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UBS Visa Infinite vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve – does $495 beat $450?

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The UBS Visa Infinite offer and/or promotion may have since changed, expired, or is no longer available.

The UBS Visa Infinite packs a lot features to try and justify an ultra-premium $495 price tag, just above the Chase Sapphire Reserve®’s $450 annual fee.

With the annual fees being in the same range, which card is better?

The short answer is:

  • Get the Chase Sapphire Reserve® if you use point transfer or can take the full advantage of the $300 annual airline fee credit. You can also come out ahead on travel and dining spending. The UBS Visa Infinite card earns 3X on air travel, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a $300 annual travel credit that can be applied to airfare, hotels, Uber and cab rides, and even bridge tolls, so you’re paying closer to $150 a year to hold the card. The $250 UBS incidental airline credit is harder to take full advantage of, as it only covers things like seat upgrades, lounges, on-board food, etc. Even if you take full advantage of the annual credit, the UBS annual fee will end up costing you $249, or $99 more than the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
  • ubsinfiniteGet the UBS Visa Infinite if you mainly redeem points to pay for flights rather than use point transfer and you can stretch the value of the UBS redemption ratio. UBS has an unusual redemption scheme. You pay 25,000 points for an up to $350 ticket and 50,000 for a ticket up to $900. Anything over those thresholds gets charged at 1 cent per point. That makes points worth up to 1.8 cents each if you happen to redeem around the $900 range. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® points are worth 1.5 cents each for travel booked on the Chase website, regardless of the flight price.
  • If you redeem 25,000 points for a $350 ticket, the value of your UBS point will slip to 1.4 cents per point. At this point, redeeming 35,000 points for the $495 annual fee might be a better idea.

Here’s a rundown of 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., 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. There’s also a $300 statement credit for travel purchases (which is generously defined), up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and Priority Pass Select airport lounge access for you and all your traveling companions.
  • UBS Visa Infinite: you get a 50,000-point signup bonus, 3 points per dollar spent on air travel and dining at restaurants, 2 points per dollar spent on gas and groceries, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. You also get a $100 discount on 2+ domestic round trip tickets (for the same itinerary). And there is a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and Priority Pass Select airport lounge access.

Neither card has foreign transaction fees.

Now we will look at pros and cons of each card and help you decide which card works harder for you.

UBS Visa Infinite

Pros

  • 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months that you can redeem for a ticket for up to $900.
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership and up to $500 reimbursement with Any Airport Club Program.
  • $250 credit for incidental air travel expenses (per calendar year).
  • Visa Infinite $100 discount on 2 or more air tickets in the U.S.
  • 12 free Gogo inflight passes.
  • $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre application fee statement credit.
  • $100 benefit on stays at all W, St. Regis, and Starwood Luxury Collection hotels
  • 3x points on air travel.
  • Primary car rental insurance and a suite of other travel insurance benefits like $500 in trip delay coverage for delays of 6 hours or more.

Cons

  • $495 annual fee.
  • Must call to request the application be mailed to you.
  • No airline transfer partners and complex redemption structure.
  • The $250 air travel incidentals credit is for only one airline per year .
  • Must spend $50,000 to get a $500 lounge credit.
  • The trip cancellation coverage has a $5,000 limit, versus $10,000 for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Pros

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Take advantage of a $300 statement credit for travel purchases per calendar year. It covers airfare, hotels, train tickets, parking fees, bridge tolls, and more.
  • Up to $100 TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit.
  • Book flights through Chase’s travel portal with a 50% bonus – so your points are worth 1.5 cents.
  • A Priority Pass Select Membership will get you *and your traveling companions* into a 1,000 + airline lounges around the world and domestically.
  • Excellent travel insurance coverage that includes primary rental insurance, up to $500 trip delay coverage (with delays of 6 hours), and medical evacuation insurance.

Cons

  • $450 annual fee.

Does having both cards make sense?

It might make sense, but only if you don’t mind paying yet another high annual fee (although you can redeem 35,000 points for it). You could use the Chase Sapphire Reserve® points for transferring points to partners and the UBS points for booking your flight directly, but you will only win if you can hit that magic $900 fare.

The $100 off discount for buying 2 tickets is also nice, since the Chase Sapphire Reserve® doesn’t have this benefit. Most other perks, like the Priority Pass membership, $100 Global Entry credit and insurance benefits are already offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Which card is right for you?

Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a slightly lower annual fee of $450 and it earns Ultimate Rewards® points that you can transfer to several airline and hotel programs. It carries excellent protection benefits that are similar to the UBS Infinite card benefits, but unlike UBS, it comes with a superior $300 annual travel credit every year that includes generously defined travel expenses. However, if you’re able to take full advantage of the UBS Visa Infinite credit card’s redemption and other benefits, it might be worth it.


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July 8, 2014