For many years, the Chase Sapphire Preferred was the top card to carry if you wanted a premium travel rewards card in your wallet.
Now, with another premium travel rewards card from Chase in the mix, the Sapphire Reserve, many are wondering if the Preferred is still worth it (spoiler alert – we definitely think it is).
When the Chase Sapphire Reserve first came onto the scene in late 2016, it caused quite a stir in the industry. Most notably, was its sign-up bonus of 100,000 points (valued at $1,500). While the sign-up bonus has changed since then, both cards remain on the list of the most-wanted travel rewards cards.
Comparing each one to other top credit cards in the rewards category has been really interesting and I don’t think I’ve ever personally seen so much hype surrounding a credit card like the Sapphire Reserve. With all the perks and benefits offered though, it’s easy to see what all the fuss is about.
That being said, I’m not sure I would fully recommend the Sapphire Reserve to anyone who would consider themselves a newbie to the world of credit cards. Why? Because there’s a lot to understand in order to make the most of it, and the Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic option with a considerably lower annual fee.
Whenever I sign up for a new credit card, I like to break down the details into terms I can actually understand and also do a comparison (chart below) of related cards, so when I finally choose one, I’m confident with my choice.
So if you’re like me, you'll enjoy this comparison of the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred. We put these cards head to head in seven categories to find out which one takes the cake.
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred
1. Sign-up Bonus
Chase Sapphire Reserve: 50,000 bonus points with $4,000 minimum spend within 3 months of account opening. At a valuation of 1.5 cents per point, this bonus offer is valued at $750 towards travel.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Also offers 50,000 bonus points with $4,000 minimum spend within 3 months of account opening. At a valuation of 1.25 cents per point, this bonus offer is valued at $625 towards travel. You can earn another 5,000 points if you add an authorized user to your account.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Here's why: At first glance, it may seem like a tie, but it isn't! Both cards offer a generous 50,000 point sign-up bonus but the value of each point differs.
Sapphire Preferred points are worth 1.25 cents apiece, so 50,000 bonus points = $625 towards travel
Sapphire Reserve points are worth 1.50 cents apiece, so 50,000 bonus points = $750 towards travel
Still, each card has the potential to help you book some absolutely incredible travel experiences.
To put the bonus in perspective, here's what 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points can get you:
Two (2) Nonstop Roundtrip Flights from Newark to Los Angeles
One (1) Roundtrip Flights from San Francisco to Hawaii (with points to spare!)
Two (2) Roundtrip Flights from Newark to Paris
Five (5) nights in the heart of Paris at the gorgeous Hôtel Malte - Astotel
Two (2) nights in a Category 6 Hyatt property if you transfer the 50,000 points to Hyatt, then redeem Hyatt nights
One (1) Business Class One-Way Airfare from New York to Frankfurt after you transfer 49,000 points to Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program
Incredible, right? These are just a few quick examples we found.
You'll likely find even better deals (first-class anyone?) by doing a bit more searching in the Chase Rewards portal to maximize point redemption value.
2. Ultimate Rewards Redemptions
Chase Sapphire Reserve: You’ll get 1.5 cents per point when redeeming in the Ultimate Rewards Portal
Chase Sapphire Preferred: You’ll get 1.25 cents per point
Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Also worth noting is that both of these cards have an advantage over the Chase Freedom, which offers 1 cent per point regardless of if you redeem in the Ultimate Rewards Portal or as a credit on your statement.
3. Category Spending Bonus
Chase Sapphire Reserve: You’ll earn 3x points on travel and dining, and 1x on everything else
Chase Sapphire Preferred: You’ll earn 2x points on travel and dining, and 1x on everything else
Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve
4. Transfer Partners
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Identical access as the Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Identical access as the Sapphire Reserve
Winner: It’s a tie! Since both cards redeem points through the Ultimate Rewards Portal, you’ll have access to the same options with both cards.
The true advantage is the number and valuation of points! But you already knew that.
5. Other Great Benefits
Chase Sapphire Reserve: $300 annual travel credit automatically applied to transactions that fall into the travel category, $100 reimbursement for Global Entry, Priority Pass airport lounge access, AND all of the benefits included below for the Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred: No foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation insurance, primary car rental insurance, trip delay reimbursement, baggage delay coverage
Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve, no contest
6. Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve: $450 annual fee, first year is not waived. Adding an authorized user is $75.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: $0 introductory annual fee, then $95 after. No fees for adding an authorized user to the account.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred takes the cake for this category
7. Look and Feel
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Heavy, sleek card with no raised numbers and embedded with metal
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Same
Winner: Another tie – the look and feel of these cards is the same
The official winner is [technically] the Chase Sapphire Reserve!
However, the Chase Sapphire Preferred could be a better option for you depending on your lifestyle, credit card usage, and if you’re not really feeling the hefty annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
The Main Takeaway
The addition of the Sapphire Reserve to the Chase family has been a great one, but both cards are still awesome and have their place. If you’re just starting out with points and miles, I’d probably recommend going for the Chase Sapphire Preferred to get a feel for it.
If you’re more experienced with points and miles and have been waiting your entire life for a credit card like this (I know, I have the gift of over-exaggerating), then what are you waiting for? The benefits of this card are amazing and if you’re confident about getting the most out of your rewards, this card is a sweet gem to have in your arsenal.
Disclaimer: This content and the opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and have not been provided, commissioned, or endorsed by the credit card issuer. All information was accurate at the time of this post but card terms and conditions may change at any time. Reward redemptions may vary.