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Chase recently announced a $100 annual fee increase for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, in conjunction with adding a $120 DoorDash credit. While the $120 DoorDash credit and Lyft Pink membership are meant to alleviate this fee increase, a lot of people who don’t use those services regularly are wondering whether the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is right for them.
If this describes you, here are some alternatives you may want to consider:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
For a long time, people opted for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® over the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card because of the travel perks and higher bonus on travel and dining. A main justification for getting the Chase Sapphire Reserve® was the $300 travel credit, which brought the effective annual fee difference between the two cards to $55.
With Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders getting 0.25 cents more value per point on Chase Ultimate Rewards® Travel redemptions, the difference in annual fees became even more negligible.
However, now that both cards earn the same bonus on travel and dining and not everyone has a use for the added credits, the differences between these two cards have been amplified further.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great alternative to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® because it has a much more reasonable $95 annual fee but still earns generous rewards: 3x points on dining and 2x points on travel.
Plus, the welcome bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is actually higher than the Chase Sapphire Reserve®: 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®.
Keep in mind that if you’ve received a welcome bonus for any Sapphire card in the last 48 months, you will not receive one for this card. Similarly, under the 5/24 rule, you won’t be eligible for a Chase card if you’ve applied for five or more credit cards, from any bank, over the last 24 months.
If the welcome bonus isn’t a concern and you simply want to product change from the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you don’t need to worry about these rules. You would lose out on the Priority Pass lounge membership and Global Entry/TSA Precheck fee credits, but you’ll also save on the card’s annual fee.
American Express® Green Card
The American Express® Green Card offers several of the same benefits as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, but with a significantly lower annual fee of $150. Terms apply.
Both cards earn 3X points on travel and restaurants worldwide. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a $100 TSA Precheck or Global Entry fee credit every four years, while the American Express® Green Card comes with a $100 Clear fee credit every year. Terms apply.
Cardholders of the American Express® Green Card also receive a $100 LoungeBuddy credit to cover visits to airport lounges worldwide. As an added bonus, the American Express® Green Card also comes with ShopRunner membership, which is valued at $79. Terms apply.
In total, the American Express® Green Card not only has similar benefits as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® at a lower annual fee, but the perks are also more practical. Some would argue that shipping fee savings could be more significant than credits toward food deliveries, depending on their spending patterns.
While the TSA Precheck and Global Entry benefits are tough to argue against, many participants in these programs have noticed longer lines because of how prevalent these credits have become.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express is probably the closest competitor to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. You may be wondering why anyone would bother trading in a Chase Sapphire Reserve® for this card's much higher annual fee. That’s because The Platinum Card® from American Express offers a few more bells and whistles that help justify the annual fee. Terms apply.
Cardholders of the The Platinum Card® from American Express get access to money-saving programs like AmEx Offers and Fine Hotels & Resorts. FHR bookings include elite-type benefits like free breakfast, space-available room upgrades, resort credits and complimentary nights. Terms apply.
The Platinum Card® from American Express’s $200 annual Uber fee credit might also be more practical than Chase Sapphire Reserve®’s DoorDash credit. Terms apply. The fact that the Uber credits are issued in monthly installments may not be appealing to everyone, but it works out well for frequent Uber users.
The automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold and Hilton Honors Gold elite status upgrades are also an advantage that the Chase Sapphire Reserve® does not offer. Terms apply.
Another notable difference? The Chase Sapphire Reserve® charges $75 for each authorized user. The Platinum Card® from American Express allows you to issue an American Express® Gold Card to authorized users free of charge. Terms apply. While that may be a different card, this is a nice feature if you’re just trying to earn points from the spending other people do without paying for the privilege.
» Learn more: American Express Platinum review: Luxury isn’t cheap
The bottom line
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve® annual fee increase isn’t ideal, the card can still be worth it for those who max out the $120 worth of DoorDash credits and will utilize the Lyft Pink membership.
For everyone else, there are plenty of alternatives to choose from. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is for those who want to continue earning Ultimate Rewards® points with a lower annual fee. The Platinum Card® from American Express is a good alternative for those who don’t mind a high annual fee card that’s packed with premium benefits, similar to those of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
However, the American Express® Green Card offers overall the best value as an alternative to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Its earning structure is similar, it offers practical travel benefits, and its annual fee is just $150. With the Membership Rewards program’s vast transfer partnerships, you’ll find plenty of ways to put your points to good use.
All information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The American Express® Green Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.
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