Luxury perks and valuable points: Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card review

Mar 18, 2022

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.


Chase Sapphire Reserve Card overview

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the best rewards credit cards of all time. In January 2020, it got a long-expected refresh that saw the annual fee climb to $550, but with the addition of a $120 statement credit for Peloton membership and complimentary access to DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Offering up to 10 points per dollar on travel and dining through the Chase portal, this card earns incredibly valuable Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to 14 hotel and airline partners or redeemed directly for flights at a rate of 1.5 cents per point. Add in a $300 annual travel credit, airport lounge access and a free concierge service, and this card is guaranteed to upgrade your travel lifestyle. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the card that convinced average consumers that they could come out ahead with a premium credit card even after paying an annual fee of several hundred dollars a year. In fact, the Sapphire Reserve was so successful from the moment it launched in August 2016 (with a short-lived 100,000-point welcome bonus) that Chase temporarily ran out of the metal slabs needed to produce the cards.

There has been intense competition in the premium credit card space in recent years, as issuers continue to raise annual fees and add new perks such as food delivery and credits for ride-hailing services. Chase has followed this path with the Sapphire Reserve. The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee has increased to $550 a year in recent years, but that fee increase came with new perks. For example, the card now also offers a complimentary DashPass and up to $120 on Peloton Digital or All-Access memberships through June 2022.

Let’s review the features that continue to make the Sapphire Reserve such an attractive card — one that has earned a permanent spot at the top of my wallet.

In This Post

Who is this card for?

Even with its annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great card for most travelers.

First, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are among the most valuable currencies out there. They’re easy to redeem, with a wide range of 14 airline and hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. (Because of Chase’s 5/24 rule, you’ll want to apply for Chase cards first before turning to other issuers.)

The Reserve’s $550 annual fee is a valid concern, but the $300 annual travel credit drops your real out-of-pocket cost to $250 before you factor in other perks such as the DoorDash membership, TSA/Global Entry credit (up to $100 value) and Priority Pass lounge access. Like the bonus categories, this annual credit is automatically applied to a broad range of travel purchases in the U.S. and abroad.

For those with sticker shock about the $550 annual fee, the little sister of Chase Sapphire Reserve — the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card — is a solid option. The Sapphire Preferred is our most-recommended first rewards credit card to get, has an annual fee of just $95 and currently has a slightly higher current sign-up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening (versus 50,000 for the Reserve).

But the Sapphire Reserve combines strong value with simplicity and a better-earning structure than the Sapphire Preferred. Chase defines travel and dining broadly for its bonus categories that earn 3 points per dollar spent on the Sapphire Reserve (vs. 2 points per dollar for travel on the Preferred), so it’s easy to reap the full benefits of your card.

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

Sign-up bonus: Worth $1,000

With a value of 2 cents apiece for Ultimate Rewards points (according to TPG valuations), the current 50,000-point bonus (after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening) on the Sapphire Reserve is worth $1,000. That’s equivalent to almost two years of the annual fee.

Plus, as mentioned, when you factor in the $300 in travel you get each year as a perk, the annual fee is really only $250, because it’s not hard for most travelers to spend $300 a year on airfare, hotels, car rentals or other travel expenses.

Chase has a wide description of what counts: airlines, hotels (including Airbnb), motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, passenger trains, buses, taxis (including Uber and Lyft), limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.

Even if you don’t utilize Chase’s transfer partners, Sapphire Reserve cardholders get a value of 1.5 cents per Ultimate Rewards point when redeeming for travel in the Chase travel portal. Even if you’re a novice in the travel rewards field and don’t know how to maximize transfer partners, you’re guaranteed to get at least $1,000 in travel from the welcome bonus if you use your points to book travel through the portal.

Remember, too, that any flight you book this way counts as a revenue booking. This means you’ll earn airline miles and elite credit as well, getting you even more value.

Related: How to maximize earning with the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Main benefits

(Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
One of the many perks that come with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is 10 points per dollar spent on Lyft rides. (Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

The Chase Sapphire Reserve doesn’t offer quite as many perks as The Platinum Card® from American Express, but partnerships with providers like DoorDash, Lyft and Peloton can appeal to a wide range of travelers. There are even a few areas where the Sapphire Reserve clearly excels, such as its travel credit and the fact that it still allows access to Priority Pass restaurants. Here are the details:

Annual travel credit

One of the biggest benefits of the card is the $300 annual travel credit. Chase will automatically credit your account $300 when you use it to make eligible purchases.

Unlimited DoorDash delivery

Even before Chase revealed the full details of the Sapphire Reserve refresh, it announced that cardholders would be eligible for a total of $120 in DoorDash credits as part of the issuer’s new partnership. While this originally included a minimum of one free year of DashPass, that partnership has now been extended through Dec. 31, 2024. This means that all Sapphire Reserve cardholders — including those who canceled before the extension announcement — can enjoy free delivery and reduced service fees on all orders over $12. This membership normally costs $9.99 a month.

Lyft Pink membership

Sapphire Reserve cardholders can receive one free year of Lyft Pink membership. Launched late in 2019, this program (which normally costs $19.99 a month) offers 15% savings on all car rides, priority airport pickups, surprise offers, relaxed cancellation fees and more. Sapphire Reserve cardmembers will also automatically earn 10 points per dollar spent every time they use their card for a Lyft ride through March 2025.

Priority Pass Lounge access

Although you won’t have access to Delta Sky Clubs (as you do with The Platinum Card® from American Express when flying Delta) or American Airlines Admirals Clubs (as you do with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®), the Sapphire Reserve does include a Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you into more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world. In addition, authorized users receive a Priority Pass Select membership of their own. You’ll pay $75 to add each authorized user to your CSR account, but they’ll be able to take advantage of one of the card’s nicest perks.

The Priority Pass network includes some premium lounges, both in the U.S. and abroad. In recent years, Priority Pass also added airport restaurants to its network (you can see the full list here). American Express cut these restaurants from its Priority Pass benefit, but Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders will continue to get free food (usually ~$28 per person) at all of these locations.

Peloton statement credits

Sapphire Reserve cardholders can earn up to $120 back in statement credits on eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access memberships through June 2022. These memberships come with full access to Peloton’s workout library through the app and no equipment is required. These memberships are great for anyone who makes it a habit to work out even while traveling for work or on vacation.

Application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

Like many other premium cards, the Sapphire Reserve will reimburse you when you charge the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck to the card. Remember that Global Entry includes PreCheck, so that’s the smarter choice. This benefit is available to cardholders once every four years, and if you have already enrolled, you can use the credit to cover the application fee for a friend or family member.

Visa Infinite Perks

Because the Sapphire Reserve is a Visa Infinite card, you’ll receive the perks that come along with the program. Highlights include primary rental car insurance, trip cancellation and delay coverage, lost luggage reimbursement, a concierge service and access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection.

Earning

Besides the welcome bonus, the bonus earning categories will also help build your Ultimate Rewards account. Here’s an overview of what you’ll earn on the card:

  • 10 points per dollar on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Travel.
  • 10 points per dollar on dining purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • 5 points per dollar on flights purchased through Chase Travel.
  • 3 points per dollar on all other travel (excluding the $300 travel credit) and dining purchases worldwide.
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Note that you won’t earn any points on the first $300 spent on travel purchases each cardmember year, as that will trigger the card’s $300 travel credit.

It’s also worth noting that the Sapphire Preferred increased its earning rate on dining to 3 points per dollar as of 2021. However, for those with significant travel purchases, you can still earn a bunch of extra points with the Sapphire Reserve.

Once you factor in the $300 travel credit, the annual fee difference between the two cards is $155 ($250 versus $95). That means you’d need to earn an extra 7,750 Ultimate Rewards points a year with the Reserve to come out ahead (based on TPG’s valuations and without considering any other perks and benefits). You can hit that mark by spending as little as $750 a month on travel and dining.

(Photo by Victoria Walker/The Points Guy)

Redeeming

The ability to redeem with several partners is one of the most important aspects of a travel rewards credit card, and that’s definitely the case with the Sapphire Reserve. If you choose to transfer your points to one of Chase’s 14 travel partners, there’s potential for some amazing redemptions. You could get a two-night stay at a Category 7 Hyatt property or a flight to Europe in Delta One business class (by transferring to Virgin Atlantic) with this bonus alone.

In addition to redeeming with transfer partners, you can also book travel through the Chase travel portal with your points valued at 1.5 cents each. While it’s not always the best value, this is a great option for boutique hotels that don’t belong to a larger brand such as Marriott or Hyatt. It’s also great for booking flights when cash prices are low.

Chase did add a new redemption option in 2020 — the Pay Yourself Back program. You can currently redeem your points at a value of 1.5 cents each for purchases with Airbnb, Away, restaurants and select charities through March 2022.

If you’re new to Chase Ultimate Rewards, make sure to see our guide to redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards for maximum value.

Related: Best sweet spots with Chase Ultimate Rewards

Which cards compete with the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael for The Points Guy)

The Sapphire Reserve’s most natural competitors, besides the Chase Sapphire Preferred, are other premium cards like as The Platinum Card® from American Express.

The Amex Platinum, with its $695 annual fee (see rates and fees), is a strong pick when it comes to airfare purchases, since it earns 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly through airlines and with American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). You’ll also earn 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. However, for other travel purchases, as well as dining spending, you’re getting just 1 point per dollar, compared to the Sapphire Reserve’s 3 points per dollar.

However, the Amex Platinum does offer complimentary Gold elite status with Hilton and Marriott, along with access to Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts and The Hotel Collection (including up to $200 in annual statement credits for prepaid reservations at FHR and THC resorts). Meanwhile, the Sapphire Reserve only offers access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection.

The Platinum Card’s annual airline fee credit of up to $200 is also much less flexible than the Sapphire Reserve’s $300 annual travel credit, since you can only use the Platinum’s with one designated airline and only for specific ancillary fees. Unlike the Sapphire’s credit, it’s not even valid for actual airfare.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Amex Platinum has added a slew of additional lifestyle perks over the last few years — including a monthly digital entertainment credit, a monthly credit for Walmart+ and an annual credit for Clear membership. You can also access up to $200 in annual statement credits for Uber rides and Uber Eats purchases in the U.S. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Read more: From private jets to Walmart credits: What has Amex done to my beloved Platinum card?

A new but formidable competitor to the Sapphire Reserve is the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. The new premium rewards card has an annual fee of $395, much lower than both that of the Reserve and Platinum Amex.

The Venture X is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. According to TPG’s valuation, this sign-up bonus is worth up to $1,388 — notably higher than the Sapphire Reserve’s bonus.

Both the Sapphire Reserve and Venture X include a Priority Pass membership and complimentary meals at select Priority Pass airport restaurants. Capital One, however, has opened its first lounge at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), a feat not yet completed by Chase. The company has also announced plans for two additional lounge openings in 2022. And while Chase has stated that it plans to open five lounges in 2022, there remains little public information on those plans.

Both the Venture X and Sapphire Reserve provide application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. And while the Sapphire Reserve charges $75 per authorized user, the Venture X allows for four authorized users at no additional cost.

While both cards offer a $300 travel credit each year, the Venture X limits cardholders to purchases made through Capital One Travel — whereas the Sapphire Reserve will automatically apply its annual credit to any travel purchase charged to the card.

When it comes to earning rates, the Venture X also incentivizes cardholders to book travel through its portal, with identical earning rates to the Sapphire Reserve (10 miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals, and 5 miles per dollar on flights). And while the Sapphire Reserve provides bonus points on travel and dining, the Venture X stands out for award 2 miles per dollar spent on all other purchases.

While the Venture X is a great pick for a premium travel card, there are certain limitations to this lower annual fee card. Its inflexible travel credit can seem restrictive when compared to the Sapphire Reserve. And while Capital One has great transfer partners, there is still room for improvement when compared to Chase.

(Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

There’s also the Citi Prestige® Card — though it’s no longer open to new applicants. The Citi ThankYou Rewards program’s selection of transfer partners isn’t as impressive as Chase’s list, but the Prestige does stand out for its fourth night free benefit.

Unfortunately, this benefit is capped at twice per year. Even so, if you make paid hotel stays at high-end properties, it could be worth using the Citi Prestige Card for that perk but still using the Sapphire Reserve for the majority of your travel and dining spending. Also, note that Citi cut most of the card’s travel and purchase perks as of September 2019.

Other premium cards, such as the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card are harder to compare, because they are cobranded cards that focus on providing high-end benefits and status to travelers within specific loyalty programs rather than premium perks that aren’t tied to a specific brand. Plus, the points the Chase Sapphire Reserve earns are more valuable.

The information for the Citi Prestige and Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Who’s eligible for the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

It can be difficult to get approved for some Chase cards because of the issuer’s restrictive application requirements — specifically, the 5/24 rule. While not a formally-published policy, numerous reports indicate that if you’ve opened five credit card accounts with any issuer in the past 24 months, your application will be automatically declined.

Related: The best ways to use your 5/24 slots

Additionally, the Sapphire Reserve is not available to either current cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card, nor is it available to previous cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 48 months.

If you currently have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can call Chase to see if you are eligible to upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve — though you won’t earn a sign-up bonus for upgrading.

Bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a complete no-brainer credit card for those who love travel rewards — especially for more frequent travelers.

The $300 travel credit effectively brings the true card’s annual fee down from $550 to $250. This means the annual fee can be justified even for smaller spenders if the primary goal is points earning. With 3 points per dollar on travel and dining categories, industry-leading travel protections, valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and various perks, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of our best credit cards.


Official application link: Chase Sapphire Reserve.


Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor and Christina Ly.

Featured image by The Points Guy.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.

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.