If you’re interested in getting a travel credit card, you might end up narrowing it down to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers high value while being budget-friendly, whereas the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is full of features with a much more expensive annual fee.
Even if you were interested in getting both, Chase allows you to have only one Sapphire card. That makes it especially important that you pick the Chase card that will offer you the most value.
Here's how to decide between the Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Preferred® Card based on their features, perks, and annual fees.
When you look at the Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Preferred® Card, the first thing that stands out is the sizable difference in annual fees. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card costs $95 per year, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® costs $550.
You might be ready to stop reading based on that alone, but don't make a final decision just yet. There's much more to this comparison than just the annual fees on these credit cards. Before you pick one credit card, you'll need to know how their features match up.
There's a key way in which the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offsets that annual fee difference. This credit card offers several spending credits that automatically apply to purchases you make. On the other hand, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card doesn't offer any. Here are the credits you get with Chase Sapphire Reserve®:
Let's say those travel benefits fit your lifestyle to a tee. You use the credit card to pay your Global Entry fee. Since that's a credit of $100 for a five-year membership, it's effectively $20 in value per year. You max out your travel and DoorDash credits, which is another $360, bringing the total to $380 in yearly savings. Minus the annual fee, that means the card is costing you a more reasonable $170 out of pocket.
Keep in mind that spending credits are worthwhile only when you don't need to force yourself to use them. If you never order food deliveries, the DoorDash credit that comes with being a Sapphire Reserve cardholder won't do you much good.
To break down the Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Preferred® Card, you also need to look at their rewards rates. These are very similar, as the bonus categories for both these Chase credit cards are travel purchases and dining. Through a partnership with Lyft, these cards also offer extra points with that rideshare service through March 2022. Here's a look at how many points each card earns per spending category:
|Credit Card||Travel and Dining||Lyft (Through March 2022)||All Other Spending|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||2 points per $1||5 points per $1||1 point per $1|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||3 points per $1||10 points per $1||1 point per $1|
Being the more expensive card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns more bonus points. Whether that's worth the annual fee difference depends on how much you spend in those bonus categories. If you have high spending in those areas, you'll want the card with the higher rewards rate.
These cards are part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. When you know how to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points, they can be some of the most valuable travel points on the market. This rewards program has two excellent travel redemption options:
With transfers, these cards are effectively equal. You can send 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points to any partner and get 10,000 points in that partner's loyalty program. It doesn't matter if you're transferring points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Preferred® Card. The value you get from those points will depend on the award airfare or hotel stay you book. Savvy shoppers can often get over $0.02 to $0.03 per point, especially when booking award airfare.
The one difference in redemption options with these cards is with redemptions through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. When you do so, you're converting points to cash to make a travel purchase. The value you receive per point depends on the card you have. Here's the value you'll get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Preferred® Card:
If you plan to use your points this way, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers more value.
Through April 31, 2021, you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points as a statement credit towards purchases in the following categories:
You get the same rate you would redeeming points as cash towards travel purchases in the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. That's $0.0125 with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and $0.015 with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
Chase began offering this redemption in May 2020 to give cardholders more options during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Interestingly enough, it's the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card that has the larger sign-up bonus. It offers 60,000 points if you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months of opening the account. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers 50,000 points with the same spending minimum and timeframe.
Another perk the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card doesn't is a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership.
Through this membership, you can access the Priority Pass network of more than 1,300 airport lounges. Priority Pass also has a few dozen airport restaurants in its network. If you visit one of these restaurants, your membership will get you a spending credit toward your meal. Credit amounts vary by restaurant, but most offer around $28, and you can also typically get credits for up to two guests.
This is one of those benefits that some people love and others couldn't care less about. If you rarely wait around at the airport, lounge access may not be a big factor for evaluating the Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Preferred® Card. For frequent travelers who deal with delays or long layovers, lounge access can be worth an expensive annual fee.
Both cards offer a complimentary one-year subscription to DashPass that must be activated by Dec. 31, 2021. Through this subscription, you get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12. This applies to qualifying food purchases with DoorDash.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® also includes a complimentary one-year membership to Lyft Pink when you activate by March 31, 2022. This membership gets you 15% off every Lyft ride and other benefits, including priority airport pickups and a more relaxed cancellation policy.
As you'd expect from any quality travel credit card, neither charges a foreign transaction fee.
In the showdown of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Preferred® Card, there's no bad choice. They're both popular travel credit cards for a reason. Ultimately, the question of which Chase Sapphire card is better comes down to how many benefits you want and how much you spend.
If you think you'll use all the perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, that's the card for you. After accounting for its spending credits, its annual cost drops to $170, only $75 more than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. For a frequent traveler who can take advantage of airport lounge access and a Lyft Pink membership, those benefits are easily worth more than $75. The higher rewards rate is also an important perk if you spend a lot on travel, dining, and Lyft rides.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the superior rewards credit card for those who don't need all the bells and whistles. If you're not going to use them, why pay for them? It's also a smart choice if you're new to travel cards and are still figuring out what you want. It costs less and has a larger sign-up bonus, so it could be a better card to start with. You can always decide to upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® later.
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