If you’re looking for a travel card that gives back, the Chase Sapphire Reserve might be exactly what you’re looking for. But be warned – it doesn’t come for free. Currently, the annual fee sits at a whopping $450 – and unlike some credit card providers who are willing to waive the fee for the first year, Chase offers no such charity. So, what exactly does the annual fee cover and more importantly, is it worth it? Let’s find out.
You may have to fork out $450 to get the card in the first place, but once you do, the rewards start coming in thick and fast. First up is the very generous sign-up bonus. Sign your name to the dotted line, use the card for $5000 of purchases within the first 3 months from opening, and in return you’ll get 50,000 reward points. The points have a redemption value of $0.01 for travel rewards and $.015 for non-travel rewards… so you’re looking at getting up to $750 in rewards, just for signing up. That’s the best part of 2 years of the annual fee covered, right there.
Not all credit card providers reward you for using their products. Chase, on the other, is more than happy to, at least when it comes to its Sapphire Reserve card. As soon as you earn your first $300 travel credit (more on which coming up), you can start reaping in the rewards of the card’s membership program. The program’s point system is pretty simple: for every 1 dollar you spend on travel (anything from flights to cruise lines, hotels to car rentals, trains to taxis), you’ll get 3 points. For every dollar you spend on restaurants (whether that’s fast food, fine dining, cafés or pizzerias), you’ll get another 3 points. All other purchases will get you 1 point per dollar. In terms of redemption value, Chase offers some of the highest bang for your buck of any of the providers- $0.01 for travel rewards and $0.15 for non-travel rewards. If you’re accruing points more quickly than you can spend them, the good news is they don’t come with an expiration date: so long as your account is active, you can spend them. There’s also no limit on the amount of points you can earn, so big spenders are in luck.
Membership Rewards Bonus: if you want to maximize your reward points, you can. Simply redeem them for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and they’ll double in value. Do this and you’ll soon start to see a return on your $450 annual fee.
You may be spending $450 in fees, but you’ll be getting $300 of that back in annual travel credit. The list of things you can spend the credit on is extensive, so you won’t find yourself limited to just the basic travel incidentals (in- flight purchases, checked baggage, etc.) like you do with some cards (AMEX Platinum- we’re looking at you). Essentially, if it’s something you’d earn membership points for (hotels, airlines, trains etc.), you can use you travel credit to cover the cost. Pretty handy, I think you’d agree?
$100 towards Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check
As Forbes recommends, if you need Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check, charge it to your Chase Sapphire Reserve and you’ll get a $100 credit – which basically makes the application free. Granted, you’re only going to need it once every 4 years, but money is money.
Airport Lounge Access
If you like to luxuriate while you’re waiting for your plane, you’re in luck. The $450 annual fee for your Chase card will get you free access to more than 1,200 airport lounges across 130 countries, including The Centurion Lounge, International American Express, Delta SkyClub, and Priority Pass lounge networks.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
If you regularly use your card abroad, you stand to save three percent on your spending with the free foreign transaction fees you get with Chase Sapphire Reserve. Three percent may not sound a lot, but if you’re regularly making big or frequent transactions, it soon adds up.
If complimentary room upgrades, early check in and late check outs take your fancy, you’re in luck. Sign up to the Chase Sapphire Reserve and you get all these benefits at any the hotels and resorts that form part of the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection.
Car Rental Privileges
In addition to providing free upgrades at hotels, the Chase Sapphire Reserve will also bag you the same privilege with National Car Rental, Avis, and Silvercar. As well as a fancier car, you’ll also benefit from discounts, savings on premium and luxury rentals, and various other promotions and offers.
If the benefits mentioned so far haven’t convinced you to hand over that $450 annual fee, some of the card’s other rewards just might. Want travel and emergency assistance? You’ve got it. Lost luggage reimbursement up to $300? Consider it done. 24/7 roadside assistance? Well, naturally. Trip delay Reimbursement up to $500 per ticker? Of course. Baggage delay insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, trip cancellation / trip interruption insurance, emergency medical and dental benefit, emergency evacuation & transportation, travel accident insurance… all yours for just $450 a year.
So far we’ve looked at the rewards you’ll get from the card, but as Value Penguin notes, the annual fee covers more than just some pretty perks. In addition to the nifty travel rewards, the $450 will also grant you access to the Visa Infinite Concierge, 24/7 customer service, worldwide travel assistance, easy mobile banking, fraud protection, zero liability protection, and 24/7 fraud alerts.
So, is it worth it?
Let’s be clear, the list of benefits you get in return for your $450 annual fee may be extensive, but they aren’t going to benefit everyone, and not all of them are necessarily better than you’d get with other providers. But if you want a card with flexibility, great travel and non-travel related perks, and more than decent account operating benefits, the Chase Sapphire Reserve (and Its $450 annual fee) is certainly worth a 2nd look.