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The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a host of great perks, including its welcome offer and point value when redeemed 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®.
But it does come with a steep $550 annual fee.
Meanwhile, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which has an annual fee of $95, has a higher welcome offer, though its points are valued at a different redemption rate: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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Though both cards have a sign-up offer, and both earn Chase Ultimate Reward points that transfer to 13 hotel and airline loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio, that’s where the similarities end.
Let’s take a look at some of the differences between the two cards and the travel perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® so you can figure out if this premium travel card is a good fit for you, and if it’s worth the high fee.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers 3X on travel and dining, which is an increase over the earning power of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which earns double points for those two categories.
If you book a lot of travel and frequently eat out, those extra bonus points will add up quickly, and that will help justify the annual cost of the card. And you’ll earn 1 point for every $1 spent on other purchases.
If that’s not enough to sway you, consider the $300 annual travel credit you get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Chase has a pretty broad definition of travel, so you can easily earn that credit on anything from airfare and hotels to taxis and parking spot payments. The travel credit alone brings the annual fee cost down to $250.
The premium travel card also comes with Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you and up to two guests access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide. Think about how much you spend at the airport on food and beverages when you travel to figure in the value of this perk. And lounge access can be priceless during a long layover.
Another selling point for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the application fee credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, trusted traveler programs that will get you through airport security lines faster.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® also has no foreign transaction fees, saving you money when traveling abroad.
Points are worth more with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®
If you plan to use Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to book travel through the Chase portal, the points will be worth more if you’re holding the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
It offers a 50% booking bonus, while Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card only offers a 25% bonus. That means 50,000 points are worth $750 if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. $625 for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Cardholders.
The bottom line
If you travel — even modestly — and don’t already have a premium credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a good fit because of all of its travel credits and perks. You do need to have excellent credit to get approved, but don’t let the annual fee put you off. It can be easily offset by the benefits.
If you don’t travel much and/or already have a premium travel card like The Platinum Card® from American Express or Citi Prestige® Card, the travel perks may overlap and not be as valuable to you. And if you don’t spend much time in the airport, then the lounge access won’t add much benefit. Ditto if you already have TSA Precheck.
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 2021, 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