The Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ and the Chase Sapphire Reserve are two of the bank's most popular credit cards. Both offer one of the best sign-up bonuses of any credit card available, with 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points up for grabs.

To combat "churners" -- customers who sign up for a credit card and then cancel the account after getting the sign-up bonus -- Chase recently instituted a new rule,

"This product is available to you if you do not have any Sapphire card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for any Sapphire card in the past 24 months," reads the information pages for the Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ and Chase Sapphire Reserve.

In other words, you can only have one Sapphire card at a time, and you won't be approved for a new Sapphire-branded credit card if you received the sign-up bonus on either card in the past two years. So the decision of whether to apply for the Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ or Chase Sapphire Reserve carries a bit more weight now, since you can't have both.

Close up on two credit cards.

Image source: Getty Images

Comparing the credit card benefits

The Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ comes with an annual fee of just $95, and that fee is waived the first year. The Chase Sapphire Reserve, on the other hand, charges $450 per year to keep the card, and customers have to pay that fee up front.

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders get a lot of benefits for that $450, though. Here are some of the big ones:

  • A $300 annual travel credit, which automatically applies to eligible travel purchases.
  • Priority Pass Select lounge access, providing unlimited access to over 900 airport lounges around the world.
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck fee reimbursement (worth up to $100), so you can get through security lines and customs faster.
  • Free roadside assistance up to $50 per service event, with a maximum four service events per year.

The more expensive card has a few other advantages over the Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ as well:

Feature

Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Annual fee

$95 (waived the first year)

$450

Sign-up bonus

50,000 Points

50,000 Points

Authorized-user bonus

5,000 Points

None

Points per dollar (travel and restaurants)

2

3

Points per dollar (everywhere else)

1

1

Point value (travel portal redemption)

1.25 cents

1.5 cents

Data source: Chase.

Despite featuring the same bonus categories and similar sign-up bonuses, the Chase Sapphire Reserve earns an extra point per dollar over the Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ. What's more, those points are worth a bit more when redeemed through Chase's travel portal, compounding the benefit of the sign-up bonus and bonus category spending.

Frequent travelers may be able to get the most out of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

One reason you might want to get the Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ even if you travel all the time

Even if you use Chase's $300 travel credit to its full extent, you're still effectively paying $150 per year for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ charges just $95 per year, and it comes with one of the biggest benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve: You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Chase's travel partner programs. That's the best way to maximize the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

If you have plans to redeem points through the rewards program of one or more of Chase's travel partners, the Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ may present better value, since it has a lower annual fee and cardholders receive an additional 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points for adding an authorized user (after their first purchase).

One important caveat to keep in mind before applying for the Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ

Because of rules in the CARD Act of 2009, credit card issuers are unable to change cardholders to a new credit card with a higher annual fee within the first year of issuing the card. (Technically they can, but they can't charge the higher annual fee.) So consumers applying for the Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ will be locked into their choice for at least a year before they can change to the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Ideally, you'll find the card that works best for you and stick with it. But circumstances happen to change from time to time, and if you could've taken advantage of the Chase Sapphire Reserve's benefits within the first year, you'll be out of luck.

The law isn't a reason in itself to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve instead of the Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ. It's just something applicants should keep in mind.

Adam Levy has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.