Editorial Review

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

Earn 3X points 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 TsosieNovember 25, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take

4.4

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, it's worth the hefty annual fee.

Chase Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$450

Regular APR

18.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Annual Fee
$450
Annual Fee
$450
Intro APR
N/A

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: Simple rewards

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 $0 for the first year, then $95.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$450

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$550

Regular APR

18.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

Regular APR

17.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Regular APR

N/A

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

For avid travelers, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a flat-out bargain — even with its $450 annual fee.

That's because this premium travel card offers incredibly high long-term value with a potpourri of goodies, including an annual travel credit worth up to $300 and airport lounge access. In a crowded field of luxury cards, easy-to-use perks like these make it stand out as one of the most practical, valuable choices for folks who travel often.

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: $450; $75 for each authorized user.

Ongoing rewards:

  • 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.

  • Hotel and airline transfer partners.

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

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

  • Air France/KLM.

  • Aer Lingus.

  • 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, gift cards and other products and services, although those options provide less value per point.

To find out whether the card is worth the $450 annual fee for you based on your spending and travel habits, use the calculator below.

Benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a premium credit card, but its benefits are more about practicality than superficial pizazz.

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.

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:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

ANNUAL FEE: $95.

ANNUAL FEE: $450.

SIGN-UP OFFER: 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®.

SIGN-UP OFFER: 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® .

REWARDS: • 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining. • 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.

REWARDS: • 3 points per $1 spent on travel and dining. • 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.

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

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

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

OTHER BENEFITS: • $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 Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fees charged to your card.

Why you might want a different card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers outstanding value — for the right kind of traveler. Depending on your needs and your style, some of the card's features might be deal breakers.

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, this card isn't cheap. But 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®.

High annual fee

If the $450 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.

complicated rewards

With its tiered rewards and many travel-related benefits, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a relatively complicated card.

If you're craving simplicity, try the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer instead. Although it’s not a premium card, it offers a top-notch 2% cash-back rewards rate on all purchases. You'll get 1% back on every dollar spent, and another 1% back on every dollar paid off. The annual fee is $0.

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve® right for you?

Spending $450 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, 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.