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Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which One Is Right For You?

By: John Tunningley

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Two of the most common questions we get at 10xTravel are: “What card should I get first?” and “With the new Chase Sapphire rules which Chase Sapphire card should I get?”

The answer to both of these questions is the same. To put it simply, the card that is better for you depends on your spending habits and travel habits (and goals).

If you spend a lot on travel and dining and you travel quite a bit, the answer is probably the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. If you just want to dip your toe in the water and start earning points or already have one of the other premium cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is probably your best bet.

Comparing the Benefits and Perks

Let’s take a quick look at what each card has to offer and what the current bonuses are.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • $95 annual fee (waived the first year)
  • Sign-up bonus: 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you spend $4,000 within 3 months of opening the card
  • Authorized User (AU) bonus: 5,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you add an AU within 3 months of opening the card
  • 2x points per dollar spent on travel and dining
  • 1.25 cents per point redemption rate in the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal
  • Trip delay insurance when flights are delayed by at least 12 hours or overnight
  • Authorized Users are free
  • No foreign transaction fees

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

  • $450 annual fee (not waived the first year)
  • Sign-up bonus: 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you spend $4,000 within 3 months of opening the card
  • 3x points per dollar spent on travel and dining
  • 1.5 cents per point redemption rate in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • Trip delay insurance when flights are delayed by at least 6 hours or overnight
  • $300 travel credit which can cover airfare, Uber, taxis, Lyft, train tickets, and more
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Priority Pass Select Membership with unlimited guest privileges
  • Car rental status with National, Avis, and Silvercar
  • $75 for each authorized user
  • No foreign transaction fees

Now, with a free authorized user and a 5,000-point bonus for adding one, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can get you more points off the bat. Pair that with the waived annual fee for the first year and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a pretty safe bet for many who are just getting started.

Why The Chase Sapphire Reserve Is Right For You

There are however a few instances where it’s more beneficial to have the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, but there are some important points to consider.

Let’s start off with the annual fee. The $450 provides quite the sticker shock and is a bit of an investment since it is not waived the first year. If $450 is too much for you right now, that’s okay. If $450 is within your budget, there are some reasons to get this card and we’ll show you why that annual fee is really closer to $150 per year.

First and foremost, for anyone traveling through a metropolitan airport TSA PreCheck is a godsend. I’ve been late for an early morning flight on more than one occasion and breezing through TSA PreCheck has been the difference between making my flight and missing it. If you travel internationally even a once or twice per year, Global Entry will make returning to the states and going through customs so much easier.

With the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, you can get Global Entry (which includes access to TSA PreCheck) and breeze through airport security and customs which makes the whole travel experience better. You even get this $100 statement credit every five years so when it’s time to renew your Global Entry membership, your card will cover it.

The Priority Pass Select membership has been my favorite perk of the card by far. Flying out of an airport that has a Priority Pass lounge has made the airport experience that much better. There’s something to be said for getting away from the busy gate area and enjoying some food and drink.

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card you receive a Priority Pass Select membership which provides access to airport lounges around the world. The Priority Pass membership that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card even allows unlimited guest privileges so you can bring friends and family with you. I’ve used this perk to impress friends and colleagues alike and often try to budget extra time at the airport just to relax with a drink and some snacks before departure.

If you’re someone who gets to the airport early and gets something to eat or drink at the airport restaurants, this benefit will be a big perk for you. Personally, I’m probably saving an average $15-20 each time I visit a lounge. With 10 visits split between colleagues, friends, and family, I’m definitely getting a ton of value out of this perk.

It’s not all fun and games when traveling, even when you have some great credit card perks. If you travel regularly, you’ve probably had a flight delayed at least once. While these delays are often for an hour or so, sometimes they are longer and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card has benefits which kick in after just six hours if you are away from home.

While not the best trip delay insurance in the industry, it is still one of the best and much better than the 12-hour delay required for reimbursement with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. This benefit will give you up to $500 per ticket. This benefit allows you to book a hotel room and buy food if necessary. Before you go out and book a night at the Park Hyatt, make sure you check the terms of the benefit.

Think about this, though! With one single eligible flight delay, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card could easily pay for itself.

Finally, let’s talk about that $450 annual fee. Thanks to the $300 travel credit, the annual fee is closer to $150 if you are going to be spending $300 on travel. If you’ll spend $300 on Uber, taxis, train tickets, or even taxes and fees on award tickets anyway, then this is annual fee won’t be quite as steep as it first seems.

So, let’s do some calculations. If we only consider the value of the points earned with each card, you would need to make up the $55 difference between the $150 for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and the $95 for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Earning 3x points per dollar with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card vs the 2x on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you’d need to spend roughly $3,500 on travel and dining categories to make the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card worth it.

This calculation doesn’t factor in other perks offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card such as Priority Pass lounge access, the Global Entry (or TSA PreCheck) application fee credit, etc.

Why The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Is Right For You

There are few circumstances in which the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card would be the right card for you even if you meet some of the above criteria.

If you already have a card offering some of the same benefits as the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card such as the Platinum Card from American Express or the Citi Prestige Card, it’s probably best to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

The perks that come with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card might not be a top priority for you. Perhaps, you just want to earn as many points as quickly as possible. If that’s that case, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card might be your best option thanks to the 5,000-point bonus for adding an authorized user.

Finally, if $450 is just too much to stomach for a premium travel rewards card, that’s okay. The Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with a $95 annual fee that is waived your first year with the card so you can ease into things and still earn valuable Ultimate Rewards points.

Final Thoughts

While we typically recommend Chase Sapphire Preferred for those starting out, some of you might find the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is the best one for you. The perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card truly are some of the best in the business and with 3x bonus categories, it has quickly become one of the favorite cards for many in the points and miles game.

The good news is with this decision you can’t really go wrong and both cards have a ton of value especially if you’re just starting off.

If you’re still stuck somewhere in between with the two cards it’s important to note you can product change your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to a Chase Sapphire Reserve Card after the first year if you decide that is a better card for you.

Keep Traveling,

John

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