Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card Review

GOBankingRates Score

4.6
Quick Take: The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is one of two of the financial institution's premier credit cards. It provides individuals who have a very good credit score with the opportunity to earn points for travel, events and merchandise. Besides earning points for free travel, the card comes with luxury travel benefits such as complimentary airport lounge access and VIP perks at Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection properties. However, the benefits come with a pricey annual fee that's hard to ignore. Follow this Chase Sapphire Reserve review along to decide if the $550 annual fee is worth it.
  • Travel Benefits
    4.8
  • Sign-Up Bonus
    4.0
  • Earning Rewards
    5.0
  • Redeeming Points
    4.5
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • 50,000 bonus points, worth $750 in travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Points are worth 50% more when used for eligible redemption options through the Ultimate Rewards site
  • Complimentary Priority Pass for access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide

Cons

  • High annual fee
  • Good to excellent credit required

Chase Sapphire Reserve Overview

Chase offers nearly three dozen credit cards, including airline, hotel, cash back and travel rewards options. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is at the top of the list in benefits and rewards, especially for travelers who’d like insider access to lounges, high-end resorts and more.

The lower-fee Sapphire Preferred is typically better known because it’s more accessible. You’ll find that the Reserve offers many of the same benefits as the Preferred, but builds on them and offers higher redemptions, bonuses and points earning. However, you’ll need to have your credit habits together — the Sapphire Reserve card typically starts with a credit limit of $10,000.

Who Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card Best For?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the ultimate travel rewards credit card when VIP access is a goal. Although the card’s annual fee is steep, it may be worth the fee when you start tallying the value of the benefits available. The typical Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder has a good to excellent credit score, tends to travel as much as possible and enjoys leveraging points for free travel.

Features of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

GOBankingRates awards the Chase Sapphire Rewards Visa a 4.6 out of 5 stars. The card scored high in benefits available to cardholders, among other things. Here are some of the most important features worth noting:

Sign-Up Bonus

If you’re approved, points-based travel and VIP access can be kick-started once you spend $4,000 in the first three months. You’ll receive 50,000 bonus points upon meeting the spend requirement, which can be redeemed for 50% more in value for eligible redemption options in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. That’s an instant bump to the equivalent of 75,000 points, worth $750 toward flights, hotels or redemption in other ways.

Redeeming Points

Points redemption is somewhat flexible. While most cardholders look to redeem points for airfare or stays at the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, there are plenty of nontravel experiences available, such as chef’s tables at restaurants, concert tickets, theme park access and more.

The key to leveraging travel rewards cards is to know how and where your points go the furthest. It may be worth your while to transfer points to a travel partner such as an airline or hotel loyalty program. You’ll receive a 1:1 value on transfers to travel partners, but the loyalty program itself may offer special rewards point rates. 

However, in most cases, redemption using the Ultimate Rewards portal is the best. You can get 50% more value out of your points by using them to book travel or get statement credits on eligible purchases. This means that 100,000 points are worth 150,000 when you use them for eligible redemption options at Ultimate Rewards.

Earning Rewards

With all the possibilities for rewards travel and experiences, you may be wondering how to earn more points faster. The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s earning potential is high. You’ll earn 5 points for every dollar spent on travel in the Ultimate Rewards site. Car rentals and hotels earn 10x. All remaining travel earns 3 points per dollar.

As for everyday purchases, you’ll earn 3x on dining, takeout and select delivery services. Plus, you’ll get 1 point for every dollar spent on everything else.

Benefits

Free travel is one of the most popular credit card perks. The Chase Sapphire Reserve does well in offering a rewards system that makes it possible to earn enough points to redeem for free travel.

Besides the redemption perks, cardholders also receive membership to Priority Pass for premium lounge access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. Guests staying at Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection properties receive VIP treatment, including free room upgrades, late checkout and/or early check-in.

A $300 credit is applied to your statement balance to reimburse part of your travel spending each year, which helps offset the pricey annual fee. So do the number of travel and purchase coverages that protect you if luggage is lost, trips are interrupted or delayed, or goods are stolen or defective. The car rental reimbursement benefit can be especially helpful and cost-saving, stepping in as primary vehicle insurance for up to $75,000 against theft or collision damage.

Fees

The most significant drawback to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is the steep annual fee of $550 for the primary cardholder and $75 for each additional authorized user. The annual fee isn’t for everybody. Fortunately, there aren’t too many other fees to worry about, except for finance charges if you don’t pay your statement balance in full each month. The charges are based on the card’s annual percentage rate of .

Chase doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees to Sapphire Reserve account holders, saving customers as much as 3% on purchases made overseas when compared to what many other cards charge. Balance transfers cost 5% or $5, depending on which one is greater. 

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Worth the Annual Fee?

If the card benefits work for your lifestyle, the perks and rewards can easily offset the $550 annual fee. When you subtract the $300 annual travel credit, $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, 12 months of complimentary Lyft Pink service ($199 annual value), and the free deliveries you could receive with a free DashPass subscription, the $550 annual fee may no longer be a deterrent.

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Competitors

There are plenty of quality credit cards competing with the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. The question is, how do you choose the right card? Review some of the premium card’s biggest competitors to determine how the Chase Sapphire Reserve compares.

Card Best For
Chase Sapphire Reserve Points redemption
Chase Sapphire Preferred Sign-up offer
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Reimbursements
American Express Platinum Annual credits for shopping, travel and more

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred could be considered the lower-tier rewards card of the two, but it comes with many perks for the $95 annual fee. Earning points follows a similar route as the Reserve. The Sapphire Reserve card’s points redemption is better — you’ll get 50% more value out of your rewards points when you use them for travel or statement credits on eligible purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal, compared to the 25% in additional value that you’d get out of your points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. However, Chase Sapphire Preferred has a better bonus offer than the Reserve, providing new cardholders with 80,000 points after $4,000 spent within the first 3 months (versus the Reserve’s 50,000).

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card

When comparing two Reserve cards with higher-than-average annual fees, it’s best to look at the small details. The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve and Chase Sapphire Reserve both offer similar rewards. Chase Sapphire Reserve shines when it comes to a strong sign-up bonus. U.S. Bank excels at reimbursements, which are more varied and include credits for dining, restaurant delivery and takeout purchases and travel purchases up to $325.

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. American Express Platinum Card

Comparing the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. the American Express Platinum card may be the closest evaluation. Both card issuers provide a premium card product with lots of enticing bonuses and perks. They both have high annual fees, although the American Express Platinum card’s annual fee is higher at $695. The Platinum card’s perks are more extensive than Chase’s and include at least half a dozen annual credits for shopping, travel and more. Plus, you’ll receive access to Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Club, Hertz Gold status and Hilton Honors Gold status.

Final Take

When deciding whether to take on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the annual fee is a big part of the decision. Credit cards should be long-term companions, since the longer you keep them active, the more they can help your credit score. Committing to an annual fee of $550 or higher shouldn’t be taken lightly.

If you travel often (or plan to in the future), the annual fee will probably be offset by the access to premium airport lounges, $300 travel credit, number of coverages and more. However, before you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, take a closer look at the American Express Platinum card to compare. The perks and benefits are the closest — and exceed the Sapphire Reserve card in some categories.

Chase Sapphire Reserve FAQ

The following questions are commonly asked regarding the Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa.
  • What is the difference between Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred?
    • Chase offers a variety of credit cards for cash back, loyalty, travel and rewards. There are two Sapphire travel rewards cards available: the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve. The Sapphire Preferred card is the more widely held of the two. It comes with a lower annual fee of $95 per year but doesn't have as many premium benefits as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. However, the extra benefits of the Reserve card come with an annual fee of $550, significantly more than the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
  • Is there Chase Sapphire Reserve rental car insurance?
    • One of the many free perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is rental car insurance. The coverage is available for rentals paid in full using the Sapphire Reserve card and includes primary collision and theft protection for up to $75,000. Primary rental car coverage can be crucial in case of a large claim — if you use your personal vehicle insurance for a rental car and something goes wrong, you may receive reimbursement, but the incident can raise your car insurance premiums.
  • Is there Chase Sapphire Reserve lounge access?
    • One of the best Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits is airport lounge access. Anyone who has had a layover for longer than a couple of hours would probably appreciate waiting for the next flight at a premium airport lounge. Sapphire Reserve cardholders get complimentary membership to Priority Pass. There are more than 1,300 participating airport lounges in over 500 cities worldwide.
  • What is the Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus?
    • Credit card bonuses tend to come and go, but Chase keeps its credit card offers fairly consistent. The current Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus for new members is 50,000 bonus points, which can be redeemed at the Ultimate Rewards portal for 50% more in value when you use them for travel or statement credits on eligible purchases.
  • Can I waive the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee?
    • The Chase Sapphire Reserve's $550 annual fee can't be avoided. Be sure the perks and offers work for you before you sign up for the card.

Information is accurate as of Jan. 31, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank advertiser, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Program.

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About the Author

Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance writer with degrees from American University in international business and journalism. Besides writing about personal finance, she writes about real estate, interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in MSN, Brex, Freshome, MyMove, Emirates’ Open Skies magazine and more.

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