Chase Sapphire Reserve Review: A First-Class Premium Travel Card

The card earns bonus points for travel and dining-related spending, which can be redeemed for more value through Chase. It piles on the perks, too, but they come at a price.
Sep 22, 2022

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
The bottom line:

With a big sign-up bonus, elevated rewards on travel and dining, hundreds of dollars in annual credits and other perks, this card is a good choice for frequent travelers.

Jump to: Full Review
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
Annual fee
$550
Regular APR
19.24%-26.24% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A
Rec. credit score
720-850 (Excellent)
Apply now

on Chase's website

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • High rewards rate

  • Luxury perks

  • Premium travel protections

  • Transfer partners

  • Primary rental car coverage

Cons

  • High annual fee

  • Requires excellent credit

Alternate Pick: Simpler rewards, lower annual fee
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on anything

No appetite for actively managing your credit card travel rewards? This card gives you a flat 2 miles per dollar spent on most purchases. Redeem miles to "erase" any travel purchase at a penny per mile. There's a great sign-up bonus, and the annual fee is $95.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$550

Annual fee

$95

Annual fee

$250

Regular APR

19.24%-26.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

18.24%-25.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

18.99%-25.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Get more smart money moves — straight to your inboxBecome a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.

Full Review

For avid travelers, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a good deal — even with its $550 annual fee.

Thanks to features such as an annual $300 travel credit, as well as bonus rewards that can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to several loyalty programs, it stands out as one of the best premium travel cards available.

However, to earn the card’s highest rewards rate, you’ll have to make purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, which can be limiting. And while the card offers excellent overall value for those who spend heavily on travel and dining, if you can't take advantage of its more niche benefits, a different travel card could be a better fit.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Basics

Card type: Travel.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Annual fee: $550.

Ongoing rewards:

  • 10 points per dollar spent on Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 10 points per dollar spent on hotel stays and car rentals purchased through Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 5 points per dollar spent on air travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining not booked with Chase.

  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

  • Through March 2025: 10 points per $1 spent on Lyft (7 points per dollar spent on Lyft plus 3 points per dollar spent on travel).

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Other benefits:

  • Up to $300 a year in statement credit automatically applied to travel purchases.

  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership.

  • Multiple hotel and airline transfer partners.

  • Primary rental car coverage of up to $75,000 for theft and collision damage.

  • TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS credit, worth up to $100.

  • “Reserved by Sapphire” restaurant-booking feature, which grants cardholders access to reservations at popular restaurants across the country.

  • Trip delay reimbursement.

  • Trip cancellation or interruption insurance.

How much is a point worth?

Chase Ultimate Rewards® points earned on this card are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel booked through Chase. Cardholders can also get more value per point by transferring them to Chase's airline and hotel partners.

Otherwise, points are worth less when redeemed for cash back, gift cards and merchandise.

Benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Big sign-up bonus

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® features the following generous sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. This is enough in many cases to cover an international round-trip flight.

To find out whether you pre-qualify for this card, check out NerdWallet’s pre-qualification tool.

Bonus rewards

Holders of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® can earn the following:

  • 10 points per dollar spent on Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 10 points per dollar spent on hotel stays and car rentals purchased through Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 5 points per dollar spent on air travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining not booked with Chase.

  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Travel and dining-related purchases made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal will get you the highest rewards rates, which are lucrative for those who spend heavily in those categories.

And even for travel and dining purchases not made through the issuer, cardholders will still earn bonus rewards.

Plus, if you redeem those points through Chase for travel, they are worth an elevated 1.5 cents, which gives the card an impressive 4.5% effective rewards rate in those popular categories. That's a boon for folks who spend plenty in these areas — in the U.S. and worldwide as well.

Additionally, through March 2025, you can earn a total of 10 points per $1 spent on Lyft (7 points per dollar on Lyft plus 3 points per dollar on travel). That’s one of the highest earn rates you’ll find for ridesharing purchases on any credit card.

Travel statement credit of up to $300

While many premium cards offer airline fee credits for baggage fees and other select purchases, the travel credit of up to $300 on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® covers a much broader range of travel purchases, including taxi rides, campground fees and train fares.

Because this credit is applied automatically, taking advantage of it is effortless. Use this card to pay for a $20 Uber ride and — poof! — that travel credit is applied to your credit card statement right away. 

Airport lounge access and Global Entry/TSA PreCheck/NEXUS reimbursement

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, your next layover could be spent in an exclusive lounge with a complimentary cocktail in hand. The card comes with Priority Pass Select membership, with access to over 1,000 airport lounges internationally and meal credits at select airport restaurants and bars.

With the card's TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or NEXUS reimbursement, you can also speed through security and get to those swanky lounges a little sooner. The card offers reimbursement for the application fee for TSA PreCheck ($85) or Global Entry ($100) or NEXUS ($50) once every four years.

Transfer partners

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can move points to several other loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio. Transferring points and redeeming them strategically can be incredibly lucrative. NerdWallet values the points earned on this card at more than 1.5 cents per point when transferred to some partners.

Here are Chase’s transfer partners:

Airlines

  • Aer Lingus (1:1 ratio).

  • Air Canada (1:1 ratio).

  • Air France-KLM (1:1 ratio).

  • British Airways (1:1 ratio).

  • Emirates (1:1 ratio).

  • Iberia (1:1 ratio).

  • JetBlue (1:1 ratio).

  • Singapore (1:1 ratio).

  • Southwest (1:1 ratio).

  • United (1:1 ratio).

  • Virgin Atlantic (1:1 ratio).

Hotels

  • Hyatt (1:1 ratio).

  • InterContinental Hotels Group (1:1 ratio).

  • Marriott (1:1 ratio).

Complementary cards

Like a handful of other Chase cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns Ultimate Rewards® points. That means if you already have another card in the Ultimate Rewards® family, you can generally transfer points to your Chase Sapphire Reserve®, potentially allowing you to get more value on the points earned.

Say you already have the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which earns a minimum of 1.5% cash back on purchases, but lacks 1:1 transfer partners and bonuses when redeeming for travel through Chase. When you log on to your Chase account, you have the option of moving the rewards earned on that card to your Chase Sapphire Reserve®, where you can then transfer them to partners or book travel for 1.5 cents per point. That could effectively boost your rewards rate on the Chase Freedom Unlimited® to 2.25% or more.

Sapphire Reserve vs. Sapphire Preferred

If you're looking at the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you might also have your eye on its lower-cost sibling, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. That card has an annual fee of $95, but it lacks the same rich benefits.

Which card is the better deal for you depends on your spending. For frequent travelers, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers far more long-term value. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a better choice for those who don’t plan on using so many perks but still want a large sign-up bonus and elevated point values.

For a more thorough breakdown of the differences, read NerdWallet's full comparison of these two cards. Here's how they stack up at a glance:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Complete card details and application link:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

Complete card details and application link:

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

Annual fee

$95.

$550.

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 $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.

Rewards

  • 5 points per $1 spent on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 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).

  • 2 points per $1 spent on travel not purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.

  • Through March 2025: 5 points per $1 spent on Lyft.

Points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 10 points per $1 spent on Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 10 points per $1 spent on hotel stays and car rentals purchased through Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 5 points per $1 spent on air travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 3 points per $1 spent on travel and dining not booked with Chase.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.

  • Through March 2025: 10 points per $1 spent on Lyft.

Points are worth 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Other benefits

  • A $50 annual credit on hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Each account anniversary, cardmembers will earn bonus points equal to 10% of total purchases made the previous year.

  • 1:1 transfer partners, including United, Southwest, JetBlue, Marriott and Hyatt.

  • $300 annual credit, automatically applied to travel spending.

  • 1:1 transfer partners (same as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card).

  • Access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide through Priority Pass Select.

  • Up to $100 reimbursement every four years for NEXUS, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees charged to your card.

  • Access to “Reserved by Sapphire” restaurant-booking feature.

Why you might want a different card

Restricting rewards

Although the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers competitive earn rates for dining and travel spending, you’ll be able to get the highest rewards rate only if you make purchases through the Chase portal. This can significantly limit your options.

For example, restaurants available to you through the Chase Dining portal will depend on your location. This means that cardholders based in larger cities like New York, for instance, will have more options available to them than those based in smaller areas.

Similarly, to earn the card's 10x and 5x rate for travel-related spending, you’ll have to book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal, which can prove limiting compared with buying flights or renting cars directly, for example.

Moreover, if you're not an avid spender in either of the card’s bonus categories, travel and dining, you won’t get much use out of the card. Another cash-back credit card that offers more diverse and flexible rewards options would be a better fit.

Limited lounge choice

If your go-to airport doesn’t have a Priority Pass lounge, you'll be missing out on a key benefit of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. A better option might be The Platinum Card® from American Express.

With an annual fee more or less comparable to that on the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, this card comes with much broader airport lounge coverage, along with plenty of other top-tier benefits. In addition to giving cardholders Priority Pass Select coverage (once you enroll), the card also offers access to several other lounge networks, including AmEx's own Centurion lounges and Delta Sky Clubs (for folks flying with Delta on the same day). Keep in mind, however, that the Priority Pass Select coverage on this card no longer includes credits to select airport restaurants, unlike the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. The card also offers several other premium benefits and statement credits, including up to $200 in Uber Cash, which can be used toward free Uber rides in the U.S. (up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December). Plus, it comes with a big welcome offer.

High annual fee

If the $550 fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is too rich for your blood — even with all of its big perks — look to the less-expensive Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card instead.

As mentioned earlier, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has an annual fee of $95. It has the same 1:1 transfer partners as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and a similarly robust 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 $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Although it lacks the most attention-grabbing perks, such as the $300 travel credit, it's ideal for folks looking for a versatile travel card with a lower price. Check out NerdWallet's best credit card deals to see how these cards stack up.

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve® right for you?

Spending $550 a year on a credit card is a big deal — and probably isn’t worth it in this case if you’re not a frequent traveler. But if you fly often and can take advantage of the card's many perks, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is worth every penny.

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

on Chase's website

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.
Frequently asked questions

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® 10 earns points per dollar spent on Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards®, 10 points per dollar spent on hotel stays and car rentals purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 5 points per dollar spent on air travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®; 3 points per dollar on dining and travel not booked through Chase and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. But rewards alone aren't enough to justify the hefty $550 annual fee. The card comes with an array of travel perks that can significantly reduce the cost of carrying it.

For its higher fee ($550, versus $95 for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card), the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns richer bonus rewards, provides more perks and protections (travel credits, airport lounge access and more) and gives you a higher point value when you redeem for travel (1.5 cents apiece versus 1.25 cents). Both cards offer the option of transferring points to about a dozen airline and hotel loyalty programs.

If you’ll use the travel perks — like the $300 annual travel credit and lounge access — and maximize the way you earn and redeem points, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® can be a good value. If you don’t travel much, you're better off with a different card.

You’ll need excellent credit to qualify for this card. That generally means a score of 720 or better, but credit scores alone do not guarantee approval. Your income and other factors will also be considered.

When you pay for your rental car with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you’ll get primary collision damage and theft protection up to $75,000. The card also offers trip delay/cancellation insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and emergency medical evacuation.

You can transfer Ultimate Rewards® points earned on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to 13 travel partners, including United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Marriott, Hyatt and IHG.

Chase issues some of the better rewards credit cards on the market, including outstanding options in travel, cash-back and small-business cards. See the best Chase cards here.