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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Chase Sapphire Reserve
TPG reader Ben sent me a message on Facebook for help deciding between rewards credit cards:
“I just recently got the Sapphire Preferred card, but now I’m interested in applying for the new Sapphire Reserve card. If I’m approved, does it make sense to keep both?”
Since it was formally announced just a few weeks ago, the new Chase Sapphire Reserve Card has been making waves in the travel rewards universe. With a lucrative sign-up bonus and some highly appealing benefits, Sapphire Reserve gives Chase a heavyweight contender to compete with premium cards from Citi and Amex. However, as Ben’s question indicates, it may also end up competing with other cards in the Ultimate Rewards portfolio.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of my perennial favorites, and it consistently ranks among the top travel rewards cards. That’s still the case, but the introduction of the Sapphire Reserve card is a game changer for anyone invested in the Ultimate Rewards program. It’s basically a souped-up version of Sapphire Preferred, offering better bonus categories and a higher redemption rate through the Chase Travel Portal, as well as high-end perks like a $300 travel statement credit and Priority Pass lounge access. Anything Sapphire Preferred can do, Sapphire Reserve does better (or at least as well).
Because the two cards have so much overlap, I don’t think it makes sense to keep them both. Once you have the Sapphire Reserve card, I recommend downgrading your Sapphire Preferred account to either Chase Freedom or the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card. The higher earning rates on those cards pair well with the higher redemption rate on Sapphire Reserve, and you’ll avoid paying a second annual fee for redundant benefits. (Note, however, that you may not be able to downgrade Sapphire Preferred within the first cardmember year.)
You can use a similar strategy for the Ink Plus Business Card. There’s less overlap in benefits, since Ink Plus offers 5x bonus categories that you won’t get with Sapphire Reserve. However, the Ink Business Cash Credit Card offers those same bonus categories with no annual fee, so downgrading could be a smart move depending on your spending habits.
A similar question I’ve been getting is whether Sapphire Preferred cardholders should get Sapphire Reserve in the first place. The $450 annual fee for the new Reserve card might be intimidating if you’re used to paying only $95 each year for Sapphire Preferred, but as is the case for many premium cards, I think the higher price tag is worthwhile.
The $300 travel statement credit on Sapphire Reserve can be redeemed for airfare, hotels, rental cars and more. Assuming you would spend that much on travel each year anyway, your annual fee is effectively reduced to $150, which is just $55 more than Sapphire Preferred. For that modest increase, you get a Priority Pass Select membership, the higher earning and direct redemption rate, Visa Infinite benefits and more. To me, that’s an easy win.
Have a question about the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card? Check out our Q&A. See these posts for more:
- 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
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards