CHASE SAPPHIRE RESERVE CREDIT CARD REVIEW [UPDATED 2019]
If you’re looking to book your next trip using rewards points, then you’ll want to get your hands on the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the very best cards for earning points that can be redeemed for travel and used at leading airlines, hotels, and airport lounges.
This premium card is so good, in fact, that it was named “Best Travel Credit Card for 2017” by Money Magazine. The ability to quickly earn bonus reward points and redeem them for extra value through Chase Ultimate Rewards is what makes this card so coveted by travelers.
But beware that the perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card come at a cost in the form of a hefty annual fee.
- Unlimited 3x points on dining and travel leads the industry
- Bonus offer worth $750 is close to the highest you can get
- 50% point bonus when you redeem travel through Chase travel site
- $300 travel statement credit offsets much of the annual fee
- High spending needed to break even on the very high $450 annual fee
- Need excellent credit to qualify
INITIAL BONUS OF 50,000 CHASE SAPPHIRE REWARDS POINTS
Created as a higher-end version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has better perks and bonus rewards.
It starts with an initial bonus of 50,000 reward points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. And that 50,000 in rewards points is worth 50% more when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards – $750 toward travel rather than the typical $500. Even the Chase Sapphire Preferred card will only get you $625 that can be put toward travel for its 50,000 bonus points.
While the initial bonus points are a nice feature, it’s always important to remember that you have to spend $4,000 in the first three months that you own the credit card to get them. Other comparable credit cards require that people spend less money in order to receive bonus points, and some cards (including the Chase Sapphire Preferred) give you a smaller amount of bonus points – typically between 5,000 and 10,000 – just for signing up and even if you don’t spend a set amount of money in the first three months.
OTHER WAYS TO EARN REWARDS POINTS
What’s really impressive about the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, and what enables people to rapidly accumulate rewards points, is cardholders earn three times the rewards points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide – from airfare and hotels to fine dining and cafés.
You will also get one rewards point per dollar spent on all other purchases made. Taken together, this helps people quickly rack up points that can be used to book a trip. People who love collecting rewards points find this aspect of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card irresistible.
Additionally, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders get a $300 travel credit each year when they use the credit card to make purchases in the travel category. This credit is applied to your credit card statement and automatically lowers your monthly balance.
The nice part of this bonus is that it renews each year on the anniversary of your account activation. So each year, you’ll get $300 applied to your credit card just for using it to book hotels, airlines and rental cars.
ANNUAL AND TRANSACTION FEES
Now for the bad news. The worst thing about the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is the annual fee, which is $450. An additional $75 is charged for each authorized user added to the card. At that rate, the annual fee can make the Chase Sapphire Reserve card hard to justify for many people.
While a great card for people who travel a lot, the annual fee can be a tough pill to swallow. Consider that the annual fee on the comparable Chase Sapphire Preferred card is only $95, and that the annual fee is waived for the first year, and you get a sense of the expense involved in owning the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Some consolation may be taken in the fact that there are no fees charged on foreign transactions with the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, which is good for people who travel overseas either for business or leisure. Foreign transaction fees can run as high as 3% on some credit cards.
The annual fee is not the only thing that is high on the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. The annual percentage rate (APR), or interest charged, is also higher than the industry standard at 17.99% to 24.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.
People who have a good credit rating will get the lower APR, while people with a bad credit rating will be charged the higher rate. Similar travel rewards credit cards charge interest as low as 14.49%, and the average credit card APR is about 16%.
Also, many other credit cards offer an introductory APR of 0% for the first year. Not so with the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. The APR applies as soon as you begin using the card, and you’ll be subject to 26.99% interest on all cash advances you make. That interest too is charged immediately.
CHASE SAPPHIRE RESERVE BENEFITS
The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card does come with some nice benefits that are all aimed at making traveling as comfortable as possible. These include:
- Receiving a one-to-one point transfer with leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Access to more than 1,000 VIP airport lounges worldwide
- Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
- Special car rental privileges from National Car Rental, Avis and Silvercar
- Protection against trip cancellations, lost luggage, emergency evacuations and damage or theft of purchases
WHO SHOULD NOT GET THIS CARD
The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is for people who travel a lot and who can afford the annual fee of $450. Price sensitive consumers who do not want to pay expensive annual fees should consider getting another travel rewards credit card that has a lower annual fee.
While the rewards may not be as generous with another card, you won’t be saddled with high fees and high APR.
ALTERNATIVE CARD: PLATINUM CARD FROM AMERICAN EXPRESS
In addition to considering the less expensive Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, you might also want to check out the Platinum Card from American Express as an alternative premium travel rewards credit card.
The American Express Platinum card actually has a more expensive annual fee at $550, but cardholders earn five times reward points with the card. The Amex Platinum also provides complimentary Gold elite status with Hilton and Starwood hotels.
Also, Chase requires applicants go through a rigorous credit check in order to obtain the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. The application process for the Platinum Card from American Express is less onerous.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the very best travel reward credit cards. It has a number of features designed to help cardholders earn reward points that can be redeemed for airlines, airport lounges and hotels.
It also comes with beneficial travel protections and insurance coverages to help ensure trips go smoothly. But be forewarned that such rewards and benefits come at a cost in the form of high annual fees and high APR. If you can afford it though, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card would be nice to have in your wallet or purse.