How to maximize earning with the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Oct 22, 2021

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the best travel credit cards in the miles and points world. TPG readers have voted it the No. 1 premium credit card three years in a row.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • The card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which are some of the most valuable points you can earn for free travel. They’re easy to use, and they can be redeemed for a wide variety of things.
  • Cardholders receive an annual statement credit that automatically reimburses the first $300 of travel expenses charged to the card each cardmember year.
  • The card offers excellent travel insurance.
  • The card offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after meeting minimum spending requirements (worth $1,000, per TPG valuations).

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However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve also charges a $550 annual fee. Is it worth that price tag after you’ve used the sign-up bonus?

Let’s examine how you can maximize the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits to ensure you’re earning the most points — and saving money while you’re at it.

In This Post

Overview of the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Below are the notable benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, including its earning rates:

As you can see, this card’s value extends far beyond the sign-up bonus. If you travel even a few times per year, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is likely worthwhile for you.

Related: Chase Sapphire Reserve review

Strategies for maximizing the Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael for The Points Guy)

The Chase Sapphire Reserve currently offers 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. TPG values that bonus at $1,000 worth of travel, though it’s certainly possible to receive more value if you’re acquainted with Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots.

Beyond the bonus, how can you rack up Chase Ultimate Rewards points with this card?

Use your Chase Sapphire Reserve to pay for hotels via the Chase travel portal

Earning 10 Chase points per dollar is an absurdly high rate.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve accrues 10x points for hotels reserved through the Chase travel portal. Now, booking a hotel through Chase comes with pros and cons (as we’ll touch on later), but you can think of this earning rate as a 20% rebate, as TPG values Chase points at 2 cents each.

If you usually head to online travel agencies like Orbitz and Priceline when booking a hotel, you should love this particular benefit. That’s because Chase uses Expedia to reserve hotels, so you’ll be dealing with an ecosystem with which you’re familiar.

Use your Chase Sapphire Reserve to pay for rental cars

Again, you’ll earn 10 Chase points per dollar when renting cards through the Chase travel portal.

This earning rate works perfectly in tandem with the card’s already generous primary rental car insurance. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the best credit cards for reserving rental cars, so it’s an obvious choice for renting cars, anyway. This 10x earning rate just makes it that much more of a no-brainer.

When you book a rental car with this card and waive the rental agency’s in-house insurance, you’ll receive primary coverage against damage and theft. Not paying for insurance at the desk could save you at least $15 per day!

Use your Chase Sapphire Reserve to pay for airfare

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 5 points per dollar on airfare when booking through the Chase travel portal and 3 points per dollar when booking through an online travel agency or directly with the airline. Those are solid earning rates no matter which outlet you choose to book flights.

There are two additional reasons the Chase Sapphire Reserve is at the top of the list when it comes to booking airfare:

  • Trip delay insurance: You are covered for up to $500 per ticket when your flight is delayed six hours or more or overnight.
  • Baggage delay insurance: You and your immediate family are entitled to up to $100 per day for up to five days for necessary expenses like clothes, toiletries, etc. This benefit kicks in when your bags are delayed six hours or more.

Use your Chase Sapphire Reserve for dining

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3 points per dollar on dining. That’s a solid 6% back at restaurants. If you’re like us, you spend thousands per year on dining. It’s not difficult to rack up 10,000 points per year from dining alone — especially considering this 3x bonus category includes delivery services like DoorDash.

This earning rate works well with the card’s promotional DoorDash benefits:

  • Complimentary DashPass membership of (at least) one year when you enroll by March 31 (free delivery on orders totaling more than $12).

Use your Chase Sapphire Reserve for $300 in travel each year

You won’t earn points for the first $300 you spend on travel each cardmember year. That sounds like a bad thing, but it’s not.

Chase reimburses up to $300 in travel purchases after your account anniversary. And because Chase has a broad definition of travel, your credit will automatically trigger for expenses like:

  • Airfare.
  • Hotels.
  • Timeshares.
  • Car rentals.
  • Cruises.
  • Travel agencies.
  • Campgrounds.
  • Trains, buses, taxis and limousines.
  • Ferries.
  • Toll bridges.
  • Parking lots and garages.

You’ll receive access to this credit as soon as you open the card. Factor this in with the $1,000 in bonus points you’ll receive, and you’re looking at a first-year value proposition of $1,300 from opening the Chase Sapphire Reserve. And as long as you spend $300 in travel each year, this credit effectively lowers the card’s $550 annual fee to $250.

When not to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve

There are some situations in which the Chase Sapphire Reserve doesn’t work in your favor.

Don’t use your Chase Sapphire Reserve to pay for non-bonus expenses

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 1 point per dollar on all expenses that don’t fall into a bonus category. There are plenty of cards that will better serve you for these purchases. To keep earning Chase Ultimate Rewards, use the Chase Freedom Unlimited instead, which earns a flat 1.5% (1.5 points per dollar) on all purchases.

Don’t use your Chase Sapphire Reserve to pay for hotels if you’re pursuing elite status

Earning 10x Chase points for hotels through the Chase travel portal is undoubtedly alluring. But it’s not for everyone (myself included). Because Expedia powers the Chase portal, you are effectively booking your hotel via a third party. That means:

  • You won’t earn elite night credits.
  • You won’t earn hotel points.
  • If you have elite status, it (almost certainly) won’t be recognized.

If you’re chasing elite status — or if you want to enjoy the status you’ve already earned — don’t book your hotel through the Chase travel portal. We suggest instead that you open a hotel credit card with your favorite hotel chain and book directly with the hotel.

Bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth the $550 annual fee to those who know how to wield it. Thanks to its top-of-the-line travel insurance, its ability to earn 10 Chase points per dollar on select purchases and its $300 annual travel credit, it’s a TPG reader favorite. The card’s 50,000-point bonus isn’t anything to sneeze at, either.

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Reserve with 50,000-point bonus

Featured photo by Justin Pumfrey/Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, 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 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% 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.