Chase Sapphire Reserve Review: Worth the $450 Annual Fee?

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve came on strong a couple of years ago with a 100,000 sign-up bonus. The sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Reserve is now 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points, but it’s still a very popular travel credit card even though it has a $450 annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Reserve isn’t for everybody, but it might be the perfect rewards travel card for you. So in this Chase Sapphire Reserve review, I’ll show you how the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s benefits can be worth the $450 annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Reserve review

Chase Sapphire Reserve review

Chase Sapphire Reserve Sign-Up Bonus: At Least $750 in Travel

The current Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus offer is for 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points worth $750+ in award travel. You must spend $4,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months of card membership.

Although the recurring benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve can justify paying the annual fee year in and year out, you should consider applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve when you can meet the sign-up bonus qualifications, so you can collect the 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points bonus.

Recent policy changes make it so you can’t get the Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonus if you currently own the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Read this post to see if you should apply for the lower fee Chase Sapphire Preferred over the Reserve. 

1:1 Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

One benefit that distinguishes the Chase Sapphire Reserve from many other travel rewards cards is the option to transfer your rewards points directly to one of the following airline or hotel Chase travel partners:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
  • Iberia Plus
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
  • United MileagePlus®
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • IHG® Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards®
  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®
  • World of Hyatt

Although each Ultimate Rewards point is worth 1.5 cents each when you redeem them through Chase for award travel, many Sapphire Reserve cardholders almost always transfer their points to one of the 13 travel partners where the points can be worth more than 1.5 cents each.

Considering most travel rewards cards only have a maximum redemption value of 1 cent each, the 50% point redemption bonus and 1:1 travel partners are extremely valuable.

Earn 3x Points for All Travel and Dining

The Chase Sapphire Reserve pays 3 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on all travel and dining purchases.

With the exception of the Amex Platinum that earns 5x miles on airfare, the Chase Sapphire Reserve outearns almost every other travel rewards card and co-brand airline credit card that only earn 2 points on travel purchases.

While you are probably considering the Chase Sapphire Reserve for its travel benefits and 1:1 points transfers, the 3x earning bonus means you can quickly rack up the points to take your next award trip sooner–which is the sole purpose of owning a travel rewards card.

Chase Sapphire Review: $300 Annual Travel Credit

Almost every premium travel credit card offers an annual travel credit. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is definitely the most flexible of all the premium rewards cards.

The $300 travel credit can be redeemed for any travel-related purchases from plane ticket purchases, cruise tickets, hotel nights, to a guided tour. When you book your first trip that costs more than $300, the first $300 will be automatically reimbursed by Chase because of the travel credit.

Some of the other premium travel credit cards air travel credit only covers checked baggage fees and in-flight purchases.

Complimentary Priority Pass Select Membership

Frequent flyers will enjoy the complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that lets you and your travel companions enter one of the 1,000+ locations for free. Whether you get to the airport early or have a long layover, you can visit one of these lounges for free to relax, refresh, and even catch up on work.

An annual Priority Pass membership with unlimited visits currently costs $399 per person. This benefit alone almost pays the $450 annual fee itself.

Other rewards credit cards offer access to other lounge networks in addition to Priority Pass, but Priority Pass is still the most extensive network that you can access regardless of which airline you’re flying this trip. But it’s not as great as the Centurion lounge access you get with the Amex Platinum.

Global Entry and TSA Precheck Reimbursement

Like the other premium travel rewards cards, your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck will be reimbursed. This benefit saves you $100 and the headache of standing in the long airport security and customs lines.

Additional Chase Sapphire Reserve Benefits

The most valuable Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits are the $300 travel credit, 1:1 point transfers or 50% point redemption bonus, and complimentary Priority Pass lounge access.

Some of the additional travel benefits that you’ll also enjoy are:

  • Up to $10,000 in trip protection insurance
  • Primary rental car collision damage waiver coverage
  • Avis, National, and Silvercar discounts and upgrades
  • Bonus amenities with The Luxury Hotel and Resorts Collection stays
  • Exclusive Sapphire events like going to the Emmys

Chase Sapphire Reserve Advantages

When you factor in the $300 travel credit, Priority Pass lounge access, and Global Entry application fee reimbursement together, these three benefits are worth $720 each year.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth the $450 annual fee when:

  • You use the $300 travel credit and Priority Pass lounge access
  • Redeem or transfer your points for award travel
  • Travel frequently to maximize the 3x travel and dining purchase rewards

Sapphire Reserve Disadvantages

The Sapphire Reserve isn’t for everybody. You’ll want to consider a different card when:

  • Travel infrequently
  • Don’t visit Priority Pass lounges
  • Cannot qualify for sign-up bonus
  • Are loyal to one airline or hotel

Even if you travel frequently but primarily use one airline or hotel, you might be better off with their co-brand card. You will earn more rewards points for your brand purchases and will enjoy other complimentary benefits. For example, free checked bags can be worth more than the $300 travel credit.

Alternatives to the Chase Sapphire Reserve

If you decide the Chase Sapphire Reserve isn’t worth the $450 annual fee, below are a couple different alternatives that still offer flexible travel rewards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

If you enjoy the Chase Ultimate Rewards 1:1 point transfer opportunities, but won’t benefit from the Sapphire Reserve’s other travel benefits, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers these two travel rewards:

  • Unlimited 1:1 point transfers
  • 25% point redemption bonus (points are worth 1.25 cents each)

The annual fee is only $95 per year ($0 the first year) and additional cardholders are free.

You will also earn 2x points for all travel and dining purchases.

Platinum Card from American Express

Frequent flyers might find more value in the Platinum Card from American Express but the annual fee is $550.

Here’s why:

  • 5x points on airfare purchases
  • 1:1 air travel point transfer partners
  • $200 air travel credit and $200 Uber ride credits
  • Access to Priority Pass, The Centurion, International American Express, and Delta SkyClub lounge networks
  • Upgraded Hilton Honors and Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty status
  • Complimentary Boingo wi-fi hotspot access

Because of the 5x air travel purchase rewards, the Amex Platinum is the fastest way to earn frequent flyer miles with a credit card.

Summary on Chase Sapphire Reserve Review

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth it if you travel on a regular basis and want flexibility because you’re not loyal to a particular airline or hotel. If you maximize the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s benefits it can definitely be worth more than the $450 annual fee.

Editorial Team

The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Review: Worth the $450 Annual Fee?
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About the Author

Editorial Team
Geoff writes about how to book travel with award miles & points, reviews top travel credit cards, and basic rewards news.

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