Skip to content

Chase Sapphire Reserve Very Often Best Card for Travel Purchases

Sept. 08, 2016
7 min read
Chase Sapphire Reserve Very Often Best Card for Travel Purchases
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here - Chase Sapphire Reserve

My husband and his shiny new Chase Sapphire Reserve Cardare now fast friends, and needless to say the card is in very frequent wallet rotation. Because he is working towards hitting the $4,000 minimum spending requirement to trigger the massive 100,000 Ultimate Reward point sign-up bonus, he is using it for almost everything right now, but many of his regular expenses end up being meals out and in travel categories anyway. Both of these expense categories ring in at 3x Ultimate Rewards points on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which is great. It's just so great it makes me wonder...

At 3x points on travel specifically, I find it interesting that the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is better at earning points with several hotels and airlines than many of the individual co-branded cards for each of those programs. When you remember that the points earned by the Sapphire Reserve can not only be used towards travel booked with Chase at 1.5 cents per point, but can also transfer 1:1 to the eleven Ultimate Rewards transfer partners, this isn't a complex apples to oranges scenario. This is a case where this one credit card earns multiple forms of miles and points better than any other card, including the co-branded cards for those various companies!

I know not everyone will care about this as much as I do, but I find that absolutely fascinating and slightly surprising.

As a refresher, here are the 11 1:1 transfer partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards.

  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Flying Blue AIR FRANC KLM
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
  • United MileagePlus®
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hyatt Gold Passport®
  • IHG® Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards®
  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®

Earn the Most Points on Travel with the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Now as an example, the $95 per year United MileagePlus Explorer Card, and even the $450 per year United Club Card, both earn 2x United miles on United purchases. This means a $300 United ticket bought and paid for with with that co-branded United card would earn you 600 United miles from the credit card usage itself - this does not factor in the miles you would earn directly from United when you fly on that ticket.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card earns 3x on travel charges, so you would earn 900 Ultimate Reward points if you used that card for the $300 airfare purchase, plus you would still earn the United miles you would normally earn directly from United when you fly on that ticket. Those 900 Ultimate Reward points can transfer 1:1 to United (in increments of 1,000) making it a more lucrative points earning option when purchasing United flights than the United cards themselves.

Similarly, the host of Southwest credit cards also earn 2x on Southwest purchases, but the Sapphire Reserve at 3x on travel beats that since Ultimate Reward points can also transfer 1:1 to Southwest.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

The Sapphire Reserve Card ties the 3x points earned at Hyatt properties with the Hyatt Card and the 3x Avios earned on British Airways purchases with the British Airways Visa, but since Ultimate Reward points are more flexible than either of those currencies the Sapphire Reserve is still the winner for those purchases in my mind.

The IHG Credit Card and the Marriott Premier Credit Card both earn 5x on charges at their respective brands as opposed to the 3x Ultimate Reward points the Sapphire Reserve would provide, but based on how I value those points I'd still give the edge to the Sapphire Reserve. Your math on this may vary.

Solid Travel Protections with the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Unlike with some other cards that pay out more on travel or airfare, this one has some killer built-in travel protections, too. I will not earn more points on my airfare at the expense of built-in travel protections. Ever. Again.

I have used built-in trip cancellation coverages before when my youngest got sick and we had to cancel an otherwise non-refundable trip at the last minute, so I know how valuable this benefit can be. These built-in coverages don't require an extra travel insurance policy purchase, but are automatically there when you use your Sapphire Reserve to pay for your trip. A few of these built-in protections include:

  • If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per trip for your prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours and hotels.
  • Primary Rental Car Coverage up to $75,000 for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad.
  • 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.
  • If you or your immediate family members' checked or carry-on bags are damaged or lost by the carrier, you're covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.
  • Reimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over six hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for five days.

In my experience, these protections are as good or better than most other cards...though do a detailed benefit's guide comparison to be sure.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Isn't Always the Best

There are still some instances where using a different credit card for your travel purchase will make sense, such as if that is the only way to get a needed perk like free checked bags or similar. Also, some co-branded cards do still pay out better than the Sapphire Reserve, such as The JetBlue Plus Cardthat awards 6x on JetBlue purchases.

It will be interesting to see if the various co-branded travel cards up their earning power with their own respective companies now that the Sapphire Reserve essentially beats so many of them. It's really hard for me to understand how a card like the United Club Card which has the same $450 annual fee as the Sapphire Reserve will essentially earn fewer United miles on United purchases than the Sapphire Reserve.

Simple Strategy for Travel Purchases with Chase Sapphire Reserve

For now I am thrilled to easily earn 3x points on travel thanks to the Sapphire Reserve Card when making purchases with: airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages. Having it be the best card for so many types of travel purchases really simplifies my overall strategy.

Maybe using one credit card for so many types of travel purchases is kind of boring, but as long as boring comes with a side of 3x transferrable Ultimate Reward points, I'm okay with that. Oh yeah, and it also has the $300 per calendar year credit towards travel purchases, so that is just one more reason to swipe it the next time you need a subway card, Uber ride, hotel stay, or airline ticket.

In which cases will you not use the Sapphire Reserve for travel purchases? Are you as surprised as me that it is better at earning travel points than so many of the individual travel co-branded cards.