9 Reasons To Get Sapphire Preferred Over Sapphire Reserve

Filed Under: Chase, Credit Card Comparisons
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For years the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card was regarded as one of best travel rewards credit cards out there. The card is incredibly well rounded, as it offers double points on dining and travel, great travel protection, and the ability to transfer points to a bunch of valuable airline and hotel partners.

However, over the past couple of years, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has stolen the spotlight, as this $550 annual fee card has become very popular with consumers. The card offers triple points on dining and travel, a $300 annual travel credit, a Priority Pass membership, and more.

Reasons To Get The Chase Sapphire Preferred

Nowadays it sure seems to me like the Sapphire Reserve is more popular than the Sapphire Preferred, though in this post I wanted to look at nine reasons you might want to consider the Sapphire Preferred. This is especially true in light of the card’s welcome bonus having been upped earlier this year, as the cards no longer have the same bonuses.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting the Sapphire Preferred is better than the Sapphire Reserve for everyone. But I do think it’s better for some, and I also think that for some people it could make sense to get the Sapphire Preferred and then eventually upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve.

In no particular order, here are nine reasons to consider the Sapphire Preferred over the Sapphire Reserve:

1. You Want A Better Bonus

Previously the two cards had similar welcome bonuses, while one is now better than the other. The Sapphire Reserve offers a welcome bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months, while the Sapphire Preferred offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months.

You might as well pick up the Sapphire Preferred for the better bonus, especially since you can eventually product change it to the Sapphire Reserve (as I’ll discuss below).

2. You’re New To Ultimate Rewards

If you’re just getting started in the Ultimate Rewards ecosystem, starting out with the Sapphire Preferred is a great option. The card has a much lower annual fee, so this is a way to get involved with Ultimate Rewards without having to pay a large annual fee.

After a year you should be able to upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve if you decide that’s a better option for you, and your points would fully transfer to the card. So you might as well start with the lower cost option and go from there.

There are several great cards with which you can earn Ultimate Rewards points

3. You Want To Add Authorized Users

You can add authorized users to the Sapphire Preferred at no additional cost, and they’ll also earn double points on dining and travel, and get most of the other privileges you do as well.

However, the cost to add an authorized user on the Sapphire Reserve is $75 each. Now, there are benefits to doing so (including a Priority Pass membership for authorized users), but if the goal is to just add an authorized user for spending purposes, it’ll take quite some annual spending per authorized user in the dining and travel categories to make up the $75 per person authorized user fee difference.

4. You’re Worried About Getting Approved

This is a nuanced point, but for many, the Sapphire Preferred may be easier to get approved for than the Sapphire Reserve.

Why? The Sapphire Preferred is a Visa Signature Card, while the Sapphire Reserve is a Visa Infinite Card. In general, each of those types of cards has a credit line minimum:

  • A Visa Signature has a $5,000 minimum credit limit
  • A Visa Infinite has a $10,000 minimum credit limit

Sometimes it’s possible to be approved with a lower credit limit (especially when product changing or allocating credit around), but that’s a general rule to be aware of.

What this means is that you can have an excellent credit score, but Chase could decide that they only feel comfortable giving you a $7,000 credit limit, for example. If that’s the case, you could be approved for the Sapphire Preferred but not the Sapphire Reserve.

5. You Don’t Spend Much On Dining & Travel

Let’s assume the primary reason you want either card is for the return on spending that it offers. Since I consider the Sapphire Reserve to have an “out of pocket” of $150 per year (after factoring in the $300 travel credit), that means you’re paying an additional $55 over the $95 annual fee on the Sapphire Preferred.

Personally, I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each. This means (based solely on spending) you’d need to spend ~$3,335 on dining and travel to come out ahead with the Sapphire Reserve over the Sapphire Preferred

This includes spending specifically on dining and travel that you’d otherwise put on one of these cards.

Which card makes most sense depends on how much you spend on travel and dining

6. You Also Have The Citi Prestige

This point somewhat overlaps with the above, but I think it’s worth calling out specifically.

At the beginning of the year, huge changes were made to the Citi Prestige Card. The card now offers 5x points on dining and airfare purchases. That card earns Citi ThankYou points, and personally I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Citi ThankYou points roughly equally (about 1.7 cents each).

So at this point, I’m no longer using the Sapphire Reserve for my dining and airfare purchases. At this point my Sapphire Reserve spend is limited to non-airfare travel purchases.

This greatly impacts how much spending I put on the card, and that impacts the breakeven point between this card and the Reserve and Preferred.

While I’ll continue putting my dining spending on the Citi Prestige, I’ll be putting my airfare purchases on the Amex Platinum, given that Citi has eliminated a lot of their travel and baggage protection (meanwhile Amex will be introducing this protection soon, and the card also offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines).

7. You Don’t Value Priority Pass

Priority Pass is the world’s largest network of independent lounges, and having a membership is extremely valuable, in my opinion. However, if you’re anything like me, you may very well have several of these memberships. For example, I now have five Priority Pass memberships.

There’s little value to having more than one membership, so for many, this feature will be valuable, while for others it will be worthless.

Quito Airport Lounge, which Priority Pass members have access to

8. You Don’t Want To Redeem Points For 1.5 Cents Each Towards Travel

Both the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve belong to the Ultimate Rewards program, so you can transfer the points earned on both cards to the following airline and hotel partners:

Aer Lingus Aer ClubIHG Rewards Club
Air France/KLM Flying BlueMarriott Bonvoy
British Airways Executive ClubWorld Of Hyatt
Emirates Skywards
Iberia Plus
JetBlue TrueBlue
Singapore KrisFlyer
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

The area where the points differ is if you prefer to redeem them as cash towards the cost of a travel purchase. If that’s your preference:

  • With the Sapphire Preferred, points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards a travel purchase
  • With the Sapphire Reserve, points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase

If you value the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase, there’s an advantage to the Reserve. Otherwise, the points are equally valuable, in my opinion. Personally, I like to redeem Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to partners, so this isn’t a feature I value all that much.

Points earned on both cards can be transferred to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

9. You Don’t Want To Pay A $550 Annual Fee

While the Sapphire Reserve has a $550 annual fee, in reality, the card should only cost you about $250 per year, after factoring in the $300 travel credit, which I consider to be almost as good as cash.

Nonetheless, psychologically a lot of people have a hard time justifying a $550 annual fee. I can’t count the number of people I’ve told about the card, and I’ve explained “you’ll pay a $550 annual fee, but you’ll get a $300 travel credit that’s basically as good as cash,” and their response was “I don’t want to pay $550 upfront.”

If that applies to you, then maybe the Sapphire Preferred with a $95 annual fee is a better option.

Tip: Get The Sapphire Preferred & Then Upgrade

I think one of the all around best strategies here is to apply for the Sapphire Preferred. This has the benefit of:

  • Being easier to get approved for
  • Offering a better welcome bonus
  • Being a great intro to Ultimate Rewards
  • Having a significantly lower annual fee

Then once you’ve had the card for 12 months you should generally be able to upgrade it to the Sapphire Reserve, unlocking all the benefits offered by that card. Your points would all transfer over, and you could even redeem them at the rate of 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase.

Given the richer welcome bonus and other benefits of starting with the Preferred, I do think that’s a great strategy for many consumers.

Bottom Line

Long term there are pros and cons to both the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve, and you can’t go wrong with either card. For many, I do think the Sapphire Reserve is the most approachable $550 annual fee card, since it shouldn’t cost you nearly that much in the end, after factoring in the $300 travel credit.

However, I think there’s also a lot of merit to first getting the Sapphire Preferred, and then you can always eventually upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve.

Where do you stand — do you prefer the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve?

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  1. Great strategy for spouses is one Sapphire Reserve and one Sapphire Preferred. Most effective use of time and able to capitalize on all fronts. If both in the couple want Priority Pass spend $75 for an auth user on the CSR. At least it has worked really well for us…

  2. I never thought about this before until reading this, but I wonder whether someone with a Sapphire Preferred who has added an authorized user (for free as you mention) and then upgrades to the Reserve – would the AU card still work given that a) the AU preferred card shares all the same information – card number, expiration, CID, and b) that presumably they let you keep the same card number when you upgrade?

  3. Why stop at #9?

    Number 10: chase recently increased the referral bonus.

    There is a handful of niche cases where the preferred would be….well preferred. The reserve is BY far the better option.

    Why do I feel this site is getting as bad as TPG? I find myself going to Gary and Matt’s blogs more every day.

  4. Its interesting when the Reserve card came out everyone was raving now its blog after blog telling us why we should leave Reserve. I have had the Reserve Card from day one and still have it. in fact its my everyday spend card. Given what is happening at Amex I might drop my Platinum card and keep my reserve card.

  5. If an AF difference of $55 is a deal breaker for someone, they should probably reassess their financial choices and not get any new credit cards.

  6. @ Shawn
    If you’re reading VFTW, then you know he recycled a near duplicate of this article last week.

  7. Why are pushing the CSP at this time? When you do a list like this, you should be transparent about your reasons.

  8. @ghost – I’ve already dropped my AMEX biz plat, $595 was just waaaay too high for how I travel. A year ago, with moderate biz travel, it made sense for me to keep it, now not so much.

  9. As to reason one I think they did 50K vs 60K points so each would have a value towards travel of $750. So, it’s basically a wash unless you hold off on using the 60K points until after you upgrade later.

  10. Reason #10. More folks clicking on the referral links will be approved for the CSP than for the CSR, generating higher blogger income. Was that too cynical?

  11. @Jon, I was trying to think of why bloggers constantly write articles about why to get the Preferred versus the Reserve (and seemingly Lucky posts one of these every few months). It either your conclusion or Chase pays a much higher commission for the Preferred. I would also guess the Preferred card makes Chase money whereas the Reserve loses money hand over fist.

  12. I always have high regards when @Lucky doing product reviews and try to be unbiased as much as possible.

    This on the other hand deserves a full disclosure, not just saying you get referral commission. If you get more to push one card over another you should say it.

    All your argument is bu** s**t.
    1. If you want better bonus, get both cards, one after another. No limits on that.
    2. New to UR has nothing to do with not getting a better card.
    3. $75 extra is just spending on travel or dining $1667 to break even. I’m going to let it float if you really need to add AU and can’t spend that much, really?
    4. According to many sources, Chase will extend you roughly 50% of your income. If you don’t earn 20k you probably have other things to do and many other cards to start with. I would say your credit history not your income is going to deny you for this. So this is bu**.
    5. Again the $55 difference is only $1223 on travel and dining. If you spend less than that, neither card is for you.
    6. This is the most valid reason, except if you do have the Citi Prestige, likely you don’t need either card. But if you do want UR and save money, this reason holds.
    7. Not a reason at all. A simple negate test will say, You get the reserve not the preferred for the Priority Pass. Which is stupid. You get the reserve because of many things not just PP. There are alternative just for PP.
    8. Valid, rare but valid. You still get outsized benefit but still valid.
    9. Can’t even see why this is a reason at all. It’s simple math. If you’re bad at math but wealthy enough to get this card then $450 shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re bad at math then you shouldn’t be in debt at all. Just too risky.

    Tip: Apply both card, one at a time and downgrade to get the other. Why waste a good bonus by upgrading.

    This is Eskimo’s reason why everyone should get the CSR and no one should get the CSP beyond the sign up bonus. I don’t get commission but appreciate donations. LOL.

  13. I cannot even believe that no one has argued that the primary reason would be because the Preferred looks better.

  14. Eskimo, Before unsubscribing from this site for sending me commercial ads and then dozens of subsequent emails, I wanted to point out that you cannot get both Sapphire cards, or at least you must wait 48 months before collecting another bonus. With my other Chase cards (United, United Business, and Business Ink, I routinely cancel them every 2 years, and then sign up for the same card a month later. Can’t do that with Sapphire anymore.

  15. Get approved, meet the minimum spend, get the sign up bonus and then put it in your sock drawer and never use it again. Go back and use your Citi Thank You Prestige and/or Premier. Premier tops Preferred and Reserve in purchase category bonuses and still gives you 3x on gas and 2x on entertainment that neither Preferred or Reserve offer. You chances for a retention bonus are infinitely better than Chase. Prestige’s 5X on airfare and dining puts both Chase cards to shame. The crowning feature of Citi Thank You points is that they give better and more transfer bonuses when transferring points to airline miles. Chase has had only one that I can remember. Avios really. I never use points for travel portal shopping, only airline loyalty program transfers. 1.5cpp or 1.25cpp is worthless for me, and remember purchasing through Chase or Citibank Travel portal is usually more expensive than booking direct negating any perceived value from the extra half or quarter of a cent per point.

  16. Rocco. You are very very wrong. Double dip is very possible. You just won’t hear about it on blogs like this

  17. @Jay, per what Rocco said above, my understanding is you can’t have CSR and then apply/get the CSP. Care to elaborate?

  18. @Jay Do you have a workaround for getting Chase to violate their policies regarding Sapphire cards? In August 2017, Chase implemented the 48-month rule for Sapphire bonuses. Per Chase.com – “Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card offer details: 60,000 Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. The product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 48 months. If you are an existing Sapphire customer and would like this product, please call the number on the back of your card to see if you are eligible for a product change. You will not receive the new cardmember bonus if you change products.” The same wording is provided for the CSR offer.

  19. Look around the internet, from sites they give real tips and not Buzzfeed type lists of why a cc is great, and you can see how to get both. It’s not hard to find. I’m not going to spoon feed it here for a variety of reasons

  20. @Rocco

    I can second @Jay that there are ways out there. I would say it is a loophole rather than violating rules. Blogs probably can’t share this tip as Chase would end their relationship. I won’t share as this would put OMAAT in a bad position. It is not hard to find at all.

  21. @Eskimo
    I rarely visit blogs, but, for some reason, this site has sent me about 30 unsolicited emails in the last 24 hours. I have researched Sapphire bonuses extensively, including through my niece, who works for Chase in another state, and through the manager at my local branch, where I maintain multiple business accounts. Collectively, we have come up with no “loopholes.” So, we stand at Documented Evidence: 1, Unsubstantiated Assertions: 2. My wife and I both collected two Sapphire bonuses back-to-back (4 total), but that was several years ago, before they adopted the 48-month rule in 2017. If you have anything helpful to contribute to the topic, please do so. If you want to keep your secret fishin’ hole secret, that is fine too, but Just asserting that “it is possible” is next to useless. PUOSU

  22. Eskimo , there is nothing to be gained by explaining anything further to Rocco . I encourage you to not even reply to this troll . Thanks for your wise discretion .

  23. @Dalo, Maybe something was lost in translation, but I thought this blog was a place for friendly people to share useful information about travel bargains. I am not exactly sure what a troll is, but your response suggests hostility, which is a toxic emotion. You really need to step back, take a deep breath, and reconsider your priorities.

    To recap, “Eskimo” initially asserted that he is able to earn multiple sign-up bonuses on Chase Sapphire cards, a feat that has eluded the rest of the credit card using public. I responded by citing the actual bank rules, which clearly prohibit multiple bonuses within 48 months, and I asked for the workaround. Eskimo countered with vague assertions of a possible workaround if I were willing to spend time scouring the internet, but he was not willing to share his secret.

    Eskimo’s friend “Jay” then chimed in to make the same vague assertions, but, again, was unwilling to divulge the secret. If Chase is willing to give some people two bonuses on the Sapphire card, why is it such a big secret, and why is Chase unaware of this option? Do you also have a secret workaround that you are unwilling to share?

    I am quite happy with my personal miles program, as I have not paid for a personal flight in 20+ years, and I already have enough miles to outlive my body, and probably my children too. Nevertheless, I still enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with youngsters, like yourself, who might benefit. I also gain personal satisfaction from donating my miles to friends and family who cannot afford to fly, as well as charities who can always put them to good use. Consequently, I try to stay abreast of the latest tricks to accumulate more miles, even though I will not be using them for myself.

    Do you have any useful knowledge to share, or do you simply surf the internet hurling childish ad hominem attacks at strangers? I sincerely hope the latter is not the case, as that is not a pathway to happiness. If you have something useful to share on this blog, please do so. Specifically, if you have some special mojo to get two Sapphire bonuses in less than 48 months, then I am sure lots of people on this site could benefit from that advice.

  24. i have little interest in educating readers on this site – that is lucky’s job, for which he is compensated for. i’m much less inclined to share anything with you due to your snarky reply to my first comment

    you can believe or not, i really don’t care. but i’m not going to spoon feed you. i learned things by yes, researching on the internet, and you can too if you are really interested

  25. Have any serious collectors found a way to score two Sapphire bonuses without waiting 48 months in between? The Chase terms seem pretty clear on the prohibition of two bonuses, but a couple braggarts claim to have a workaround. They are not willing to share their secrets with the hoi polloi, so I can only conclude that they’re blowing smoke. Everything I find on the subject points right back to the 48 month rule, but I would like to get both cards and both bonuses if that is a possibility.

  26. I am not exactly sure what a braggart is, but your response suggests hostility, which is a toxic emotion. You really need to step back, take a deep breath, and reconsider your priorities.

  27. And yet @Rocco still could not use a search engine.
    Collectively, you have come up with no “loopholes.” Means you never found the answer, doesn’t mean there is no answer.
    The easy part here is you already know the answer, it is possible. Confirmed by at least 2 person here and a lot more over the internet (not that you should believe everything). No quantum science required. So all you need to do is find a site that provides you the method to that answer. As much as @jay hates to spoon feed you, I’m much more generous and sympathetic. You gotta be the bigger person. So I’ll give you a head start, there are very few major websites that discuss about deals and credit cards. That is where you should start looking. For what its worth, if this was trick and not a loophole, I would share it in an instance.

    Now with that out of the way, I’m more concerned about your greed.
    You have not paid for a personal flight in 20+ years, and have enough miles to outlive you, yet you still want more?
    You admit to routinely cancel them every 2 years, and then sign up for the same card a month later. You are abusing Chase’s goodwill, what do you think the 48 month rule is for.
    It hurts me more that you are dragging Chase employees, your niece and your branch manager, to go against the rule and the interest of their employer. Collectively, you have come up with no “loopholes.” Even you admit if there is one it is a loophole. I used the term loophole because it is taking advantage of Chase and avoiding the 48 month rule. In case you still don’t understand. You doing it every 2 years that Chase allows is a trick. You doing it more than what Chase allows is a loophole.
    How selfish and mean of you for asking Chase employees to stage a mutiny against their employer, who put food on their tables.

    So don’t you dare tell other people to PUOSU or criticize them, or even brag about your charities. This all look like your personal greed. Ad hominem, Shame on you.

    In case you don’t realize yet, greed is also not a pathway to happiness.
    If the Grinch Stole Christmas, then Rocco Stole the signup bonus.
    PUOSU to you too.

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