Chase has two Sapphire credit cards that are popular among avid travelers: The Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Sapphire Preferred. We compare the two cards so you can decide which is the best option for your needs.
Chase is a leader in travel rewards cards, and its Sapphire cards have become cult favorites for frequent travelers.
In fact, when it launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve® in 2016, there was so much demand, despite the $550 annual fee, that Chase ran out of the metal required to make the card.
In addition to the Sapphire Reserve, there is a more affordable option: the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. These two popular travel cards have very similar names but very different rewards programs.
We’ll focus on:
Chase Sapphire Preferred
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can now earn 60,000 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®. That’s good news. In exchange for the increased bonus, Chase no longer waives the $95 annual fee the first year.
The net result is positive for new cardholders, but not by much. The extra 10,000 point bonus is worth $125 if used for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Points normally are worth one cent, but the Preferred card offers a 25% bonus when points are used to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. As a result, the net change is an extra $30.
- Earn 2X Points on travel and dining
- Transfer points to travel partners at 1:1 rate
- Lots of travel and shopping protection
- $95 annual fee, not waived in first year
- No intro APR offer
- Must redeem for travel expenses or point transfers to get the best value
The card is also free of foreign transaction fees and offers trip cancellation insurance and other travel-related insurance coverage.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card remains unchanged. Now, you can 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®. While this bonus offers 10,000 fewer points than the Preferred, the value when used for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards is the same–$750.
That’s thanks to the 50% bonus the Reserve card offers when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards (the Preferred’s bonus is 25%). That’s an important difference to keep in mind, which we’ll return to in a moment.
The big differences are in the everyday rewards and annual fees. The Reserve pays 3x points on travel and dining and one point for all other purchases.
In addition, you receive a $300 annual travel credit to apply against travel-related purchases. In exchange, however, you pay a $550 annual fee.
- $300 annual travel credit
- Point transfers to airline and hotel partner programs
- Up to 3x Rewards
- Welcome bonus
- High regular APR
- High annual fee of $550, not waived in the first year
- No intro APR offer
- Requires excellent credit
As with the Preferred card, the Reserve charges no foreign transaction fees and allows for a 1:1 transfer of points to partner airlines and hotels. There are, however, some differences with travel insurance.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
When it comes down to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, there’s a big difference in annual fees — but there’s an even greater distinction between the value you can get with each card.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card isn’t a bad card — the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is just that good. After the travel credit, the difference between the yearly cost of each card is just $55, which comes out to $4.58 per month.
If you think you can get more than that amount of value out of all of the elite travel perks and rewards the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers, it’s a no-brainer.
Of course, it can still be difficult to stomach the high annual fee, especially considering you’re charged for it upfront. If you don’t have that kind of money in your budget, the Sapphire Reserve® can be a tough sell.
In that case, it may be worth considering getting the Sapphire Preferred® Card first and then upgrading later. But keep in mind that you won’t get the second card’s sign-up bonus through an upgrade.
1. How much does the Chase Sapphire Preferred cost?
The annual fee is $95.
2. Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred worth the annual fee?
If you are looking for a travel rewards credit card with a nice sign-up bonus, flexible point redemption options and one of the highest reward rates, the Sapphire Preferred packs a lot of punch for $95.
Those that primarily use a card for a statement credit, want complimentary airport lounge perks, or primarily do business with one airline or hotel will be better off using a co-branded credit card or a premium travel rewards card like the Sapphire Reserve.
3. What’s the Chase Sapphire Preferred sign-up bonus?
The sign-up bonus is 60,000 Ultimate Rewards Points after spending $4,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening.
4. How much is the Sapphire Preferred bonus worth?
Assuming you earn 60,000 points, they are worth $750 in airfare or hotel reservations on the Chase portal. Or, they can be transferred to a participating partner on a 1:1 basis and be worth potentially more when redeemed through the airline or hotel loyalty program
5. How are Ultimate Rewards Points transferred?
Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred on a 1:1 ratio in 1,000-point increments to any of the partners. This means a 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1,000 IHG points (if transferred to IHG Rewards Club) or 1,000 United Miles (if transferred to United MileagePlus).
Ultimately, the two biggest things to consider when deciding between the cards is whether or not you’re willing to pay the higher annual fee for the Sapphire Reserve, and whether you spend enough on dining and travel to make it worth that higher fee.
Beyond that, take a look at the difference in perks and see which is best for you.
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