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 Dec. 31 (free delivery on orders totaling more than $12).
  • Up to $60 in DoorDash credits for 2021 (in other words, $60 in free food).

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 can also use your statement credit for gas and grocery purchases through Dec. 31.

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.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.