Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Sapphire Preferred: Which is Right for You?

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I am often asked via our Thrifty Traveler Premium credit card consulting service about the Chase Sapphire credit cards. Because Chase allows you to have either the Sapphire Reserve or the Sapphire Preferred card (and not both), making sure to pick the one that is right for you is critical.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are some of the best around. Having one of the Chase Sapphire cards is essentially a requirement for success with points & miles. In this post, I will break down the benefits provided by each card and help you decide which is right for you.


 Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Sapphire Reserve
Sign Up Bonus: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
Annual Fee: $95 (not waived for the first year of card membership)$450 (not waived for the first year of card membership)
Authorized User Fees:None$75 for each additional cardholder. Additional Users will receive full priority pass membership and be able to access lounges without the primary cardholder.
Value of Points When Redeemed Through Chase Portal:1.25 cents per point1.5 cents per point
Annual Travel Credit:$0$300
Points Earned On Travel & Dining Expenses:2x per dollar spent3x per dollar spent
$100 TSA Pre✓ or Global Entry Reimbursement:NoneGiven once every 4 years. Only Available for the primary cardholder.
Priority Pass Select Lounge Membership:NoneYes. Both Primary cardholder and authorized users can bring up to 2 guests in with them.
Primary Car Rental Coverage:YesYes
Foreign Transaction Fees:NoneNone
Roadside Assistance:Available for a charge of $59.95Free battery charging, 2 gallons of fuel delivery, towing and lockout assistance
Trip Delay Reimbursement:$500 per person for delays lasting 12 hours or more. $500 per person for delays lasting 6 hours or more
Travel Accident Insurance:$500,000 per person$1,000,000 per person
Emergency Medical and Dental Benefit:None$2,500 for medical expenses on trips between 5-60 days at least 100 miles from your home
Lost Luggage Insurance :$3,000 per person per trip$3,000 per person per trip


Our Analysis

While the upfront cost of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is higher with a $450 annual fee, the effective annual fee is only $150 after factoring in the annual travel credit. The $300 travel credit can be used for any travel charge (airfare, hotels, Airbnb, parking garages, cruises, etc.) and is refunded automatically after making each purchase.

If you are able to take advantage of the annual travel credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the card is costing you $55 more annually than the Chase Sapphire Preferred card ($450 annual fee less $300 travel credit is $150 for the Sapphire Reserve annual fee less the $95 annual fee on the Sapphire Preferred).

In my opinion, the ability to earn 3x points on dining and travel with the Sapphire Reserve (instead of 2x with Sapphire Preferred) and redeeming at 1.5 cents per point through the Chase portal (instead of 1.25 cents per point with Sapphire Preferred) is worth far more than $55 annually. Not to mention all of the additional benefits the Sapphire Reserve includes (lounge access, Global Entry, roadside assistance, etc.).

If the $300 travel credit seems like a stretch, The Chase Sapphire Preferred should be your choice. With an annual fee of $95, it is the best travel rewards credit card for beginners.


Click Here to learn more about the Sapphire Preferred Card. 




Click Here to learn more about the Sapphire Reserve Card. 



Bottom Line

The $450 upfront annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is not for everybody. If you can’t stomach this fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is still an excellent option.


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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

11 Responses

  1. Jen says:

    Interesting comment about not being able to have both the Reserved and Preferred cards, because I do. Not by intent, but only because I never got around to downgrading the Preferred after the Reserve came out. Any benefit to keeping both? Seems like pairing the Reserve with the Freedom and its 5% bonus categories would provide more value.

    • Nick Serati says:

      This was a rule that was recently implemented by Chase (within the last year). If you already had both cards, they didn’t make you close one or convert it to a different card product. New applicants will not be able to be approved for both. There really isn’t a benefit to keeping both. As you mentioned, you would be better off product converting the Sapphire Preferred to the Chase Freedom.

  2. Dan Vermeys says:

    I have a sfp 5 yrs old with a 27.000 limit and a sfr 2yrs old with 10,000 limit . I am retired and travel once a year for a month on points. Witch one do I keep?

    • Nick Serati says:

      If you are using the $300 travel credit from the Reserve I would say hang onto that and do a product conversion for your preferred card to something else. If you aren’t using the credit, I would product convert the Reserve and keep the Preferred.

      • Elliot says:

        If you should cancel one card, be sure to transfer your credit to the other card first. Otherwise your credit score will get dinged for the reduction in total available credit.

  3. Elliot says:

    Priority Pass Select Lounge Membership – Note that there will soon be a change to the number of guests that a member with the Sapphire Reserve card will be allowed to take with them (if it hasn’t already happened). The new limit will be two guests.

  4. magice says:

    It NEVER makes sense to choose Chase Sapphire Preferred over Reserve.

    Here is some math :-). To break even, you need to spend:
    Reserve: ($450-$300) * 100 / 1.5 / 3 = $3445/year in travel and dining.
    Preferred: $95 * 100 / 2 = $4750/year in travel and dining.

    In other words, if you spend ~$3.5K/year in travel and dining combined, you want to go Reserve. If you DON’T spend that much per year, you are better off with some other cashback card.

    (note: if you transfer, I have heard that Chase points are worth 1.7cpp, so the number slightly favors Preferred, which breaks even at around $2.8K/year while Reserve breaks even at $3K/year; however, if you only spend that much, I would argue for Unlimited, which is free).

  5. Aaron J Jelinek says:

    Two questions relative to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card…1). Is there any “first bag free” offer? and 2). Exactly was is the process to be able to access airline lounges and which one’s are available to a card member?

  6. G says:

    Can the annual fee for the Reserve of $450 be used towards the $4000 spent in first 3 months in order to get the bonus points?

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