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In the credit card world, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card are two of the most talked-about options, thanks to the valuable Ultimate Rewards program, top-notch benefits and valuable travel protections.

You might automatically assume that the Chase Sapphire Reserve — which comes with a higher annual fee and more luxury benefits — is always the better choice. Objectively speaking, it is the higher-tier card. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the better of the two cards for you.

Now that the Chase Sapphire Preferred is offering an increased sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months, there are plenty of reasons why the Chase Sapphire Preferred could be more attractive addition to your wallet.

In This Post

Before we get into the two cards’ benefits, note that you can’t hold both the CSP and the CSR, and you need to wait at least 48 months between earning the sign-up bonus on one card before you can earn it on the other. Keep that in mind when you’re considering which card to apply for.

Comparison Overview

Card Chase Sapphire Preferred Chase Sapphire Reserve
Annual fee $95 $450
Earning rates 2x points on travel and dining, 1x on everything else 3x points on travel and dining, 1x on everything else
Sign-up bonus 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months
Point value for UR portal redemptions 1.25 cents 1.5 cents
Credits N/A $300 annual travel credit, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100)
Lounge access N/A Priority Pass Select
Authorized user fee $0 $75

 

Further Reading: Check out TPG’s reviews on the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve 

Travel Coverage and Purchase Protection

It’s also worth comparing the two cards’ coverage for things like travel delays, trip cancellation and purchase protection. While they offer some identical benefits, there are a few differences:

Card Chase Sapphire Preferred Chase Sapphire Reserve
Rental car insurance Primary; “expensive and exotic cars” are excluded Primary; provides reimbursement up to $75,000 for theft and collision
Roadside assistance $59.95 per service call Coverage up to $50 per incident four times a year
Trip cancellation insurance Up to $10,000 per covered trip Up to $10,000 per covered trip
Trip delay insurance Up to $500 per ticket for delays of 12 or more hours (or requiring an overnight stay) Up to $500 per ticket for delays of 6 or more hours (or requiring an overnight stay)
Baggage delay insurance Up to $100 per day for up to 5 days Up to $100 per day for up to 5 days
Lost luggage reimbursement Up to $3,000 per person (up to $500 per person for jewelry, watches, cameras, video recorders and other electronic equipment) Up to $3,000 per person (up to $500 per person for jewelry, watches, cameras, video recorders and other electronic equipment)
Travel accident insurance $500,000 for common carrier loss of life benefit; $100,000 for 24-hour loss of life benefit $1,000,000 for common carrier loss of life benefit; $100,000 for 24-hour loss of life benefit
Purchase protection Up to $500 per claim and up to $50,000 per account Up to $10,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per year

 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is obviously the more premium of the two cards. You’ll get a $300 travel credit each year with the Reserve, plus a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit every four years. The Reserve also comes with a higher earning rate and larger UR portal redemption rate. The travel insurance on the Reserve offers higher rates of coverage as well. However, that doesn’t necessarily make it the right choice for every traveler.

An Argument For Choosing the Preferred

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

While the Chase Sapphire 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.

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 only $95 per year. 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.

The Preferred’s Elevated Sign Up Bonus

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is currently offering a higher sign-up bonus compared to its older sibling, the Reserve. Right now, you’ll get 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, meaning this bonus is worth up to $1,200. By comparison, the Reserve is offering 50,000 points after you hit $4,000 in spend within the first three months, which is worth only $1,000.

Here’s the kicker. You can only receive one bonus from a Chase Sapphire card within the span of 48 months, which means you need to choose which bonus you apply for and hit very carefully. All things considered, the additional $200 in value you’ll get with the Preferred’s sign-up bonus is a compelling reason to apply for it over the Reserve. If you decide that you would get more value with the Reserve’s card features, you can always request an upgrade later down the line.

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 nine airline and three hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio. Partners include British Airways, Hyatt and United — so you have a strong variety of options for putting your points to use.

Transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt and get free hotel nights worldwide. (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
When you transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt, they are worth the same whether the points are from the Preferred or the Reserve. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

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.

You Still Get Primary Rental Car Insurance

Long before Chase introduced the Sapphire Reserve, award travelers sang 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 $75,000. It’s worth noting, though, that the Preferred’s coverage excludes “expensive, exotic and antique automobiles.”

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. With the Preferred, 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 their own Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounge access.

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 Preferred. As an ultra-premium card, the Reserve requires 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.

Bottom Line

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has long been a TPG favorite. In fact, TPG’s Richard Kerr has held the Preferred since 2012 and still loves it.  When the Reserve launched, it added onto that value, with luxury perks like a Priority Pass membership and annual $300 travel credit. You really can’t go wrong with either card, as each has a lot to offer both beginners and veterans to the points and miles game.

If you’re looking at applying for one or the other right now, it’s important to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred‘s elevated sign-up bonus. It’s worth hundreds of dollars more without a $450 annual fee. You can always request an upgrade later on if you decide next year or sometime after that the Reserve will better serve your travel needs.

Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point sign-up bonus.

Additional reporting by Sarah Silbert. 

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2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.