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HomeFinanceChase Sapphire Preferred® vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Preferred® vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve®



When the Chase Sapphire Reserve® debuted in 2016, everyone was talking about its high reward rate, lucrative six-figure welcome bonus, and amazing benefits. In fact, there was so much interest in the card the company was depleted of metal credit cards when they couldn’t keep up with demand.

For years, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® — despite its much higher annual fee — was considered the more cost-effective charge card over the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, due to Reserve’s generous point system and perks, which outweighed its $550 annual fee.

But a recent refresh of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, accompanied by an annual fee hike for the Sapphire Reserve® card (it jumped from $450 to $550 in 2020), the $95-annual-fee Chase Sapphire Preferred® card has now become the top choice for many consumers looking for a standout travel rewards credit card.

But which one is right for you? Let’s take a look at the details of each card and help you answer that question.

Read more: Best Chase credit cards

Overview

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and its premium cousin, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, are some of the most well-recognized travel rewards credit cards with consumers. They both earn valuable bonus points on travel and dining, as well as offer various perks for Peloton and DoorDash.

We’re asked all the time for credit card suggestions by our readers and these two are almost always mentioned, along with a few other top credit cards for 2022.

While the cards have several similarities in terms of earning rates, redemption options, and the same ability to transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to 14 travel loyalty programs, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® charges a much lower annual fee and includes many of the same benefits as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Sign-up bonus

Each card has its own welcome bonus — but one is vastly superior.

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Chase just announced the launch of an elevated sign-up bonus of 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening, for new Chase Sapphire Preferred® applicants. Since Chase Ultimate Rewards® points hold a standard 1:1 value, with one point equal to one cent, that equals $800 in cash value, but you can get much better value from your points by transferring to one of Chase’s travel transfer partners.

For example, you can get $1,000 worth of value from your points when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal. This redemption offers an additional 25%, so one point increases to 1.25 cents per point in value.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

A far cry from its inaugural sign-up offer back in 2016, new Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. New Sapphire Reserve® cardholders can use the 50,000 bonus points with transfer partners or for travel purchases directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.

Sapphire Reserve® cardholders receive an elevated 50% redemption value (1.5 cents per point) for travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards® — which means you come out at a $750 redemption cash value.

Verdict

Easy. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is the winner with a newly elevated 80,000-point bonus over the premium card Sapphire Reserve®’s 50,000 points. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card takes round 1.

Rewards

Rewards is where the cards vary significantly.

Chase Reserve® provides users with higher rewards in dining out, car rentals, and hotel stays, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred® shines for online grocery purchases, streaming services, and dining in or out.

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Chase Sapphire Preferred® cardholders enjoy bonus points in the following categories:

  • 5x points per dollar spent on travel reservations through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3x points per dollar spent on select streaming services.
  • 3x points per dollar spent on dining, which includes eligible takeout and delivery services.
  • 3x points per dollar spent on online grocery purchases (excludes Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs).
  • 2x points per dollar spent on travel not purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 1x point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Points are worth 1.25 cents when you use Chase Ultimate Rewards® to redeem them.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

For the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the reward points are quite different. This is where this card may come out ahead, depending on where you spend your money. The Sapphire Reserve® offers:

  • 10x points per dollar spent on Chase Dining Purchases booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (limitations apply).
  • 10x points per dollar spent on car rentals and hotel stays when booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (after meeting requirements).
  • 5x points per dollar spent on flights when booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (after meeting requirements).
  • 3x points per dollar spent on dining and travel not booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 1x point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

When redeeming rewards through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, points are equal to 1.5 cents.

Verdict

It depends on where you spend your money. If you’re a frequent traveler, enjoy dining out, and plan to earn and redeem your points by booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, then the Sapphire Reserve® may be a great fit for you.

However, if you want a broad amount of spending categories where you can earn bonus points and these categories align with your everyday spending habits, you may want to opt for the Chase Sapphire Preferred®.

The result? Tie.

The better option will depend on your spending patterns on each card’s bonus categories.

Travel benefits/insurance

Here is an area where the Chase Sapphire Reserve® outweighs the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card provides basic travel coverage, with insurance for trip delays or cancellation, car rentals, and baggage dealys. It’s worth noting that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® delivers primary auto rental coverage insurance when you use your card to pay for your rental vehicle. That means you do not have to file a claim with your insurance company first if you’re in a fender bender, or if the rental car is stolen. That’s a fairly impressive perk for a card with a reasonable $95 annual fee.

On the other hand, Chase Reserve® includes emergency medical and dental coverage with airport lounge perks. It treats cardholders as VIPs in this area.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® cardholders will enjoy:

  • Purchase protection when you use your card.
  • Extended warranty protection.
  • Reimbursement for lost luggage essentials.
  • Insurance for baggage delay.
  • Trip cancellation or interruption insurance.
  • Waiver for automobile collisions.
  • Emergency and travel assistance services.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve® goes above and beyond here, with many more perks than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card for insurance coverage and travel extras. Cardholders can expect:

  • Access to the Chase Sapphire Lounge by the Club when traveling.
  • Access to Reserved by Sapphire restaurants.
  • Benefits for the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, such as early check-in, late check-out, and complimentary upgrades.
  • Priority Pass Select lounge membership (value is $429).
  • Credit for NEXUS, Global Entry, and TSA PreCheck fees.
  • Emergency dental and medical insurance.
  • Car rental insurance.
  • Elite status with National, Avis, and Silvercar.
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance.
  • Emergency transportation and evacuation.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement.
  • Trip delay insurance.
  • Purchase and extended warranty protection.
  • Auto rental damage waiver for collisions.

Another difference when it comes to insurance is that Chase Sapphire Preferred® charges a fee per call for roadside assistance. The Sapphire Reserve® card allows four free service calls, up to $50 each.

Both cards also offer up to $50,000 in annual purchase protection. However, the Sapphire Reserve® offers $50,000 on an annual basis (up to $10,000 per claim), while the Chase Sapphire Preferred® offers $50,000 per account (up to $500 per claim).

Verdict

The Sapphire Reserve® wins hands-down in the categories of insurance and travel perks. Just remember that all those bells and whistles come with that $550 annual fee.

Additional benefits

These benefits are extra perks that come with each card. While both cards are quite similar in the benefits they offer, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes out slightly ahead in this area.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Cardholders receive a $50 statement credit annually on hotel accommodations booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal. As well, upon your one-year (account) anniversary, you’ll earn bonus points equal to 10% of your total purchases made the previous year.

You can also transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio with up to 14 travel partners, including popular names like Southwest, JetBlue, United, Hyatt, and Marriott.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

A generous benefit of the Sapphire Reserve® which helps to offset at least a portion of its lofty annual fee is a $300-per-year travel credit. This card’s annual $300 travel credit can be applied to a wide range of charges, from flights, hotels, rental cars, and even parking and tolls — making it incredibly easy to use. This essentially makes the Sapphire Reserve® a $250 annual fee card ($550 annual fee – $300 travel credit) which may help you justify the more premium Sapphire Card option.

Sapphire Reserve® cardholders also get access to over 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide via Priority Pass Select. As well, users are reimbursed $100 every four years when they use their card to pay for a TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or NEXUS application fee.

Verdict

Once again, the Sapphire Reserve® wins — but only if you’re a frequent traveler who will use the $300 travel credit and lounge access to justify the higher annual fee. Otherwise, if you want a well-rounded travel rewards card and your focal point is to amass a nice chunk of points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® is your best bet.

Why choose Chase Sapphire Preferred®?

Most people choose the Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card because it rewards you better for each dollar you spend at a lower cost. Even though the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has an incredible 10x earning potential in some categories, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is popular because of its wider variety of everyday spending categories.

For those who enjoy entertainment or date nights, this can be the best reward card for dining out. Mostly everyone uses a streaming service to watch shows and movies and online grocery purchases are becoming more commonplace. So, if you are doing these things anyway, you may as well get rewarded for what you are spending on and consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred®.

Additionally, the card has a nice anniversary bonus that the Chase Sapphire Reserve® doesn’t offer: 10% bonus on total purchases during the previous year. That’s 1,000 bonus points if you spent $10,000 on the card.

You can also add up to six extra users at no extra cost with this card. In comparison, Chase Sapphire Reserve® charges users $75 annually per authorized user. While this isn’t unusual for a luxury card, the cost quickly adds up if you need to share the account with others.

The annual fee is significantly lower for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, so if you aren’t sure whether you will use all the benefits offered (or are certain you won’t), then it doesn’t make sense to pay the hefty annual fee for the Reserve® card.

This is when the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card becomes the better option. With 1:1 points transfer with partners, a cheaper annual fee (by a whopping $455), and an equivalent welcome bonus, this option may be more attractive to some users.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred® card review for more information.

Why choose Chase Sapphire Reserve®?

Frequent travelers will benefit from the Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit card. Both reward cards allow you to transfer reward points to 14 airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio, but if you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, you will receive a superior 1.5 cents per point redemption with the Sapphire Reserve® compared to 1.25 cents per point with the Chase Sapphire Preferred®.

The Sapphire Reserve® also comes with an easy-to-use $300 annual statement credit that can be used for many travel expenses  — including things not so obviously categorized as “travel,” like ferries, campground fees, timeshares, and more. This $300 credit compensates for a large part of the annual fee and is just as good as cash for many for its ease to use, bringing the annual fee down to a more reasonable, $250. If you redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal at the rate of 1.5 cents per point and use the other accompanying perks, you can easily get enough value to outweigh the annual fee.

Reserve® is also the only card between the two that has Priority Pass Select. This allows users to gain access to over 1,300+ airport lounges globally, with complimentary beverages and snacks.

The Sapphire Reserve® not only offers a Priority Pass Select lounge membership with access to airport lounges globally, it also reimburses you up to $100 for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and NEXUS application fees every four years, so you can move more quickly through customs and security on your next trip.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Reserve® card review for more information.

How do you determine which card is right for you?

Off the bat, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that both Chase Sapphire cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. What’s this rule you ask?

Well, here it is: if you have opened five or more new cards in the last 24 months, Chase will almost certainly deny you for either card. If you’re unsure if you’ve applied for five or more cards, from any credit card issuer, in the last 24 months, go to Credit Karma and look at how many credit card accounts you’ve opened in the last two years.

When deciding which card would benefit you the most, you need to give your spending habits serious thought and determine what are your most common everyday purchases. If you spend money in categories like rental cars, plane tickets, and hotel stays, then the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card may be worth the investment.

However, there are more common spend categories on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card that the Sapphire Reserve® doesn’t possess. As a reminder, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® earns three points per dollar on groceries purchased online (does not include wholesale clubs, Target, or Walmart), dining out and takeout, plus certain streaming services. If this is where most of your spending goes, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® is really hard to pass up.

When you compare annual fees to credits side by side:

Chase Sapphire Preferred®:

$95 annual fee – $50 reimbursement for hotel bookings = $45 per year annually

Chase Sapphire Reserve®:

$550 annual fee – $300 reimbursement for travel purchases = $250 annually

While everyone may want the elaborate luxury card, not everyone can use it to its full potential. That’s why it’s important to analyze your spending habits and lifestyle needs. If you’re convinced that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® is the right fit for you, now may be the best time to consider applying as its elevated 80,000-point bonus won’t stick around forever.

Featured image: ra2 studio/Shutterstock.com

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