The competition is steep when it comes to travel rewards credit cards. You’ve got a lot of existing brands that have been proven usefulness in the past including the Citi Prestige Card and The Platinum Card from American Express. As it happens, these are the cards that Chase has targeted with its latest travel rewards card: The Chase Sapphire Reserve.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve came out in 2016 and is supposed to be the next step up from the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It is a general travel credit card that allows you to book with any airlines or hotels you want in your travels. Being that it’s a step up from the Preferred, the Sapphire Reserve offers higher rewards and overall better perks for its cardholder. But of course, with higher rewards come higher annual fees as well.
Expect to fork out $450 a year to own this credit card, a significantly higher number in comparison to its competition. Don’t worry, though, because you’ll be making up this fee through rewards in no time, at least as long as you’re using the card generously. One way you can make up this fee right away is through the sign up bonus. As Chase explains it, if you spend $4k in purchases within the first three months of opening your card, you’ll instantly earn 50k in bonus points. That’s the equivalent of $750 that you can use towards travel expenses, as long as you redeem them through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. This value is highly competitive, and it’s actually one of the highest sign up bonuses currently. This bonus covers your $450 annual fee for at least the first year and gives you an extra $300 to spare.
After that initial bonus, your rewards will primarily depend on your spending behavior. Here’s the basic breakdown of the rewards. Every time you swipe the card for travel and dining expenses, you’ll get 3 Ultimate Rewards point for every $1 spent. All other purchase types will get you 1 Ultimate Rewards point for each $1. That’s about average these days, but the more you use your card for traveling, the better your Ultimate Rewards point balance will be. After all, why get a travel rewards card if you don’t travel much, right?
There are also a few other benefits to using the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. Aside from points you can accumulate, you can also receive up to $300 in credits each year for any and all travel charges you put on your card. Where other credit cards only apply credit from airline purchases, Chase widens the criteria and even enhances the reward. You’ll also have unlimited access to over 900 airport lounges globally—a perk that once you’ve experienced, you’ll never want to do without. This complimentary Priority Pass Select membership is a true gem, especially when you travel quite a bit and constantly find yourself at the busiest airport terminals. Lastly, Chase will credit up to $100 if you use your credit card to pay for the application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, renewable every 4 years. It may be a small benefit, but it’s surely a nice touch and a nice thought coming from Chase.
All in all, if you’re debating whether the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is worth it, you should ask yourself first how often you travel. The card is positively and very much worth every single penny of its $450 annual fee, but that’s only if you use the card enough to get the fee back through rewards and perks. Believe it or not, it isn’t that difficult to make up. Remember that the card also rewards you 3x in points when you dine. Given the math that you don’t need to worry about, if you ignore the sign up bonus and yearly credit, you’ll have to spend roughly $3k each year in travel and dining in order to make up your annual fee. Let’s put it into perspective as our final thoughts here. Depending on your location, a single trip to Hawaii or one 7-day cruise to the Western Caribbean will cost about $3k, more or less. That’s a trip that we’re sure you deserve anyway. Our final suggestion? Apply for the card, and then book the trip you’ve been wanting to take.