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If you’re wondering how to make all of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points more valuable and how to have access to tons of money-saving benefits and perks, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the answer to your question. Currently, it has a 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points welcome bonus, which you can earn after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Some people are scared off by the card’s $450 annual fee. But you might be surprised to hear that the yearly benefits are easily worth much more than that. You even get a $300 travel credit every cardmember year that applies to a wide range of purchases (more on this later). I’ll show you why it’s one of the best credit cards for travel.
Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits and perks
Unlike other Chase Ultimate Rewards earning cards, you can redeem points on the Chase Sapphire Reserve for 1.5 cents each when you use them to pay for travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal. That makes it the best Chase credit card on the market.
One handy benefit of this card is that you can transfer the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn from other cards to this card, and they are instantly worth 1.5 cents each through the Chase Portal.
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
- Flying Blue (Air France & KLM)
- Singapore Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
This is an incredibly valuable perk, and the best way to use Chase points. But those aren’t the only airlines you can travel on with Chase Ultimate Rewards points — you can use one airlines’ miles to book award flights with their partner airlines. For example, you can use British Airways Avios points to book American Airlines award seats, and Flying Blue miles can be used to book Delta flights. Read our full Chase Ultimate Rewards review for more details.
Yearly $300 travel credit
I know that the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $450 annual fee looks scary up front, but it’s not as daunting as it seems because the card has one of the best travel credit perks of any premium credit card. Every cardmember year you’ll get the first $300 spent on travel automatically reimbursed as a statement credit. So you can look at it as prepaying $300 in purchases you were going to make anyway. What qualifies for the travel credit? Lots of stuff, including:
- Hotels, Airbnb, timeshares and campgrounds
- Rental cars, Uber, trains and buses
- Tolls and parking
- Cruises and ferries
There are two things to note about the travel credit. The first is that while you normally earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel purchases, the $300 in travel that is reimbursed as part of the credit won’t earn any points. So you’re sacrificing 900 Chase Ultimate Rewards points in exchange for $300. I’ll take that trade any day of the week.
Also, some charges that may seem to be travel related might not qualify for the travel credit. This is the case with some vacation rentals because they might code as a real estate transaction instead of travel. Lots of people report that Airbnb stays do count as travel, but sometimes rentals through VRBO or HomeAway don’t end up coding that way.
Most people I know spend much more than $300 combined in qualifying travel categories. So after the travel credit, you only need to get $150 a year in value from the Chase Sapphire Reserve to make it worth keeping. And as you’ll see, that’s not hard to do.
Earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards bonus points on dining and travel
If you want to amass Chase Ultimate Rewards points as quickly as possible, spending with the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best way to accomplish that goal (other than earning a big intro bonus by opening a new card). With it, you’ll earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on every qualifying travel and dining purchase.
This is also a great card to use while your traveling because not only does it not have any foreign transaction fees, but the 3X bonus for dining and travel applies to worldwide purchases. This isn’t the case with other travel rewards credit cards.
TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit
Do you know what can really mess up a trip? Getting stuck in the airport security line and then missing your flight. So instead, you end up compensating by showing up way too early for every flight, then you’re stuck hanging out in the crowded airport longer than necessary. It’s a lose-lose situation.
The answer is TSAPreCheck or Global Entry (which comes with TSA PreCheck). Once you’re approved for it you can use an expedited security line (if your airport has one) when you’re flying with any of 60+ eligible airlines. Plus you won’t have to remove your shoes, belt or laptop. It makes airport security a breeze. It even saved Joseph from missing his flight and having to purchase a nearly $600 replacement flight. You can’t beat that!
Normally TSA PreCheck costs $85 and Global Entry costs $100. Both are valid for five years. But if you pay either of those fees with your Chase Sapphire Reserve you’ll get the fee reimbursed up to $100, so it ends up being free. This credit replenishes every four years, so every time you need to renew your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry it will be free as long as you keep your Sapphire Reserve card.
Airport lounge access
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you won’t need to dream of whiling away the hours of an unreasonably long connecting flight in a comfortable airport lounge with fast WiFi and complimentary food because it will be a reality for you. The card comes with a Priority Pass membership that is far more valuable than even the most expensive Priority Pass membership you can purchase – I’ll explain.
The best Priority Pass membership you can buy costs $429 per year and with it, you get free unlimited access to the 1,200+ lounges in the network. But you’ll need to pay $32 for each guest you want to bring along. But with the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Priority Pass membership you get the same unlimited lounge access for yourself and two guests — and if you need to bring a third person along, it’s only $27 extra. If you travel with a partner and child that’s an easy $64 in savings per visit over purchasing a membership.
One of the hidden benefits of Priority Pass membership is that there are a growing number of airport restaurants that will accept your Priority Pass membership. Right now there are ~30 in the US alone. The rules vary slightly depending on the location, but in general, you’ll just need a same-day boarding pass and proof of your Priority Pass membership and you’ll get $28 to $32 dollars off your bill per person for up to two people. That’s an easy $56 to $64 off a good meal. And afterward, you’ll still have the option to relax in an airport lounge.
Primary rental car insurance
The rental car insurance that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve is primary coverage. That means you can decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver and it will still cover you for theft or damages. That’s a very real costs savings that could easily be $15+ per day. And filing a claim is pretty straight forward. Harlan was reimbursed for almost $700 in charges thanks to the rental insurance he got by paying for a rental with his Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Best Trip Delay insurance
Trip Delay insurance is one of those perks that’s easy to overlook until you need it. Just last year alone I was reimbursed over $500 from two separate Trip Delay insurance claims with my Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The Trip Delay insurance for both of these cards covers expenses you incur as the result of an eligible trip delay, including:
- Ground transportation (rental, taxi, etc.)
- Incidentals (toiletries, clothing, medications, etc.)
The coverage you get with those cards only applies to delays that are 12+ hours long or require an overnight stay and will cover you for up to $500 per ticket. What you get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve is much more useful.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Trip Delay coverage will reimburse you for the same $500 per ticket, but it covers delays of six hours or more, or ones that require an overnight stay. That’s a big difference.
Delayed baggage insurance
The Chase Sapphire Reserve gives travelers $100 per day for up to five days if a bag has been delayed for six hours or more. This is a benefit many of us on the team have had to use. If you’ve never had a lost or delayed bag, it’s only a matter of time!
Lost luggage insurance
The Chase Sapphire Reserve will cover the cost to repair or replace lost luggage and personal items. You’ll receive up to $3,000 per person each trip, with a limit of $500 for items such as jewelry and electronics.
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
This perk will provide you with up to $10,000 per person per covered trip (maximum $20,000 per occurrence). You’ll receive up to $40,000 per 12-month period.
Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can take advantage of the roadside assistance benefits, which means you can save on annual fees with programs like AAA.
Some of the coverage could be so valuable that just using it once could pay for the card many times over.
Emergency evacuation and transportation
When you pay for a trip with your Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll have emergency evacuation and transportation benefits if you are injured or become ill during your trip. The maximum coverage amount is $100,000, which may seem like a lot, but evacuation from a remote location can be extremely expensive.
Coverage with the Sapphire Reserve is supplemental, meaning you’ll be covered after any primary coverage you may have. The following people will have emergency evacuation coverage as long as you pay for all or part of their trip with your Chase Sapphire Reserve:
- Cardholder’s spouse
- Legally dependent children under age 18 (age 25 if enrolled as a full-time student)
Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection benefits
The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection is available to many Chase credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve being one of them. If you book through the Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, you’ll get the following perks:
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Special benefit unique to each hotel (i.e. hotel credit, etc.)
- Free daily breakfast for two
- Early check-in (if available)
- Late check-out (if available)
- Room upgrade (if available)
You’ll even get a special benefit, like a $100 food credit, a spa credit, etc. I booked a stay through the Chase LHR Collection for my wife and me at the Park Hyatt Chicago, and we received a $100 credit toward a fancy dinner, free breakfast, late check-out, and a small room upgrade. Plus, we still earned Hyatt points for the stay.
To receive these benefits, book through the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection website or with one of their travel specialists and use your eligible Chase card to purchase your stay.
Let me first say that if you’re a casual traveler who travels domestically once or twice a year to visit the family for the holidays, this card is probably overkill for you. If you fly more often, or if you take an international trip or two each year, you’ll do well with this card.
The first year you have this card, expect to receive $1,829 in value:
- $1,000 – 50,000 point sign-up bonus (based on our estimation of Chase points value)
- $300 – annual travel credit that automatically triggers when you use your card for a travel purchase
- $100 – Statement credit for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
- $429 – Value of a Priority Pass lounge membership
However, after the first year you can expect to receive a value of $829 (the only difference will be no sign-up bonus). This is an unbelievably conservative estimate, considering:
- You’ll save money hand over fist if you use the card’s primary rental car insurance with any frequency
- You’ll earn 3 Chase points per dollar at restaurants and on travel
- You’ll inevitably receive compensation from Chase for a canceled flight or delayed bags thanks to its top-notch travel insurance
Again, if you don’t travel often, the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits won’t be worth as much to you.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has all the bells and whistles you could want from a premium travel credit card. And while it does have a $450 annual fee, it’s surprisingly easy to get many times that in value each year you have the card. The annual travel credit alone will reimburse for the first $300 in eligible travel purchases you make each cardmember year. And other perks like the generous Priority Pass Membership and TSA Precheck/Global Entry free credit are worth more than $150 combined to most people.
But maybe the biggest reason to get the card s the fact that it can make all of your other Chase Ultimate Rewards points more valuable. With the card, you can use your Ultimate Rewards points to book travel through the Chase Travel Portal at a rate of 1.5 cents each, which is up to 50% more than other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards.
You can apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card here.
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