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When I first heard the details of the new Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, I had to sit down, because it sounded way too good to be true. When I evaluate new credit cards, I look at three factors: sign-up bonus, points (earning and redeeming) and perks — and this card blows me away on all three fronts. By far, this is the most excited I’ve ever been for a credit card launch.
Key details of the new Chase Sapphire Reserve Card:
- New! Earn 100K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,500 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases such as airfare and hotels charged to your card
- 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, no foreign transaction fees
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,500 toward travel
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Access to 900+ airport lounges worldwide with complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership
- Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions – as long as there’s a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
There’s a $450 annual fee, which, at first, seems quite steep. But when you dig into the benefits the card offers (the $300 rebate in travel brings it down to $150 a year in my eyes), you quickly realize that even an infrequent traveler can get tremendous value out of the card.
To put into words how much of a game-changer the new Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is, I’m going to dig into some of my favorite perks of the card. I’m also going to use some math to break it down with my August monthly valuation of 2.1 cents apiece for Chase Ultimate Rewards points as a baseline. In case you’re not familiar, this number represents the value that a consumer could easily get out of Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring to one (or more) of the program’s 11 partners. (I almost always transfer my Ultimate Rewards points to United and Hyatt for maximum value.)
The Gigantic Sign-Up Bonus
At 2.1 cents apiece for Ultimate Rewards points according to my most recent valuations, the 100,000-point bonus on the new Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth about $2,100 in value — from the sign-up bonus alone. That’s equivalent to nearly five years of the annual fee. When you take out the $300 in travel you get a year as a perk, the annual fee is really only $150 a year in my eyes, because it’s simple to spend $300 a year on travel — especially because Chase has a wide description of what counts: airlines, hotels (including Airbnb), motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis (including Uber and Lyft), limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways and parking lots and garages.
Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders get a value of 1.5 cents per Ultimate Rewards point when redeeming for travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, which is something that’s unique to the Reserve card. So, even if you’re a novice in the travel rewards field and don’t know how to maximize transfer partners, you’re getting $1,500 in travel on pretty much any airlines or hotel from the sign-up bonus if you choose to use your points toward travel through the portal — more than three years of the annual fee.
Not only are you getting great value out of those bookings made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but any flight you book counts as a revenue booking, so you’ll earn miles and elite credit as well, getting you even more value.
Earning and Redeeming Points
The ability to redeem with a number of partners is one of the most important aspects of a credit card. And, beyond the massive sign-up bonus, the bonus earning categories will also help add to the value and your earning structure. With the card, you’ll earn 3x points on all travel and dining purchases worldwide and 1x points on everything else. What’s often not known is just how extensive these categories are — ridesharing services, food delivery, etc.
To get an idea of how much more value you can get from the Reserve card on the travel and dining bonus earning categories, let’s break it down in a comparison with what you’d earn with its predecessor.
|Spend (Month; Year)||Chase Sapphire Preferred||Chase Sapphire Reserve||Total Difference (Added Value)|
|$1,000/month; $12,000/year||2,000 points per month; 24,000 per year||3,000 points per month; 36,000 per year||12,000-point difference per year; worth $252 in extra value|
|$2,000/month; $24,000/year||4,000/month; 48,000/year||6,000/month; 72,000/year||24,000-point difference; $504 in value|
|$3,000/month; $36,000/year||6,000/month; 72,000/year||9,000/month; 108,000/year||36,000-point difference; $756 in value|
|$5,000/month; $60,000/year||10,000/month; 120,000/year||15,000/month; 180,000/year||60,000-point difference; $1,260 in value|
|$10,000/month; $120,000/year||20,000/month; 240,000/year||30,000/month; 360,000/year||120,000-point difference; $2,520 in value|
If you choose to transfer your 100,000 points from the sign-up bonus to partners, there is potential for some great value for amazing premium-class redemptions. You can transfer 74,375 points to Singapore’s KrisFlyer program to redeem for a flight in the airline’s amazing Suites class. Or, you can transfer 115,000 miles to United for a round-trip ticket in United’s business class to Europe. Another great option is to book short-haul flights for 9,000 British Airways Avios each in a premium cabin (outside the US) — you can get 11 of them with this sign-up bonus. The possibilities are endless.
One of the biggest perks of the card is the $300 annual travel credit because it can be applied toward purchases that qualify as travel (defined above). There’s no need to specify what kind of travel you want to use it for because Chase will automatically credit your account $300 when you use it to make eligible purchases.
Although you won’t be able to access Delta Sky Clubs (as you can with Amex Platinum) or Admirals Clubs (as you can do through mid-2017 with Citi Prestige), the Reserve card does include a Priority Pass Select membership, which gives you access to more than 900 airport lounges across the world. In addition, authorized users receive a Priority Pass Select membership of their own. You’ll pay $75 to add each authorized user to your Reserve account, but they’ll be able to take advantage of at least one of the card’s nicest perks.
Priority Pass’ network of lounges includes some premium lounges, both in the US and abroad. For example, the Virgin America Loft at LAX, the Air France Lounge at JFK and the SkyTeam Lounge at London-Heathrow (LHR) are all part of this program.
Because the new Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is a Visa Infinite card, you’ll have access to a selection of the perks that come along with the program. Highlights of the program (that also apply to this card) include a $100 Global Entry fee credit, primary rental car insurance, trip cancellation and delay coverage, lost luggage reimbursement, a concierge service and access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection.
One of my initial concerns was the lack of status with this card. However, upon further inspection, you do get accelerated access to Club 5C status with Relais & Châteaux because it’s a Visa Infinite card. After staying two nights at qualifying properties in a 12-month period, you can enroll for Club 5C benefits, including room upgrades, invitations to events and complimentary experiences unique to each property.
Although this might not be as prestigious as hotel elite status with other premium card competitors, like the Amex Platinum (automatic SPG and Hilton HHonors Gold status), it’s nice to have a hotel perk within the new Sapphire Reserve’s benefits.
Who’s Eligible for the Chase Sapphire Reserve?
It can be difficult to get approved for some Chase cards due to the issuer’s restrictive application requirements — more specifically, the 5/24 rule. For those who haven’t heard of it, the 5/24 rule with Chase is an unconfirmed policy (but it has been widely reported) that if you’ve opened five credit card accounts with any issuer in the past 24 months, your application will be automatically declined. Although there are reports of some customers being approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card despite having opened five or more cards within the past 24 months, it looks like many are being declined. The only way to tell if you’re eligible for the card is to apply!
If you aren’t approved, you may be able to upgrade to Reserve. Unfortunately, if you choose to upgrade your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to the Reserve, you won’t qualify for the 100,000-point sign-up bonus. However, you will be able to reap the other benefits of the card. So, the decision whether or not to upgrade the card will vary on a case-by-case basis. But, based on the perks of the card, I’m already looking forward to getting Reserve (even if I don’t get the sign-up bonus).
The arrival of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card on the premium travel rewards credit card scene is great news for the consumer, because not only are we getting a top-of-the-line credit card with premium perks, but it also puts the pressure on other issuers to up their games. I’ve been saying forever that the Amex Platinum Card is great to have because of its benefits, such as Centurion Lounge and Delta Sky Club access, but it’s terrible for points earning. With the release of the Sapphire Reserve, I could see Amex potentially matching the Premier Rewards Gold earning structure (3x on flights booked directly with airlines; 2x points at US gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets; and 1x on everything else) for the Platinum just to remain somewhat competitive.
After learning the complete details of the card, I think it’s a complete no-brainer — especially for big spenders and frequent travelers. The card’s annual fee could easily be justified even for small spenders if the primary goal is points earning. While the new Sapphire Reserve Card lacks major airline lounge access, you can pay $50 for entrance six times a year with the $300 travel credit and still come out ahead with the 3x earning structure and other benefits.
As you can probably tell, I’m really excited about this card. When I thought Chase couldn’t improve its products to top the Sapphire Preferred, the issuer surprises us with the Sapphire Reserve Card — now one of the most compelling travel rewards cards in the industry.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Review and Application Link
- Questions and Answers About the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
- Everything You Need to Know About Chase Sapphire Reserve Perks
- Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Benefits, Coverage & More
Will you be signing up for Chase Sapphire Reserve?
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠
|Intro APR||Regular APR||Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Credit Rating|
|N/A||16.24%-23.24% Variable||$450||0%||Excellent Credit|