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Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Reserve: 7 Reasons to Pick Up the Preferred

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For years, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been the gold standard credit card in the points and miles world – and for good reason. With great travel perks like lounge access and big-time travel credits, it’s no wonder the card is so popular.

But paying an annual fee of $550 upfront isn’t for everyone. And that’s where the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card shines.

While it might be old news compared to the Reserve card, it’s still a great option for travelers – especially if you can’t stomach a huge annual fee but still want to get a ton of value. And as both cards are now out with two of the biggest bonuses we’ve seen, travelers are once again weighing these top travel cards against each other. 

Here are seven reasons why you might want to go for the Chase Sapphire Preferred instead of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

 

Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. 

 

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Reserve Overview

Before we dive in and make a case for why we advise taking a look at the Chase Sapphire Preferred before you decide to jump on the Reserve bandwagon, let’s take a quick look at the differences between the two Sapphire cards.

 

 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)$550 (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:3x per dollar spent on dining, online grocery orders, and streaming services. 2x per dollar on travel3x per dollar spent
$100 TSA PreCheck 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

 

And before you go trying tying to make a list of all the pros and cons of one Sapphire card versus the other, give us a chance to explain why the Chase Sapphire Preferred can be the smarter decision.

 

A Bigger Welcome Bonus

If you’re applying for a new credit card, chances are you want a big stash of points or miles. In normal times, the Chase Sapphire Preferred will get you a bigger bonus than the Reserve card. 

Both cards are currently out with the biggest welcome bonuses we have ever seen – and the disparity is even larger today. So let’s compare what you get from the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Reserve:

Simply put: You get more points (while paying less) for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. No matter how you use those points, you’ll come out ahead. When you redeem them directly through the Chase travel portal, those 60,000 points are worth at least $750 toward travel or everyday purchases using Chase’s new “Pay Yourself Back” feature.

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus, you’ll only earn 50,000 points. However, because they are worth more if used through the Chase Travel Portal, that works out to the same $750 toward travel.

 

 

But you can also transfer Chase points, including all these welcome bonus points, to partner airlines or hotels. It’s a great way to squeeze even more value out of them.

And if you do, you’ll always come out ahead with the Preferred card. That’s because the points from either card will transfer to partner airlines and hotels at a rate of 1:1. So 1 Chase Ultimate Rewards point is equal to 1 airline mile or 1 hotel point – no matter which Sapphire Card you have.

That’s 40,000 extra United MileagePlus miles. Or 40,000 additional Singapore KrisFlyer miles. Or another 40,000 Hyatt points.

You don’t need to be a math whiz to work out which card in the battle of the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Reserve may be the smarter choice in your situation.

Related reading: A Guide to Earning & Burning Chase Ultimate Rewards in 2021 and Beyond. 

 

Lower Annual Fee

Chase Sapphire Preferred is 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 to calculate if the benefits outweigh the costs rather than reject large credit card annual fees outright, there’s no doubt the allure of saving money on annual fees is strong.

And that’s undoubtedly true in this case. One of the greater advantages of the Sapphire Preferred is a significantly lower annual fee. The Sapphire Reserve costs $550 per year. You’ll pay $455 more upfront each year just to hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve. That can be hard to stomach.

Of course, you can easily offset much of the annual fee on the Sapphire Reserve with the $300 travel credit. It 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 initial 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 it comes with an outstanding 60,000-point bonus for a limited time. Compared to paying 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 paying the $95 annual fee upfront, you’ll still come out way ahead.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

 

Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. 

 

New Benefits are Coming

‘Tis the season for top travel credit cards to get some new benefits.

Hot on the heels of a massive overhaul of the Platinum Card® from American Express, Chase is apparently planning to make some updates to both the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the top-dollar Chase Sapphire Reserve.

These changes would give both cards some better bonus categories – plus an interesting new hotel credit on the Preferred Card. They’re set to take effect on Aug. 16, 2021 – for both new applicants and current cardholders.

So what’s on tap for two of the best travel cards on the market? Let’s take a look.

 

Changes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has long been the best travel credit card for beginners. With its current 60,000-point bonus and just a $95 annual fee, it’s easily the best travel credit card on the market right now, period.

Still, Chase is reportedly planning to sweeten the deal with some better bonus categories and interesting new perks.

  • Earn 5x points on all travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal (up from 2x)
  • Earn 3x points on all dining (up from 2x)
  • Earn 3x points on online grocery orders (not including Target, Walmart, or wholesale clubs like Costco)
  • Earn 3x points on all streaming platform subscriptions
  • Get a $50 annual hotel credit when booking hotels through the Chase portal
  • Get a 10% points bonus on the amount you earn each year, not including the initial welcome bonus.

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve Changes

With a Priority Pass membership that opens more than 1,200-plus airport lounge doors, a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and an easy-to-use $300 travel credit, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has been among the best premium travel credit cards for years.

And that means Chase doesn’t have to do as much with this card. Here’s a look at what’s reportedly coming for the Reserve card.

  • Earn 10x points on hotel and car rentals made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal (up from 3x)
  • Earn 10x points on Chase Dining bookings through Ultimate Rewards (up from 3x)
  • Earn 5x points on flights booked through the Chase travel portal (up from 3x)

 

These additions would undoubtedly be a win for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – at least so long as it’s not paired with a big increase to its annual fee. The addition of a $50 hotel credit would absolutely cement the Preferred Card’s title as the best mid-level travel card on the market.

For the Reserve, it’s more of a mixed bag. Those elevated bonus categories could be nice, but they’re far from earth-shattering.

All in all, we think this is a win for the Preferred Card.

 

Start Cheaper, Upgrade Later

Maybe you don’t have to decide between these two cards at all.

Travel may be coming back, but paying $550 for a card with premium travel perks can still be a tough sell. But maybe you’ll want those benefits down the line as you start to travel even more. While Chase won’t let you earn the sign-up bonus on the Reserve card if you’ve earned the welcome bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card within the last 48 months, that doesn’t mean you can’t maximize both cards.

You can start by opening the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, netting you an extra 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards. When year two rolls around, you could upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, keeping those additional points – while getting all the extra perks that come with the Reserve with the ability to redeem your points for some extra value.

 

comparing Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Reserve

 

Let’s say you open the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card this year, paying its $95 annual fee and spending $4,000 within three months to earn that 60,000-point bonus. By upgrading your card to the Reserve down the line, those 60,000 points you earned would then be worth $900, as each point value on the Reserve card is worth slightly more at 1.5 cents apiece.

So as long as you are okay holding the Preferred for a year, you’ll end up with a bigger stash of points that are worth more starting in year two.

Still torn? Read our complete guide comparing the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred cards.

 

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 Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

However, the best way to squeeze more value out of your Chase points is by transferring them to 10 airlines or three hotel partners. And in the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Reserve battle, neither card has the edge over the other here.

 

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

ProgramTypeTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer LingusAirline1:1Instant
Air Canada AeroplanAirline1:1Instant
Air France/KLMAirline1:1Instant
British AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
EmiratesAirline1:1Instant
Iberia PlusAirline1:1Instant
JetBlueAirline1:1Instant
Singapore AirAirline1:112-24 hours
Southwest AirlinesAirline1:1Instant
United AirlinesAirline1:1Instant
Virgin AtlanticAirline1:1Instant
World of HyattHotel1:1Instant
IHGHotel1:11 day
Marriott RewardsHotel1:12 days

 

No matter if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve, your points transfer at the same 1:1 ratio to every Chase transfer 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 to get the maximum benefits out of your Chase cards.

Read more: Great Ways to Use an 100K Bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred

 

Sapphire Travel Insurance Benefits

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.

 

Rental Car Insurance

When it comes to rental car coverage, the only difference in the rental car coverage offered by the two cards is the maximum amount each card 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.

Read more: All About the Chase Sapphire Rental Car Insurance Benefit. 

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Reserve Insurance

 

Baggage Delay Insurance and Lost Luggage Reimbursement

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.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Reserve Baggage Delay Insurance

 

Trip Cancellation and Delay Insurance

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.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Reserve Trip Delay Insurance

 

Travel Accident Insurance

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.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred Vs Reserve Travel Accident Insurance

 

It’s 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.

 

How to Upgrade from the Preferred to the Reserve

Should you upgrade Chase Sapphire Preferred to Reserve?

If you eventually decide to upgrade your Chase Sapphire Preferred to the Sapphire Reserve, the process couldn’t be easier.

After you have held the Sapphire Preferred Card for at least a year, sometime before or just after your annual fee posts for your next year, simply call the number on the back of your card and let the Chase customer service representative know you’d like to upgrade your account to the Sapphire Reserve.

The representative will likely ask you a few questions to verify your identity and a few other pieces of information to ensure you are eligible for an upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve. From there, the agent will likely read through a list of disclosures that you will need to agree to before you can complete the upgrade process.

The entire process should only take a few minutes. And given the higher credit scores needed to get approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, going this upgrade route might be a safer option.

Keep in mind that upgrading means you’ll be ineligible to earn the sign-up bonus offer on the Chase Sapphire Reserve. On the plus side, it shouldn’t involve a hard credit pull as you’re simply doing a credit card product change.

 

Bottom Line

Chase’s Sapphire cards are some of the best out there for travelers. And there is no doubt the Chase Sapphire Reserve is an incredible travel rewards credit card.

But that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card shouldn’t be overlooked. We think the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best travel rewards credit card in these unusual times. And that’s why you should give it a hard look over the Reserve card.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

 

Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: 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.

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