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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 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
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
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|
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.
With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- 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®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- 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