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There are many great benefits to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card — it offers perks like a $300 annual travel credit, triple points on dining and travel, the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase, a Priority Pass membership with guesting privileges, a Global Entry fee credit, and much more.
One question I get pretty often is from people wondering if they’re better off adding their spouse as an authorized user on their Sapphire Reserve Card, or if they’re better off having their spouse use their own Sapphire Reserve Card. On the surface you may think the obvious answer is to add your spouse as an authorized user, given that the authorized user fee is $75, and the annual fee for the primary account holder is $450. However, the math isn’t quite that straightforward.
Crunching the numbers
The fee per authorized user on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card is $75, so the math on that is pretty straightforward.
The alternative is having your spouse carry their own Sapphire Reserve, which would cost an additional $450. However, on the most basic level the Sapphire Reserve offers a $300 annual travel credit, which is automatically applied towards any travel coded purchase. There’s virtually no one out there who shouldn’t get the full value of that. So to me the real out of pocket on the card is $150 per year.
If the “out of pocket” to having your own Sapphire Reserve is $150, and the cost to add an authorized user is $75, the real incremental annual cost of having your own card rather than being an authorized user on someone else’s account is the $75 per year. What do you get for that?
- You can earn the sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Reserve, which offers 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points upon completing minimum spend, which I value at a minimum of $750 (since points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase)
- Primary cardmembers receive a Global Entry fee credit (worth up to $100) once every four years, so if you want to spread out the value of that over the years, that’s like a value of $25 per year
One other consideration, if it’s a concern, is that having your own account can make accounting easier if you want to keep credit card spend separate. Chase doesn’t issue separate card numbers for authorized users, and separating the spend by person can be challenging.
If two people splitting expenses want the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card you will end up paying a bit less annually if you add the second person as an authorized user. By my math, you’re paying about $50 extra per year to have your own account, once you subtract the travel credit, what you’d otherwise pay for an authorized user, and the Global Entry fee credit. In many ways it’s great that Chase gives so many benefits to authorized users, including a Priority Pass membership, travel protection, and more.
The big advantage of getting your own card is that you get your own sign-up bonus of 50,000+ points, which is worth $750+. If you want to look at the math differently, the $50 “out of pocket” difference will be covered by that sign-up bonus for 15 years.
If you’re strictly looking to pay as little as possible for two Reserve cards, add the second person as an authorized user. If you’d get value out of the sign-up bonus and the ability to separate expenses a bit, have both people get their own accounts.