The competition is strong when it comes to travel rewards credit cards. It has many existing brands that have proven their worth in the past, including the Citi Prestige card and the Platinum card from American Express. As it happens, these are the cards that Chase has targeted with his latest travel rewards card: The Chase Sapphire Reserve.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve came out in 2016 and is supposed to be the next step up from the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It is a general travel credit card that allows you to book with any airline or hotel you want on your travels. Since it’s a step up from the Preferred, Sapphire Reserve offers higher rewards and overall better cardholder benefits. But of course, higher rewards also carry higher annual fees.
Expect to shell out $ 450 a year to own this credit card, a significantly higher number compared to its competition. Don’t worry though, because you’ll be getting this fee back through rewards in no time, at least as long as you use the card generously. One way to get this fee back immediately is through the registration voucher. As Chase explains, if you spend $ 4k on purchases within the first three months of opening your card, you will instantly earn 50k in bonus points. That’s the equivalent of $ 750 that you can use for travel expenses, as long as you redeem them through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. This value is highly competitive and is actually one of the highest sign-up bonuses today. This bonus covers your annual fee of $ 450 for at least the first year and gives you an additional $ 300 to spare.
After that initial bonus, your rewards will mostly depend on your spending behavior. Here is the basic breakdown of the rewards. Every time you swipe your meal and travel card, you’ll earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points for every $ 1 spent. All other types of purchases will earn you 1 Ultimate Rewards point for every $ 1. That’s roughly the average these days, but the more you use your card to travel, the better your Ultimate Rewards point balance will be. After all, why get a travel rewards card if you don’t travel a lot, right?
There are also a few other benefits to using the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. In addition to the points you can accumulate, you can also receive up to $ 300 in credits each year for each and every travel charge you put on your card. Where other credit cards only apply airline purchase credit, Chase broadens the criteria and even improves the reward. You’ll also have unlimited access to over 900 airport lounges around the world, a bonus that once you’ve experienced it, you’ll never want to do without. This complimentary Priority Pass Select membership is a real gem, especially when you travel a lot and are constantly in the busiest airport terminals. Lastly, Chase will credit up to $ 100 if you use your credit card to pay the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee, renewable every 4 years. It may be a small benefit, but it’s surely a nice touch and a good thought coming from Chase.
All in all, if you’re debating whether the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is worth it, you need to ask yourself how often you travel first. The card is positively worth every penny of your $ 450 annual fee, but that’s only if you use the card enough to get the fee back through rewards and benefits. Believe it or not, it is not that difficult to reconcile. Remember that the card also rewards you 3 times in points when you have dinner. Given the math you don’t have to worry about, if you ignore the sign-up bonus and annual credit, you’ll have to spend roughly $ 3k each year on trips and dinners to offset your annual fee. Let’s put it in perspective as our final thoughts here. Depending on your location, a single trip to Hawaii or a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise will cost around $ 3,000, more or less. That is a journey that we are sure you deserve anyway. Our final suggestion? Apply for the card and then book the trip you wanted to take.