Chase Sapphire Reserve Review: Best-in-Class Rewards With Premium Perks [2020]

With an outstanding welcome bonus and high redemption values, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card offers exceptional value.
Last updated Nov 24, 2020 | By Kat Tretina

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Travelers looking for a premium card will have a hard time finding something better than the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. It offers generous rewards and a substantial sign-up bonus, along with a slew of luxury benefits that can help you earn significant travel rewards towards your next vacation.

Although it’s not for everyone, this top-tier metal credit card could be a smart addition to your wallet. Here’s what to consider before submitting your card application.

#1 Premium Travel Credit Card

Benefits

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

Drawbacks

  • High annual fee
  • Excellent credit required

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Who should get the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

If you enjoy traveling and spend a decent amount of money on dining out, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is a wise choice to consider. You'll earn 10X points on Lyft rides, 3X points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit), 3X points at restaurants, and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else.

On top of offering $300 in travel credit each year, you’ll be able to take advantage of many travel-related perks. The Sapphire Reserve is among the credit cards offering a fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. As a cardholder, you also get free access to Priority Pass lounges. Both of these benefits can help ease the pains of airport travel.  

To have your credit card application approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll need to have an excellent credit score. If your credit is on the low end of being “good,” you may need to start with another travel credit card first to build up your score.

One thing to consider before applying is the card’s annual fee of $550 . While higher than some other travel credit cards, it’s easily offset by the $300 annual statement credit and many other travel benefits.

Card basics

Card type Travel
Card issuer Chase
Credit card network Visa
Annual fee $550
Intro bonus Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Reward rate 10X points on Lyft rides, 3X points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit), 3X points at restaurants, and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else
Recommended credit score Excellent
Foreign transaction fee None

Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits and perks

The list of Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits is long. A higher-end version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, this card goes beyond basic travel and shopping protections. Here is the start of the long list of things enjoyed by Sapphire Reserve cardholders:

  • Enjoy a stunning sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.
  • Annual travel credit: Receive $300 a year as a statement credit as reimbursement for travel expenses.
  • Stretch your points further: Redeem your points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program and they’ll be worth 50% more. For example, 50,000 points would be worth $750 rather than just $500.
  • Breeze through airport security: Apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and get reimbursed for the cost of the application fee every four years. Just be sure to use your card to pay for the fee.
  • Relax with airport lounge access: Get access to over 1,000 VIP lounges in airports nationwide with a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership.
  • Get a free year of Lyft Pink membership: Valued at $19.99 a month, access to a Lyft Pink membership offers 15% off all Lyft rides, priority airport pickup, a relaxed cancellation policy, and more.
  • Save on delivery with DoorDash perks: Cardholders get an annual $60 credit to food-delivery service DoorDash in 2020 and 2021. You'll also get at least a year of free membership to the app's DashPass program. This complimentary DashPass subscription waives delivery fees on eligible orders of $12 or more.
  • Indulge with the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection: Enjoy benefits at partner hotels, such as complimentary room upgrades, free WiFi, and complimentary breakfast.
  • No foreign transaction fees:  If you want a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, this makes a great choice for those who travel internationally.  
  • Purchase protection: New purchases are covered for up to 120 days against theft or damage, up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year.

  • Return protection: If a store won’t take back an eligible return, you could qualify for return protection. You can be reimbursed up to $500 per item and up to $1,000 per year.

  • Extended warranty protection: On eligible warranties of three years or less, your card will extend the warranty by an additional year.

Chase Sapphire Reserve travel coverages

  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance: If your trip is cancelled or interrupted due to covered reasons — such as sickness or weather — you could be reimbursed up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for non-refundable travel bookings.
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver: Turn down the rental car company’s insurance and use your Sapphire Reserve to pay for the booking, and you’ll get primary car rental coverage. It will provide reimbursement up to $75,000 for theft and collision damage for rental cars.
  • Baggage delay insurance: If your flight is delayed by more than six hours, you’ll get reimbursed up to $100 a day for up to five days to pay for essentials like new clothes or toiletries.
  • Trip delay reimbursement: If your travel is delayed by more than six hours, your family is covered up to $500 per ticket to pay for food and lodging.
  • Roadside assistance: Whether you lock your keys in the car or get a flat tire, you can get up to $50 worth of free roadside assistance four times a year.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement: If the airline lost or damaged your luggage, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • Travel and emergency assistance: If you need help while traveling internationally, you can contact the Benefits Administrator for legal or medical referrals.
  • Travel accident insurance: You’ll get up to $1,000,000 in coverage in the case of accidental death or dismemberment.
  • Emergency evacuation and transportation: If you’re injured or sick while traveling and need emergency transport, you’re covered up to $100,000.
  • Emergency medical and dental benefits: If you’re more than 100 miles away from home, you can get reimbursed for up to $2,500 to pay for medical expenses.

Drawbacks to this card

  • Annual fee: Though the benefits are robust, this card also has an annual fee of $550.
  • Minimum credit score: To qualify for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you will need to have an excellent credit score.

Earning & redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Potential earnings in years one and two

Here's a look 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: $960.50

Year two earnings: $210.50

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model which takes a look at points earned via spending, the sign-up bonus, and the annual fee. 

To fully understand the value of the Chase Sapphire Reserve though, 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 actually total $1420.50.

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

Lyft rides 10X
Travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and at restaurants 3X    
All other purchases1X

The travel purchases category includes the following (and there are some expenses you may not think of right away):

  • 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.

Maximizing your redemptions

Redemption Method Value
Statement credits 1 cent
Chase Ultimate Rewards 1.5 cents

Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Chase Sapphire Reserve can be redeemed in several different ways, including statement credits, travel, gift cards, or Pay With Points with Chase Pay at select merchants.

Points earned with the Chase Sapphire Reserve are worth one cent each. However, you can get more bang for your buck by redeeming them to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. By doing so, your points are worth 1.5 cents each — a 50% increase. The Chase Ultimate Rewards program can be used to book your next vacation, including airfare and hotel stay.

Booking your travel through the program is simple; just log into your Chase Ultimate Rewards account and search for flights, hotels, or cruises.

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:

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

Chase Sapphire Reserve FAQs

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it?

If you spend a sizable amount per year on travel expenses and dining out, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card should be on your shortlist of travel credit cards to consider. If you take advantage of its other perks, such as its statement credit for travel and airport security, you can get even more value from it.

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.

Who can get a Chase Sapphire Reserve card?

As mentioned, to qualify for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, your credit should be very good to excellent. You’ll also want to take Chase’s 5/24 rule into consideration. If you’ve opened five or more cards in the past 24 months — regardless if they were with Chase or not — you won’t be eligible for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.

If you’re already a Sapphire Preferred cardholder and upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll be ineligible for the sign-up bonus. In order to qualify for the bonus again, you’ll have to cancel your card and wait 48 months before applying for a different Sapphire card.

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?

If you are a frequent traveler who enjoys high-end luxuries and perks, then the Chase Sapphire Reserve is going to be of great value to you. If you travel less frequently or you have other credit cards with travel benefits, then you may enjoy the smaller annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, even though it also comes with fewer benefits.

It’s important to note that you can only hold one Sapphire credit card at a time, meaning you can’t have both the Sapphire Preferred card and the Sapphire Reserve card. With that in mind, you'll want to learn about the differences between the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Other credit cards to consider

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is among the best for premium travel credit cards, but it won't be a good fit for everyone. If you want a Chase card, but don't need all the perks, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is the obvious answer. But there are great travel credit cards from other card issuers as well.

The Platinum Card from American Express is an excellent choice if you prefer to earn Membership Rewards rather than Chase points. The Amex Platinum Card offers a generous welcome bonus, hundreds of dollars in annual credits, and Gold status in multiple hotel loyalty programs.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a good option if you're looking for a much lower annual fee, but would like to retain flexibility in your travel booking options. This card provides an application fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, and the list of Capital One transfer partners is growing all the time.

#1 Premium Travel Credit Card

Special Offer

Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

See how these cards compare:

The Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card from American Express
  • 75,000 Membership Rewards point welcome offer
  • 10X points on purchases at U.S. gas stations and supermarkets
  • 5X points on eligible flights and hotels
  • $15 in free U.S. Uber rides each month ($20 in December)
  • Access to Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounges
  • Terms apply
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • 100,000 bonus mile welcome offer
  • 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit
  • No foreign transaction fees