Chase Sapphire Reserve Review

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about the partners we work with. Thanks for your support!

In August 2016 we saw Chase introduce the new Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card, which seemed to take the country by storm. Chase allegedly reached their 12-month sales target within two weeks of introducing the card. Now that the dust has settled a bit, I wanted to write a review of the card, especially as I’ve recently reviewed the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which is the lower annual fee version of this card.

Personally I applied for the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card shortly after it was introduced, and it’s the card on which I’ve put the most spend, given how rewarding it is. Many people say that this card is “too good to be true,” and I don’t disagree. When you look at the combination of the sign-up bonus, the return on spend, and the perks it offers, this is a very well rounded card. While the card has a $450 annual fee, your real “out of pocket” shouldn’t end up being nearly that high.

For those of you already familiar with the card, by all means skip this post, though for those of you who don’t yet have the card, here’s why you should consider getting it:

Chase Sapphire Reserve Sign-Up Bonus

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months. I value Ultimate Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me those 50,000 points are worth ~$810, which I consider to be a very generous bonus.


Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel in Singapore’s new Suites

Chase Sapphire Reserve Annual Fee

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ has an annual fee of $450. Now I know what you may be thinking — “I don’t want to pay a $450 annual fee.” Well, don’t give up on this card yet. If there’s one thing Chase has proven with this card, it’s that this is a $450 annual fee card for people who don’t usually pay those kinds of annual fees, thanks to how lucrative it is.

If you want to add authorized users to the card, it costs $75 for each authorized user you add.

Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 Annual Travel Credit

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card has a $450 annual fee, though you receive a $300 travel credit each calendar year that will help offset that. This couldn’t be more straightforward. There’s no registration required, and any purchase that’s coded as “travel” (ranging from an Uber to a parking meter to a flight booking) will automatically be reimbursed, up to $300 per year. There’s an easy counter on Chase’s website that will track your progress towards completing the $300 of spending.

I imagine just about anyone who would consider this card spends at least $300 per year on some sort of travel. So while you do pay the $450 annual fee upfront, to me the real “out of pocket” on this card is just $150 per year, since the travel credit should be worth close to the face value.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Priority Pass Membership

Just for having the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ you receive a Priority Pass membership, which gets you access to the world’s largest collection of independent lounges. Best of all, this membership allows you to take guests with you at no additional cost. (there’s no stated limit to how many guests you can bring).

Priority Pass has 1,000+airport  lounges around the world, so access to these lounges will prove useful to just about any traveler.


SkyTeam Lounge Dubai, which is a Priority Pass lounge

Priority Pass has even added some non-traditional lounges to their network, like a steakhouse at Denver Airport, a tasting room at Portland Airport, and more.


House Spirits Distillery at Portland Airport, which is a Priority Pass lounge

If you add authorized users to your Sapphire Reserve, they’ll also get a Priority Pass membership, so that could be worth it for the $75 additional user fee alone.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Earning Rates

This is where the card really shines. The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ offers triple points on dining and travel. I value Ultimate Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me that’s the equivalent of a 5.1% return on my dining and travel spend. That’s huge, when you consider that these categories include everything from Ubers to coffee shops to restaurants. Most of my discretionary spend is in those categories.

While my valuation of Ultimate Rewards points is ~1.7 cents each, at a minimum you can redeem each point for 1.5 cents towards the cost of a travel purchase, meaning that you’re getting 4.5 cents of value towards travel for every dollar spent on dining and travel. At a minimum.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Rewards Program

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ earns Ultimate Rewards points, which I find to be one of the most valuable flexible points currencies.

Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to the following programs:

Aer Lingus Aer ClubIHG Rewards ClubSingapore KrisFlyerWorld Of Hyatt
Air France KLM Flying BlueKorean Air SkyPassSouthwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
British Airways Executive ClubMarriott RewardsUnited MileagePlus
Iberia PlusRitz-Carlton RewardsVirgin Atlantic Flying Club

Personally I get the most value out of Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to one of the above partners, though if you don’t want to deal with the complexities of loyalty programs, there’s an easy way you can redeem them. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, you can redeem Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website. This is a better return than you get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which offers just 1.25 cents per point towards a travel purchase. In other words, if you have the Reserve Card that means you could redeem 10,000 points for a $150 flight.

As a reminder, the Reserve Card earns triple points on dining and travel, which is why above I explained that it’s like a minimum return of 4.5% for every dollar spent on dining and travel, when you redeem for a travel purchase.

But I still prefer transferring points to one of Chase’s partners. For example, you could transfer 25,000 points to World of Hyatt for a free night redemption at the Park Hyatt Maldives.


Park Hyatt Maldives

Or you could redeem 80,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles for travel in first class between the US and Korea.


Korean Air 747-8 first class

Those are just a couple of examples of the many great uses of Ultimate Rewards points.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Baggage & Travel Delay Protection

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card is a Visa Infinite Card, so it comes with all kinds of great travel protection in the event that your flight is delayed, your bags are lost, etc. What’s especially awesome is that you earn triple points for travel with the card, so you can put your travel purchases on this card, and then automatically be covered with the benefits. Note that award tickets qualify for this benefit as well, assuming you put the taxes on the Reserve Card. Here are the basic details of the coverage, though you’ll want to consult the cardmember agreement for all the details:

Sapphire Reserve Visa Infinite BenefitsDetails
Baggage Delay Benefit• You can be reimbursed up to $500 when some or all of the cost of a common carrier ticket is charged to your card (therefore award tickets should be eligible if the taxes are charged to the card)

• You can be reimbursed a maximum of $100 per day for emergency purchases of essential items at a destination other than your current residence
Lost Luggage Reimbursement• Receive reimbursement for lost or damaged checked or carry-on bags and personal property

• Maximum reimbursement is $3,000

• You must report the loss or damage to the Common Carrier immediately as soon as you exit the Carrier. You will need to provide proof that you submitted a report to the Common Carrier, so be sure to keep a copy of the report for your records.
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance• Receive the non-refundable amount of the passenger fare or $10,000 (whichever is less) in the event of a trip cancellation or interruption

• The cancellation or interruption must be caused by death, accidental injury, disease, or physical illness of the passenger or immediate family member

• This also covers you if your airline goes out of business or tickets are otherwise cancelled by the carrier
Trip Delay Reimbursement• Receive up to $500 if your trip is delayed for more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay

• The trip has to be delayed by an equipment failure, inclement weather, labor strikes, or hijacking
Purchase Protection• Receive up to $10,000 for personal property that has been stolen, damaged, or lost within 120 days
Return Protection• Receive up to $500 per item ($1,000 per year) if you are dissatisfied with a purchase and the retailer won’t return the item within 90 days

• There are lots of exclusions, including items purchased overseas, and all items have to be returned to Chase as part of the process
Price Protection• Receive up to $500 ($2,500 per year) if you purchase a product and find it advertised for for less within 90 days of purchase (the difference in price is refunded to you)

• The advertisement has to be printed, and close-out and liquidation-type sales are excluded
Warranty Manager Service• Extends the free repair period under the original manufacturers repair warranty up to one additional year on eligible warranties of three (3) years or less, up to a maximum of ten thousand ($10,000.00) dollars per claim, and a fifty thousand ($50,000.00) dollars maximum per Account.

• Motorized vehicles (boats, cars, aircraft, etc.) aren’t included

Chase Sapphire Reserve Primary Car Rental Coverage

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card offers primary insurance against damage up to the cost of most rental car vehicles provided you decline the CDW coverage offered by the rental agency. This includes economy through luxury class vehicles, vans that carry fewer than seven passengers, and SUVs.

Why You Should Apply For This Card First

In the past couple of years Chase has added an unpublished “5/24 rule,” meaning that they typically won’t approve you for some new cards if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months. For many people this is of course not an issue. But it’s something to be aware of, and is a reason to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card ahead of other cards.

Also note that you’re not eligible for the welcome bonus on this card if you currently have this or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or if you’ve received a new cardmember bonus on either card within the past 24 months.

Other Cool Features Of The Chase Sapphire Reserve

Shop Through Chase

Having the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card gives you access to Shop Through Chase, which is the card’s online shopping portal and can really accelerate the points you earn. By “clicking through” the portal you can earn extra points per dollar with purchases at dozens of online retailers.

I earn several thousand extra points each year on purchases I would have made anyway just by clicking through the Shop Through Chase portal first.

Great Customer Service

This is advertised as “24/7 direct access to dedicated customer service specialists” and they mean it. When you call the number on the back of the card, a human picks up right away. Literally. There’s no phone prompt.

I don’t have any other credit card or elite status with any airline or hotel program that gets me service that quickly.

$100 Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit

Some of the best improvements to the passenger experience the past few years in the US have been the introduction of Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check, which can get you expedited security and immigration. When you charge the $85-100 application fee to the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card you can receive a statement credit for that amount once every four years. You can use this benefit for anyone, just make sure you charge it to the primary card.

30% Off Silvercar Rentals

Silvercar is my favorite car rental company, and you can save on rentals with them for having the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card. Since this is a Visa Infinite Card, you can get 30% off a rental of two or more days by entering promotion code VINFINITE at the time of booking.


I love renting from Silvercar, and saving 30% through the Reserve Card makes it even better

The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection

Since this card is a Visa Infinite, you get access to The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, which offers additional benefits at luxury hotels around the world. Specifically, you receive perks like complimentary breakfast, a unique property credit, a room upgrade (if available), and early and late check-out (if available), at over 900 hotels around the world.


Receive extra perks at the Park Hyatt Saigon with the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve Bottom Line

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card is really a winner in all three major categories I consider when applying for cards. It has a great sign-up bonus, extremely generous return on everyday spend, and awesome perks.

To simplify things even further, the card has a $450 annual fee, but offers a $300 annual travel credit, so the way I see it, the real “out of pocket” is $150 per year. For that you get triple points on dining and travel, a Priority Pass membership, no foreign transaction fees, great travel protection, the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase, and much more. Even if you’re not someone who would otherwise typically get a $450 annual fee credit card, the Reserve Card is certainly one to consider.

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. how is it that both u and gary have same review of this credit card on same day? what is special about today

  2. The one perk of the card that I have really found nice is the price protection. Used it a couple of time this holiday season on “non-seasonal” items (jeans, shoes, etc) that went on decent discount as the holiday season progressed. Saved $10 here, $15 there…but it really adds up and does not take much effort! Earlier in the year, they cut us a check for $50 when our new dryer (that we needed to buy immediately) went on sale 3 weeks later.

  3. I’ve used the concierge through the card to book some high end restaurants in Japan. I thought they were very helpful and a great resource.

  4. Customer Service for the Reserve really is amazing. Last week, someone got a hold of my card number and made an $800 charge. I got the fraud alert e-mail from Chase at about 4:45 pm and clicked the link saying that I didn’t recognize the charge. I received a call from someone at Chase about 45 minutes later at 5:30 pm. She went over other recent charges to confirm that I had made them, told me that my card was being cancelled, and that they were sending me a new one. The replacement card arrived via UPS the next day – less than 24 hours after I received the initial fraud alert.

  5. chase needs to do something about verified by visa. Got blocked trying to buy a train ticket to/from switzerland on SBB.com . TWICE.

  6. Lucky, help me with something that I haven’t been able to get a coherent answer from Chase.

    A ‘feature’ of the UR Program is that ability to transfer into a spouse/employee frequent traveler account. They tightened the security of this by requiring the person to be an additional card holder/authorized user or employee.

    The problem I found is that they charge $75 for this on the Sapphire Reserve. If I only have a Sapphire Reserve and want to transfer to my wife’s account, I have to pay $75 for something that costs $0 on the Sapphire Preferred/Ink products. Can you ask Chase about this discrepancy/incoherence. Charge the premium cardmember for a feature they get free with a mid-tier card. I’ll ask Gary as well. TIA

  7. How does the Luxury Hotel perk work? Do you have to book through a certain site and/or pay with the card to be eligible for the credits and upgrades?

  8. @ M2 — You do have to book through the website linked above in order to get those perks. The rate should be the same as the best available rate you see online.

  9. one dilemma for me was either book air ticket with CSR or airlines co-brand card. If I book with CSR, most likely I will loose some perks from the co-brand cards such as free baggage; however if I book with co-brand, I am not covered by the trip delay protection.

    It happened to me once when I book the flight with co-brand and got delayed for more than 12 hours so I also loose the first night of pre-booked hotel which I booked with CSR. It turn out I cannot be reimbursed at all.

  10. I currently have the Citi Prestige Card and Amex Platinum card. Would it be worthwhile to add the Sapphire Reserve card? If so, why? If not, what Chase card should I add?

  11. @Nick – the $75 authorized user fee is probably charged to cover the cost of Priority Pass membership (which other Chase cards like Preferred do not offer), and doesn’t have anything to do with points transfers.

  12. Thanks Lucky! I had no idea about the Silvercar discount. You just saved me $70. This blog has been such a great resource to me for traveling over the years. Keep up the good work and happy new year.

  13. @Lu: Yeah, the point of offering all these perks is to get you to use the card. So if you don’t use the card, you don’t get the benefits. It’s pretty simple, but you’re right that you have a choice: either the airline’s perks (free bag etc) or the CSR’s perks (earn UR, better insurance). You can’t get both!

  14. I was thinking about getting the CSR card, but this article states “Also note that you’re not eligible for the welcome bonus on this card if you currently have this or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card”.
    I already have the CSP card which I got a couple of years ago, so is there any benefit to getting the CSR if I don’t get the sign-on bonus?

  15. Can you apply for this card even if you have the sapphire preferred?
    do you think it is a better card then the amex business platinum? i wouldn’t want to pay $450 twice ?
    Thanks

  16. @Nick. CSR charges a fee for the Authorized User on the Sapphire Reserve because the AU gets their own Priority Pass lounge membership, whereas the Chase Ink and CSP cards do not have lounge access.

  17. The trip cancellation protection is great. I booked a hiking trip in Japan during typhoon Lan last October. Canceled the trip and they reimbursed my cost. All I need is to submit US travel warning and some airlines waived change fees notices etc.

    I applied for the card in 2016 after reading about it here. Thanks Lucky.

  18. The card is good, but I find the 1.5 Chase portal redemption to be a bit of a joke for hotels. The prices aren’t competitive and there are no 10-16% discount codes unlike most other OTAs. Chain hotels are also far pricier than booking direct, so much so that a recent Hilton booking I made was so much cheaper direct via Hilton that I would have used less UR points simply redeeming for cash at 1cpp and covering the charge, as opposed to booking via Chase at 1.5! Not to mention that in booking via Hilton, I would earn back 3X UR on the charge, 1% cashback portal, stay credit, full status benefits and loyalty points!

  19. I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred. If I decided to downgrade that to the Freedom Unlimited and then apply for the Reserve, would I get the sign up bonus? Has anyone successfully done this?

  20. @Lu you don’t have to book tickets w/ an airline card to get perks. As long as you have the card w/ your frequent flier number attached, you get things like free baggage. (at least w/ all the airlines i’ve dealt with)
    e.g. I book american tickets w/ my CSR but get a better boarding position and free luggage b/c i have Citi and barclays AA cards.

  21. Hey Lucky, post idea… Are there differences in the Priority Pass benefits offered by cards? If so maybe you could research and explain them. I have them from at least three cards and not sure I am using the best one. Guest access I guess would be the big thing.

  22. @DaKine – CSR is the best one for sure, it has unlimited guest access, whereas some others have 1, 2, or no guest access.

  23. Hi everyone, my post about authorized users was meant to point out the feature disparity. I understand the authorized users get extra benefit of priority pass, but I don’t actually think Chase intends for them to have to pay to get to transfer points into the spouse account. It was designed that way when there were no UR cards with authorized user fees, and I think it was overlooked. Wondering if they will create a way for spouse account transfers without this fee.

  24. AlinSFCA – I agree. The CSR trip cancellation insurance is probably an underutilized benefit. I had to cancel two trips this fall on very short notice; was out $6,000 in non-refundable payments to the outfitter that runs the trips. I had not purchased travel insurance, so figured I was out of luck. Then a blog article reminded me of CSR’s coverage. I submitted claims (process was straightforward; documentation requirements were reasonable) and received reimbursement checks for the full $6,000. Needless to say I was delighted.

    Peter – the decision obviously involves personal factors, but I have CSR and Citi Prestige. I got Prestige first; I kept it for the “4th night free” hotel benefit. Then I got CSR, which immediately became my go-to card for all 3x bonused spend (and I put my non-bonused spend on CFU and SPG Amex). I’ve never gotten a premium Amex card cuz I’m lazy, and don’t like to spend time playing the games necessary to receive their airline fee credits.

    Ed/Lu – I believe United requires you to purchase the ticket with their affinity card to get a free checked bag; American does not. Not sure about the others (of course it’s a non-issue with Southwest).

  25. If you book travel using points through the chase portal, do you receive all the same benefits as if you charged full price to the card?

  26. @anon asked: “how is it that both u and gary have same review of this credit card on same day? what is special about today.”

    Is it not obvious? What is special about today is that Chase has finally released the signup link for the CSR to allow travel bloggers and others to earn commission money by peddling the card on their sites. Notice how their tune has suddenly changed. They are slobbering all over the CSR whereas prior to today the CSR’s many advantages were generally caveated with something like “but it has an AF of $450, which might discourage many, especially novices.” Also, notice how CSP is no longer the first card to apply for, especially by those new to the game. It is now the CSR that one has got to get first because of….(roll of drums)…. precisely the reasons that I’d pushed from Day One about why the CSR and not CSP should be one’s first card if one can get it. I wager that CSP is now on the endangered species list… 😉

    Lastly, I find the timing of Chase’s release of the signup link for the CSR interesting in that it comes just ahead of AMEX’s introduction of the HH AMEX ASPIRE card that I suspect will be followed by a “sonic boom” similar to that which followed Chase’s own introduction of the CSR. Therefore, one can surmise that in releasing the signup link for the CSR at this time, Chase is trying to somewhat contain the size of the “boom” that they suspect is likely to follow AMEX’s planned release of the HH ASPIRE and its other HH co-brands cards. We’ll soon know…

  27. Lucky,
    I have a CSP. If I cancel it how long do I have to wait to be eligible for the signup bonus for the CSR? Thanks!

  28. @ Bill — That’s a great question, though I’m not positive. If I were you I’d probably wait at least a few weeks. If anyone knows for sure, please chime in!

  29. Does anyone know if the Pre-Check/Global Entry credit will apply to Nexus? Letter of the law would indicate not but it’s actually cheaper than either of those programs with the same (plus more) benefits. I’ve been meaning to call Chase and ask but posting here to see if anyone already knows. Thx!

  30. I didn’t see anyone mention the CSR’s $2,500 health insurance coverage provided for medical and dental incidences while traveling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *