A Full Review of Chase's Top Travel Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve

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Sapphire Reserve Annual Fee

A Full Review of Chase’s Top Travel Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is out with a huge welcome bonus, offering a whopping 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in three months as well as all the top travel perks and benefits that have made it a fan-favorite premium card.

Those 60,000 points are enough to unlock at least $900 in travel through the Chase travel portal – or much more by sending points to airlines and hotels that are direct Chase transfer partners. With an annual fee of $550, it's not for everyone. But that higher price tag unlocks a slew of premium travel benefits, starting with an easy-to-use $300 annual travel credit that effectively cuts that annual fee by more than half. You also get airport lounge access via Priority Pass, up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, top-notch travel insurance, car rental coverage, and much more.

Read on for everything you need to know about Chase's top travel credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

 

Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

 

All of the Benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

First launched in 2016, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is widely considered the superior sibling to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase's original foray into travel rewards credit cards. To this day, it's still one of the best travel rewards credit cards on the market.

At the end of the day, you'll get more with the Sapphire Reserve – especially with this huge bonus. Here's a rundown of the full list of benefits.

 

Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

After you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months of account opening you will earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. And since Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, the points will be worth a minimum of $900.

Earning 60,000 ultra-valuable Chase points in one fell swoop is tough to beat. For years, the bonus on the Reserve Card was stuck at 50,000 points until Chase bumped that up to a 60,000-point bonus earlier this year. But keep in mind: No matter how many points you can earn, credit cards are serious business. Don't go opening this card (or any travel card, for that matter) if you can't afford to pay off all the charges in full. Even a penny of credit card debt isn't worth it.

If you're ready and responsible, there's one important restriction to keep in mind: Chase does not allow you to hold both the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve at the same time. That means if you already have a Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card open, you will not be eligible to apply for this huge new offer.

Additionally, you will not be eligible to apply for the Sapphire Reserve if you earned a sign-up bonus on either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve in the last 48 months – four full years. Plus, you won't get approved for the Reserve if you've opened five or more credit cards (from any bank, not just Chase) in the last two years thanks to Chase's 5/24 Rule.

Related: Master Guide to Credit Card Applications: All the RUles You Need to Know, Bank by Bank

 

$300 Annual Travel Credit

The Reserve Card carries an incredibly lucrative benefit that easily cuts its annual fee in half – and then some.

Each and every year, Chase automatically reimburses you for up to $300 in purchases that code as travel. Whether that is a taxi, Uber, hotel, plane ticket, cruise, or any other travel expense, this is $300 right back in your pocket, effectively reducing the annual fee to $250.

You don't need to file a claim or jump through hoops to receive your money. Just spend on travel, pay with your Sapphire Reserve, and the $300 credit kicks in automatically.

You can even use part of this credit to pay for our Thrifty Traveler Premium flight deal alerts. What better way to use the credit than to save even more on travel?

 

chase sapphire reserve travel credit

 

Complimentary Airport Lounge Access

For starters, the Reserve card comes with a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you free access to 1,200-plus airport lounges around the world. You can bring up to two guests into the lounges with you for free, too.

 

Tips for Long Flights
The El Dorado Lounge at Bogota (BOG), accessible through Priority Pass

 

Priority Pass lounges are a mixed bag: Some are great, while many are fairly lackluster. But no matter what, it's a better place to relax before your flight than the terminal, grabbing a quick snack or a drink for free. You can even access a number of airport restaurants and dine for free with a Priority Pass membership through Chase.

Soon, the lounge access will get even better.

Chase has big plans to compete with both American Express and Capital One by rolling out its own network of Chase Sapphire branded lounges.

 

Chase sapphire lounge rendering
Image courtesy of Chase Bank

 

Read all about Chase Sapphire Lounges!

To date, just one lounge is open … all the way over in Hong Kong (HKG). While there's no timeline for the others, Chase has plans to open up spaces in the following locations:

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders will get complimentary access to all these lounges when they finally do open thanks to Priority Pass access.

 

Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points For 1.5 Cents Per Point

Unlike other travel credit cards where each point gets you 1 cent towards booking travel, you get 50% more value when you redeem your points for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and more through the Chase travel portal.

Every point is worth 1.5 cents. That means the 60,0000-point welcome bonus is worth at least $900 toward travel, whether you are booking flights, hotels, or rental cars.

Compare that with the lower-tier Sapphire Preferred which only earns 1.25 cents on bookings through Chase's travel portal. That means the same 60,000 points would only be worth $750 towards travel.

 

3x Points On Travel And Restaurants Worldwide

You will earn 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on all travel and dining at restaurants worldwide. After that, you'll earn 1 point per dollar on all other spending.

 

10x Points On Hotels & Rental Cars Booked Through Chase

When you book hotels and rental cars through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, you'll earn 10x points per dollar spent on an unlimited amount of spending.

 

5x Points On Air Travel Booked Through Chase

When you book flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, you'll earn 5x points per dollar spent on an unlimited amount of spending.

 

10x Points On Lyft Rides

You'll earn 10x points per dollar spent on rides with Lyft through 2025.

 

$100 Application Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

If you apply for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and pay with your Chase Sapphire Reserve, the application fee will get automatically reimbursed. It costs $100 for Global Entry and $85 for TSA PreCheck, both for five-year memberships.

You can receive this credit once every four years and membership in both programs lasts for five years. That means you're set to enroll in either program.

 

DoorDash Statement Credits & DashPass Membership

Chase has also added a $5 monthly DoorDash credit for Sapphire Reserve cardholders. You'll also get a complimentary DoorDash DashPass membership which provides access to free deliveries and lower platform fees.

The credit can be redeemed by DashPass members in the DoorDash app and Reserve cardholders can accumulate the credit for up to three months before expiration (for a maximum of $15 total credit to redeem).

 

Primary Car Rental Insurance

When you charge your car rental to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you can simply decline the insurance from the rental company and be covered up to $75,000 for theft and/or collision damage.

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

 

Roadside Assistance

Receive 24-hour towing assistance (up to $50), 24-hour lockout assistance (up to $50), up to two gallons of fuel delivery, and flat tire changing service all included with your card membership.

 

Lost Luggage Reimbursement

If you check your bags and they’re delayed more than six hours, the card 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 Delay & Cancelation Coverage

The card will reimburse you for any delay lasting six 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.

 

Medical Evacuation & Travel Accident Coverage

The card provides coverage up to $1,000,000 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 trip has been purchased with the card or with Ultimate Rewards points earned on the card.

The card will also provide coverage for a medical evacuation. 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.

 

Visa Infinite Concierge Service

Get access to a dedicated line that can help you track down reservations at restaurants, purchase tickets on your behalf, or even buy flowers for a significant other.

 

Three Ways to Use Ultimate Rewards Points

One of the best parts about the Chase Sapphire Reserve is that it gives you three strong options to redeem your points for travel.

The first couldn't be easier. Using Chase's Ultimate Rewards travel portal, you can search for airfare or hotels. The search is powered by CXLoyalty – a company Chase acquired late last year.

Once you find the fare or hotel you're looking for, you'll have the option to pay with points. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, every point is worth 1.5 cents toward travel. So 60,000 points = $900.

That's why we feel it's one of the top three credit cards for booking flight deals with points. When redeeming them this way, you can book flights on almost any airline.

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

 

Bonus: You still earn miles when booking flights this way. That makes it one of our favorite ways to book cheap flight deals.

 

Transfer Points to Travel Partners

If you want to get even more value out of your points, look into transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to more than a dozen airlines and hotel chains. This is the key to booking amazing travel, including business and first-class flights.

Here's the full list of 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

 

Read our guide on how to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

There are plenty of ways to squeeze a lot of value out of these points via transfer partners – including flying business and first-class or staying in all-inclusive resorts for free thanks to their transfer partnership with Hyatt hotels.

See our top ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards Points.

 

Use Chase Pay Yourself Back

Two years ago, Chase added the Pay Yourself Back feature that allows travelers with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® to use their points to cover some everyday purchases.

Currently, Sapphire Reserve cardholders can use Pay Yourself Back for purchases at restaurants and at Airbnb through the end of the year.

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, each point gets you 1.5 cents. That means you could cover the entire cost of a $500 Airbnb stay using just 33,333 points from your Reserve Card.

You can also use Pay Yourself back to cover the card's $550 annual fee each and every year.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to the Chase Pay Yourself Back Benefit

What Credit Score for the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

Historically, Chase has indicated that you need to fall into the “Good” to “Excellent” credit buckets to be approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

That means you’d need at least a 680 credit score to get approved. But in practice, it’s been much different. From our own experience, accounts from readers, and historical data from creditcards.com, anyone with a credit score below 720 generally was not approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

That doesn’t mean you couldn’t get approved with a lower score. But it was a good rule of thumb that you’d want a credit score in the higher range of a “Good” score.

But even now, that has changed – a bit. Since COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on both travel and the economy, many banks changed their lending standards – making it much harder to get approved for new lines of credit.

That makes sense. As the economy teetered and unemployment claims hit record numbers over the spring of 2020, banks expected credit card payment default rates to follow suit. Limiting their exposure was a way to mitigate that risk.

 

chase sapphire reserve annual fee discount

 

And an easy way to mitigate risk is by only approving applicants with excellent credit. Chase indicated that it’s raised the standards to get approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, from Good or Excellent credit to just Excellent Credit.

What does that mean? Having a credit score of 740 (and likely higher) is your best bet to get approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Read More: What Credit Score Do You Need for the Chase Sapphire Reserve? 

 

Why Chase Sapphire Reserve is Worth Considering

The Chase Sapphire Reserve burst onto the scene in a big way in 2016. When it launched, the card was so popular that Chase temporarily ran out of the metal they were using to produce the cards. Affluent travelers and savvy millennials alike have flocked to the card since its launch, making it more popular than Chase could have even imagined.

While the card does have a $550 annual fee, it offers a $300 travel credit that most travelers should be able to easily use. Chase automatically reimburses you for any and all travel expenses until you reach the $300 maximum. Because of that, I think it's more appropriate to view this card as a $250 annual fee travel card ($550 – $300 = $250).

For $250 each year, you'll get Priority Pass lounge access, points that redeem for 50% more value, a credit for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, and some of the best travel coverages you will find from any card. To me, these benefits are worth far more than the annual fee.

And the 60,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus could literally be used for hundreds of redemptions.

This bonus could even get you a business class seat in the amazing Delta One suites to Europe with 10,000 points to spare. Or book several free nights at Hyatt properties worldwide – including all-inclusive resorts scattered throughout Mexico and the Caribbean.

 

chase sapphire reserve

 

And there's one other big reason to apply for a Chase Sapphire Reserve before opening other credit cards on the market. Once you've opened five or more credit cards from any bank (not just Chase) in a two-year period, you won't get approved for another Chase card. It's called the Chase 5/24 rule, and it will seriously restrict your ability to get one of these cards.

While applying for five or more credit cards might sound insane, it just makes it important to prioritize Chase credit cards over their competitors. And there's no better place to start than with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

 

Bottom Line

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is easily among the best premium travel credit cards on the market.

With great bonus categories to earn more points on your everyday expenses, it's a great card to earn points. Benefits like lounge access and an easy-to-use $300 annual travel credit can easily make it worth its $550 annual fee.

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

 

Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

 

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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