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Fans of the frequently-lauded Chase Sapphire Reserve® card know that being a cardmember comes with a host of perks and benefits: bonus miles, travel insurance, extreme point earning potential and, maybe most tempting of all, an annual travel credit.
But, if you're a new cardholder (or are considering becoming one), you likely want to know what that credit can actually be used for — and what you have to do to get it.
Can the Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit be used on any travel purchase? We’ll break it down for you so you don’t miss out on one of the card’s most useful offers.
Why sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®?
First of all, there are plenty of reasons to add this travel-friendly credit card to your wallet. Some of the most popular perks include:
A generous sign-up bonus: 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®.
There is a high earning potential when making purchases and bookings through the Ultimate Rewards® portal, including 10x points on Chase Dining and, after spending $300 in travel purchases, 10x points on hotels and 5x points on air travel.
Chase points on everyday purchases, including 3x points at restaurants and 1x point on everything else.
Trip cancellation and delay protection.
A statement credit of up to $100 every four years to cover the costs of a TSA PreCheck, NEXUS or Global Entry application.
Plus plenty of other underrated reasons.
Of course, one of the card's highlights is the ability to score up to $300 in statement credits for travel purchases every year your account is open.
This is an especially beneficial feature considering the card comes with a hefty $550 annual fee, plus $75 for each authorized user. When you take advantage of the travel credit, the annual fee effectively gets knocked down to a much more manageable price.
» Learn more: The best travel credit card welcome bonuses right now
How does the Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit work?
You don't have to do a thing to receive your statement credit — it will post to your account on the same day a qualifying travel purchase posts. Then, it will appear on your billing statement within one to two billing cycles.
Yup, that's it. No forms to fill out or hoops to jump through.
You don't even have to use the credit all at once. It can cover a large, one-time purchase that costs at least $300 or a bunch of smaller purchases that add up to $300, as long as everything falls under Chase's broad definition of "travel" (more on this in the next section).
» Learn more: How to use statement credits without overspending
Which purchase triggers the travel credit?
The important thing to know, then, when considering your Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit is what exactly qualifies as a travel purchase.
Chase defines a wide range of services and products as "travel," so you shouldn't have any trouble using the credit, even if you're not planning a lot of travel in the next year. Here are the qualified categories:
Hotels and motels.
Car rental agencies.
Discount travel sites.
Passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways.
Parking lots and garages.
But it's important to note that just because a merchant or business provides travel-related products or services doesn't mean they automatically qualify as a travel purchase. For example, excluded from Chase's definition of a travel purchase are:
Real estate agents.
Educational merchants arranging travel.
In-flight goods and services.
On-board cruise line goods and services.
Sightseeing activities and excursions.
RV and boat rentals.
Merchants within hotels and airports.
Merchants that rent vehicles to haul.
It all depends on merchant codes and whether they fit into Chase's rewards categories. So if you're hoping to use your travel credit for any given travel purchase, it's better to check Chase's list beforehand.
When do you get the travel credit?
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit is an annual benefit, which means you can expect a new credit every year after your account anniversary.
More specifically, you'll have from your account open date until the first statement date after your account anniversary to use your first annual $300 travel credit. Then it will continue to be renewed every 12 monthly billing cycles. If you're not sure when you will be eligible for your next annual travel credit, you can call the number on the back of your card to find out so you can make sure to take advantage of the credit every year. It'll help make that high annual fee worth it.
Final thoughts on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has always been a highly regarded travel credit card, and with perks like an annual credit for travel purchases, the steep annual fee can be worth it. As long as you know what qualifies as a travel purchase, it’s a practically automatic benefit that you can enjoy without putting in a drop of effort.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card