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How to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 annual travel credit to save on travel

Jan. 25, 2023
7 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


In addition to the bonus points on travel and dining charges, a marquee benefit of the Chase Sapphire Reserve since its debut in 2016 has been its $300 travel credit each year. And unlike similar perks on competing cards, this credit is incredibly easy to use on all sorts of travel.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a $550 annual fee, but if you spend at least $300 per year on travel, the effective annual fee is much less painful.

This annual credit is in addition to other Sapphire Reserve perks, such as Priority Pass membership, the application fee credit toward Global Entry/PreCheck every four years, bonus points on Lyft rides (through March 2025) and up to $5 in monthly DoorDash credits (plus a DashPass membership through Dec. 31, 2024), which together make it an easier call to continue holding the card.

So how exactly how do you use the Sapphire Reserve’s travel credit? Thankfully, it’s really, really easy. The (sorta) bad news? It’s so simple and automatic that you may use the credit before you even realize it.

Related: Complete review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve

THE POINTS GUY

When do you earn the $300 Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve annual $300 travel credit is awarded each year that you have the card and is ready to use as soon as you open your new account.

In most cases, when this credit resets, it is tied to a cardmember year, not a calendar year. That means when you first opened the card will usually determine the date you get a fresh $300 travel credit each year.

The exception is those who opened a Sapphire Reserve before May 21, 2017, who are awarded the annual travel credit based on a calendar year. In that case, the credit is awarded after the last statement closure date in December, regardless of when during the year the account was opened.

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This stands in contrast to American Express’ airline fee credits on cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, as those are always awarded on a calendar-year basis (enrollment is required).

Related: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. the Amex Platinum

What counts toward the Sapphire Reserve's travel credit?

A great element of the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s travel credit is that it is quite broad in what types of charges it covers.

Essentially, you can typically use the annual travel credit on anything that codes as travel on your Sapphire Reserve. Remember, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar on travel charges by swiping the card, so the charges that award bonus points will be the same charges you can use toward the travel credit. (However, know that you don’t earn points on the travel charges offset by the $300 travel credit.)

Some examples of types of purchases that count for the Sapphire Reserve’s travel credit include:

  • Airline charges.
  • Hotels.
  • Timeshares.
  • Campgrounds.
  • Car rental agencies.
  • Cruise lines.
  • Travel agency services.
  • Train tickets.
  • Bus tickets.
  • Taxis and car services.
  • Toll bridges and highways.
  • Parking lots and garages.

Because airline charges generally code as travel, you can use the credit on purchases such as your airline tickets, taxes on award tickets, upgrades, seat assignment fees, checked bag fees, onboard snacks, change fees and lap infant fees.

Your cruise deposits and payments should also count, as do hotel bookings and deposits. If you have to pay for parking, taxis or road tolls in your normal life, you can even use the travel credit toward those everyday charges.

What does not count toward the Sapphire Reserve travel credit?

Of course, not all purchases you may think of in the travel space code as travel charges. If a purchase doesn’t code as a travel charge, you won’t be able to use the $300 travel credit from the Sapphire Reserve.

Items that code as travel vary and can also change at any time. Some things that may not code as travel include theme park tickets brought directly from theme parks, ski lift tickets, Points.com purchases, some airline or travel gift card purchases, inflight purchases that are processed by a third party and some meals eaten at a hotel but not charged to a room.

(Pro tip: If you want Disney tickets to code as a travel charge, book them via a third-party travel site such as Get Away Today or Undercover Tourist.)

SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

How do you use the Sapphire Reserve travel credit?

Using your Sapphire Reserve travel credit is very simple: just use the card to pay for eligible travel purchases — that’s it.

There is nothing to activate, no codes to use or special sites to book through. The offsetting statement credits will usually automatically appear on your account within a couple of days as shown below, and this will continue until you’ve used the year’s travel credit in full.

CHASE

Related: Best travel credit cards

How to see if you’ve used your Sapphire Reserve travel credit

If you’ve lost track of whether you’ve used up your Sapphire Reserve annual travel credit, you can easily figure it out by logging into the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and looking at rewards activity for your Reserve card in the benefits section.

When expanded, this section will also tell you when next year’s credit becomes available, so you know to use up this year’s credit before then.

CHASE

Bottom line

It’s great when credit cards give you annual travel credits that are easy to use, and the $300 travel credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve is about as simple as it comes. Every year, you’ll automatically get $300 in statement credits whenever your card is used on a travel purchase — effectively lowering the fee on the card to $250 per year if you maximize the credit.

Of course, if you aren't making the most of the Sapphire Reserve benefits, you could also talk to Chase about potentially downgrading to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or even the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox.

Featured image by SANCTUARY ON CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.