Despite having a $450 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is a worthwhile investment. The card provides industry-leading rewards on travel and dining purchases. In these categories, the card can net users a 4.5% rewards rate. As a luxury travel card, it provides decent lounge access. However, it still doesn’t best some of its other competitors on this front, namely The Platinum Card® from American Express.
|Good For…||Bad For…|
The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is easily one of the top travel credit cards. It gives far more rewards than current favorites like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. The only catch is the card’s $450 annual fee. However, if you use all this card has to offer, you will come out ahead despite the hefty fee. The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is marketed toward the same people who’d apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express. On that end, it’s also very competitive. The card comes with a high $300 annual airline credit and the standard airport lounge access we’d expect. The Platinum Card® from American Express has slightly better lounge access, because it includes Delta Sky Club® and Amex's Centurion lounges.
Most other credit cards that try to serve two functions end up being average. They fall into the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ category. The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is an exception, in that it excels as both a luxury card and as a rewards credit card.
The early spend bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is one of the highest we’ve seen on any offer. You earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards (UR) points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of card membership. When those points are used to book travel through the UR portal it works out to a value of $750. For context, we rarely see bonuses exceed $500 in value.
Bottom Line: We highly recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ to anyone who travels frequently and is a big spender. The card is especially good for anyone who can take full advantage of its $300 airline credit and airline perks.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is a hybrid between rewards and premium credit cards. When it comes to day-to-day rewards, the card provides users 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants, and 1X points everywhere else. Together with the 50% bonus on Ultimate Rewards redemptions, we calculate the rewards rate on the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ to be between 1.5% and 4.5%. The value a single point earned through the card can be worth $0.015 when utilizing the 50% bonus. The card also comes with a sizable bonus of 50,000 points. To qualify, cardholders must spend at least $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. According to Chase, the bonus is worth up to $750, when redeemed for travel through the UR portal.
In addition to the rewards you get from spending, the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ provides you a $300 annual travel credit. It can be used for baggage fees, Global Entry, seat upgrades, or lounge access. The credit kicks in once every calendar year.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ gives you complimentary access to over 900 airport lounges through Priority Pass™ Select. Once you enroll, you may enter lounges for free whenever travelling on any itinerary. Guests need to pay $27 each, every time they wish to enter. This set up is equivalent to the Prestige tier of membership in the Priority Pass™ program – a $399 annual value.
Priority Pass™ Select is available through most premium credit cards, not just the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠. In terms of coverage, it’s one of the better lounge memberships available. There are more Priority Pass™ lounges worldwide than through other programs, like Lounge Club.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ earns you Ultimate Rewards points – one of the most valuable credit card reward programs on the market. Its value comes largely from the list of transfer partners. You can move your points over to 11 different airline and hotel programs. These will change from time-to-time. The current list includes:
- British Airways Executive Club
- Korean Air SKYPASS
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
- United MileagePlus®
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Hyatt Gold Passport®
- Marriott Rewards®
- IHG® Rewards Club
- Ritz Carlton Rewards®
All transfers are at a 1:1 ratio. If you plan your transfers right, it’s possible to increase your overall rewards rate. For example, we value Hyatt Gold Passport® at $0.021 each. Therefore, if you transfer your points over to the hotel, your rewards rate can be anywhere between 2.1% and 6.3%. You can read a more comprehensive analysis of how the transfer partners work here.
The Chase Freedom® is a no-annual-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card. It earns you Earn 5 points per $1 on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Applying for both credit cards will allow you to pool all your points together. That way, you can maximize your savings. Use the Chase Freedom® whenever it allows you to earn 5 points per dollar, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ on dining and travel purchases.
The Chase Freedom® also comes with a nice bonus. Spend $500 within the first 3 months of account opening and you'll receive 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points. If you combine that with the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, it comes out to a potential 65,000 bonus points.
The best way to get a sense of the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠’s value is by comparing it to other available offers. We matched the card against some other leading options below.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a lower-tier version of the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠. It’s missing a lot of the benefits of the latter, including lounge access and airline credit. You are also awarded just 2 points per $1 on travel and dining at restaurants. The points you earn with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are worth less than they are on the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠. This is because you receive a 20% off travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards, instead of 50% bonus.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card costs significantly less. The card’s annual fee is waived for the first year, and just $95 after that. That is $355 less than what you pay with the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠. The elevated rewards rate you get with the premium card can make paying more worth it. By our calculations, if you spend at least $142,000 annually, you’ll walk away with more rewards value by using the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠. Additionally, those who spend over $17,750 on dining and travel every year will also get more out of the card, despite paying more.
The numbers look even better in favor of the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ if account for the $300 annual travel credit. If you include it in the calculations, all it takes for you to come out ahead is $22,000 in annual purchases, or $2,750 on travel and dining.
Quick Takeaway: The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ will generally be the better of the two options, especially if you can make full use of the $300 annual travel credit.
The chief difference between The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is where they focus on providing value. The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is superior in terms of earning rewards, while the Amex card offers better customer service and lounge access. The Platinum Card® from American Express gives 1 Membership Reward point per dollar spent. You can boost that to 5 points if shopping through AmexTravel.com, or by booking directly through airlines. At best, your rewards rate will come out to somewhere around 5%, giving this card an edge over the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ as far as air travel is concerned. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ offers you far more diverse opportunities to earn extra points, especially if you combine it with other Ultimate Rewards credit cards.
With The Platinum Card® from American Express you get access to Delta Sky Club®, Centurion Lounges and Priority Pass Select. That gives you far more lounge options than what you get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠. Domestic travelers will especially appreciate the Centurion Lounges. Though few in number, they provide some of the best amenities we’ve seen in any other lounge. The lounge in New York’s LaGuardia airport, for example, comes equipped with a dentist’s office.
The welcome bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is far better. The Platinum Card® from American Express currently offers 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months of card membership. We estimate the value of this to be just $600 – $150 less than the value of the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ bonus.
Quick Takeaway: Anyone who cares mostly about saving money through generous rewards will probably get more out of the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠. The Platinum Card® from American Express is better for those looking purely for air travel points, lounge access and customer service.
In terms of benefits, the Citi Prestige® Card is the closest card to the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠. It awards 3 points per $1 spent on air travel and hotels, 2 points on dining & entertainment, and 1 point on other purchases. When redeemed for flights, ThankYou points are worth 1.25 cents each. That works out a potential rewards rate between 1.25% and 3.75%. It’s not quite as good as the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ on that front, especially when it comes to dining. However, it is better for consumers who spend a lot on entertainment purchases, which includes things like bars and movies.
The Citi Prestige® Card awards $250 in annual air travel credit. Though this is $50 less than what you get through the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, it can also be applied towards more than incidentals -- that means it is still better than the credit on other premium cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Airport lounge access is comparable between the two cards. The Citi Prestige® Card used to have an edge because it offered Admiral’s Club Access. However, this will no longer be available starting July 2017.
Quick Takeaway: The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ will give you more value, unless you spend a lot on entertainment purchases. With a lower bonus and airline credit, the Citi Prestige® Card doesn’t pack the same punch.
You can read more about how the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ compares to the Citi Prestige® Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express in our in-depth breakdown.
Comments and Questions
* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.
These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.