The Chase Sapphire Reserve has long been considered gold standard credit card in the points and miles world, and for good reason. With great perks like lounge access and bigtime travel credits, it’s no wonder the card is so popular.
But with a $550 upfront annual fee after a recent increase, it’s not for everyone. And while Chase’s other Sapphire card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, may be old news by now, it’s still a great option for frequent flyers – especially if you can’t stomach the larger annual fee.
Here are four reasons why you might want to go for the Chase Sapphire Preferred instead of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Bigger Welcome Bonus Offer
If you’re applying for a credit card, chances are you want a big stash of miles. So let’s compare what you get from the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Reserve:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in three months
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Card: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in three months
You get more points while paying less for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Depending on how you use those points, you’re either coming out even or way ahead. When you redeem them directly through Chase for travel, those 60,000 points are worth $750 – the exact same amount as the 50,000-point bonus from the Reserve card, thanks to its bonus multiplier when redeeming travel.
But if you’re transferring these points to partner airlines or hotels, you’re always coming out ahead with the Preferred card. That’s 10,000 extra United MileagePlus miles. Or 10,000 additional Singapore KrisFlyer miles. Or another 10,000 Hyatt points.
You don’t need to be a math whiz to work out which may be the smarter choice in your situation.
Of course, there’s more to consider than just the annual fee. The Reserve card comes with plenty of travel perks you won’t get with the Preferred card, and that can easily outweigh a big annual fee. But if your main motivation is earning points and you don’t travel enough to justify the extra benefits (or the cost that comes with them), the Chase Sapphire Preferred is clearly the better option.
And who’s to say you have to pick between more points and more benefits? Chase won’t let you earn the sign-up bonus on the Reserve card if you’ve earned the bonus from the Preferred card within the last 48 months, and vice versa. But that doesn’t mean you can’t maximize both cards.
You could start by opening the Chase Sapphire Preferred, netting you an extra 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards. When year two rolls around, you could upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, keeping those additional points – getting all the extra perks and the ability to redeem your points for some extra value.
Still torn? Read our guide comparing the Preferred and Reserve cards.
Cheaper in Year One & Thereafter
No one wants to spend a bunch of their money on annual fees. And while we think you should do the math and rather than reject credit card annual fees outright, there’s no doubt the allure of saving money on annual fees is strong.
And that’s strong in this case. You’ll pay $455 more each year to hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Of course, you can easily offset much of the $550 fee on the Sapphire Reserve with the $300 travel credit it provides. The card automatically reimburses you for up to $300 each year in travel expenses, from flights to hotels to Uber rides and even parking fees. That instantly makes the annual fee more palatable – though perhaps not enough for everyone to justify paying that high price.
Still, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is far cheaper, and it brings exactly what the average traveler is looking for.
The annual fee is just $95 a year. And while that’s a bummer considering the annual fee used to be waived in the first year, it comes with an outstanding 60,000-point bonus. Compared to the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $550 fee every year, it’s a steal.
The 60,000 points welcome bonus you will get after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership is worth at least $750 towards travel – if not much, much more. Even with paying the $95 annual fee, you will still come out at least $655 ahead.
Transfer Partner Equality
There’s no denying that the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with some worthwhile benefits. And one of the biggest benefits is the additional value you get per point when booking directly through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
However, the best way to squeeze a ton of value out of your Chase points is by transferring them to 10 airline or three hotel partners. And neither card has the edge here.
|Program||Type||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Singapore Air||Airline||1:1||12-24 hours|
|World of Hyatt||Hotel||1:1||Instant|
|Marriott Rewards||Hotel||1:1||2 days|
No matter if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve, your points transfer at the same 1:1 ratio to every partner. When you consider the additional upfront cost of the Reserve card, the additional value of the far cheaper Chase Sapphire Preferred card is undeniable.
The ability to transfer points is what makes Chase Ultimate Rewards so flexible and valuable. It’s one of the keys to unlocking some seriously valuable redemptions like business and first-class redemptions. Study up on how to transfer Chase points with our guide.
There is no denying that both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards offer some of the best travel insurance of any credit cards out there. And with Citi removing travel insurance on most of their cards, both have become even more valuable.
But the differences between the coverage each of these cards offer is subtle. And in our opinion, the coverage offered by the Sapphire Preferred should suit the majority of travelers.
When it comes to rental car coverage, the only difference in the rental car coverage offered by the two cards is the amount in which each will cover. The Sapphire Preferred will cover up to the actual cash value of the rental car for rental periods that do not exceed 31 consecutive days. The Sapphire Reserve will cover up to $75,000 for rental periods that do not exceed 31 consecutive days.
That means if there is damage above and beyond the cost of the rental car, the Sapphire Reserve will provide a bit more coverage, assuming the rental car is not valued above $75,000. However, what is offered by the Preferred card should cover the vast majority of rental insurance situations.
When it comes to baggage delays and/or lost luggage, both cards will provide the same amount of coverage. If you check your bags and they’re delayed more than six hours, both will reimburse you up to $100 per day for up to five days. This coverage is meant to provide reimbursement for essential items like toiletries, clothing, and cell phone charging cables, for example.
Both cards will also reimburse you for expenses incurred due to a delayed or canceled flight, train, bus, or other means of travel. And that reimbursement can be used for costs like meals, lodging, toiletries, etc. incurred because of the delay, and the delay must take place away from the cardholder’s primary city of residence.
The Sapphire Reserve card will reimburse you for any delay lasting six hours or more, while the Sapphire Preferred will reimburse you for delays lasting 12 hours or more. Cardholders will be covered along with their spouse or domestic partner and any dependent children under the age of 22 for up to $500 for each purchased ticket. The kicker here is that the trip must have been at least partially paid for with your Chase Sapphire card (or with Chase Ultimate Rewards points from the card).
So while you will get coverage for both cards, the Sapphire Preferred only kicks in after 12 hours. A potentially small price to pay considering the annual fee difference.
Finally, both cards will provide coverage for accidental death or dismemberment, or a combined loss of speech, sight or hearing, experienced on a covered trip. Benefits are available when some portion of a covered trip has been purchased with either card or with Ultimate Rewards points earned on either card.
The difference comes in the amount of coverage each card provides. The Chase Sapphire Preferred will provide a benefit amount for the loss of life up to $500,000 while the Sapphire Reserve card will provide benefit for loss of life up to $1,000,000. And while you always hope you never need Travel Accident coverage it’s invaluable when you need it. And a coverage amount of $500,000 is second to none on a card with an annual fee of only $95.
It is worth noting that the Sapphire Reserve card will provide coverage for a medical evacuation while the Sapphire Preferred will not. If you or a member of your immediate family are injured or become sick during a trip far from home that results in an emergency evacuation, you can be covered for medical services and transportation up to $100,000.
So at the end of the day, both cards offer fantastic coverage. But the coverage offered by the lower annual fee Sapphire Preferred should be more than adequate for the vast majority of travelers.
Chase’s Sapphire cards are some of the best out there for travelers. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is our #1 travel rewards card, after all. However, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card shouldn’t be overlooked.
It’s our #1 starter card because the combination of a big points bonus, affordability, and earning make it a good fit in any traveler’s wallet.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.