Getting started with travel rewards credit cards can be daunting, with literally hundreds of cards to pick from. But one stands above the rest as one of the best – if not the best, period.
It’s the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. After a recent boost, the card offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months – and that can unlock $750 or much more in free travel. The novice all the way up to the points expert can easily redeem these points for free flights with some extra value, but it’s also a great card that allows you to maximize your points and miles with airline and hotel 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, up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, top-notch travel insurance, car rental coverage, Lyft Pink membership, a $60 credit for DoorDash each year, and more.
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 with an eye-popping 100,000-point bonus, 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.
And with that comes a slew of additional benefits, which we’ve broken down here.
Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
After you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months of account opening you will receive 50,000 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 $750.
$300 Annual Travel Credit
Chase automatically reimburses you for up to $300 in purchases that code as travel. Whether that is a taxi, uber, hotel, plane ticket, a cruise, etc, 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 and Chase will reimburse you.
You can even use part of this credit to pay for our Thrifty Traveler Premium alerts. What better way to use the credit than to save even more on travel?
And through December 2021, you can use the $300 Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit at both gas stations and grocery stores.
Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points For 1.5 Cents Per Point
One of the best benefits of this card. 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, etc. through the Chase travel portal.
Every point is worth 1.5 cents. That means the 50,0000-point welcome bonus is worth at least $750 toward travel.
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. See our top ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards Points.
Here’s the full list of Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners:
Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
|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|
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 Lyft Rides
You’ll earn 10x points per dollar spent on rides with Lyft.
Cardholders will also receive a complimentary Lyft pink membership. Lyft Pink allows users to get 15% off every Lyft ride, gives you priority airport pickups, relaxed ride cancelations, and more. Lyft normally charges $19.99 a month for this membership. This benefit is good through March of 2022.
$60 Annual DoorDash Food Delivery Credit
DashPass will waive delivery fees on DoorDash orders and lower platform fees. DashPass typically costs $9.99 per month and DoorDash claims it will save you an average of $4 to $5 on every order. All you have to do is use the card when you checkout at DoorDash and Chase will automatically reimburse you.
$100 Application Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
If you apply for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and pay with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the application fee will get automatically reimbursed: $100 for Global Entry and $85 for TSA PreCheck.
You are eligible to 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.
Complimentary Priority Pass Select Membership
Receive complimentary Priority Pass Select membership which gets you free access to thousands of airport lounges around the world. You can bring up to two guests into the lounges with you for free, too.
You can even access a number of airport restaurants and dine for free with a Priority Pass membership.
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.
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.
Two Ways to Use Points
One of the best parts about the Chase Sapphire Reserve is that it gives you two 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 Expedia (though that will soon change), so it should be familiar. Once you find the fare or hotel you’re looking for, and you’ll have the option to pay with points. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, every point is worth 1.5 cents toward travel. So 50,000 points = $750.
That’s why we feel it is 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.
But there’s one other great way to use points from your Chase Sapphire Reserve to unlock even more value. You can transfer points to 10 different airlines and three hotel chains. These transfers are on a 1:1 basis, so transferring 1,000 Chase points will get you 1,000 airline miles or hotel points. Here’s a look at your options:
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.
These two ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points make them insanely valuable and versatile. It’s a big reason why we feel it is the best travel rewards card out there.
Read more: 5 Ways to Use Chase Points to Book Hotels
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.
And an easy way to mitigate risk is to make it harder to get approved for certain lines of credit. At the end of the day, this means you may need an even higher credit score to get approved for a credit card than just a year ago. And that seems to be the case with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Chase indicated that it’s raising the standards to get approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, from Good or Excellent credit to just Excellent Credit.
What does that mean? It means having a credit score of 740 (and likely higher) is your best bet to get approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
Why Chase Sapphire Reserve Beats the Rest
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 50,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus points is nothing to sneeze at. With that bonus, you could book a trip for two to Hawaii, or literally use them for hundreds of other redemptions.
This bonus could even get you a business class seat in the amazing Delta One suites to Europe. Or book several free nights at Hyatt properties worldwide – including all-inclusive resorts scattered throughout Mexico and the Caribbean.
And there’s one other big reason to apply for a Chase Sapphire Reserve before opening others 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.
Read our guide to decide if the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred is right for you.
Others come close, but there is simply no better card in the world of points and miles to get incredible free travel and amazing benefits than the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Reserve.