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Chase Sapphire Reserve review

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Chase Sapphire Reserve review

Joseph HostetlerChase Sapphire Reserve reviewMillion Mile Secrets Team

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve® continues to be one of the most exciting credit cards available. We think this is the best credit card for travel.

You can apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card here.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonus is worth at least $750 in travel. You also get a $300 annual credit for travel purchases every cardmember anniversary. That’s $1,050 in value in the first year, which doesn’t include other money-saving perks. Folks looking to unlock free travel can do really well with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Here’s our full review of the card, so you can decide if it’s a good fit for your wallet.

Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points to save money on travel and get a ton of valuable perks. (Photo by Wyatt Smith)

Who is the Chase Sapphire Reserve for?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is best for those who travel relatively frequently. With protection against canceled and delayed flights, access to 1,200+ airport lounges and a $100 Global Entry credit, those who travel internationally each year will enjoy this card. There are some important rules to consider first.

If you’ve opened five or more cards in the past 24 months from any bank (excluding Chase business cards and certain other small-business cards), you will not be approved for Chase Sapphire Reserve. If you’re just over the “5/24 limit,” it might be worth waiting to apply for other cards until after you’re eligible to get the Sapphire Reserve.

Also note that Chase has restrictions for their Sapphire-branded credit cards:

  • You no longer can have more than one Sapphire-branded credit card. For example, if you currently have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you won’t be eligible for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
  • If you close a Chase Sapphire card account, you won’t be eligible for any Sapphire-branded credit cards if you’ve earned the sign-up bonus on a Sapphire-branded product within the last 48 months.

Current bonus

When you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account openingYou can redeem the points you earn with the Chase Sapphire Reserve for 1.5 cents each when you use them to pay for travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal. Because of this, the 50,000-point bonus is worth at least $750 in travel.

But these points are worth potentially much more when you redeem them through Chase transfer partnersFor example, you can book a round-trip coach flight from West Coast cities to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines by transferring 24,000 points to Singapore Airlines. That means this bonus is enough to get you two round-trip tickets to Hawaii, which could easily cost $1,000+ otherwise.

You can also book stunning premium cabins, like Singapore Airlines first-class suites, by transferring your points to Singapore Airlines.

TOULOUSE, FRANCE - OCTOBER 15: A general view of inside the first class twin cabin section of the new Singapre Airlines Airbus A380 on October 15, 2007 in Toulouse, France. The first A380, the world's biggest passenger jet, is set to enter commercial service when delivered to Singapore Airlines' fleet, following a troubled production and an 18 month delay. (Photo by Pascal Parrot/Getty Images)
You can fly between New York and Frankfurt in Singapore Airlines first-class suites by transferring 86,000 Chase points to Singapore Airlines. (Photo by Pascal Parrot/Getty Images)

Benefits and perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Annual $300 travel credit

One of the best perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the annual $300 travel credit. Every cardmember year, you’ll get the first $300 spent on travel automatically reimbursed as a statement credit. Chase has a broad definition of travel that triggers this statement credit:

  • Hotels
  • Airfare
  • Rental cars
  • Cruises
  • Tolls
  • Parking
  • Uber
  • Timeshares
  • Campgrounds
  • Trains
  • Buses
  • Ferries

There are two things to note about the travel credit. The first is that although you normally earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel purchases, the $300 in travel that is reimbursed as part of the credit won’t earn any points.

The second is that some charges which seem to be travel-related might not qualify for the travel credit. Some vacation rentals fall into this category because they might code as a real estate transaction instead of travel. Many people report that Airbnb stays do count as travel, but sometimes rentals through VBRO or HomeAway don’t end up coding that way.

If you spend at least $300 per year on travel (most people I know certainly do), this travel credit effectively lowers the annual fee to $150 per year.

Airport lounge access

The Chase Sapphire Reserve makes your airport experience beyond the security line more tolerable as well. You’ll get access to comfortable airport lounges with fast Wi-Fi and complimentary food. The card comes with a Priority Pass membership that is more valuable than the most expensive Priority Pass memberships you can purchase.

The best Priority Pass membership you can buy costs $429 per year and gives you free unlimited access to the 1,200+ lounges in the network. But you’ll need to pay $32 for each guest you bring along. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Priority Pass membership, you get the same unlimited lounge access for yourself and two guests. If you need to bring a third person, 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.

There are a growing number of airport restaurants that accept your Priority Pass membership. Right now, there are  about 30 in the U.S. alone. The rules vary slightly with the location, but in general, you show a same-day boarding pass and proof of your Priority Pass membership and you’ll get between $28 and $32 off your bill per person for up to two people. That’s an easy $56 to $64 free meal.

I ate at Bobby Vans Steakhouse in New York JFK and received a $28 discount. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets.)

TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit

Being stuck in the airport security line can really muck up a trip. Instead of dreading the airport experience, enroll in TSA PreCheck or Global Entry (which comes with TSA PreCheck). Once you’re approved, you can use an expedited security line (if your airport has one) when you’re flying with any of the 60+ participating airlines. Plus, you won’t have to remove your shoes, belt or laptop. It makes airport security a breeze.

It saved me from missing a flight and having to purchase a ticket for almost $600 for another flight. You can’t beat that.

Normally, TSA PreCheck costs $85 and Global Entry costs $100, but if you pay either of those fees with your Chase Sapphire Reserve, the fee will be reimbursed up to $100. Both are valid for five years.

You can use this credit once every four years. Every time you need to renew your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, it will be free as long as you keep your Chase Sapphire Reserve.

No foreign transaction fees

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is great to use while traveling because it doesn’t incur absurd foreign transaction fees. Some credit cards will charge you 3% just for swiping outside the U.S.

Primary rental car insurance

The rental car insurance that comes with Chase Sapphire Reserve is primary coverage. That means you can decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver and the card will cover you for theft or damage. That’s a savings of easily $15+ per day.

Trip delay insurance

Trip delay insurance is one of those perks that’s easy to overlook until you need it. Just last year, I was reimbursed for more than $500 in expenses from two separate trip delay insurance claims with my Ink Business Preferred and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards.

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.)
  • Lodging
  • Food
  • Incidentals (toiletries, clothing, medications, etc.)

How to redeem points

If you want to collect Chase Ultimate Rewards points quickly, spending with the Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the best ways. You’ll earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel and dining and 1 point for everything else. Again, Chase considers a wide range of purchases to be travel, from airfare to hotels to passenger trains to limousines to timeshares to parking lots and garages.

With the Sapphire Reserve, you earn what we consider to be the most useful credit card points (read our Chase Ultimate Rewards review). Chase points are flexible, which means you can use them for travel or redeem them for cash back. As mentioned before, the most effective use of Chase points is to transfer them directly to Chase’s terrific travel partners. For those with other Chase Ultimate Rewards points-earning credit cards, you can combine points to your Sapphire Reserve account before transferring them directly to an airline or hotel partner.

Here are a couple of ways you can redeem 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points:

Book airfare, hotels and rental cars at the Chase Travel Portal ($750 worth of travel)

Booking through Chase Travel Portal, you can reserve flights, hotels and rental cars for less with points linked to your Chase Sapphire Reserve. That’s because they’re worth 1.5 cents each when you redeem for travel through the Chase Travel Portal. You’ll get $750 worth of travel with the 50,000-point Chase Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonus (50,000 points x 1.5 cents each).

Perhaps the best part about redeeming your points this way is that you never have to worry about blackout dates or finding award seats. And you’ll still earn miles for your flight. Prices are usually the same as what you’ll find through online travel agencies.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Review

When redeeming points through the Chase Travel Portal, you can book hotel stays at boutique hotels or airfare on budget airlines.

Hyatt award stay ($900+ in value)

We at MMS love transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt to book fantastic hotel stays.

You can book a free night for as few as 5,000 Hyatt points. This means the Chase Sapphire Reserve could get you up to 10 free nights at Hyatt hotels around the world. Or you can splurge for a special occasion and use more points to stay at a higher category Hyatt hotel, which might be very expensive if you paid cash.

Enjoy a wide food selection, top-shelf alcohol and gorgeous views for free by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt to stay at all-inclusive hotels like the Hyatt Zilara Cancun. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets.)

Hyatt has a no-blackout-date policy, which makes it easier to use points to book award stays. You can even use points to stay at top-rated all-inclusive Hyatt hotels, like Hyatt Zilara Cancun, which several of us on the team recommend. Rooms at this hotel can cost $450+ per night, but you can book the same room for 25,000 Hyatt points. The Chase Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonus is enough for two free nights at this hotel.

Is the annual fee worth it?

This is a fair question, because the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a $450 annual fee, which can be intimidating. It shouldn’t be. The card has some of the best travel credit card perks of any premium rewards credit card, beginning with the annual $300 travel credit.

As long as you get $150 in value each year from the card’s other perks, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth it. As you can see from the above benefits, that’s not hard to do. This card is a no-brainer if you value airport lounge access.

Insider secrets

This card has a superpower unique among Chase cards, making it the best Chase credit card available.

As mentioned before, the points you earn with this card are worth 1.5 cents each through the Chase Travel Portal. However, if you have other Chase Ultimate Rewards points-earning cards, you can transfer the Chase points you earn from those cards to the Chase Sapphire Reserve and they are instantly worth 1.5 cents each through the Chase Portal.

For example, if you have the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, you can redeem your Chase points through the Chase Portal for 1.25 cents each. But if you open the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer all the points you accrue with the Ink Business Preferred to your new card and they’ll instantly be worth 1.5 cents each.

This applies to no-annual-fee credit cards as well, like the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card or Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card. That’s a huge deal.

Bottom line

There are lots of reasons the Chase Sapphire Reserve is such a popular premium travel rewards credit card.

When you open the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after meeting minimum spending requirements. You can use the sign-up bonus points to get $750 worth of travel by booking airfare, hotels or rental cars through the Chase Travel PortalBut you can potentially get much more value by transferring points directly to Chase’s terrific travel partners, like Hyatt or Singapore Airlines.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with a $300 annual credit for travel purchases every cardmember anniversary, which effectively reduces the annual fee to $150 ($450 annual fee minus $300 annual travel credit). It’s easy to accumulate points with this card because you earn 3 points per dollar for travel and dining purchases.

You can apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card here.

Let me know your favorite Chase Sapphire Reserve card perk. And subscribe to our newsletter for more credit card reviews like this delivered to your inbox once per day.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I was looking at this card and I see that it gives you all the perks but requires an additional $75 to add an authorized user. If my wife and I were to share this card, would she also receive the benefits? Or do we “split” the $300 travel credit and $100 for Global Entry? Also, I didnt know if that allowed us both into the airport lounges? Important for our decision! Big honeymoon planned in Europe so planning options

Most of the cards these days offer primary or secondary car rental insurance. However, almost all rental companies now bundle insurance into the cost of renting a car and will not give a price without insurance. There is normally a large deductable associated with this insurance, would this be covered by the chase card insurance.

I have to agree with Ted – I’ve never seen a case where a rental company refuses to quote a price if you opt-out of the insurance. If that were to happen to me, I’d simply ask to speak to someone else or hang up and call again.

I have never seen what you described in the US or Canada. Read the fine print, when you make a claim you also put the charges for any costs on the chase sapphire reserve card so there isn’t any delay for the rental company getting refunded. I have never seen a case where they are bundling the insurance or will not give a price without the insurance. I book with Sixt, Hertz, Avis and Enterprise.

Will the annual travel credit of $300 reset on January 1 or on the card anniversary?

For new cardmembers, it resets on your card anniversary.

Primary insurance coverage claim is nonsense in the US car rental. When I showed Chase Reserve card and explained them it covers primary insurance, they were laughing at me and waving same Chase card he has. Reason why they decline is Chase dragging claim for months(+6) so they want your other car insurance info so that they can charge right away. Then somehow you have to figure it out between Chase and your insurance company.

I have to agree with Ted here as well. There are many, many, many documented cases in online forums (and also with our own team members here at Million Mile Secrets) who have successfully filed claims and received a reimbursement check quite promptly.

Don’t be scared by the person at the counter. Rental car companies make more profit when they’re able to sell you their insurance so it should really come as no surprise that they’d be trying to scare you into thinking your Chase card’s insurance doesn’t work.

Read the fine print, when you make a claim you also put the charges for any costs on the chase sapphire reserve card so there isn’t any delay for the rental company getting refunded. I have never seen a case where they are bundling the insurance or will not give a price without the insurance. I book with Sixt, Hertz, Avis and Enterprise. Don’t be scared by the person at the counter.

I agree. This is the best card for those who enjoy travelling. I add my son as his bday gift, just for the lounge privilege, he loves it. Lounge privilege is the top benefit for me, can’t tell how many times I was glad I got stranded for up to 6 hours with this card. I could just wait in lounge instead. I no longer use AAA nor purchase travel insurance anymore. The travel insurance reimbursement is more complicated than the one I purchased seperately – but after 3 months of going back and forth, it finally reimbursed my husband’s as well.

I don’t travel anywhere without this card. And airport lounge access has been amazing for me. Nothing like getting away from the hustle and bustle and even enjoying some free snacks, food, and drinks.

I got the AU card for each of my children as college graduation gifts specifically for the lounge membership. They travel a lot and live in different parts of the country than I do so they’re often traveling separate from me. It’s come in handy so far. The only regret ..I should have done it earlier.

Please note: their renewal coincides with your annual renewal date, so if your card renews in January and you add them in March, they lose 2 months. You don’t get a 2 month credit and their membership is only good while you’re still a member yourself, so if you don’t renew the following January, their card expires in January also, essentially only getting 10 months’ of benefits instead of 12.

Very nice! Being frequent travelers, I’m sure they love the lounge access.

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