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For frequent travelers, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® packs in plenty of value with its high rewards rate, top-notch benefits and sign-up bonus, even with its annual fee of $550. The card debuted in 2016 to much fanfare — and Chase even ran out of the metal credit cards when supply couldn’t keep up with demand.
For years, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® was actually a surprisingly more cost-effective choice than its $95-annual fee sibling, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. That’s because the card’s generous credits and perks outweighed the fee for many.
But now, thanks to a refresh of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and an annual fee increase for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® (it jumped from $450 to $550 in 2020), the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card emerges the victor for many cardholders.
Here’s why there's a new winner.
The Sapphire cards, side by side
Here's how the cards stack up on the basics:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Points are worth 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card wins
More rewarding for most spending, with a kicker
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve® boasts a few eye-popping 10x-earning categories, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns more for popular everyday spending categories:
3 points per $1 spent on dining (including eligible delivery services and takeout).
3 points per $1 spent on select streaming services.
3 points per $1 spent on online grocery purchases (not including Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns the same 3 points per $1 spent on dining, but all streaming and grocery purchases will earn just 1 point per $1 spent.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also offers an interesting and potentially lucrative anniversary bonus each year that isn't found on the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Each account anniversary, cardmembers will earn bonus points equal to 10% of total purchases made the previous year. That means $25,000 in spending will earn an additional 2,500 bonus points.
Adding authorized users won't cost anything
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® charges a $75 annual fee for each authorized user you add to the account. This isn’t unusual for luxury cards, but it changes the math if you’re looking to share the account with one or more people.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card doesn’t charge for adding authorized users.
Lower annual fee
If you are unsure if you will use most of the benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or you know you won't, it simply isn't worth the $550 annual fee — despite its superior ongoing rewards. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card will likely be a more cost-effective option, especially because it has the same 1:1 transfer partners as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, a stronger sign-up bonus and an annual fee that is $455 cheaper than its counterpart.
Why you might want the Chase Sapphire Reserve® instead
Points are worth more when you book travel through Chase
Both cards offer rewards with plenty of versatility, allowing you to transfer points to some airlines and hotels — such as British Airways, United and Hyatt — at a 1:1 ratio. But if you book travel through Chase, you'll get 1.5 cents per point on the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, compared with 1.25 cents per point on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
$300 annual travel credit
Chase automatically applies this credit to any travel purchases you make with your card — including airlines, hotels, timeshares, campground fees and ferries, among other categories — effectively canceling out a large portion of its annual fee.
Once you factor in the $300 easy-to-use credit, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has an effective annual fee of $250. If you redeem your points often at the heightened 1.5 cents per point value and use the other perks like lounges regularly, these benefits could outweigh the remaining fee.
Lounge access and other top-tier benefits
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you get Priority Pass Select access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide. That means you can relax in a comfy armchair before your flight and take advantage of free snacks and drinks.
The card also offers up to a $100 reimbursement every four years for the application fee for NEXUS, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, which can let you sail through customs or security lines on your next trip.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card lacks these travel perks.
Additionally, through March 2025, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is offering the ability to earn 10 points per dollar spent on Lyft on the card and one complimentary year of Lyft Pink, which gets you up to a 15% discount on Lyft rides, among other perks.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is also offering Lyft perks for a limited time, but they're more modest.
Which card should you get?
With its generous sign-up bonus, solid rewards for many everyday spending categories, anniversary bonus rebate, $50 annual hotel credit and double-digit annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card packs a powerful punch, even for frequent travelers.
That said, for those who spend and redeem frequently through Chase and use benefits like lounge access frequently, the long-term winner could be the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.