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 one of the best options for travelers – especially if you can't stomach a huge annual fee but still want to get a ton of value. Or you want to get more points. Or you just want a great all-around travel card.
Here are six reasons why you might want to go for the Chase Sapphire Preferred instead of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Learn more 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 Preferred||Chase Sapphire Reserve|
|Authorized User Fees||None||$75 for each additional cardholder|
|Point Value Redeeming Through Chase Portal||1.25 cents per point||1.5 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 travel||3x per dollar spent on dining and travel|
|$100 TSA PreCheck or Global Entry Reimbursement||None||Yes, available once every four years for the primary cardholder|
|Priority Pass Select Lounge Membership||None||Yes., and both primary cardholders and authorized users can bring up to two guests|
|Primary Car Rental Coverage||Yes||Yes|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||None||None|
|Trip Delay Reimbursement||$500 per person for delays lasting 12 hours or more||$500 per person for delays lasting six hours or more|
|Travel Accident Insurance||$500,000 per person||$1 million per person|
|Lost Luggage Insurance||$3,000 per person per trip||$3,000 per person per trip|
But 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.
Bigger Welcome Bonuses
If you’re applying for a new credit card, chances are you want a big stash of points or miles.
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: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in three months.
Simply put: You'll get the same bonus on both cards.
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.
Lower Annual Fee
The 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 that is something that is for more appealing for many travelers.
The annual fee is just $95 a year – and it comes with an outstanding 60,000-point bonus. 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.
Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
These changes gave both cards some better bonus categories – plus an interesting new hotel credit on the Preferred Card. They all took effect in August 2021 – for both new applicants and current cardholders.
So what are these new benefits? 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 one of the best travel credit cards on the market right now, period.
Still, Chase sweetened 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 changed on 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 are undoubtedly a big win for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. 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. And you get it without an increase to the annual fee.
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 it was a win for the Preferred Card.
Start Cheaper, Upgrade Later
Maybe you don't have to decide between these two cards at all.
Paying $550 for a card with premium travel perks can still be a tough sell. But maybe you'll want those benefits later on down the line. 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. 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.
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 more valuable stash of points 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.
|Program||Type||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1||Instant|
|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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 a 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'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.
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. And that's why you should give it a hard look over the Reserve card.
Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.