8 Reasons To Get Sapphire Preferred Over Sapphire Reserve

Filed Under: Chase, Credit Card Comparisons
In the interest of full disclosure, OMAAT earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Please check out my advertiser policy for further details about our partners, and thanks for your support!

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 $450 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.

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 eight 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.

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

You want a better welcome 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.

So 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).

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

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.

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.

You don’t spend that much on dining and 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

You also have the Citi Prestige Card

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 spend I put on the card, and that impacts the breakeven point between this card and the Reserve and Preferred.

However, this might be changing once again as of next month, as Citi is eliminating a lot of their travel and baggage protection on the Citi Prestige.

You don’t value the Priority Pass membership

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 no 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

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:

  • If you have the Sapphire Preferred, points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards a travel purchase
  • If you have 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

You don’t want to pay a $450 annual fee

While the Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee, in reality, the card should only cost you about $150 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 $450 annual fee. I can’t count the number of people I’ve told about the card, and I’ve explained “you’ll pay a $450 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 $450 upfront.”

If that applies to you, then maybe the Sapphire Preferred with a $95 annual fee is a better option. You can always later work your way up to the Sapphire Reserve, if you want.

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 $450 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. This is true now more than ever, given that the welcome bonus is 10,000 points better.

Has your perspective on the Sapphire Reserve vs. Sapphire Preferred changed in light of recent changes to the Citi Prestige, the better bonus on the Sapphire Preferred, etc.?

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  1. You don’t want to pay a $450 annual fee

    Yep some people just don’t understand delayed gratification, no matter how much you try to explain. 450-300-95= $55 increment. This is almost a no brainer.

    Other points are valid.

    These banks are teasing with multi card holders too far now.
    With Prestige giving x5 I almost cancelled CSR but hold short because Prestige killed the card protections.
    Same on the other end.
    With Citi capping the 4th night and other benefits, I almost cancelled Prestige but hold short because Prestige gave x5.
    Sorry Amex, without the giftcard scheme, you are out of the race for me.

  2. I used credit karma to check 5/24 status, both equifax and transunion. Then I applied for the CSP, and somehow still got rejected for 5/24. NEVER APPLYING FOR A CHASE CARD AGAIN EVER.

    Um, not for a year at least.

  3. Ben, there’s really nothing left on the Citi Prestige. What’s the breakeven on 5x and $450? You’ve got to do a lot of dining out. Airfare has better options with Amex. So the last man standing from the Golden Year — Chase Sapphire Reserve — barely.

  4. You only need one “premium” card unless you are on the road 365 days a year. Too many of the benefits overlap.

    And you only want or need one transferable currency.

    CSR beats out the rest.

  5. I agree with you on the Sapphire Preferred should be the first card to get with Chase counting 1/24 months. It was my first Chase card with a bonus and it was great just as you pointed out. Then the Sapphire Reserve came on the scene and the welcome bonus with 100,000 points and a spend amount that I forget how much now. I just was still with the Preferred card in my first year. I applied for the Reserve card and got the credit card. When it came time to pay the renewal fee for the Preferred card I called Chase to cancel and told them that I had the Reserve card and that I didn’t need both. The representative quickly offered me the no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited saying that it would not change my credit status as in closing or opening a card but just a Brand change. So I say ok and have been using both Reserve and Unlimited cards, Reserve for travel (3pt/$) and Unlimited for everything else (1.5pt/$). Since I use both cards, I adjusted the limits on both cards. The Reserve card also paid for Global Entry so Eskimo’s calculations $450-$300-$95=$55 (1 in 5 years because the Global Entry is good for 5 years) but using the Priority Plus for 2 people just once is at least $50 (minus tip at restaurant instead of a lounge) so I’m happy with the Reserve Card and gladly pay the $450 annual fee not to mention the points which can be used on the airlines I fly and the hotels I stay in.

  6. @Enjoy Fine Food

    Yes there is if you use the 4th night free.
    The ‘new’ Prestige math is 495-250=$245 So you need to use at least that much to break even. If you do, it gets tricky like I said earlier. You either get protection or x5.
    But yes, Prestige is dwindling almost to a tipping point.

    And to simplify math, assuming this sites valuation of 1.7 cents. You need to spend more in x5 vs x3 for around $7200 to break even. Fly and dine annually more than that and x5 is the way to go.

    Personally I lean towards keeping The Prestige (only because the 4th night benefit) and change CSR to something else.

  7. I agree that excepting the initial sign up bonus, one needs very few cards. If only Chase, Amex, Citi, or Cap1 offered a better portfolio of airline transfer partners—or if Marriott offered better earning deal—I can see narrowing down to 1-2 go-to cards.

  8. My spending on the CSR has gone down dramatically since I got the AMEX Gold (dining) and Citi Premier (travel). I value UR in general, and Chase as bank, but I have thought about downgrading the Reserve to the Preferred. Chase still has the best insurance policies though (though I never put much “real” travel on Chase, it’s mainly an Uber card for me).

    I personally like having all the transferable currencies, though I have historically found the most value with MR. I think this is a pretty powerful combo:

    Amex Gold + Schwab Platinum + Freedom Unlimited + Sapphire (either one) + Citi Premier

    Gold – Dining + Grocery
    Schwab – Airface + 1.25 MR cash out option
    Freedom Unlimited – 1.5% on everything
    Sapphire – UR access
    Premier – Travel

  9. Isn’t it the case that Preferred gives a referral bonus to bloggers and Reserve does not? You ALL should admit that up front…

  10. @LK —> They do. Not anyone’s fault but yours if you don’t read it!

    “In the interest of full disclosure, OMAAT earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Please check out my advertiser policy for further details about our partners, and thanks for your support!”

  11. @LK —> P.S. And there’s NO referral if you don’t use their link…so go directly to Chase/Amex/Citi/whatever, bypass the link…and no referral bonus.

  12. You did not mention that Reserve pays for Global Entry. Of course, it only pays once every 5 years, but if you do not yet have Global Entry, then the net fee for year one is just $50. IMHO, the Chase Business Ink is the best all around card, and I use that for almost all purchases. I pick up a Sapphire and other cards every year or two, just to snag the bonuses, and then cancel it when the next annual fee comes due.

  13. Lucky says CUR points are worth 1.7 cents, and TPG pegs them at 2.0 cents. I maintain that the value of any points is determined by the user. Personally, I will not use my points unless I am getting at least 3 cents per point, and preferably 4-5 cents. If a domestic flight is either $375 or 25,000 points, then the yield is only 1.5 cents. I will pay cash for that ticket, and save my points for a more lucrative redemption. If I thought my points were worth less than 2 cents, then I would just stop playing the mileage game and get a cash back card. While you can sometimes fine a decent domestic redemption, I use my points primarily for international flights in biz class, and I routinely enjoy yields of 4-5 cents.

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