In August 2016 we saw Chase introduce the new Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which seemed to take the country by storm. Chase allegedly reached their 12-month sales target within two weeks of introducing the card. Now that the dust has settled a bit, I wanted to write a review of the card, especially as I’ve recently reviewed theChase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which is the lower annual fee version of this card.
Personally I applied for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® shortly after it was introduced, and it’s the card on which I’ve put the most spend, given how rewarding it is. Many people say that this card is “too good to be true,” and I don’t disagree. When you look at the combination of the sign-up bonus, the return on spend, and the perks it offers, this is a very well rounded card. While the card has a $450 annual fee, your real “out of pocket” shouldn’t end up being nearly that high.
For those of you already familiar with the card, by all means skip this post, though for those of you who don’t yet have the card, here’s why you should consider getting it:
Chase Sapphire Reserve Sign-Up Bonus
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months. I value Ultimate Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me those 50,000 points are worth ~$810, which I consider to be a very generous bonus.
You can redeem Ultimate Rewards points to pay for all kinds of travel purchases
Chase Sapphire Reserve Annual Fee
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has an annual fee of $450. Now I know what you may be thinking — “I don’t want to pay a $450 annual fee.” Well, don’t give up on this card yet. If there’s one thing Chase has proven with this card, it’s that this is a $450 annual fee card for people who don’t usually pay those kinds of annual fees, thanks to how lucrative it is.
If you want to add authorized users to the card, it costs $75 for each authorized user you add.
Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 Annual Travel Credit
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a $450 annual fee, though you receive a $300 travel credit each calendar year that will help offset that. This couldn’t be more straightforward. There’s no registration required, and any purchase that’s coded as “travel” (ranging from an Uber to a parking meter to a flight booking) will automatically be reimbursed, up to $300 per year. There’s an easy counter on Chase’s website that will track your progress towards completing the $300 of spending.
I imagine just about anyone who would consider this card spends at least $300 per year on some sort of travel. So while you do pay the $450 annual fee upfront, to me the real “out of pocket” on this card is just $150 per year, since the travel credit should be worth close to the face value.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Priority Pass Membership
Just for having the Chase Sapphire Reserve® you receive a Priority Pass membership, which gets you access to the world’s largest collection of independent lounges. Best of all, this membership allows you to take guests with you at no additional cost. (there’s no stated limit to how many guests you can bring).
Priority Pass has 1,000+airport lounges around the world, so access to these lounges will prove useful to just about any traveler.
SkyTeam Lounge Dubai, which is a Priority Pass lounge
If you add authorized users to your Sapphire Reserve, they’ll also get a Priority Pass membership, so that could be worth it for the $75 additional user fee alone.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Earning Rates
This is where the card really shines. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers triple points on dining and travel. I value Ultimate Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me that’s the equivalent of a 5.1% return on my dining and travel spend. That’s huge, when you consider that these categories include everything from Ubers to coffee shops to restaurants. Most of my discretionary spend is in those categories.
While my valuation of Ultimate Rewards points is ~1.7 cents each, at a minimum you can redeem each point for 1.5 cents towards the cost of a travel purchase, meaning that you’re getting 4.5 cents of value towards travel for every dollar spent on dining and travel. At a minimum.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Rewards Program
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns Ultimate Rewards points, which I find to be one of the most valuable flexible points currencies.
Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to the following programs:
|Aer Lingus Aer Club||IHG Rewards Club|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||Marriott Rewards|
|British Airways Executive Club||Ritz-Carlton Rewards|
|Iberia Plus||World Of Hyatt|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
Personally I get the most value out of Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to one of the above partners, though if you don’t want to deal with the complexities of loyalty programs, there’s an easy way you can redeem them. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® , you can redeem Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website. This is a better return than you get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which offers just 1.25 cents per point towards a travel purchase. In other words, if you have the Reserve Card that means you could redeem 10,000 points for a $150 flight.
As a reminder, the Reserve Card earns triple points on dining and travel, which is why above I explained that it’s like a minimum return of 4.5% for every dollar spent on dining and travel, when you redeem for a travel purchase.
But I still prefer transferring points to one of Chase’s partners. For example, you could transfer 25,000 points to World of Hyatt for a free night redemption at the Park Hyatt Maldives.
Park Hyatt Maldives
Those are just a couple of examples of the many great uses of Ultimate Rewards points.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Baggage & Travel Delay Protection
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a Visa Infinite Card, so it comes with all kinds of great travel protection in the event that your flight is delayed, your bags are lost, etc. What’s especially awesome is that you earn triple points for travel with the card, so you can put your travel purchases on this card, and then automatically be covered with the benefits. Note that award tickets qualify for this benefit as well, assuming you put the taxes on the Reserve Card. Here are the basic details of the coverage, though you’ll want to consult the cardmember agreement for all the details:
|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
Chase Sapphire Reserve Primary Car Rental Coverage
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers primary insurance against damage up to the cost of most rental car vehicles provided you decline the CDW coverage offered by the rental agency. This includes economy through luxury class vehicles, vans that carry fewer than seven passengers, and SUVs.
Why You Should Apply For This Card First
In the past couple of years Chase has added an unpublished “5/24 rule,” meaning that they typically won’t approve you for some new cards if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months. For many people this is of course not an issue. But it’s something to be aware of, and is a reason to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® ahead of other cards.
Also note that you’re not eligible for the welcome bonus on this card if you currently have this or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or if you’ve received a new cardmember bonus on either card within the past 24 months.
Other Cool Features Of The Chase Sapphire Reserve
Shop Through Chase
Having the Chase Sapphire Reserve® gives you access to Shop Through Chase, which is the card’s online shopping portal and can really accelerate the points you earn. By “clicking through” the portal you can earn extra points per dollar with purchases at dozens of online retailers.
I earn several thousand extra points each year on purchases I would have made anyway just by clicking through the Shop Through Chase portal first.
Great Customer Service
This is advertised as “24/7 direct access to dedicated customer service specialists” and they mean it. When you call the number on the back of the card, a human picks up right away. Literally. There’s no phone prompt.
I don’t have any other credit card or elite status with any airline or hotel program that gets me service that quickly.
$100 Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit
Some of the best improvements to the passenger experience the past few years in the US have been the introduction of Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check, which can get you expedited security and immigration. When you charge the $85-100 application fee to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® you can receive a statement credit for that amount once every four years. You can use this benefit for anyone, just make sure you charge it to the primary card.
30% Off Silvercar Rentals
Silvercar is my favorite car rental company, and you can save on rentals with them for having the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Since this is a Visa Infinite Card, you can get 30% off a rental of two or more days by entering promotion code VINFINITE at the time of booking.
I love renting from Silvercar, and saving 30% through the Reserve Card makes it even better
The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
Since this card is a Visa Infinite, you get access to The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, which offers additional benefits at luxury hotels around the world. Specifically, you receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a unique property credit, a room upgrade (if available), and early and late check-out (if available), at over 900 hotels around the world.
Receive extra perks at the Park Hyatt Saigon with the Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Reserve Bottom Line
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is really a winner in all three major categories I consider when applying for cards. It has a great sign-up bonus, extremely generous return on everyday spend, and awesome perks.
To simplify things even further, the card has a $450 annual fee, but offers a $300 annual travel credit, so the way I see it, the real “out of pocket” is $150 per year. For that you get triple points on dining and travel, a Priority Pass membership, no foreign transaction fees, great travel protection, the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase, and much more. Even if you’re not someone who would otherwise typically get a $450 annual fee credit card, the Reserve Card is certainly one to consider.