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This article was last updated Jun 12, 2018, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
Who the card is best for
Do you travel a lot and eat at restaurants regularly? If so, Chase Sapphire Reserve® can easily be one of the best rewards cards to keep in your wallet. It starts by offering 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Before you get too excited about those benefits, here’s the catch: This card comes with a $450 annual fee, along with a $75 charge per year for each authorized user you want to add.
To help soften that blow, however, the card has a pretty lucrative bonus offer. New cardmembers Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. If you spend the required amount, that translates into an automatic $750 that you can use for travel when you book it via the Chase Ultimate Rewards® website. That’s because Chase gives you 50% more value when you redeem your points for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises, which definitely helps maximize them.
There’s lots more to love about this card, which we’ll cover in this review.
Where this card stands out in its category
The rewards. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® targets those who spend a lot of travel and dining and aren’t intimidated by a $450 annual fee. Fortunately, that fee is almost completely offset by card credits, which include $300 a year reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card including airline tickets/fees, rideshares like Uber or Lyft, public transportation, tolls, car rentals, lodging and even cruises. You also get a credit of up to $100 to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.
Flexible travel transfers. You can transfer the points you earn with the card 1:1 toward major airline and hotel loyalty programs including United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Aer Lingus, Air France, British Airways, Iberia, Korean Air, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Hyatt, Marriott®, IHG® Hotels and Ritz-Carlton.
There are no blackout dates or travel restrictions if you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website. There’s also no foreign transaction fee. Your points don’t expire as long as your account remains open.
Free Priority Pass membership. The card gives you access to more than 1,000 Priority Pass Select airport lounges worldwide, a membership that usually costs $399 a year.
The biggest benefit of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is leveraging points for travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website. You get 50% more value for your points when you redeem them for travel on the site. The card’s sign-up bonus points can make a nice dent on a planned trip.
Where this card falls short in its category
Like most high-end cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® doesn’t waive its $450 annual fee, nor does it have an introductory APR rate. If you don’t use the full $300 annual travel credit by your anniversary date, the remaining credit won’t roll over to the next year.
While access to Priority Pass Select airport lounges is nice, you can’t get into the major airline lounges with this card. If you choose to use car rental companies’ special discounts for cardmembers, you can’t book them on the Ultimate Rewards website. You also can’t use Ultimate Rewards points for payment when you book directly with car rental companies.
Additional card benefits
- Trip delay. Your coverage can reimburse you up to $500 for hotels or meals when your flight is delayed six hours or more for travel booked with the card.
- Trip cancellation. This takes care of up to $10,000 in travel you can’t get refunded if you get very sick and can’t make the trip. And it covers family members even when you’re not traveling with them.
- Travel accident insurance. When you pay for your air, bus, train or cruise with your card, you are eligible to receive accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $1 million.
- Lost luggage reimbursement. If you or an immediate family member check baggage or carry-on luggage that is damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
- Trip delay reimbursement. If your travel is delayed by more than six hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.
- Emergency evacuation & transportation. If you or a member of your immediate family are injured or become sick during a trip that results in an emergency evacuation, you can be covered for medical services and transportation up to $100,000.
- Rental car insurance. When you rent a car, the card gives you primary collision damage coverage.
- Discounts on National Car Rental, Avis and Silver Car. Get a discount when booking a rental directly through the vendor, using a special Visa® code.
- Purchase protection. Your new purchases are covered for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 a year.
- Return protection. You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase, up to $500 per item, $1,000 per year.
- Extended warranty protection. Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less.
How to use the card most effectively
You get the best value from this card by using it exclusively for travel and dining, where you get 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. You can further maximize your points by booking travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards website. There, you get 50% more value on your points, along with no blackout dates or travel restrictions, and your points spend like cash. If you belong to a major airline or hotel loyalty program, you can do 1:1 transfers into miles or points, which can be used for things like airline seat or hotel room upgrades, or just boost your account totals.
Compare it with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® charges the same $450 annual fee as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. But this card is targeted more toward those who belong to American Airlines’ AAdvantage® loyalty program. And you have to spend $1,000 more than the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to get the same 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*.
You earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases & 1 AAdvantage® for every $1 spent on other purchases*. This isn’t as good as what’s offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
Although you don’t get free Priority Pass lounge access offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you do get a free Admirals Club lounge membership for you and your immediate family, or up to two guests.
But what makes the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® more appealing than the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the ability to earn Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs). You can earn 10,000 EQMs on American Airlines after spending $40,000 within a year. EQMs are used to help you maintain your elite status on the carrier.
You get your first checked bag for free on domestic American Airlines flights, along with priority check-in, priority airport screening (where available) and boarding privileges for you and up to eight travel companions on the same reservation. You also get a 25% discount on in-flight purchases of food and beverages on flights operated by American Airlines when purchased with the card.
There’s access to a dedicated concierge for help with your foreign and domestic travel, shopping, dining, household and entertainment.
And like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. While the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers $300 a year for travel credits and up to $100 to cover Global Entry or TSA Precheck enrollment fees, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® only covers the latter.
There is no maximum number of AAdvantage® miles you can earn on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® and miles don’t expire as long as once every 18 months you earn or redeem miles on American Airlines or an affiliated carrier. You can’t transfer your miles to other loyalty programs, but you can use them on partners in the oneworld alliance, along with 22 hotel partners.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® allows you to get bonus points when booking travel on the Ultimate Rewards site. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® gives you access to the Reduced Mileage Awards program, which allows you to redeem AAdvantage® miles for discounted round-trip or one-way travel on cheaper MileSAAver awards to destinations selected every other month.
Under the MileSAAver discount, you get 7,500 AAdvantage® miles round trip or 3,750 one-way if travel booked is greater than 500 miles in distance. If travel booked is less than or equal to 500 miles in distance, you get the short-haul MileSAAver award, with a discount of 2,000 AAdvantage® miles round trip or 1,000 one-way. But you must book MileSAAver awards by calling American Airlines reservations or through airport or city ticket centers.
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®|
|Regular Purchase APR||17.49% - 24.49% Variable||17.24% - 25.24%* (Variable)|
|Rewards||3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases||2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases & 1 AAdvantage® for every $1 spent on other purchases*|
|Sign-Up Bonus||Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.||50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||$0||None|
If you travel regularly and eat out a lot, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a good option for your lifestyle, thanks to the ability to earn three points for every $1 spent. And getting 50% more value on your points when booking travel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards website and transferring points 1:1 to airline and hotel loyalty programs are great benefits. Just make sure that you spend enough to justify the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or consider a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which has many — but not all — of the benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® at a lower $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95 annual fee.