections available. This suite of benefits can save you thousands of dollars if things go wrong during your travels or with your purchases.

Some of the standout protections include:

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: If your trip is canceled or cut short due to sickness, severe weather, or other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for non-refundable expenses like flights and hotels.
  • Primary rental car insurance: When you decline the rental company's collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your Sapphire Reserve, you'll get primary coverage up to $75,000 for theft and collision damage.
  • Trip delay reimbursement: If your flight is delayed by more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses like meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.
  • Purchase protection: If an item you bought with your Sapphire Reserve is damaged or stolen within 120 days of purchase, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year.
  • Extended warranty: The Sapphire Reserve extends the time period of a U.S. manufacturer's warranty by an additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less.

These protections and more can come in handy on various occasions. Imagine you’re on a trip when your flight gets delayed overnight due to mechanical issues. The Sapphire Reserve's trip delay coverage could reimburse you for your hotel room, meals, and toiletries.

While you hope never to have to use these benefits, having them in your back pocket can provide significant peace of mind when you travel or make major purchases. It's like having a free insurance policy on all your trips and purchases.

Save on rideshares, food delivery, and groceries with partner benefits

The Sapphire Reserve isn't just a great card for travel – it also offers valuable benefits with partners like Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart. These perks can save you hundreds of dollars a year on rideshares, food delivery, and grocery shopping.

  • Lyft benefits: Sapphire Reserve cardholders get a complimentary Lyft Pink All Access membership for two years, plus a 50% discount in year three. Activation is required by Dec. 31, 2024. This membership provides benefits like 10% off all Lyft rides, free priority pickup upgrades, and relaxed cancellations. Plus, you'll earn an impressive 10 points per dollar on all Lyft rides – one of the highest earning rates of any credit card.
  • DoorDash benefits: The Sapphire Reserve offers a complimentary DoorDash DashPass membership, which normally costs $9.99 per month. Activation is required by Dec. 31, 2024. With DashPass, you'll get $0 delivery fees and reduced service fees on eligible DoorDash orders over $12. Plus, you'll receive $60 in DoorDash credits each year ($5 per month) to use on your orders.
  • Instacart benefits: Through July 2024, you'll get a free Instacart+ membership for 12 months, which provides $0 delivery fees and reduced service fees on Instacart orders over $35. On top of that, you'll receive up to $15 in monthly statement credits for Instacart purchases – that's a total of $180 in annual credits.

Here's an example of how much you could save with these benefits in your first year:

Benefit Annual savings and value
Lyft Pink All Access $199
Lyft rides: 10 rides per month x $20 per ride x 10 points per dollar 24,000 points
DoorDash DashPass $119.88
DoorDash annual credits $60
Instacart+ $99
Instacart annual credits $180
Total $957.88 + 24,000 points

Drawbacks: Why you may want a different card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is an excellent premium travel card, but it might not be the perfect fit for everyone. Here are a few potential drawbacks to consider.

$550 annual fee

The Sapphire Reserve's $550 annual fee is one of the highest among travel rewards cards. While the card offers plenty of benefits to offset that fee, it can still be a tough pill to swallow for some.

If you don’t travel frequently enough or don't typically spend a lot on travel and dining, it might be challenging to get enough value from the card to justify the cost. Before applying, take a hard look at your spending habits and travel plans to ensure you'll get your money's worth.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the Sapphire Reserve’s sister card, but it has a much lower $95 fee and still offers great travel benefits.

Limited lounge access compared to other premium cards

While the Sapphire Reserve's Priority Pass Select membership is a valuable perk, it doesn't quite match the lounge access offered by some other premium travel cards.

For example, The The Platinum Card® from American Express includes access to Amex's exclusive Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta), and Priority Pass lounges (enrollment required). If you frequently fly out of airports with Centurion Lounges or Delta hubs, the Amex Platinum's lounge benefits might be more useful.

$75 a year per authorized user

If you want to share your Sapphire Reserve's benefits with family members, it will cost you. The card charges a $75 annual fee for each authorized user you add to your account.

This can add up quickly if you want to add multiple people. For example, adding your spouse and two children as authorized users would cost an extra $225 per year on top of the primary cardholder's $550 annual fee.

In contrast, some other premium cards offer complimentary authorized users. The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, for instance, allows you to add up to four authorized users for no additional annual fee. Those users get their own Priority Pass lounge access.

Earning & redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Potential earnings in years one and two

Here's a look at how your Chase Ultimate Rewards points can add up with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. To calculate these values, we used a valuation of 1.5 cents per point.

Remember, this is an estimation. The actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories you spend.

  • Year one earnings: $1,939
  • Year two earnings: $1,039

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model, which takes a look at points earned via spending, the welcome offer, and the annual fee. How much you spend in the bonus categories can affect how much value you get from this card. For this example, we calculated at least a 5X points bonus on travel even though you can get up to 10X points for certain purchases.

Tip
To fully understand the value of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you must also take into account the various credits. For example, if you take advantage of the $300 annual travel credit, the $60 annual DoorDash credit, and the $100 credit for Global Entry, then your first-year earnings with this card will be much higher.

Additionally, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the anchor card for the Chase trifecta. This trifecta can be used strategically with other Chase credit cards, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, to maximize earnings even further.

And that's not even counting your ability to enjoy free breakfasts, free Wi-Fi, free hotel room upgrades, and free airport lounge access. Once you consider all of that, it's easy to see how the Sapphire Reserve can actually earn you thousands of dollars in value each year.

Best ways to earn

Hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Travel℠ (after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually) 10X
Flights purchased through Chase Travel℠ (after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually) 5X
Other travel and dining 3X
All other purchases 1X

The non-Chase travel purchases category includes the following (some of these expenses you may not think of right away for travel):

  • Airlines
  • Hotels
  • Timeshares
  • Car rental agencies
  • Campgrounds
  • Toll bridges
  • Parking lots and garages

The bonus points offered for dining purchases can be earned at everything from fast food establishments to fine dining restaurants.

Chase transfer partners

Another way to stretch your points even further is to transfer them to a number of Chase travel partners at a 1:1 rate. Doing so can give you even more value for your points. With this approach, you transfer points to a frequent traveler program, such as Marriott Bonvoy or United MileagePlus. Depending on the program and the availability of airfare or hotel stays, you could redeem your points for as much as 1.6 cents each.

Chase has a number of hotel partners and airline partners. Current Chase travel partners include the following airline loyalty programs:

Chase airline partners
  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Flying Blue Air France KLM
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

And the following hotel loyalty programs are also Chase transfer partners:

Chase hotel partners
  • World of Hyatt
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy

Alternatives that might be better for you

If the Chase Sapphire Reserve®'s high annual fee or specific benefits don't quite fit your needs, consider the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card as a premium travel card with a lower annual fee or The Platinum Card® from American Express as another premium travel card with more extensive benefits at a higher fee.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card burst onto the premium travel card scene in 2021 and is a compelling alternative to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. It has a lower annual fee of $395 and offers some unique perks:

  • Up to $300 annual travel statement credit for bookings made through Capital One Travel
  • 10,000 bonus miles every account anniversary
  • Complimentary Priority Pass, Plaza Premium, and Capital One Lounge access
  • Up to four authorized users at no extra cost
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit

I have the Capital One Venture X and find it a compelling alternative with a lower annual fee and attractive benefits. But I plan to switch to the Chase Sapphire Reserve because I value the flexibility of the Ultimate Rewards program and the flexibility of its $300 annual travel credit, which applies to a broad range of purchases.

If you're open to booking travel through the Capital One portal and want a lower annual fee than the Sapphire Reserve, the Venture X is a strong contender. The ability to add authorized users for free is a nice perk for families or couples who travel together.

Learn more in our Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card review.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The The Platinum Card® from American Express is the chief competitor to the Sapphire Reserve. It has a slightly higher annual fee of $695 but offers a different set of luxury travel perks.

Amex Platinum standout benefits include:

  • Extensive airport lounge access, including Amex Centurion Lounges
  • Up to $200 annual airline fee credit
  • Up to $200 annual Uber Cash for rides and Uber Eats
  • Up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold and Hilton Honors Gold elite status

Keep in mind that select benefits require enrollment.

If you can take advantage of the Amex Platinum's credits and elite status benefits, it could be a better fit than the Sapphire Reserve. However, the Platinum's rewards structure is less lucrative for everyday spending, as it only earns bonus points on flights booked directly with airlines and on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel. I decided on the Chase Sapphire Reserve due to its superior earning rates on dining and travel and lower annual fee.

Learn more in our The Platinum Card® from American Express review.

Complementary cards to consider

To maximize your rewards, consider pairing the Chase Sapphire Reserve® with one or more of these Chase cards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The $0-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited® is the perfect companion to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

The Freedom Unlimited earns 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and 3% cash back on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Since the Chase Sapphire Reserve® only earns 1 point per dollar on non-bonus purchases, using the Chase Freedom Unlimited® for those expenses can really boost your points earning. The great part is that you earn your cash back as Ultimate Rewards points.

This means you can transfer your Freedom Unlimited points to your Chase Sapphire Reserve® and redeem them for travel at the 1.5 cent rate or transfer them to partners.

Learn more in our Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.

Chase Freedom Flex®

Another great Chase card to pair with the Sapphire Reserve is the Chase Freedom Flex®.

This card has $0 annual fee and offers 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories you activate (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through Chase Travel℠. Past categories have included gas stations, grocery stores, streaming services, and more.

The Chase Freedom Flex also earns 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service). Like the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you can transfer your Chase Freedom Flex® points to your Chase Sapphire Reserve® to take advantage of the higher redemption rate and transfer options.

Learn more in our Chase Freedom Flex® review.

FAQ

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it?

If you're a frequent traveler who spends a significant amount on travel and dining, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® can be well worth its $550 annual fee. The card's lucrative rewards rates, $300 annual travel credit, Priority Pass lounge access, and comprehensive travel protections can easily offset the fee and provide significant value. However, if you don't travel often or can't take advantage of the card's premium benefits, the annual fee may be harder to justify.

What credit score do you need for the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

While Chase doesn’t publicly list what the minimum credit score is for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, you’ll generally need very good or excellent credit. According to FICO, that means you’ll likely need a score between 740 and 850.

Do my Chase Ultimate Rewards points expire?

As long as your account remains open and in good standing, your Ultimate Rewards points won’t expire.

Is Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred better?

In most cases, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the better choice for frequent travelers who can make the most of its premium benefits. The card's higher rewards rates on travel and dining, $300 annual travel credit, Priority Pass lounge access, and 50% point redemption bonus can provide significantly more value than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card's lower annual fee and more basic perks. However, if you're dead-set on paying a lower annual fee and don't need the Reserve's premium benefits, the Sapphire Preferred is still a solid choice for earning flexible travel rewards.

Chase Sapphire Reserve review: bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a heavyweight among premium travel cards, offering a combination of top-tier rewards and luxury perks that can more than justify its lofty $550 annual fee for the right traveler. That’s why I can’t wait to upgrade to it next year.

If you're constantly on the go and spend heavily on travel and dining, this card is a clear frontrunner. However, if you're an infrequent traveler or can't stomach the annual fee, you might be better off with a lower-cost alternative like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.

Premium Travel Benefits

5.0

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Current Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee

$550

Rewards Rate

5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually; 3X points on other travel and dining & 1X points per dollar on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Yahia Barakah, CEPF

Yahia Barakah, CEPF, is a Senior Editor at FinanceBuzz and has created finance-focused content since 2011. As a Certified Educator of Personal Finance, he has a background in institutional investment and asset management, as well as a deep passion for financial literacy.