Since the Chase Sapphire Reserve® was launched in August 2016, it has arguably been the most talked about credit card on the market even with its $550 annual fee. It’s definitely one of the most pined for cards for those who were and are still not eligible because of the Chase 5/24 Rule.
If you’re just starting your miles and points journey, this is the time to consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve while you’re still eligible. If you already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you won’t be able to receive the sign-up bonus but product changing to the card might make sense depending on your travel habits.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about the Chase Sapphire Reserve so you can decide if it’s the right card for you — and why I product changed to my Chase Sapphire Preferred even though I couldn’t get the bonus.
Earn Tons Of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Let’s be honest for a second, when we consider a credit card, the first thing on our minds is almost always how many points we can earn with it. A card can have all the benefits in the world but, if it doesn’t provide us with a solid way to earn points, we can’t really book award flights and hotel award stays.
With that in mind, the Chase Sapphire Reserve passes the smell test as it comes with a sizeable sign-up bonus and earns 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on dining and travel purchases. In fact, Chase has the broadest travel bonus categories of the flexible points programs.
I think you’ll find it compares favorably to other high-end cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Citi Prestige® Card. The Amex Platinum does allow you to earn 5X Membership Rewards but only on airfare purchased directly from airlines or Amex Travel and prepaid hotel stays purchased via Amex Travel. The Citi Prestige also earns 3X on airfare and hotels but only 2X on dining (and entertainment).
For longtime Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders, this is clearly an amped up version of the 2X you have been earning on dining and travel purchases. Is the 50% bump alone worth a $550 annual fee? Maybe, maybe not, but we have more to consider.
Transfer Points To Airlines And Hotels
What makes Chase Ultimate Rewards points so valuable is their ability to be transferred to 9 airline partners and 4 hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio. Unlike other flexible points, these transfers process almost instantly which can be vital when award space is sparse.
Here are your transfer partner options:
|Aer Lingus Aer Club||IHG Rewards Club|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||Marriott Bonvoy|
|British Airways Executive Club||World Of Hyatt|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
Personally, I like to get the most out of my Ultimate Rewards points. Is there a better way to book a business class award on KLM’s Dreamliner than a Flying Blue Promo Award? I don’t think so. With these transfer partners, you have access to all three major airline alliances: Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance.
Some programs are great for short-haul or intra-region redemptions — British Airways. Other airline programs such as Korean Air often provide a great way to book long-haul awards.
Then you have Virgin Atlantic’s partnership with All Nippon Airways (ANA) which provides, perhaps, the best way to book ANA first class awards to Tokyo. It might not be as well known, but you’ll want to remember it.
If fancy hotels are more your style, there’s always the world famous Park Hyatt Sydney with views of the harbour and the Sydney Opera House.
Whether you’re into luxury hotels or premium cabin flights, the points you earn with the Chase Sapphire Reserve can help get you there.
Book Through The Chase Travel Portal (Great For Economy Flyers)
Now, I recognize that not everyone is trying to fly business and first class. I can’t quite understand it, but I accept it. For economy flyers, the Chase Sapphire Reserve provides a great opportunity to get the most out of your miles in the Chase travel portal.
Rather than transferring your Ultimate Rewards points to an airline partner, you can apply your points to a cash booking through the portal where each point is worth 1.5 cents.
This can help you stretch your points even further when booking economy flights as you will often find that fewer points are required than if you transferred to an airline partner.
We’ve seen a lot of economy fare deals recently and this is a great way to save some cash.
Not talked about quite as much, but you can also book hotels through the portal as well. In some cases, you’ll get better value for your points this way. Just remember that hotels often don’t recognize your elite status or allow you to earn night/stay credits and points when booking through the Chase portal.
$300 To Spend On Travel
The $300 travel credit is one of the reasons many people find the $550 annual fee to be quite manageable. Unlike the airline fee credit from the Amex Platinum or air travel credit from the Citi Prestige, this is a very broad travel credit.
As we discussed earlier, this is a loosely defined category. You will receive a statement credit for any purchases you make in the following categories up to $300 each cardmember year.
Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.
To make things even easier, the credit applies automatically and Chase’s site even allows you to see your progress on a tracker.
While I won’t say this is as good as $300 cash, I find that tons of people can hit $300 in travel purchases each year without batting an eye.
Hang Out In Priority Pass Lounges Around The World
The Chase Sapphire Reserve also provides a Priority Pass Select membership which gives you access to over 1,000 airport lounges. Not only that, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve provides what is probably the most powerful membership on any credit card.
It doesn’t limit the number of guests you can bring with you, unlike some other cards, and authorized users ($75 each) even receive their own membership.
Why does this perk matter? Well, with long layovers are pretty much inevitable, having a place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the terminal is a huge perk. Not to mention free food and drinks can save you from airport restaurant prices on long layovers.
While you won’t have access to a lounge in every airport, Priority Pass provides $28 in credit to use at a growing list of airport restaurants. You can find these restaurants at major international airports such as New York (JFK) and even small regional airports like the one in my hometown of Lexington (LEX).
If you haven’t visited Kentucky, we make bourbon. You’re welcome.
Make Travel Easy With Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
Anyone who has been through airport security knows what a hellish experience it can be. Take off your shoes. Remove your laptop. Remove your liquids. Whoops, you forgot one. Now, they have to search your bag—except sometimes they don’t.
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you have almost no excuse to go through security without TSA PreCheck when flying a participating airline. Simply pay for your TSA PreCheck application with your card and you’ll be reimbursed for the $80 fee.
However, if you ever plan on taking an international trip, just forget that TSA PreCheck application and move onto Global Entry. The lines to go through customs when returning to the U.S. make many TSA security lines look like a cute joke.
With Global Entry, you can skip the massive lines and use an electronic system on your return to the states. The Global Entry application process will take a bit longer and you’ll need to show up for an in-person interview. While these can take a little time to schedule, it’s well worth it.
Besides, you’ll receive a statement credit for the $100 application fee and your membership comes with access to TSA PreCheck so you’ll have the best of both worlds.
Travel Protection: Trip Delays, Lost Bags, Rental Cars And More
As a Visa Infinite Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a bunch of travel protections. With the card, you can get reimbursed for delayed or lost luggage if the carrier. While you probably won’t have to deal with delayed bag issues, it’s a nice benefit to have when an airline forgets your bag then fails to deliver it for days and days—yes, this happened to me.
Perhaps the most popular travel protection is the trip delay reimbursement. While many of the travel, and even purchase protections, are identical to the coverage you’d receive with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, this benefit is much better.
If your flight is delayed more than 6 hours or overnight, you can be reimbursed for up to $500 in expenses while the Chase Sapphire Preferred requires a delay of more than 12 hours (or overnight).
The best part about this perk is that it covers weather delays so even if an airline won’t get you a hotel room, you can take care of it yourself knowing you’ll be reimbursed.
You’ll want to give your cardmember agreement a look to see an in-depth explanation of each benefit, but here’s a quick rundown:
|Sapphire Reserve Visa Infinite Benefits||Details|
|Baggage Delay Benefit||• You can be reimbursed up to $500 when some or all of the cost of a common carrier ticket is charged to your card (therefore award tickets should be eligible if the taxes are charged to the card)|
• You can be reimbursed a maximum of $100 per day for emergency purchases of essential items at a destination other than your current residence
|Lost Luggage Reimbursement||• Receive reimbursement for lost or damaged checked or carry-on bags and personal property|
• Maximum reimbursement is $3,000
• You must report the loss or damage to the Common Carrier immediately as soon as you exit the Carrier. You will need to provide proof that you submitted a report to the Common Carrier, so be sure to keep a copy of the report for your records.
|Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance||• Receive the non-refundable amount of the passenger fare or $10,000 (whichever is less) in the event of a trip cancellation or interruption|
• The cancellation or interruption must be caused by death, accidental injury, disease, or physical illness of the passenger or immediate family member
• This also covers you if your airline goes out of business or tickets are otherwise cancelled by the carrier
|Trip Delay Reimbursement||• Receive up to $500 if your trip is delayed for more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay|
• The trip has to be delayed by an equipment failure, inclement weather, labor strikes, or hijacking
|Purchase Protection||• Receive up to $10,000 for personal property that has been stolen, damaged, or lost within 120 days|
|Return Protection||• Receive up to $500 per item ($1,000 per year) if you are dissatisfied with a purchase and the retailer won’t return the item within 90 days|
• There are lots of exclusions, including items purchased overseas, and all items have to be returned to Chase as part of the process
|Warranty Manager Service||• Extends the free repair period under the original manufacturers repair warranty up to one additional year on eligible warranties of three (3) years or less, up to a maximum of ten thousand ($10,000.00) dollars per claim, and a fifty thousand ($50,000.00) dollars maximum per Account.|
• Motorized vehicles (boats, cars, aircraft, etc.) aren’t included
Last, but certainly not least, this card also provides primary insurance on rental cars if you decline the collision damage waiver coverage offered (pushed?) by the rental car company. This coverage protects you if there is damage to the vehicle and covers many types of rental cars from small economy cars to luxury vehicles.
If you’re looking for a go-to credit card, you’d be hardpressed to find a better option than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Personally, I’ve gotten so much out of this card and don’t plan on giving it up any time soon.
Perhaps, the most obvious benefit is earning valuable Ultimate Rewards points from a hefty sign-up bonus but, when you consider how often people go out to eat and take Uber, the ability to earn 3X on dining and travel is also a huge winner.
Whether you’re planning to transfer your points to book a first class flight and luxury hotel stay or take advantage of cheap economy tickets by getting 1.5 cents per point through the Chase travel portal, this card can help you reach your travel goals.
Now, top it all off with a bunch of perks from an easy to use $300 travel credit to airport lounge access to great trip delay insurance, and it’s no surprise that this card has taken the credit card world by storm.