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Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred: Which card to get and keep?

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sapphirereserve170The information related to the Citi Prestige® card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

With the recent introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® , there’s now a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards® earning credit card on the market. At $450, the annual fee is comparable to cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and Citi Prestige®, but it earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points which you can transfer to many travel programs like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

It’s loaded with protection benefits that are a notch better than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and it comes with a $300 annual travel credit every year that’s automatically applied to travel purchases you make on the card.

So which is better considering the annual fees?

We’re going to get into more detail below, but the short answer is:

  • When you take full advantage of the $300 annual travel credit of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which can be applied to airfare, hotels, and even bridge tolls, you’re paying closer to $150 a year to hold the card. Compare that to the annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card ($0 intro for the first year, then $95) and the difference is just $55 a year.
  • Get the Chase Sapphire Reserve® if you can use the $300 annual airline fee credit and spend enough on travel and dining purchases that earning an extra point per dollar spent (when compared to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card) gets you at least $55 per year in rewards or more. That’s about $3,500 worth of travel or dining spending a year, considering the Chase Sapphire Reserve® points are worth 1.5 cents each for travel booked on the Chase website.
  • Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card if you don’t think you’ll use the $300 annual airline fee credit, don’t want an upfront annual fee, or don’t spend enough on travel and dining purchases to get at least $55 or more per year in rewards.

Here’s a rundown the the main features of each card:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.. You also earn 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. There’s a $300 automatic annual credit for travel purchases, up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, Priority Pass Select airport lounge access for you and all your traveling companions, and no foreign transaction fees. The $450 annual fee is not waived the first year.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening., and you earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. You get 1:1 points transfer to a variety of hotel and airline programs, no foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad, and a $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

Now we will look at the relative pros and cons of each card and help you decide which card makes the most sense for you.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Pros

  • sapphirereserve170 Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • You earn 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Every year you’ll have a $300 credit for travel purchases to cover airfare, hotels, train tickets, parking fees, bridge tolls, and more.
  • If you don’t have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry yet, your application fee will be reimbursed if you charge it on this card.
  • Ability to book flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards® without first transferring points to partners with a 50% bonus – so your points are worth 1.5 cents when you book this way, which is a great deal.
  • A Priority Pass Select Membership will get you *and your traveling companions* into many airline lounges around the world as well as a handful domestically.
  • Trip delay coverage (up to $500) kicks in with delays of 6 hours
  • Emergency medical evacuation coverage

Cons

  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has an annual fee that is up near the top of the spectrum: $450, and the fee is not waived the first year.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Pros

  • chasesapphirepreferred170 Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards® transfer partners means that your points are super flexible.
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad. Again, a pretty standard benefit now on cards that charge an annual fee, but a very important benefit to have if you plan to travel abroad!
  • The annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

Cons

  • You can book flights through Chase’s travel portal without first transferring points to partners, which increases the flexibility of your points, but the bonus is only 25%. That makes your points worth 1.25 cents each when you book this way, which is a decent deal.
  • Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases instead of 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
  • Trip delay coverage only kicks in on delays of 12 hours or more

Does having both cards make sense?

Concurrently holding both of these cards will generally not make sense since all of the benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are also benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

You might want to try one first, then if it doesn’t quite fit your needs, apply for the other one as a brand new card, so you can earn a second signup bonus.

Which card is right for you?

Both of these credit card offerings from Chase are solid, not only for the signup bonus, but for the bonus spending categories and other benefits. Assuming you will make use of the $300 annual airline fee credit from the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is effectively brought down to $150 ($450-$300). That’s just $55 more than the annual fee of $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95 associated with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

What you need to ask yourself is if you value the additional benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® at $55 or more.

If you do, you should keep the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. If you don’t, you should keep the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Both cards are, in all likelihood, worth getting for the signup bonus. If you are able to make use of the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck benefit alone, you will get more value out of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Additionally, if you value lounge access and don’t get it from another card, it is likely that the Chase Sapphire Reserve® will be the best choice for you. Even if you don’t value those benefits, the extra Ultimate Reward point per dollar spent earned on travel and dining purchases could be a tide-turner. You would need to spend around $3,500 on these categories in a year to break even on that benefit alone.

If you don’t think you’ll be able to make use of the $300 airline fee credit, the story is a little different. At that point, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is likely to be a better option for you, though the Chase Sapphire Reserve® may still be worth trying out, since the signup bonus is so large.


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