Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which card is right for you?

Nov 22, 2019

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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. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred 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 the more attractive option for 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 — and make sure you don’t bump up against Chase’s infamous 5/24 rule.

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: TPG’s reviews of 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 year Up to $10,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per year

 

An argument for choosing the Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is obviously the more premium of the two cards. If you’re a frequent traveler, the Reserve will likely give you more long-term value.

Premium travel benefits

If you’re looking for premium perks to upgrade your travel experiences, the Reserve is the way to go. You’ll get a $300 travel credit each year with the Reserve, plus up to a $100 TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee credit every four years. And the card comes with a Priority Pass Select membership that gives you entry into airport lounges around the world.

If you take advantage of these perks, you’ll more than offset the cost of the annual fee each year.

Higher earning rate

The Chase Sapphire Reserve also has a higher earning rate than the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Those who spend a lot on travel and dining will find the extra point per dollar on those purchases rewarding. For example, if you know you’ll spend $1,000 a month on travel and dining, here’s what your yearly earnings would look like with each card:

Credit card:

Bonus category spending:

Yearly earnings:

Chase Sapphire Reserve $1,000 x 3 points x 12 months 36,000 Ultimate Rewards points
Chase Sapphire Preferred $1,000 x 3 points x 12 months 24,000 Ultimate Rewards points

 

That one point makes a huge difference over the course of the year. Even though TPG values all Ultimate Rewards (no matter which card earns them) at 2 cents each, the Reserve is still worth $240 more in rewards value each year. The more you plan to spend in those bonus categories, the bigger the difference in rewards. Let’s say you spend $2,000 a month on travel and dining. That would bring your Reserve earnings up to 72,000 points annually ($1,440 in value) versus 48,000 points with the Preferred ($960).

Keep in mind, though, that you won’t earn 3x on travel until you have used up your $300 travel credit.

50% redemption bonus

In addition to a higher earning rate, the Reserve also comes with a higher redemption rate when you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. The Chase Sapphire Reserve allows you to redeem each point at 1.5 cents each, compared to 1.25 cents each with the Preferred.

I don’t typically suggest booking hotels through a third-party portal unless you find an astronomical deal, because you typically won’t earn hotel points, elite credits or have your elite status recognized (though that isn’t always the case). But if you are regularly booking airfare through the portal, it’s worth having the Reserve for the higher redemption rate. A $600 plane ticket will cost you 48,000 points with the Preferred but only 40,000 points with the Reserve.

Better trip insurance coverage

With more cards cutting trip insurance, premium coverage is harder to come by. While both the Preferred and the Reserve offer a great selection of travel insurance benefits, you’re getting better coverage with the Reserve — almost double the coverage amount on some benefits like travel accident insurance and purchase protection. On its own, this may not be a reason to choose the Reserve over the Preferred. But when combined with the other additional benefits the Reserve offers, it could be a deciding factor.

An argument for choosing the Preferred

(Photo by Wyatt Smith / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred can’t compete with the Reserve when it comes to perks such as 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 currently wins out over the Chase Sapphire Reserve by offering a higher sign-up bonus. 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 receive 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 10 airline and three hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio. Chase’s airline partners give you access to all three of the top alliances (Oneworld, Star Alliance and Flying Blue), so you’ll have a strong variety of options for putting your points to use.

(Photo courtesy of Park Hyatt New York Sky Suite)
When you transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to a travel partner such as Hyatt, they are worth the same whether the points are from the Preferred or the Reserve. (Photo courtesy of Park Hyatt New York Sky Suite)

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.

Check out our guide on maximizing Chase’s transfer partners

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. 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 — most likely due to the fact that 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, the Preferred added on to 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.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME 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.

Apply Now
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.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% 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.