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Since the Chase Sapphire Reserve® recently updated its annual fee to $550, you may be wondering whether it's still worth applying for, or — if you're a current cardholder — whether you should downgrade to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card come with many of the same benefits. Both belong to the Ultimate Rewards program, and allow you to transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to 13 travel loyalty programs. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a higher annual fee, as well as a much longer list of benefits — including airport lounge access and a $300 travel credit that applies to most travel purchases — that can easily make up for its higher annual fee. You should do some careful math before you apply for either card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card|
|Best if…||You spend heavily on dining and travel||You'd prefer a lower annual fee and have lower spending habits|
|APR||18.49% - 25.49% Variable||17.49% - 24.49% Variable|
|Earnings Rate||3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.||2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide|
|Estimated Point Value||$0.0150||$0.0125|
|Bonus||Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.||Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.|
|Estimated Bonus Value||$750||$750|
|Other Benefits||$300 annual travel credit; Priority Pass Select Membership, TSA Pre/Global Entry fee reimbursement, up to $60 in annual DoorDash credits, free Lyft Pink membership (including 15% discount on Lyft rides), 1:1 point transfer to 13 travel partners||1:1 point transfer to 13 travel partners|
|Can you transfer points to Ultimate Rewards partners?||Yes||Yes|
|Network||Visa Infinite||Visa Signature|
|Review||Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card|
Here are key questions to ask in deciding which card is right for you:
Do you want lounge access?
If you're searching for a card with lounge access, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the clear winner. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, giving you access to more than 1,300 lounges worldwide. On the other hand, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card doesn't offer any lounge access.
How much do you spend on travel and dining?
For many cardholders, the choice may come down to how much you spend on travel and dining each year. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® gives you a $300 travel credit that applies to most travel purchases, including airfare, and can erase all but $250 of the annual fee. It also offers a higher 3x earning rate on travel and dining purchases and a 50% boost on point value for points redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal (compared with only a 25% value boost for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card).
All these features combined can make the Chase Sapphire Reserve® a better value for cardholders who spend heavily on travel and dining. In the example below, a cardholder who spent $9,000 in dining and travel each year and redeemed their points through the Ultimate Rewards portal would earn $61.50 more in value with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card:
Sample rewards earned in first year ($9,000 spent on travel and dining)
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card|
|50,000 bonus points x $0.0150 = $750||60,000 bonus points x $0.0125 = $750|
|$8,700 travel and dining spend (subtracting $300 travel credit) x 3 point bonus x $0.0150 = $391.50||$9,000 travel and dining spend x 2 point bonus x $0.0125 = $225|
|$750 bonus + $391.50 in points + $300 travel credit - $550 annual fee = $941.50||$750 bonus + $225 in points - $95 annual fee = $880|
Keep in mind that a number of factors can affect the value of these two cards, including:
- Whether you plan to add an authorized user (while there is no cost for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, there is a $75 fee each year for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®).
- Whether you transfer points to one of Chase's travel partners, in which case the point value between the cards will be the same, since they offer the same point transfer options.
Do you order food delivery often?
If you're a fan of food delivery, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is an even better value. On top of a free membership to DoorDash, the card is currently offering up to $60 in DoorDash credits each year. If you order enough food to take advantage of the credit, you can strike another $60 from the card's annual fee, bringing the cost of ownership down to $190 per year. (Note, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also offers a free DoorDash membership, but without any credits.)
How much do you spend on ride-shares?
Another recently added perk: the Chase Sapphire Reserve® now offers free membership to Lyft Pink. Perks for Lyft Pink members include 15% off all Lyft Rides, which can add up to significant savings if you spend a lot on ride-shares (and aren't an Uber loyalist).
What about Alternatives to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card?
Remember that, when it comes to credit cards, you are never limited to just two options. If you’re questioning the value the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® have for you, it’s worth taking the time to explore other cards. We outlined two popular options which provide similar offers to the two Chase cards discussed above.
American Express® Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card can be viewed as an upgraded version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The card charges a higher annual fee of $250. In return, it gives up to a $100 annual airline fee credit, and a better rewards rate on food and airline purchases. Cardholders get 3X Membership Rewards® points for flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com and 4X points at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). As a travel card, the American Express® Gold Card isn’t as good as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. However, it is a great option for foodies, and, because it has a substantially lower annual fee, some consumers may feel better about applying for it.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express lies entirely on the other side of the credit card spectrum. This card doesn’t prioritize earning points and rewards, unlike all the other offers discussed in this article. Instead, paying the $550 annual fee unlocks a suite of luxury benefits (See Rates & Fees). Users get access to airport lounges through Priority Pass Select, just like with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Additionally, The Platinum Card® from American Express throws in access to Centurion Lounges. These are located in eight major U.S. airports and are of a higher quality than most other lounges. Cardholders also receive special promotions and perks. That includes things like complimentary gold status with Hilton and Starwood hotels. Benefits like that aren’t easily translated to a monetary value. However, some consumers looking for luxury may find these types of benefits well-worth the $550 annual fee. While the Chase Sapphire Reserve® does include some premium perks, it still doesn’t fully match The Platinum Card® from American Express. You can see a more in-depth comparison between the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.