Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card Review

Milana Vrachar's picture
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the newest credit cards Chase introduced in the fall of 2016. This credit card is a combination of a premium and travel rewards credit cards, although you don’t necessarily have to be a member of an airline or hotel loyalty program to get those rewards. With a hefty annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve represents an improved version of the well-known Chase Sapphire Preferred, as the former offers several additional benefits the latter doesn’t. Let’s see what makes the Sapphire Reserve worth (or not) the $450 annual fee.

OverviewThe chase Sapphire Reserve

• Earn 3x points on travel worldwide.
• Earn 3x points on dining worldwide.
• Earn 1x point per $1 on everything else.
• Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months.
• Points are worth 50% more in travel redemptions through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
• No blackout dates or travel restrictions when you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

• Up to $300 in travel statement credits each year.
• Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application fee credit.
• Priority Pass Select membership.
• Special discounts from National Car Rental, Avis and Silvercar.
• The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection privileges and benefits.
Exclusive events and experiences.

• 24/7 access to Customer Service.
• Worldwide Travel Assistance from the Chase Travel Team.
• Visa Infinite Concierge.

Security & Protection
• Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance.
• Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver.
• Roadside Assistance.
• Travel Accident Insurance.
• Travel and Emergency Assistance.
• Emergency Evacuation & Transportation.
• Emergency Medical and Dental Benefit.
• Trip Delay Reimbursement.
• Lost Luggage Reimbursement.
• Baggage Delay Insurance.
• Purchase Protection.
• Price Protection.
• Return Protection.
• Extended Warranty Protection.
• Fraud Alerts & Protection.
• Zero Liability Protection.
• Chip-enabled Card.

• $450 annual fee ($75 per each additional card).
• No foreign transaction fees.
• Balance transfer APR: 16.49% to 23.49%.
• Purchase APR: 16.49% to 23.49%.
• Cash advance APR: 25.49%.
• Balance transfer transaction fee: $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
• Cash advance transaction fee: $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
• Penalty fees
     - Late payment: Up to $15 if the balance is less than $100, up to $27 if the balance is $100 to less than $250; up to $37 if the balance is $250 or more.
     - Return payment: $37.
     - Return check: no fees.

What We Like
First-class travel benefits that save big bucks.
Indeed, $450 is a lot to pay for one credit card each year, but this credit card offers tremendous benefits that easily offset the fee. Getting the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card means making the best out of your travel experience. You can enjoy exclusive benefits while saving money at the same time.

• First of all, there’s the $300 annual travel credit, which applies to hotel stays, flights, car rentals, and many other travel-related purchases, including cruises, or parking lots. This already lowers down our $450 fee to $150.
• Whether you’re applying for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓, as a cardmember, you will be reimbursed the application fee every four years. That can be either $100 or $85, depending on which program you want to apply for. The new first-year fee: $50.
Priority Pass Select membership is designed for customers who receive their membership through a U.S. financial institution. As a member of PPS, you’ll have access to more than 1,000 airport lounges across the globe, so no matter where you’re headed next, you’ll be able to relax or work in a nice, quiet setting, and enjoy premium service. Usually, membership fees vary between $99 and $399. Do the math, and you’ll see how much money you can save with the Sapphire Reserve, without sacrificing comforts.
• Each time you stay at the Luxury Hotels & Resorts, you’ll receive valuable on-property perks, such as daily breakfast for two, free Wi-Fi, benefits unique to each property, and, if available, room upgrades, early check-in and late check-out. “Benefits unique to each property” include hotel, spa, or food and beverage credits (of at least $50), welcome amenities, rounds of cocktails and hors d'oeuvre platters, afternoon tea, and many other things that will definitely make your stay more special and enjoyable!
• Lastly, don’t forget to active rental car benefits! With Avis, you get Preferred status and up to 30% off qualifying rentals. National offers you special Emerald Club Executive Level privileges (pay the Midsize rate when you reserve any Fullsize-rate or above car; free upgrades when using the Midsize rate, and more), in addition to all the benefits you’ll enjoy as a member of the program + 25% off qualifying rentals. With Silvercar, you’ll save 30% on rentals of at least 2 days. Note: Always use your Chase Sapphire Reserve when making reservations.

Exclusive events and experiences
Access to many incredible events and experiences hosted or sponsored by Chase is offered to Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred cardmembers exclusively.  Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can purchase tickets to gourmet experiences, wine tastings, sports events, behind-the-scenes experiences, and much more. Sometimes, all you need to do is show your Chase Sapphire Reserve and get in – which is the case of the Sundance Film Festival. You will find lots and lots of exciting events directly on the website, brought by the Madison Square Garden company.

1:1 Point Transfer
While the best option to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel would be through their official portal, you should know that you can transfer points to many loyalty programs, including:

  •   British Airways Executive Club
  •   Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
  •   Korean Air SKYPASS
  •   Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  •   Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  •   United MileagePlus
  •   Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  •   Hyatt Gold Passport
  •   IHG Rewards Club
  •   Marriott Rewards
  •   The Ritz-Carlton Rewards

This option can be a lifesaver (a tripsaver!) should you ever need a couple of extra points or miles to book an awesome deal directly with your favorite brand. Chase allows you to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio, which means that for 5,000 UR points, you’ll have 5,000 United MileagePlus miles, or 5,000 Marriott Rewards points, or SKYPASS miles, or… You see my point.

Awesome travel redemption options
Through Chase Ultimate Rewards, each time you redeem your points for travel, they are worth 50% more! The signup bonus of 50,000 points is worth $750 – or 1.5 cents per point in travel redemptions. This means that with this credit card, you’ll be traveling half price. Since you’ll be earning 3 points per $1 spent on travel and dining out, you’ll be able to earn points and collect those rewards before you know it! -Assuming, of course, you spend a lot of money in bonus categories; namely, travel and restaurants.

What We Like Less
The annual fee
If I had to single out one thing I don’t like about the Chase Sapphire Reserve, then it would be its high annual fee. Getting a $450 credit card is a tough decision to make, but as we have previously said, the fee is insignificant compared to all the benefits the credit card comes with. It should be clear enough this card could be worth more than it costs. “Could” because this card is of no use for those who don’t travel frequently.

Whom is this card good for?
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is definitely one of the best travel rewards credit cards, which is why everyone spending a lot of time on the road wants it. However, I’d recommend it to people who don’t mind paying extra to travel in style. It would be too bad to get this credit card and not take advantage of its amazing benefits. This credit card is great for those who:

  •   Spend a lot of money on travel and dining out.
  •   Looking to maximize their Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
  •   Travel often. 

Who should not get this card?
People who don’t want to pay a high annual fee, obviously. Furthermore, if traveling isn’t really your thing, or you prefer getting yourself a hotel-branded credit card for more exclusive hotel perks, then you should keep on searching for the right card.

Which card should I get if I don’t like this one?
1. Chase Sapphire Preferred
If $450 is too much for you right now, don’t despair – the Chase Sapphire Preferred can give you a taste of what it is like to have a premium credit card. The Sapphire Preferred is not premium per se, however, it has been among the best travel credit cards (and I believe it still is) before the Reserve came out and eventually took its place. The Sapphire Preferred comes with a 50,000-point bonus when you spend $3,000 plus an additional 5,000 points if you also add an authorized user to your account. This card also rewards you when you travel or eat at restaurants – instead of 3x points, with the Sapphire Preferred, you earn 2x points on travel and dining.

Furthermore, when you redeem points for travel rewards through Chase UR, your points are worth 25% more (vs. 50% on the Reserve). The Sapphire Preferred doesn’t offer any travel perks the Reserve card does, such as travel credit, free Wi-Fi, Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ fee credit, but you’ll still enjoy full travel and purchase protection, awesome redemption options, point transfers, and no foreign transaction fees. Even its $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. So, if you’re still undecided on whether the Reserve card is right for you, get this one instead, enjoy using it for a while, and then make your final decision.

2. IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card
If you’re looking for a less pricey hotel credit card to earn award nights and enjoy special benefits, the IHG Rewards Club Select might be the one you need. With this credit card, you’ll earn free nights in no time – there’s a one-time bonus offer of 60,000 points when you spend only $1,000, plus an additional 5,000 when you add an authorized user and make your first purchase within the same three-month period. You’ll earn 5x points per $1 spent at IHG, 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, and 1x point on everything else.

As a cardmember, you’ll enjoy Platinum Elite status benefits (free room upgrades, Internet, priority check-in, 50% bonus points, Rollover Nights & more), and receive one free night each year. Every time you redeem points, you’ll receive a 10% rebate, so when you redeem, for example, 40,000 points, you’ll receive 4,000 points back. There are no foreign transaction fees and the annual fee of $49 is waived for the first year. Since there are 5,000+ IHG properties worldwide, you’ll be able to enjoy these benefits anywhere you go, and with the opportunity to stay at either cheap hotels or luxurious resorts, your options abound. You can redeem reward nights with only 10,000 points, or even 5,000 points/night with PointBreaks.

3. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card is, again, a premium hotel credit card that offers incredible travel perks. For instance, when you spend $4,000 within the first three months, you will earn 2 nights at any Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel. You will also earn 10,000 bonus points if you add an authorized user and make your first purchase within the same period. Each time you stay at the Ritz-Carlton and SPG properties, you will earn 5x points per $1 spent. You’ll earn double points on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline, and at car rental agencies and restaurants, and one point on all other purchases. Plus, on top of all your earnings, you will receive a 10% bonus on points earned through card purchases each year.

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards comes loaded with premium benefits, such as a $100 hotel credit you get to use for dining, spa or other hotel activities when you book at least two nights at participating Ritz-Carlton properties or three Club Level Upgrades e-certificates each year. As a cardmember, you will automatically enjoy Gold Elite status benefits, including complimentary in-room Internet, room upgrades, dedicated customer service, late check-out, and a 25% bonus on the Ritz-Carlton points you earn.

Furthermore, this credit card is more than a hotel credit card. It also offers a $300 annual air travel credit you can use for baggage fees, seat upgrades, airline lounge daily pass or annual membership, in-flight entertainment, Internet, and meals. Additionally, you’ll have access to over 900 airport lounges through Priority Pass Select. If you pay the Global Entry application fee using your Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card, you will receive a $100 statement credit. If you’re approved, you will also be eligible to receive TSA Pre ✓ privileges for free.

You can save $100 on airfares with your Ritz-Carlton credit card when you book at Because this is a Visa Infinite credit card, you will also receive special discounts from Avis, National, and Silvercar as well, just like with the Sapphire Reserve.

And this is just an overview – there’s more, from exclusive events, to travel protection and no FX fees. If there should be one credit card that beats the Chase Sapphire Reserve in terms of perks, then it should be the Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card.

Bottom Line
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is simply magnificent. A product definitely worth a shot if you’re ready to pay the high fee and actually use all the benefits offered on the card. Don’t get it just because you can afford it, though – what’s the point in having hundreds of dollars’ worth of perks you wouldn’t even take advantage of?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the newest credit cards Chase introduced in the fall of 2016. This credit card is a combination of a premium and travel rewards credit cards, although you don’t necessarily have to be a member of an airline or hotel loyalty program to get those rewards. With a hefty annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve represents an improved version of the well-known Chase Sapphire Preferred, as the former offers several additional benefits the latter doesn’t." data-share-imageurl="">