Maximizing Sapphire Reserve Travel Credit

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is probably our favorite credit card. It’s a no-brainer for people who travel regularly. But, it’s also a card to strongly consider for people who only travel occasionally. The annual fee scares people away ($450), but it comes with a $300 annual travel credit, a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit, and Priority Pass lounge access. Perhaps most importantly, you can redeem the points for Disney vacation packages.

Sapphire Reserve Travel Credit

The annual Sapphire Reserve travel credit is automatic. Every purchase you or an authorized user makes in a travel category is credited back to you automatically in your Chase account until you reach a total of $300. This is a key benefit because it means you don’t have to work for it; you just need to spend the money and you’re done.

What Counts as Travel?

Here are the categories that count as travel.

From Chase: “Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.”

How Does Chase Define Annual?

Chase initially released the card and defined annual by the calendar year. Then, they switched it to card member year and grandfathered the first group into the old schedule. So, if you got your Sapphire Reserve after May 21st, your annual travel credit is tied to your card member anniversary.

But, in either case, the dates are defined by statements. For us, a calendar year cycle actually ends December 17th when our statement closes.

From Chase: “Annual means the year beginning with your account open date through the first statement date after your account open date anniversary, and the 12 monthly billing cycles after that each year. (For applications submitted before May 21, 2017, annual means the year beginning with your account open date through the first December statement date of that same year, and the 12 billing cycles starting after your December statement date through the following December statement date each year.)”

On the right, you’ll see we’ve completed our annual travel credit for the year. We became card members early on, so our annual cycle ends December 17th.

Which Disney Purchases Count as Travel

Tickets

Park tickets purchased directly through Disney do NOT count as a travel purchase. However, tickets purchased through Undercover Tourist are known to code as travel. But, this isn’t a blanket rule for ticket brokers. One of our readers reported that discounted tickets purchased through Visit Orlando did not code as travel using a Sapphire Reserve.

Hotels

Disney hotels will code as travel, just make sure you factor in how much actually hits your credit card. A deposit of the first night is required when you book it, but the remainder isn’t due until check-in.

Vacation Packages

These will also code as a travel purchase. For these, you’ll need to pay a $200 deposit up front and the remainder within 30 days of check-in.

Tip: For both hotels and vacation packages, you could also pay a portion of the total with Chase Ultimate Rewards and pay the difference with your card. The amount you put on your card would trigger the travel credit.

Flights

This can be easy way to hit your $300 credit. Flights both directly through airlines and discount sites like Expedia count toward the travel credit.

Next Steps

If you don’t have this card, you can read our full Sapphire Reserve Review. If you’re ready to apply, we appreciate your supporting the site by using our referral link.