Editorial Review

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

Earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining, then redeem points for travel or transfer them to partner airlines and hotels. This card piles on the perks, too. But it comes at a price.

Claire TsosieApril 7, 2020

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This page includes information about one or more products not currently available on NerdWallet:

  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express

As a result, offers described on this page may be out of date. See our NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards page for updated offers.

Our Take

4.7

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: With a big sign-up bonus, triple points on travel and dining, hundreds of dollars in annual credits and other perks, this card is a good choice for frequent travelers.

Best Bonus Rewards Travel Credit Card

Chase Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$550

Regular APR

16.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • A large bonus

  • High rewards rate

  • High value benefits

  • Cool factor - metal card

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • High annual fee

  • Needs excellent credit

Alternate Pick: Simpler rewards, lower annual fee

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 every purchase. 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

Full Review

Nerd tip: The annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® increased to $550 as of Jan. 12, 2020. At that time, the card also added new features. See our story for more information on these changes.

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

Thanks to features such as an annual (and broad) $300 travel credit, as well as rich 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. For a limited time, it's also offering perks for the meal delivery platform DoorDash and the rideshare platform Lyft, which might sweeten the deal if you use those services.

Overall, the card offers excellent value for those who spend heavily on travel and dining and can make use of the card's transfer partners. But if you can't take advantage of the card's more niche benefits, a different travel card could be a better fit.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Basics

Card type: Travel.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50K 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® .

Annual fee: $550; $75 for each authorized user.

Ongoing rewards:

  • 10 points per dollar spent on Lyft through March 2022 (7 points per dollar spent on Lyft plus 3 points per dollar spent on travel).

  • 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining. (Travel purchases that qualify for the $300 travel credit won’t earn points.)

  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

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 or Global Entry credit, worth up to $100.

  • $60 credit for DoorDash in 2020 and 2021.

  • Complimentary DashPass subscription for at least one year. (Must activate by Dec. 31, 2021.)

  • Complimentary Lyft Pink membership for one year when you or an authorized user activates the benefit by March 31, 2022.

  • 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. But you can often get more value per point by transferring them to Chase's airline and hotel partners, then taking advantage of good redemption deals. Here are the transfer partners:

Airlines

  • Aer Lingus.

  • Air France/KLM.

  • British Airways.

  • Emirates.

  • Iberia.

  • JetBlue.

  • Singapore.

  • Southwest.

  • United.

  • Virgin Atlantic.

Hotels

  • Hyatt.

  • InterContinental Hotels Group.

  • Marriott.

It’s also possible to redeem for cash back at a penny per point. Other options include gift cards and other products and services, although point values may vary.

To find out whether the card is worth the $550 annual fee for you based on your spending and travel habits, use the calculator below.

Benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Big sign-up bonus

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® starts off with a strong sign-up bonus: Earn 50K 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®  — 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.

High rewards for dining and travel

This card earns 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases. With points worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed through Chase for travel, that 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. Also, you get the 3 points per dollar on these purchases worldwide — not just in the U.S.

Through March 2022, you can also earn 10 points per dollar spent on Lyft — 7 points per dollar spent on Lyft plus 3 points per dollar spent on travel. That’s the highest earn rate 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 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 or Global Entry 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) once every four years.

Transfer partners

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can move points to several other loyalty programs — listed above — at a 1:1 ratio. Transferring points and redeeming them strategically can be incredibly lucrative. For example, say you turn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points into 50,000 United miles, then redeem those miles for a flight that would have otherwise cost $2,000. Taxes and fees aside, you would be getting 4 cents per point, an outstanding value. 

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 an ongoing 1.5% cash back on all 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:

Why you might want a different card

Some benefits are relatively niche

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers major DoorDash and Lyft perks. You'll get a $60 DoorDash credit for 2020 and 2021 and a complimentary DashPass membership for at least one year upon activation, which means you won't have to pay delivery fees on DoorDash deliveries over $12 (although service fees and other fees apply). The card also gets you an impressive 10 points per dollar spent on Lyft through March 2022 (7 points per dollar spent at Lyft plus 3 points per dollar spent on travel) and one year of Lyft Pink membership upon activation, which gets you up to 15% off car rides, relaxed cancellations, priority airport pickups, and up to three 30-minute bike and scooter rides per month.

Of course, to get any real value from these perks, you have to actually use these services. And if you live in a more rural area where these services aren't available, that might be impossible.

For greater versatility, consider the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card instead. For an annual fee of $95, it comes with up to $100 in airline incidental credits, which can be used to cover a range of expenses, such as baggage fees, select lounge fees or seat upgrades, for example. It earns 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining purchases and an unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on all other purchases. Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, it offers a reimbursement of up to $100 for a Global Entry or TSA Precheck application. It also comes with a robust sign-up bonus: Receive 50,000 bonus points – a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

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 of $550, it comes with much broader airport lounge coverage, along with plenty of other top-flight benefits. In addition to giving cardholders Priority Pass Select coverage, 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: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

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 tag.

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 The Platinum Card® from American Express, please visit this page.

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