October 7, 2016
Review: The Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
My favorite and most used travel credit card has been the Chase Sapphire Reserve ever since it came out. It’s usually the first card I recommend when people ask me which travel credit card they should get. The Reserve has a very strong points earning capability, provides fantastic points redemption opportunities, and comes with a suite of travel perks.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. While it initially offered 100,000 points when it first came out, 50,000 UR points is still a great offer.
The sign-up bonus is only available if you don’t have another Sapphire card and have not received a Sapphire card bonus in the past 24 months.
The Reserve earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on travel and dining purchases and 1x point per $1 on everything else. Travel is defined very broadly and includes things like airfare, hotels, cruises, taxis, ubers, parking, tolls, car rentals, etc.
There’s two ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards points. First, you can use points to book airfare, hotel rooms, activities in cities around the world, rental cars, and cruises through Chase’s travel portal. You’ll get a flat 1.50 cents per point by redeeming this way. For example, you could redeem the 50,000 point sign-up bonus for $750 worth of plane tickets (50,000 x 1.50 cents=$750).
The second way to redeem Ultimate Rewards points is to transfer them to Chase’s travel partners and book travel directly through them. Chase points can be transferred to the following loyalty programs-British Airways, Korean Air, Singapore Air, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, Flying Blue, Aer Lingus, Iberia, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, and Ritz-Carlton.
Transferring points to airline and hotel loyalty programs is a tad more complicated than just redeeming them for 1.50 cents each. But the tradeoff is you get much more value per point. Here’s one example-you can transfer 110,000 points to Virgin Atlantic and then use those points to book a roundtrip flight between the West Coast and Japan in ANA First Class. Those flights typically sell for around $18,000. Redeeming your points for that booking would net you an astronomical 16 cents per point ($18,000/110,000).
You generally shouldn’t be redeeming Chase points for 1.50 cents through Chase’s travel portal. Of course there are circumstances where this can make sense. But you usually get a better value by transferring to an airline or hotel program and redeeming for luxury accommodations.
Annual Travel Credit
Cardholders get an annual $300 travel credit. Chase applies up to $300 in statement credits each year as you accrue travel expenses. For example, if I charge a $20 Uber ride to my Reserve, I’ll get a $20 statement credit. If I buy a $200 ticket to San Diego the next day, Chase will apply a $200 statement credit.
Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check Credit
Cardholders receive a statement credit of up to $100 for their Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fee. The credit is available once every four years as long as the fee is charged to the Reserve.
Priority Pass Lounges
Cardholders receive a complimentary Priority Pass lounge membership. Priority Pass is the world’s largest network of lounges. There’s over 1,000 lounges in 500+ cities around the world and the list keeps growing every year. Best of all, it doesn’t matter which airline or class of service you’re flying. Cardholders and their guests receive free entry.
Cardholders receive the standard suite of travel perks as well. This includes trip cancellation & interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, primary rental car insurance, etc. See the card’s terms for details.
The Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee and charges no foreign transaction fees.
Should You Get It?
This card is a must if you do any amount of traveling. Let’s start with the $450 annual fee. Obviously this is an expensive card, but keep in mind you receive an annual $300 travel credit. That makes the Reserve’s effective cost only $150.
In exchange for that $150, you get a sign-up bonus worth at least $750, you earn a very lucrative 3x UR points per $1 on travel and dining worldwide with no foreign transaction fees, you get a free Global Entry application, and a Priority Pass lounge membership which normally retails for $399.
The Reserve offers far most value than the $150 you end up paying for. And the more you travel, the more valuable the perks become.