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6 reasons to keep the Chase Sapphire Reserve after the recent Sapphire card changes

Aug. 16, 2021
10 min read
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Chase recently refreshed the Sapphire credit cards, with the changes that go into effect today, Aug. 16, 2021.

Nothing is totally revolutionary, but there are a few notable additions that narrow the value gap between the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Do these card changes warrant an adjustment in your Chase credit card strategy?

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Let's quickly revisit the Chase Sapphire card changes -- and examine six reasons why the Chase Sapphire Reserve still deserves a spot in your wallet.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Lightning recap: What's changing with Chase Sapphire cards?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has improved incrementally with the following earning changes:

It still earns 3x points on other travel and dining, and 1x on other eligible purchases.

Card improvements like these should mean the Chase Sapphire Reserve is more enticing than ever. But, ironically, it's the changes to its mid-tier sister that has current Reserve cardmembers questioning their decision to keep the card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred received vastly more meaningful improvements, such as:

  • 5x points on travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal
  • 3x points on dining
  • 3x points on select streaming services
  • 3x points on online groceries (excludes Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • $50 annual credit on hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards
  • 10% of your points back each cardmember year based on your card spending

The card will continue to earn 2x on other travel and 1x on other eligible purchases. A few of those improvements really move the needle in favor of choosing the Chase Sapphire Preferred over the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

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Related: Chase adds bonus categories, new perks to Sapphire card lineup

However, here are six areas where the Chase Sapphire Reserve still beats the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

1. Better redemption rate via Chase Travel Portal

When Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders redeem points for things like airfare, hotels and rental cars through the Chase Travel Portal, they receive a flat value of 1.5 cents per point. That is 0.25 cents higher than the value Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders receive.

Here's a quick example: With 20,000 Chase points, you'll get the following value:

  • $300 in value toward travel as a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder
  • $250 in value toward travel as a Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholder

As you can see, if you have a meaningful number of points, the Chase Sapphire Reserve can unlock significantly more value.

Just note that there are better ways to maximize Chase points, namely, converting them into airline miles and hotel points with the Ultimate Rewards program's transfer partners. TPG estimates you'll get a value of 2 cents per Chase point when you use them in this way.

Just note that points earned with either Sapphire card transfer to travel partners on the same 1:1 basis, so the Sapphire Reserve has no edge over the Sapphire Preferred when transferring points.

Related: How to use the Chase Travel Portal

2. $300 annual travel credit

The Chase Sapphire Reserve incurs a $550 annual fee, which is much higher than the Chase Sapphire Preferred's $95 annual fee. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with an annual travel credit worth up to $300. It's truly effortless to redeem, as it will automatically trigger when you use your card for travel-related purchases, such as:

  • Airlines
  • Hotels
  • Timeshares
  • Campgrounds
  • Car rental agencies
  • Cruise lines
  • Travel agency services
  • Trains
  • Buses
  • Taxis and car services
  • Toll bridges and highways
  • Parking lots and garages

In other words, Chase will pay for the first $300 in travel you buy each cardmember year. If you spend at least $300 on paid travel each year, this credit effectively reduces your annual fee to $250 per year. That's not nearly as intimidating as $550.

Related: How to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual travel credit

3. Priority Pass membership

There are plenty of cards that offer Priority Pass Select lounge membership with varying access. The Chase Sapphire Reserve extends one of the best membership perks among all the cards that include Priority Pass, though. Just remember that you have to register for Priority Pass with your Chase Sapphire Reserve before attempting to access any lounges.

Not only do cardholders get access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide, they're also allowed to bring two guests into the lounge with them for free ($27 per guest after that). Thanks to Priority Pass's restaurant partners, cardholders can also score free food and beverages at over 50 airports. Not all cards offer that benefit.

The most comprehensive Priority Pass lounge membership costs $429 when you enroll via the Priority Pass website. It doesn't even come with guest privileges. This means the Chase Sapphire Reserve's Priority Pass membership is worth even more, and unlike anything you get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

4. Global Entry/TSA PreCheck

Trusted traveler programs are an absolute blessing for anyone who travels even a handful of times each year. Two of the major programs in the U.S. are:

  • TSA PreCheck ($85 application fee): You don't have to take your shoes, belt or light jacket off when heading through (most) TSA security checkpoints. You don't even have to take your laptop out of your bag. You get an exclusive security lane.
  • Global Entry ($100 application fee): You get an expedited immigration experience when returning to the U.S. from abroad. Enter your info/biometric data into a kiosk instead of waiting in long lines. Global Entry also provides TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.

As long as you've got the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can count on statement credits for either a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application. The card provides a statement credit offsetting your application fee of up to $100 once every four years.

Related: Top credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck

Plenty of other cards offer Global Entry/TSA PreCheck statement credits, too -- but the Chase Sapphire Preferred does not. That's another advantage (albeit minor) of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

5. Better travel and purchase protections

Here's the thing: Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred offer really good travel protection. But there is one major area (in my opinion) in which the Sapphire Reserve wins -- trip delay insurance:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: Up to $500 per ticket for delays of six or more hours (or requiring an overnight stay)
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: Up to $500 per ticket for delays of 12 or more hours (or requiring an overnight stay)

The Reserve's trip delay insurance kicks in way before the Preferred, which can be a lifesaver when things start going wrong.

Another significantly better feature on the Reserve is its purchase protection:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: Up to $10,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per year against theft or damage, coverage extends 120 days after purchase
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: Up to $500 per claim and up to $50,000 per year against theft or damage, coverage extends 120 days after purchase

Related: Best credit cards with travel insurance

Here's a chart of both card protections, side-by-side.

Benefits

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Rental car insurancePrimary theft and collision damage; “expensive and exotic cars” are excludedPrimary theft and collision damage; provides reimbursement up to $75,000
Roadside assistance$59.95 per service callUp to $50 per incident, up to four times a year
Trip cancellation insuranceUp to $10,000 per person, $20,000 per covered tripUp to $10,000 per person, $20,000 per covered trip
Trip delay insuranceUp to $500 per ticket for delays of 12 or more hours (or requiring an overnight stay)Up to $500 per ticket for delays of six or more hours (or requiring an overnight stay)
Baggage delay insuranceUp to $100 per day for up to five daysUp to $100 per day for up to five days
Lost luggage reimbursementUp 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 protectionUp to $500 per claim and up to $50,000 per yearUp to $10,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per year

6. Lifestyle benefits

Both cards have parallel "lifestyle" benefits with different savings opportunities. You'll find benefits for DoorDash, Peloton and Lyft -- though these all have end dates, and aren't ongoing benefits that will bring you value for years to come. They are temporary adds to each card. Let's look at them anyway.

The below chart shows that the Chase Sapphire Reserve bests the Chase Sapphire Preferred in every category. However, these lifestyle benefits alone are almost certainly not enough to persuade you to choose the Reserve over the Preferred. Think of these as bonus extras.

Benefits

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Reserve

DoorDashAt least one year of complimentary DashPass membership with DoorDash (activate by Dec. 31, 2021)At least one year of complimentary DashPass membership with DoorDash (activate by Dec. 31, 2021)

Up to $60 DoorDash credits (through Dec. 31, 2021)

Peloton5x points on Peloton Bike, Tread and accessory purchases over $1,800, with a max earn of 25,000 points

Up to $60 back in statement credits on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access membership (through Dec. 31, 2021)

10x points on Peloton Bike, Tread and accessory purchases over $1,800, with a max earn of 50,000 points

Up to $120 back in statement credits on a eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access membership (through Dec. 31, 2021)

Lyft5x points with Lyft (through March 2022)10x points with Lyft (through March 2022)

One-year complimentary Lyft Pink membership, which provides benefits like a 15% discount on all rides and free bike and scooter rentals each month (activate by Mar. 31, 2021)

Bottom line

Who could blame you for reevaluating your relationship with the Chase Sapphire Reserve after all the boosts the Chase Sapphire Preferred has recently received? Both cards are better than ever -- but their value propositions are also closer than ever.

Still there are plenty of reasons to keep your Chase Sapphire Reserve, including:

  • A better redemption rate from the Chase Travel Portal
  • Priority Pass membership
  • Better travel and purchase protections

Have the new benefits changed the way you look at these cards and, more importantly, which one you're going to get or keep?

Featured image by (Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
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.

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