Chase Sapphire Comparison: Preferred Vs. Reserve

Chase Sapphire Comparison: Preferred Vs. Reserve

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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 the changes made to the cards in 2021.

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 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 solid welcome bonus of 60,000 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 toward a travel purchase

What makes the Sapphire Preferred better than the Sapphire Reserve? The significantly lower annual fee, 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 toward 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 toward 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). 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 toward a travel purchase (rather than 1.25 cents each).

Read a full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Redeem points for 1.5 cents toward 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 recommend applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

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 a great bonus, and still have the flexibility to later get either card, all while paying the lower annual fee.

The offer on the Sapphire Preferred is generous

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 recommend applying for the Sapphire Preferred, how should you decide which card makes the most sense for you in the long run?

With the changes we saw in 2021, 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 toward 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 toward 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 toward the cost of a travel purchase
  • Points earned on the Chase Sapphire Reserve can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each toward 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 toward 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 crunch the numbers, about ~$9,100 in annual spending on travel would cause you to break even 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 toward travel purchases.

For the time being, I’d recommend applying for the Sapphire Preferred. 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 (8)
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  1. Trey Guest

    I've had both cards and most recently canceled the CSR couple of months ago after having for 4 years. On Chase website I'm pre-approved for both - I'm also under 5/24. I should be good for the 80k bonus for CSP, yes?

  2. [email protected] Guest

    I just upgraded to CSR because I had 270k points I need to use; I just used them book a ticket to Europe and three hotels book hotels. I affectively doubled with 1.5 points, what I would have gotten with CSP (1.25); basically made money from it. I guess if one has enough points racked up, its makes a big difference.

  3. Jacob B. Guest

    I was going to cancel my CSR but when I called to cancel they gave me $150 retention credit, which brings my effective cost to $95/year, so I decided to keep the card for another year since I will be traveling again and will use this card.

  4. Peter N. Guest

    CSR seems kind of obsolete when you compare it to the Venture X. Even the Altitude Reserve or Amex Platinum might be better.

  5. Sean M. Diamond

    I've been a dedicated CSR customer from pretty much the first moment it was launched, but I am beginning to see better value in the CSP product instead now following the refresh. My renewal is due in a few months, so I guess I need to make a decision over the summer. Most of the add-ons to the CSR are pretty useless to me while the ones on the CSP could actually be of value.

    1. Stevie Guest

      I literally just got off the phone with them. Product changed to the Freedom Flex, with plans to re-apply for a CSR and get an 80K bonus. Sucks, because now I have a Flex I don't really want but I also didn't want to lose the credit line/age of credit/etc. I was holding CSR for the Priority Pass Membership bc I actually get a lot of use out of it. When Venture X came along, that solved that...

      Will I use the $50 hotel credit? Nope, doubt it.

    2. Stevie Guest

      plans to re-apply for the csP to get the bonus****

  6. Anthony Diamond

    After the changes, I generally though CSP was the better card for many. I downgraded… but now, I am reconsidering for a couple of reasons

    1) I find myself booking boutique or independent hotels more often now, which makes 10x UR points through the portal, or 1.5 cents redemptions through the portal, more attractive
    2) I am using Lyft more, so 10x on Lyft is becoming more attractive

    I may reupgrade. Don’t care...

    After the changes, I generally though CSP was the better card for many. I downgraded… but now, I am reconsidering for a couple of reasons

    1) I find myself booking boutique or independent hotels more often now, which makes 10x UR points through the portal, or 1.5 cents redemptions through the portal, more attractive
    2) I am using Lyft more, so 10x on Lyft is becoming more attractive

    I may reupgrade. Don’t care at all about Priority pass, travel credit, 3x on travel (I can cover that with Amex green), etc

Featured 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.

Jacob B. Guest

I was going to cancel my CSR but when I called to cancel they gave me $150 retention credit, which brings my effective cost to $95/year, so I decided to keep the card for another year since I will be traveling again and will use this card.

1
Peter N. Guest

CSR seems kind of obsolete when you compare it to the Venture X. Even the Altitude Reserve or Amex Platinum might be better.

1
Sean M. Diamond

I've been a dedicated CSR customer from pretty much the first moment it was launched, but I am beginning to see better value in the CSP product instead now following the refresh. My renewal is due in a few months, so I guess I need to make a decision over the summer. Most of the add-ons to the CSR are pretty useless to me while the ones on the CSP could actually be of value.

1
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