If you want the ability to transfer your Chase points to hotel and airline partners, you must have a premium Ultimate Rewards-earning card: the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. Other Chase cards earn Ultimate Rewards points, but you need one of these three premium cards to be able to unlock the transfer partners.

Since Chase Ultimate Rewards points are my favorite type of points, I will always have an Ultimate Rewards-earning card in my wallet.

With that in mind, the real question is this: Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card worth the extra cost over the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card? The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is a great option for business owners, but to keep things simple, I’m just going to talk about consumer cards.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Some may assume the Sapphire Preferred is a better option than the Sapphire Reserve card because it has a much lower annual fee, but I am not one of them.

The Sapphire Preferred card has an annual fee of just $95, versus the Chase Sapphire Reserve card’s annual fee of $550. That’s a difference of $455.

However, the Sapphire Reserve card comes with an annual $300 travel credit. Since this credit can be applied to any travel purchases (not only those made through the Chase Travel Portal), it’s as good as cash, in my opinion. That makes the cost difference between these cards actually $155.

So, when I consider whether or not the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is worth it, that’s the number I keep in mind. Are the Sapphire Reserve card benefits worth an extra $155 per year? Let’s break things down further.

Earn Extra Ultimate Rewards Points

One of the differences between these two cards is that the Sapphire Reserve card earns an extra point per dollar spent on general travel purchases (3 points per dollar instead of 2 points per dollar). Let’s look at the value you receive from that extra point per dollar.

Chase points can be redeemed through Chase Travel℠ at 1.5 cents each when you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card, so that’s the value I’ll give them in this example.

With the Sapphire Reserve earning 1 additional point per dollar for travel, you’d need to spend $10,334 on travel purchases in a year to earn enough points to cover the $155 difference between these two cards. That would earn an extra 10,334 points (worth $155.01 when redeemed through Chase Travel) over using the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Yes, that’s a big number, but it’s not unreasonable for many travelers, including me. I routinely spend more than that on travel each year. (Through the first half of 2024, I’ve spent $6,574.55 on travel purchases on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and in 2023, I spent $11,310.12.)

That break-even number decreases if you earn even more points by booking travel through Chase Travel (5 to 10 points per dollar) or using Lyft (10 points per dollar).

Additionally, points are worth more when redeeming them through the Chase Travel Portal when you have the Sapphire Reserve vs. the Sapphire Preferred (1.5 cents vs. 1.25 cents each).

In reality, I rarely redeem points for travel through Chase’s portal, but knowing I have that option is another reason I love the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card.

Considering the extra points I earn on travel purchases, I’m ahead with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, even without calculating the value of the other benefits it offers.

Travel Protections

One of the big reasons I think the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card is worth it is its exceptional travel coverage.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with top-tier protections, including:

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance. Get coverage for up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip.
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver. Primary coverage up to $75,000 for theft and collision damage is included.
  • Trip delay reimbursement. When your common carrier trip is delayed at least six hours, each person is covered up to $500 per ticket.
  • Travel accident insurance. Get accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $1,000,000.
  • Emergency medical and dental. Cardholders are covered up to $2,500, subject to a $50 deductible for hospitalization for a covered accident or sickness during a covered trip.
  • Emergency transportation and evacuation. You and your immediate family members have coverage for medical services and transportation up to $100,000.
  • Baggage delay insurance. Get coverage of up to $100 a day for five days when your bags are delayed at least six hours.
  • Roadside Assistance. Coverage up to $50 up to four times per year is included.

While it’s true that you probably won’t need these coverages most of the time, they can be incredibly valuable when you do need them. I appreciate having a card that offers some of the best credit card insurance around without having to think about it.

I’m actually in the middle of filing a claim with my Chase Sapphire Reserve® card for an emergency room visit in Amsterdam, so these travel protections may prove to be very valuable for me this year.

Airport Lounge Access

The Sapphire Reserve card comes with lounge access, including a Priority Pass membership and Chase Sapphire Lounges. While I have other cards that include a Priority Pass membership, I use the one that comes with this card because it still includes access to nonlounge experiences, like Be Relax Spas. Until recently, it also included access to Priority Pass restaurants, but that benefit was removed as of July 1, 2024.

What’s even more exciting is getting access to Sapphire Lounges. While there are currently only four open locations (with four more in the works), the lounges themselves are top-notch. I visited the Sapphire Lounge at LaGuardia International Airport (LGA) in New York right after it opened and quickly fell in love with it. If there is a Chase Sapphire Lounge, I’m always choosing it over other lounge brands.

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Last Update: July 10, 2024

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