What Qualifies As Dining & Travel On The Chase Sapphire Reserve?

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While some other premium credit cards are all about the perks, one of things that makes the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card so well rounded is that it’s also a fantastic card for everyday spend. Specifically, the card has two valuable bonus categories, as it offers triple points on dining and travel.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card has a $450 annual fee, though offers a $300 annual travel credit that’s automatically applied to any travel purchases. For all practical purposes, I consider that to more or less be worth face value, meaning that the out of pocket on the card is ~$150 per year.

For that you get triple points on dining and travel, a Priority Pass membership, fantastic travel and car rental coverage, no foreign transaction fees, the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each, a Global Entry fee credit, and more.

Even if you don’t value most of those perks, the triple points on dining and travel are valuable for anyone who values the ability to earn Ultimate Rewards points, given the redemption options that having this card unlocks.

In this post I wanted to look at the triple points categories more closely, since they’re the best way to supercharge points earning with this card.

Is triple points on dining and travel really that generous?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card offers triple points on dining and travel without any sort of caps. Personally I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, meaning to me that’s the equivalent of a return of 5.1%.

Many people value Ultimate Rewards points even higher than I do, though at a minimum you can redeem the points for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase. So at an absolute minimum you’re earning the equivalent of a 4.5% return on dining and travel.

That’s a solid return, and keep in mind there’s no skill required for those redemptions. You can book all kinds of travel experiences through the Ultimate Rewards website at that rate.

How the Chase Sapphire Reserve 3x points categories work

Before we talk about what qualifies as dining and travel on the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card, let’s talk about the basics of how these bonus categories work. First of all, the triple points post to your statement at the same time the usual points do. When you look at your individual transactions on your statement, you’ll see the triple points post at the same time as the usual points.

Next, a merchant’s eligibility for triple points is all based on how they choose to categorize themselves when they set up their merchant contract. So while it’s rare, sometimes a restaurant won’t be correctly categorized, though that can work both ways, as sometimes non-traditional travel or dining retailers will be categorized as such (for example, vending machines are often categorized as “dining,” even though you may not traditionally think of them as such).

Also keep in mind that with services like Square, etc., it’s more likely that businesses won’t be set up correctly. While it’s fairly rare, it all comes down to the merchant to decide how they’re going to categorize themselves.

What qualifies as travel with the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

What qualifies as travel for the purposes of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card? Here’s Chase’s definition:

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.

Meanwhile here’s what Chase says doesn’t qualify as travel:

Please note that some merchants that provide transportation and travel-related services are not included in this category; for example, real estate agents, educational merchants arranging travel, in-flight goods and services, on-board cruise line goods and services, sightseeing activities, excursions, tourist attractions, merchants within hotels and airports, and merchants that rent vehicles for the purpose of hauling. In addition, the purchasing of gift cards, points or miles does not qualify in this category unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in the travel category.

I think most people don’t realize just how broad the travel category is. We think of travel spend as being when we actually go on a trip somewhere, but for many, a significant amount of their everyday spend is actually travel. Uber, parking, subway tickets, train tickets, etc., all qualify as travel.

Furthermore, this really is an incredible card for when you’re traveling internationally. Most people are just looking for a card with no foreign transaction fees when traveling internationally, but you also earn triple points in the dining and travel category when abroad. For many people, a vast majority of their spend when traveling abroad would be eligible for triple points.

Lastly, I’d note that the ability to earn triple points on mileage purchases is entirely dependent on how the airline or hotel loyalty program categorizes those purchases. Some airlines sell points directly, in which case they’d qualify as travel.

This includes American AAdvantage, Avianca LifeMiles, etc. Meanwhile other companies sell points through points.com, which wouldn’t qualify as travel — this includes Alaska Mileage Plan, Hilton Honors, World of Hyatt, etc.

What qualifies as dining with the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

What qualifies as restaurants for the purposes of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card? Here’s Chase’s definition:

Merchants in the restaurant category are merchants whose primary business is sit-down or eat-in dining, including fast food restaurants as well as fine dining establishments.

Meanwhile here’s what Chase says doesn’t qualify as dining:

Please note that merchants that sell food and drinks located within larger merchants such as sports stadiums, hotels and casinos, theme parks, grocery and department stores will not be included in this category unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in a restaurant category. In addition, gift card and delivery service merchants will not be included in this category unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in the restaurant category.

In practice most coffeeshops also qualify as dining, so you can earn triple points for everything from a Michelin star restaurant to Chipotle to Starbucks.

However, many food delivery services don’t qualify. For example, I love Postmates for having food delivered whenever I’m in a major US city, and unfortunately that doesn’t quality as dining due to how they’re categorized. They view themselves as a technology company rather than a dining company (which is fair enough). Grocery stores also don’t generally qualify as dining.

Bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card offers a generous welcome bonus, a great return on everyday spend, and excellent benefits. Many people don’t realize just how many things are included in the dining and travel categories, which can really help you maximize your points.

At a minimum, you’re looking at a 4.5% return on dining and travel spend, given that you can redeem the points for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase. In many cases it gets even better than that, if you’re like me and value Ultimate Rewards points at more, for the ability to transfer them to airline and hotel partners.

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Comments

  1. Lucky just wondering when the next trip report segment will be published as there are lots of products you have flown but haven’t reviewed and it is has been over two weeks yet still nothing which is pretty ridiculous especially for a world class travel blog

  2. “I think most people don’t realize just how broad the travel category is. We think of travel spend as being when we actually go on a trip somewhere, but for many, a significant amount of their everyday spend is actually travel. Uber, parking, subway tickets, train tickets, etc., all qualify as travel.”

    Needless to say, I wholeheartedly agree. As one who lives in NYC and takes taxis and limos (with toll charges), subways (monthly passes) and trains (Amtrak, NJ Transit), both within and in and out of the city (e.g., I am taking Amtrak to DC next week), I have been raking in loads of points since I got this card, effortlessly, doing things would normally do everyday. It’s also just as great when abroad! 🙂

    The CSR remains the real deal; talks of its imminent simply reflect cluelessness. In fact, if you don’t got it, hurry and get it!

  3. As usual, just another worthless article that is nothing more than a daily promotion/plug for the CSR. For someone who claims to carry over 20 cards in their wallet, it seems as if you use only that one. As if no other card offers rewards for Dining or Travel…

  4. BofA’s Cash Rewards “you-pick” 3% category, if travel is elected is even broader than CSR’s and it includes tourist attractions such as “Amusement Parks, Carnivals, Circuses, Fortune Tellers (!!) Aquariums, Dolphinariums, Zoos and Seaquariums.” Pair this with their 1.5% Travel Rewards card that has no foreign transaction or foreign currency fees.

  5. I think it’s important to note that a lot of folks have been “blown away” by cards offering more than 3x points for restaurants and airlines purchases. To me, this post highlights just how expansive the Chase categories are for INTERNATIONAL dining and TRAVEL. Although YMMV, I have never had a problem receiving bonus points for food and drinks located within larger merchants such as sports stadiums, hotels and casinos, theme parks. Also, while gift card and delivery service merchants could be tricky….my MPX app regularly triggers the 3x bonus for restaurants and I’ve had no issues with food delivery services like Door Dash and Grubhub. I cannot emphasize the international component of this enough. What good is a bonus unless you can take it with you anywhere. On the travel point, it also mentions the potential for sightseeing activities and excursions not to count but to date…I have also had no issues with these triggering the bonus…even internationally.

    @Lucky, Postmates not triggering the bonus definitely makes sense because they do deliveries for all types of merchants not just food. Are their any data points for Postmates triggering a bonus for shipping on say a Chase biz card?

  6. I noticed GoGo does not qualify as travel. I guess they consider it an internet service althoug wouldn’t you only use it for travel?
    Also, beware of cafeterias run under contract whereby they may be classified as “catering”. This was the case at my work location cafeteria.

  7. Very important note to the Dining category:
    Regular old BARS count as well for the 3x points.
    It’s lovely. Cheers.

  8. Somewhat related: does anyone have any experience with using the benefits supposedly coming with the CSR (such as CDW, trip cancellation and interruption, trip delay reimbursement, lost luggage, travel accident and emergency evacuation)?

    While I hope to never need it, I have been trying to get some answers to understand if emergency evacuation is something one could count on, but Allianz, which is the company providing this benefit for Chase, is just dancing around even with providing clarifications about basics.

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