Chase Sapphire Preferred Vs. Sapphire Reserve: Which Is Better?

Chase Sapphire Preferred Vs. Sapphire Reserve: Which Is Better?

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card are both incredibly compelling travel rewards credit cards. Often people have a hard time deciding which card makes the most sense, given that they’re both excellent.

In this post I wanted to compare the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve — which card is better, especially in light of recent changes made to both cards, as well as the Sapphire Preferred’s current bonus of 100K points?

Let’s start by talking about what the two cards have in common, then we’ll talk about the differences, and then we’ll talk about how to decide which card is a better fit for you.

What both Chase Sapphire cards have in common

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve have quite a bit in common. Among other things:

  • Both cards act as excellent “hub” cards for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and allow you to transfer points at the same rates to the Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners
  • Both cards have no foreign transaction fees, so are great for purchases abroad
  • Both cards offer excellent travel coverage, including for delayed flights, lost bags, and car rentals
  • Both cards offer 3x points on dining purchases globally
Both cards offer 3x points on dining globally

Advantages of the Chase Sapphire Preferred

There’s a lot to love about the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The card has a $95 annual fee, and offers:

  • A massive welcome bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months
  • 3x points on dining, streaming services, and online grocery store purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs) and 2x points on travel, plus 5x points on flights booked through the Chase Travel Portal
  • 10% anniversary bonus points, calculated by your “base” earning per dollar spent
  • A $50 hotel credit every cardmember year, usable through the Chase Travel portal
  • The ability to transfer points 1:1 to Chase Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners, or redeem them for 1.25 cents each towards a travel purchase

What makes the Sapphire Preferred better than the Sapphire Reserve? The significantly lower annual fee, the much bigger welcome bonus, the 10% anniversary bonus points, the 3x points on streaming services and online grocery store purchases, and the $50 annual hotel credit.

Read a full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Get a $50 hotel credit annually with the Sapphire Preferred

Advantages of the Chase Sapphire Reserve

There’s a lot to love about the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The card has a $550 annual fee, and offers:

  • A welcome bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months
  • 3x points on dining and travel, plus 10x points on hotels and car rentals booked through the Chase Travel Portal, and 5x points on flights booked through the Chase Travel Portal
  • A $300 annual travel credit, which can be applied towards virtually any purchase
  • A Priority Pass membership, offering access to 1,300+ airport lounges around the world
  • The ability to transfer points 1:1 to Chase Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners, or redeem them for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase

What makes the Sapphire Reserve better than the Sapphire Preferred? The card should really only be “costing” you $250 per year (after factoring in the $300 travel credit, which is nearly good as cash), and for that the major advantages are a Priority Pass membership, 3x points on travel (rather than 2x points on travel with the Sapphire Preferred), and the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase (rather than 1.25 cents each).

Read a full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Redeem points for 1.5 cents towards travel purchases with the Sapphire Reserve

Tip: Apply for the Sapphire Preferred

Regardless of which of the two cards you eventually want to get, personally I’d highly recommend applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The simple reason is that the welcome bonus is 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points bigger, and that’s a huge difference.

You could give the card a try for a year, and after a year you should be able to upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve if you’d like. That gives you the best of both worlds — you can pick up the best bonus, and still have the flexibility to later get either card, all while paying the lower annual fee.

The 100K offer on the Sapphire Preferred is seriously worth it

Which Chase Sapphire card should you get?

As you can see above, there are pros and cons to both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve. While I’d highly recommend applying for the Sapphire Preferred (given the much bigger bonus), how should you decide which card makes the most sense for you in the long run?

With the recent changes made to both Chase Sapphire cards, I think the Sapphire Preferred is more compelling than ever before, and should be the default card that people get. However, there are three general circumstances under which I think there could be value to the Sapphire Reserve over the Sapphire Preferred.

Let me note that for mental accounting purposes, I consider the real “cost” difference between the two cards to be around $155 per year. The Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee, while the Sapphire Reserve has a $550 annual fee, but I subtract $300 from that, due to the value of the travel credit.

With that in mind, let me share the three areas where you can get significantly more value with the Sapphire Reserve than the Sapphire Preferred.

Do you value a Priority Pass membership?

One of the major benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is that it offers a Priority Pass membership. This offers unlimited lounge visits, and you can take two guests into lounges with you at no extra cost.

Nowadays several premium credit cards come with a Priority Pass membership — for those without a membership this could easily be worth $155+ per year, while for those with a membership, it might not be worth anything. One awesome thing about getting a Priority Pass membership through Chase is that it also gets you access to Priority Pass airport restaurants, where you can get a dining credit at many major airports (Priority Pass memberships issued through Amex don’t offer that).

A Priority Pass membership can be valuable if you travel a lot

Do you value 1.5 cent per point redemptions?

Ultimate Rewards points are flexible, and there are several good ways to use them. You can transfer the points to one of the Ultimate Rewards hotel or airline partners, or you can redeem them as cash towards the cost of a travel purchase.

The points earned on both cards have the same value if you’re transferring them to a partner (you can transfer them at a 1:1 ratio), but if you redeem them as cash towards the cost of a travel purchase, the values are different:

  • Points earned on the Chase Sapphire Preferred can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase
  • Points earned on the Chase Sapphire Reserve can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase

Different people will have different takes here. Personally I don’t value the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards travel purchases, because I get way more value transferring Ultimate Rewards points to partners like World of Hyatt. However, others will feel differently.

If you want to put some concrete numbers to this, you could justify the $155 cost difference between the two cards if you redeemed at least 62,000 points per year through the Chase Travel portal (given the quarter cent difference in redemption value).

Some cardmembers may value 1.5 cent per point redemptions

Do you spend a lot on travel?

While both cards offer 3x points on dining, the cards otherwise have a different return on travel purchases:

I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me that’s a return of either 3.4% and 5.1% in that category. If you would otherwise put a significant amount in travel purchases on the card, then the Sapphire Reserve could be worth it.

To put some concrete numbers to that, about ~$9,100 in annual spending on travel would cause you to breakeven on the $155 price difference between the two cards. However, only count spending you’d otherwise put on this card, and not your overall travel spending. For example, much of my airfare spending and hotel spending goes on other cards.

If you spend a lot on travel, 3x points can add up

Bottom line

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve are incredibly compelling cards. For a long time the Sapphire Reserve was the obvious winner, while I’d argue with the recent refreshes to the cards, that’s no longer the case.

Nowadays I think the Sapphire Preferred very much holds its own, and long term the Sapphire Reserve only makes sense if you value a Priority Pass membership, if you spend a lot on travel, and/or if you want to redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards travel purchases.

For the time being I’d highly recommend applying for the Sapphire Preferred, given the huge bonus of up to 100K points. If you decide after a year that the Sapphire Reserve is a better fit for you, you can always upgrade the card.

If you have a Chase Sapphire card, do you think the Preferred or Reserve is more valuable nowadays?

Conversations (28)
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  1. Jc

    I've had the reserve since the beginning, but since I've taken exactly 1 flight in the last 18 months, was thinking of canceling (my anniversary is in 2 weeks) and just applying for a preferred to get the 100k. My wife will keep her reserve and I can just funnel the points her way.

  2. DJT

    I've had the Reserve since its beginning, and the extra .25% value vs Preferred adds up when redeeming through Ultimate Rewards or Pay Yourself Back. I also have other Chase cards like Freedom Unlimited, Freedom and Business Cash. I generate significant points/year on those cards and transfer the points to Reserve for the 1.5% bonus. As you mention, it only takes 62,000 points redeemed in this manner to offset the net $155 annual fee difference,...

    I've had the Reserve since its beginning, and the extra .25% value vs Preferred adds up when redeeming through Ultimate Rewards or Pay Yourself Back. I also have other Chase cards like Freedom Unlimited, Freedom and Business Cash. I generate significant points/year on those cards and transfer the points to Reserve for the 1.5% bonus. As you mention, it only takes 62,000 points redeemed in this manner to offset the net $155 annual fee difference, and that is even before considering the 3pts vs 2pts to generate points in travel purchases.

  3. AC

    If you only have Chase I. An see value in the CSR (which I have). However I also have the Amex Platinum card so get 5X on airfare and the Amex Gold so get 4C on dining (plus groceries). Basically my CSR is used for hotel stays provided I don’t have a co-branded card w better return, car rentals, commuter trains and oarking. Hard pressed to understand why I should keep it after my AF kicks in again next August (giving Chase a year to hopefully improve value)

    1. Shawn

      I think it comes down to whether you put 250 bucks on the “other stuff”. And I think the biggest in that category is an expanded PP and primary car rental insurance.

      I don’t because I also have the chase ritz card no longer available which offers all of this.

      I have also dusted off my citi cards and they have become my go to while they allow AA transfers.

      So I will be canceling, not downgrading my csr. But it comes down to each person and what they value. YMMV

  4. Bob

    Considering the fact that I have 3 other cards with priority pass, it makes the csr not very worthwhile and difficult to justify at anywhere close to $550.

  5. Michael

    Are the travel insurance programs identical between the Preferred and Reserve? I'm thinking the Rserve's excellent PRIMARY auto-rental coverage and trip-cancellation/interruption insurance. Thanks.

  6. Sean M.

    Thanks for this analysis. According to Chase's Year-end-Summary, I spent $11,388.46 last year on Travel spending with the CSR (in a relatively slow travel year) so I'm well above the threshold to justify the CSR over the CSP. Furthermore, the Priority Pass from the CSR is my primary PP card and I had over 20 visits last year using this membership - so it justifies itself twice over now. The insurance is also worth its...

    Thanks for this analysis. According to Chase's Year-end-Summary, I spent $11,388.46 last year on Travel spending with the CSR (in a relatively slow travel year) so I'm well above the threshold to justify the CSR over the CSP. Furthermore, the Priority Pass from the CSR is my primary PP card and I had over 20 visits last year using this membership - so it justifies itself twice over now. The insurance is also worth its weight in gold - I had two claims paid out last year for flight delay and baggage damage.

    I guess the CSR buys another year in my pocket as a result, although as someone who lives outside the USA the Lyft, Peloton, Global Entry and DoorDash perks have pretty much zero value for the increased annual fee.

    Do you know if anyone has had success requesting another year at the $450 annual fee for September renewals?

  7. DCS

    As to the CSP vs. the CSR: which 'better'? My view is YMMV.

    1. Eskimo

      As to Democrats vs Republicans, is your view YMMV?
      Prolife vs Prochoice, YMMV? Gun control, YMMV? Global warming, YMMV? Covid vaccines, YMMV?

      YMMV for President.

      Paid for by YMMV action committee. Authorized by god (or what ever higher being you think of) that life is always YMMV.

      YMMV is not authorized or endorsed by neither Death nor Taxes. Restrictions applies.

  8. DCS

    How do people cope with the ever increasing cost of the minimum spend required to collect signup bonuses on new cards? Don't the required spend costs get prohibitive or reach the point of diminishing return after a while

    For instance, last week I received from AMEX by snail mail a glossy and specially designed invitation to apply for the AMEX Biz Platinum card and earn a signup bonus of 150,000 MR points. For that, I...

    How do people cope with the ever increasing cost of the minimum spend required to collect signup bonuses on new cards? Don't the required spend costs get prohibitive or reach the point of diminishing return after a while

    For instance, last week I received from AMEX by snail mail a glossy and specially designed invitation to apply for the AMEX Biz Platinum card and earn a signup bonus of 150,000 MR points. For that, I would have to spend $15K in 3 months. The thing is that there is currently nothing that I need badly enough to spend that kind of money on. Moreover, I did have this card but decided to trade it in for the personal version because in order to earn 5X on plane tickets with the Biz Plat, the tickets must be purchased through AMEX Travel, which I found to be quite restrictive. The personal Plat card fits my needs much better. Therefore, despite the huge signup bonus, I will do nothing about the offer. In fact, I go for so few new card offers that I now stand at 0/24 on Chance cards. In the last 3-5 years, the only offers that got me sufficiently interested (well, excited) to get me to apply, do the required minimum spend and collect the signup bonus have been the CSR and the AMEX Aspire cards...

    So, how do people deal with the question I posed at the top of the comment?

    1. Clem

      The Amex Biz Platinum is, as the name indicates, geared towards businesses. So spending $15k in 3 months for most businesses is nothing. Those offers are likely designed specifically to weed out individuals like us trying to game the system.

    2. Eskimo

      Yes, biz cards are geared towards business, But people around here who are holding both or switching around, game the system while it last.

      Especially those sole proprietors who mix personal and business in the same card. The day of reckoning will come when you have to prove business expense on the card to earn points.

      But yes for a 'real' business, even a single person, spending 15k in 3 months isn't hard at all....

      Yes, biz cards are geared towards business, But people around here who are holding both or switching around, game the system while it last.

      Especially those sole proprietors who mix personal and business in the same card. The day of reckoning will come when you have to prove business expense on the card to earn points.

      But yes for a 'real' business, even a single person, spending 15k in 3 months isn't hard at all. What's hard is sometimes a small business has low credit limit and that makes some big expenses impossible to charge.

    3. DCS

      @Clem and @Eskimo -- My point remains the same: even for personal cards, the required initial spend can add up and become substantial, prohibitive even, depending on how many cards one applies for (which I suspect is likely a lot considering how many folks report being over Chase's 5/24 limit.)

      The Chase WoH card 60K signup bonus, I believe consists of earning 30K after a $3K spend in 3 months, and then another 30K after a $15K spend in 6 months...

    4. Bob

      You shouldn't think of getting a card with high spend requirements from the point of "what new laptop and Rolex should I get" to satisfy the spend. Like most people here it's part of the strategy. If you were to buy a car and the dealer is letting you card a few thousand and you need to renew your insurance premium you would think about combining those payments and time a new card. Blindly getting...

      You shouldn't think of getting a card with high spend requirements from the point of "what new laptop and Rolex should I get" to satisfy the spend. Like most people here it's part of the strategy. If you were to buy a car and the dealer is letting you card a few thousand and you need to renew your insurance premium you would think about combining those payments and time a new card. Blindly getting a card and then deciding what luxury items to buy is not the best use of your money.

    5. DCS

      You shouldn't think of getting a card with high spend requirements from the point of "what new laptop and Rolex should I get" to satisfy the spend. Like most people here it's part of the strategy.
      Blindly getting a card and then deciding what luxury items to buy is not the best use of your money.

      .
      It seems to me that you got that backwards. What I do not do is...

      You shouldn't think of getting a card with high spend requirements from the point of "what new laptop and Rolex should I get" to satisfy the spend. Like most people here it's part of the strategy.
      Blindly getting a card and then deciding what luxury items to buy is not the best use of your money.

      .
      It seems to me that you got that backwards. What I do not do is precisely to get a card blindly without having valid purchases that can justify the large required upfront spend (usually) just to get bonus points. For me, it is not "what new laptop and Rolex should I get" to satisfy the spend. That would be backwards. Rather, it is whether there are purchases that I already planned or I can legitimately justify to make within the required time window, and usually there aren't. Therefore, a card must be truly compelling (like the CSR at its launch, or the "too good to be true" HH AMEX Aspire card) to get me to apply for a new card, regardless of the hype.

    6. DCS

      ...and that is why I currently stand 0/24 on Chase's 5/24 rule.

  9. Steve

    The reserve card charges an annual fee of $75 per additional card holder. That would be $150 extra for us each year. We don’t have the opportunity to use airport lounges enough so the preferred card was the better option. Especially given the bonus points and lower cost.

  10. Andrew

    Not recommending reserve till referrals points are re-instated. Come one Chase, you want the referral, offer the reward

    1. Eskimo

      For a blog that people complain about pushing some cards too hard, you seem to be doing even worse.

      If you refer just for the points, then you value your greed over friendship.
      I always refer cards which are best to them and both of us win, otherwise just what's best for them.
      I suspect you would refer your friend to a lower signup bonus but you get huge referrals.

  11. Colorunr

    The Reserve hasn’t been getting much publicity since the Preferred refresh, but it is still the better work-horse travel card to hold long term. If you are a frequent traveler and can take full advantage of Priority Pass (particularly the dining), that perk alone along with the $300 credit could easily eclipse the $550 fee. In fact, I find the Reserve to be the easiest premium card to get full value from (with Hilton Aspire...

    The Reserve hasn’t been getting much publicity since the Preferred refresh, but it is still the better work-horse travel card to hold long term. If you are a frequent traveler and can take full advantage of Priority Pass (particularly the dining), that perk alone along with the $300 credit could easily eclipse the $550 fee. In fact, I find the Reserve to be the easiest premium card to get full value from (with Hilton Aspire a close second).

    Also not mentioned in this post is the $100 Global Entry/TSA-Pre credit on the Reserve.

    Yes, sign up for the Preferred to get the bonus, then upgrade to the Reserve.

  12. Joe1293

    Ben,
    Are you going to apply for the chase sapphire preferred?
    I honestly believe you should be able to get that signup bonus

  13. Kbulo

    I feel this is your first post that sounds overly pushy.

  14. Alonzo

    Neither. I'm downgrading my Reserve to the Freedom Flex. Already have the Amex Gold.

  15. Anthony

    Much of this depends on the long term status of the PYB feature. It supposedly expires at the end of the month, but if is kept permanently, the extra 0.25 cent kicker on CSR will convince many to keep it.

    3x on Uber/Lyft/transit/boutique hotels/taxi is very important, one needs to have it either in the form of Amex Green, CSR or some other option. If you have Amex Green you don't need CSR, otherwise CSR can make sense. It is close.

  16. RetiredATLATC

    Would you recommend dropping down to the Preffered from the Reserve?

  17. D3kingg

    The 10X on hotels with the reserve card would be good for a high net worth individual that stays at expensive hotels but has no loyalty to any specific hotel chain.

  18. D3kingg

    I just got approved for the Sapphire Preferred card and am excited about that 100K bonus. I’ll have to figure out how it fits into the mix of my card spending. If I do end up closing my AMEX Gold then 3X dining or groceries on this card would be the next best thing.

Featured Comments Load all 28 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Sean M.

Thanks for this analysis. According to Chase's Year-end-Summary, I spent $11,388.46 last year on Travel spending with the CSR (in a relatively slow travel year) so I'm well above the threshold to justify the CSR over the CSP. Furthermore, the Priority Pass from the CSR is my primary PP card and I had over 20 visits last year using this membership - so it justifies itself twice over now. The insurance is also worth its weight in gold - I had two claims paid out last year for flight delay and baggage damage. I guess the CSR buys another year in my pocket as a result, although as someone who lives outside the USA the Lyft, Peloton, Global Entry and DoorDash perks have pretty much zero value for the increased annual fee. Do you know if anyone has had success requesting another year at the $450 annual fee for September renewals?

Colorunr

The Reserve hasn’t been getting much publicity since the Preferred refresh, but it is still the better work-horse travel card to hold long term. If you are a frequent traveler and can take full advantage of Priority Pass (particularly the dining), that perk alone along with the $300 credit could easily eclipse the $550 fee. In fact, I find the Reserve to be the easiest premium card to get full value from (with Hilton Aspire a close second). Also not mentioned in this post is the $100 Global Entry/TSA-Pre credit on the Reserve. Yes, sign up for the Preferred to get the bonus, then upgrade to the Reserve.

Kbulo

I feel this is your first post that sounds overly pushy.

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