How does the Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit work?

How does the Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit work?

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Many travel credit cards offer statement credits of some sort for purchases such as dining, incidentals during flying and ride-sharing services. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers one of the most valuable, flexible travel credits in the travel card industry. Unlike many of its competitors, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card's $300 travel credit applies to a broad range of categories, making it very easy to use and recoup more than half of the $550 annual fee each year.

For the remaining $250, you are also entitled to benefits like airport lounge access, comprehensive travel insurance, TSA Precheck®/Global Entry fee credit and statement credits to DoorDash.

If you are a Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholder, it is important to understand how the travel credit works and how to make the most of it.

How does the Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit work?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit is applied each year you pay the annual fee. Once you pay your annual fee, you will automatically get a $300 travel credit that applies to any purchase that falls under Chase's travel category.

It is important to note though that the purchases within the $300 travel credit do not earn the 3X per dollar points bonus. Once the travel credit is exhausted, qualifying travel purchases will earn 3X per dollar.

Purchases that qualify for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit

The categories of purchases that qualify for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®'s travel credit are extremely broad compared to other travel credit cards. Qualifying purchases range from airfare to parking garage and toll fees:

  • Airlines (including airfare)
  • Hotels
  • Timeshares
  • Campgrounds
  • Taxis and car services
  • Toll bridges and highways
  • Parking lots and garages
  • Car rental agencies
  • Cruise lines
  • Travel agency services
  • Trains
  • Buses

For comparison, the $100 American Express® Gold Card travel credit only applies to airline incidental charges such as checked bag fees and in-flight meals, making it more difficult to use up.

If you aren’t sure if a purchase qualify for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit, you can refer to the business's merchant category code to see if it falls into one of the categories listed above. You can also check your previous credit card statements to see if similar purchases have been coded under the travel category.

How to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit is automatically applied to qualifying purchases. If you are a new cardholder, you will be able to use the travel credit immediately. There is no activation required.

As you make purchases that qualify for the travel credit, they will be labeled as "Travel Credit" on your billing statement and zeroed out. Once you reach the $300 limit, you will no longer see any deductions.

To view your progress in using up your annual travel credit, you can log in to your account and navigate to your Ultimate Rewards® dashboard. You'll find a progress indicator showing how much of the credit you've used, as well as the deadline for using up the remaining credit:

Annual Travel Credit

Travel credit cards with similar travel credits

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® isn’t the only travel credit card that offers travel credits. Each of the cards below offers a travel credit, along with unique parameters on what the travel credit applies to. In the case of all the American Express cards listed, the credit only applies to airline fees. Before applying for these cards, be sure to investigate the restrictions on their travel credits.

CardSign-up bonusTravel credit amountAnnual fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.$300$550
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire CardEarn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.$300$450
Citi Prestige® Credit CardEarn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening.$250$495
The Platinum Card® from American Express75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 6 months.$200$550
The Business Platinum Card® from American ExpressEarn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.$200$595

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, please click here.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit adjustments during pandemic

During the coronavirus pandemic, travel credit card benefits, such as travel credits, airport lounge access and travel insurance, have been rendered useless as the travel industry is nearly shuttered.

To adjust to their customer’s new spending habits, Chase announced that the $300 travel credit can be used toward grocery store, dining and home improvement store purchases through December 2021. This helps cardholders justify keeping the card open and active while they aren't traveling, and prevents Chase from losing valuable card members.

Chase travel credit cards and travel credits

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a great option for regular travelers who want to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. Keep in mind that Chase credit cards are some of the most sought after because of their benefits.

Before applying, be sure to consider the Chase 5/24 rule and your financial needs. While earning credit card rewards is exciting, the value of those points can be nullified if you are overspending or paying interest.

The information related to Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Citi Prestige® Credit Card and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express have been independently collected by ValuePenguin and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

Brett Holzhauer

Brett Holzhauer is ValuePenguin’s travel rewards expert, focusing on credit card rewards maximization, consumer travel trends, and personal finance news. He has earned and burned over 5 million points and miles throughout his travels, saving him roughly $75,000 in travel expenses.

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.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).

Available Credit Cards from Our Partners

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
  • On Citi's Secure Website
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Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • On Chase's Secure Website
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Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
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Mastercard® Black Card™
  • On Barclays' Secure Website
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The Platinum Card® from American Express
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