The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the ultimate card for the business traveler, but it’s not a card for everyone. This premium credit card comes with a hefty annual fee at $450 (plus $75 for authorized users). The fee is not waived the first year like many cards. But, if your first reaction is to balk at the annual fee, read on. It comes with a $300 annual travel credit. If you use the Chase Sapphire Reserve card for travel purchases, your annual fee is effectively $150.
The target user for this card is a person who travels regularly, so we’re going to review it with that person in mind. If you rarely travel, except for vacation, this may not be the right card for you.
Sign Up Bonus (Grade: A-)
The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months. We value Chase Ultimate Rewards at two cents each, so this means your sign up bonus is worth $1,000. We’ll talk more about the redemption options in a later section and how we arrive at that number, but it is the single largest sign up bonus offered for a credit card.
|Sign Up Bonus||50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards|
|Value Per Point||2.0 cents|
|Value of Sign Up Bonus||$1,000|
Daily Spending (Grade: B)
This card targets business travelers, so the category bonuses are structured as such. You get three points per dollar spent in travel and dining categories. You get one point per dollar spent on everything else. Based on the value we give Chase Ultimate Rewards (two cents per point), this means you’re getting 6% back on travel & dining and 2% back on all other purchases. For a card with an effective annual fee of $150, the earning rate on daily spending is okay but not great.
Tip: Consider adding a no annual fee Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited. They both earn Chase Ultimate Rewards and the points you earn can be added to your Chase Sapphire Reserve points balance. This is a strategy we use to pile up Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Finally, Chase has a shopping portal. You can follow their links to a host a retail stores. After clicking through to those retail websites, your purchases will earn you extra Ultimate Rewards. The earning rate varies by store and usually ranges between 1 to 25 extra points.
|Category||Points Per Dollar Spent|
|Travel & Dining||3x|
|All Other Spending||1x|
|Chase Shopping Portal||1x-25x (additional)|
Perks (Grade A++)
$300 Annual Travel Credit – Each calendar year, Chase will automatically credit back to you up to $300 in travel expenses. You don’t have to initiate it or take any action. It will happen automatically the same day those purchases post to your account. This helps bring that annual fee down from $450 to a more manageable $150.
Also the annual fee starts when you activate your card. The travel credit, however, runs on the calendar year. If you sign up for the card in the Fall, you could get the travel credit twice before your second annual fee comes due.
$100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit – Every four years, you are eligible to receive a fee credit for up to $100 for application fee expenses for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. The Global Entry application fee is $100 and the TSA PreCheck fee is $85. Both programs last five years once you’re approved.
Priority Pass Select (lounge access) – Get free access to 1,000 airport lounges around the world, including most major cities across the US with Priority Pass Select. We’ve all had the long layover or flight delay in a crowded airport. An opportunity to escape to a comfortable lounge with can be a really fantastic perk. Authorized users of your card also get free access as well as anyone in your travel party.
No Foreign Transaction Fees – This is not a perk that will save you a lot of money. But, when you do travel abroad, this is likely to save you $50 or more in transaction fees.
Insurance – This card comes with a lot of insurance protection. A lot. You get primary rental car insurance, roadside assistance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, travel accident insurance, and travel emergency assistance. If you travel very often, you’re likely to use one of these every year or two. These things just happen and the coverage could come in really handy.
Redeeming Points (Grade: A+)
We’re really excited about the ways you can redeem points. The options are diverse and there is solid value to be found in a number of redemption options. Here are the primary ways you can redeem points:
Cash – You can redeem your points for cash at one cent per point. This is the least valuable way to redeem points, but if you’re in a pinch and need a bit of cash it’s nice to know you have this option.
Travel – When you book travel through Chase’s travel center using points, you get a redemption rate of 1.50 cents per point. This can be a fantastic option for booking a Disney vacation package. 100,000 points will get you $1,500 toward that package. You can also pay cash for the difference after exhausting your points if you don’t have enough. Disney vacations aren’t listed on the Chase travel center website, but their travel agents can book them if you call.
Transfer – The most lucrative option is transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to one or more of their 11 travel partners. The best options for Disney vacations are Southwest Airlines and Hyatt. With Southwest Airlines, the points are worth about 1.6 cents each. With Hyatt, the points are worth about 2.0 cents each. We love using points to stay at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando or the Hyatt House in Anaheim across from Cars Land. Learn more about transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards HERE.
Overall Grade: A
The $1,000 sign up bonus, free lounge access, free TSA PreCheck, copious travel insurance, and great rewards redemptions for effectively a $150 annual fee make the Chase Sapphire Reserve a must for business travelers. While it’s not the right card for everyone, it’s the perfect card for some people.
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