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Since it launched back in 2016, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has been a hot topic among points and miles enthusiasts. And it’s not hard to see why: This card’s benefits include a $300 annual travel credit you can use toward a wide variety of expenses, 3x points on travel and dining and 1.5-cent point redemptions through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

With so many great features to maximize, the Reserve card has somewhat overshadowed its less-premium sibling, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. While the Preferred can’t compete with the Reserve when it comes to perks like the annual travel credit and the return on bonus-category spending, this lower-fee card could make more sense for you for a variety of reasons.

1. Lower Annual Fee

The Sapphire Preferred Card has a much lower annual fee than the Sapphire Reserve.

The first advantage of the Sapphire Preferred is the most obvious: It carries a significantly lower annual fee. While the Sapphire Reserve costs $450 per year, the Preferred card costs $95 per year — and this fee’s waived for the first 12 months. Of course, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Sapphire Reserve offers a $300 annual travel credit, which effectively lowers the cost to just $150 per year — a $55 premium over the Sapphire Preferred. If you’ll be spending at least $300 on travel in a year anyway, it could be worth paying more for the Reserve, but if that fee doesn’t seem manageable, the Sapphire Preferred Card is a very worthwhile alternative.

2. Same Access to Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
Both cards offer you access to travel partners including Hyatt. Image courtesy of the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek.

Even though it doesn’t offer all the same premium benefits, the Sapphire Preferred Card offers identical transfer benefits to the Reserve card. No matter which card you choose, you’ll be able to move your Ultimate Rewards points (earned both through the sign-up bonus and through spending) to the program’s travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. Partners include British Airways, Hyatt, Korean Air, Ritz-Carlton and United — so you have a strong variety of options for putting your points to use.

Note that the two cards do differ when it comes to redeeming points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal; with the Preferred, you’ll get 1.25 cents in value per point, while with the Reserve you’ll get a higher value of 1.5 cents per point.

3. You Still Get Primary Rental Car Insurance

driving through europe
With either card, you’ll get some peace of mind when renting a car. (Photo by @phiasinclair via Twenty20)

Long before Chase introduced the Sapphire Reserve, award travelers sung the praises of the Sapphire Preferred Card‘s auto collision damage waiver (CDW) benefit. This perk provides reimbursement for damage as a result of collision or theft for rentals of 31 days or less when you decline the rental agency’s CDW. If you’re eligible, you’ll be reimbursed up to the actual cash value of most rental vehicles.

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the terms and conditions actually cap reimbursement at $75,000, but it’s unlikely you’d need more reimbursement with the Sapphire Preferred, since most rental cars are worth far less than $75k. It’s worth noting though that the Preferred’s coverage excludes “expensive, exotic and antique automobiles.”

4. No Authorized User Fee

There are various reasons to consider an authorized user. You could be looking to help someone build up his or her credit history; you might want to provide employees with cards for a business account; or maybe you’re looking to earn bonus rewards for adding additional users. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers new cardholders 50,000 points for meeting the $4,000 minimum spending requirement within the first three months. There’s no cost to add additional users. With the Reserve card, on the other hand, it costs $75 per year for each authorized user — probably because each gets his or her own Priority Pass Select membership for accessing airport lounges.

5. Easier to Get Approved

A final reason to consider the Sapphire Preferred Card over the Sapphire Reserve Card is that it could be easier to be approved for the former option. As an ultra-premium card, the Reserve requires having a top-notch credit score. While you’ll still need a solid score for the Sapphire Preferred (typically somewhere in the high 600s to the 700s), you might have an easier time getting approved for that card if your score is on the low end of the optimal range.

This isn’t considering Chase’s 5/24 rule, though, which may make it difficult to get approved for a new Chase card if you’ve opened five or more accounts (with any issuer) in the past 24 months. This is another factor to keep in mind when you’re thinking about opening either of these cards (or most other Chase cards, for that matter), since you might be denied even if you have a nearly perfect score if you’ve surpassed the five-account limit in the past 24 months.

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Preferred Chase Sapphire Reserve
Annual Fee $95 (waived the first year) $450
Sign-up Bonus 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months
Earning Rate 2x points on dining and travel, 1 point per dollar on everything else 3x points on dining and travel, 1 point per dollar on everything else
Redemption Rate Through Ultimate Rewards Travel 1.25 cents per point 1.5 cents per point
Authorized User Fee $0 $75 per year per each authorized user

Bottom Line

No one’s arguing that the Chase Sapphire Reserve isn’t an extremely lucrative travel rewards card, but if you’d rather not pay the $450 annual fee — or you fear your credit score isn’t high enough to earn you an approval — all is not lost. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a great option as well, earning you valuable Ultimate Rewards points (including 2x on all travel and dining purchases) and extending helpful benefits such as primary rental car insurance, too.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
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Regular APR
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Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
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Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
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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.

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