The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been a stalwart in Chase’s consumer card portfolio for years. However, when Chase released the Chase Sapphire Reserve® in 2016, it stole all the limelight and set the stage for other card issuers to up their game.

Both cards have great benefits, earn Ultimate Rewards, come with a generous welcome bonus and have the same airline and hotel transfer partners. Because you can’t hold both of these cards at once, it could be hard to decide which one to commit to, so we hope this article would make your choice easier.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes loaded with lots of useful benefits, but it also has a high annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with fewer benefits but has a much lower annual fee. So will you save money by choosing a card with a lower annual fee? The answer is not always as straightforward as it seems, and you’ll soon see why so many people are faced with this dilemma.

Before we dig deeper, it’s important to mention that both cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule, so keep that in mind when choosing between the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Overview

This once blockbuster card has somewhat lost its luster when other issuers began issuing credit cards with high welcome bonuses and similar benefits. A few cards also started offering some of the same perks but with a much lower annual fee.

The annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is $550, and it’s not waived the first year. There are no foreign transaction fees.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a long list of great perks, but let’s briefly look at the main benefits that can help offset its high annual fee:

  • Up to $300 in automatic statement credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each anniversary year. Chase has a broad definition of what falls under the travel category, which includes a lot of travel-related expenses, such as ride-booking services, hotels, airlines and parking.
  • 3X points on other travel after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually
  • 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you book travel through the Chase Travel Portal after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually
  • 5X points on flights purchased through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually
  • A value of 1.5 cents per point when redeeming the Ultimate Rewards points for statement credits against existing purchases through Pay Yourself Back
  • Priority Pass Select membership to more than 1,300 airport lounges and about 30 restaurants
  • Travel insurance, including trip interruption and trip delay insurance, which could be extremely valuable if your travel plans are affected by flight delays and cancellations
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver insurance
  • $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck or $50 Nexus fee credit every four years
  • Complimentary DoorDash DashPass subscription (for one year, activate by 12/31/2024) and $5 in DoorDash credits each month you’re enrolled in DashPass (ends 12/31/2024)
    One year of free Instacart+ membership and up to $15 per month in statement credits on Instacart purchases (through July 2024)
  • $10 Gopuff monthly statement credit

In addition to earning 3X points on travel, the card also earns 3X on all dining, 10X on Lyft rides (through March 31, 2025) and 1X on everything else.

Chase has recently introduced a new way to redeem points at a value of 1.5 cents per point when redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for statement credits against existing purchases in select rotating categories through Pay Yourself Back. For example, you’ll need 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points to pay yourself back for $150 spent in one of these categories.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Overview

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s annual fee is $95, and it’s not waived the first year. The card doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card comes with a lot of great benefits, so let’s have a look at a few perks that more than justify its annual fee:

  • $50 annual Ultimate Rewards hotel credit. You can earn up to $50 in statement credits each account anniversary for hotel stays purchased through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
  • 5X points on travel purchased through the Chase travel portal, excluding hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 annual hotel credit
  • 2X points on all other travel purchases
  • 3X points on online grocery purchases, excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs
  • 3X points on dining and select streaming services
  • 10% anniversary points boost. Each account anniversary, you’ll earn bonus points equal to 10% of your total purchases made the previous year. For example, if you spent $10,000 in the last cardmember year, you’ll get a 1,000-point bonus.
  • A value of 1.25 cents per point when redeeming the Ultimate Rewards points for statement credits against existing purchases through Pay Yourself Back
  • Travel insurance, including trip interruption and trip delay insurance
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Complimentary DoorDash DashPass subscription (for one year, must activate by 12/31/2024)
  • Six months of free Instacart+ membership and up to $15 per quarter in statement credits on Instacart purchases (through July 2024)
  • $10 Gopuff monthly statement credit

The points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select rotating categories through Pay Yourself Back.

The card earns 2X points on travel purchases, including airfare, hotels, taxis, trains and many other travel expenses, 5X on Lyft and 1X on all other purchases.

Hot Tip

The Sapphire Preferred is a great card for beginners and its modest annual fee and the high welcome bonus make it a great choice for anyone who’s just starting to collect miles and points.

Sailrock-Resort-Great-House-Restaurant-West-Coast-Dining

Earn 2X Ultimate Rewards Points per dollar spent on dining with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve

Here’s a quick comparison of the two cards.

Sapphire PreferredSapphire Reserve
Annual fee$95$550
Authorized user fee$0$75
Points earning on travel and dining5X points on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3X on dining, 2X on all other travel10X points on hotels and car rentals and 5X on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3X on dining, 3X on all other travel
Online grocery purchases3XN/A
Points value on the travel Portal1.25 cents per point1.5 cents per point1.5c/point
Trip delay benefitUp to $500 per ticket for delays of 12 or more hours (or delays requiring an overnight stay)Up to $500 per ticket for delays of six or more hours
(or delays requiring an overnight stay)
Lyft5X through March 31, 202510X through March 31, 2025
DoorDash credits and benefitsComplimentary DashPass (for a year, must enroll by 12/31/2024)Complimentary DashPass (for a year, must enroll by 12/31/2024); $5 DoorDash monthly credit (through 12/31/2024 when enrolled in DashPass)
Lounge accessN/APriority Pass Membership
Travel creditAnnual $50 hotel creditAnnual $300 travel credit
Points value through Pay1.25 cents per point1.5 cents per point
Chase travel portal Ultimate Rewards points redemption1.25 cents each1.5 cents each
Chase Pay Yourself BackRedeem points at 1.25 cents eachRedeem points at 1.5 cents each
Instacart+ Membership and creditsSix months of free Instacart+ membership and up to $15 per quarter in statement creditsOne year of free Instacart+ membership and up to $15 per month in statement credits
Gopuff statement credit$10 monthly$10 monthly

Why Choose Sapphire Preferred

So which card is the better choice for you? Let’s look at some of the reasons why the Sapphire Preferred might be a better choice.

Good Starting Place for Beginners

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great card for anyone who’s just starting to dabble in the points and miles hobby. The card comes with a reasonable annual fee, an excellent welcome bonus and a relatively simple earning structure.

Low Annual Fee

The annual fee on the Sapphire Preferred is just $95 vs. $550 on the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Neither card waives the annual fee the first year, and it’s charged on the first billing statement.

Most people at the beginning of their travel rewards journey are strongly opposed to paying credit card annual fees. However, all the best travel credit cards come with annual fees, which can be offset by their benefits.

Welcome Bonus

The welcome offers on the Sapphire Preferred card are often higher than the welcome offers that come with the Sapphire Reserve card. When you’re on the fence, take into consideration which card offers the higher welcome bonus.

The standard bonus can be enough to transfer to United Airlines for a round-trip flight to Europe. Or you can use the welcome bonus to book a few nights in a nice Hyatt hotel in the U.S. or abroad.

travel protection

Earning Rates

Let’s look at the earning rates for everyday purchases. You’ll earn 3X points on dining, streaming services and online groceries. Travel purchases made outside of the travel portal earn 2X, and all other purchases earn 1X.

You’ll also earn a 10% annual cardmember year bonus on your total purchases made the previous year.

No Authorized User Fees

You can get an authorized user added for free to help you meet the minimum-spending requirement or to earn more rewards on everyday purchases.

If you have a young adult in your family who is going to be traveling abroad, get them an authorized user card to use on their travels. Visa cards are widely accepted around the world, and you both will save on foreign transaction fees.

Access to the Same Travel Partners

All Chase’s premium cards (cards with an annual fee), both personal and business, have access to the same travel partners. You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred to 11 airline transfer partners and three hotel rewards programs. So even a card with the lower annual fee will give you access to all the partners.

Hot Tip

Don’t be put off by the high annual fee on the Sapphire Reserve. The card has a lot of benefits that will help offset the annual fee and is a clear winner for the frequent traveler who can take advantage of visiting lounges or eating at participating airport restaurants.

Why the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a Better Choice for a Frequent Traveler

Let’s look at why the more expensive Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card might be a better fit for a frequent traveler.

The card’s many credits and benefits help offset its annual fee. The card also has a more generous earning structure with 3X on travel not booked through the portal, and after the $300 annual travel credit is used, so this might be a better choice for someone who’s booking a lot of paid travel.

Lounge Access

Although the Sapphire Preferred Card’s annual fee is significantly lower, it doesn’t come with lounge access. If you find yourself at airports with Priority Pass lounges and restaurants frequently, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a much better option.

The Sapphire Reserve card gives you access to a network of more than 1,300 lounges as well as dozens of airport restaurants that are part of the Priority Pass network.

Most, and the best, Priority Pass lounges can be found overseas. The number of U.S. locations is relatively small, and they’re usually located in international terminals.

If you’re after a good meal, there’re a few participating restaurants in the U.S., and some are in airports with no Priority Pass lounges. When you order, present your Priority Pass card and receive a credit toward the bill. The amount varies between locations but typically is about $28 to $30 per person for up to two people.

If you travel with another person often, you can make them an authorized user on your card. Authorized users get their own Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounge access at the cost of $75 for each authorized user.

Priority Pass Select members can bring two guests into the lounge, and each additional guest will cost $27 per visit. Authorized users with their own membership can also bring two guests.

lounge access

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has excellent trip insurance coverage, including trip interruption insurance. If your trip is delayed by just six hours, you’ll be reimbursed $500 per ticket for delays of 6 or more hours.

Travel Credit

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card’s $300 travel credit is easy to use because it covers a broad range of travel expenses, including things like resort fees, tolls and parking, which usually can’t be covered with points.

The credit is applied automatically as a statement credit that will be posted a few days after you see a charge.

Premium Travel Benefits

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has excellent trip insurance coverage that includes trip interruption insurance. If your trip is delayed by at least six hours or is overnight, you’ll be reimbursed up to $500 per ticket for reasonable expenses made because of the delay. Trips paid for with the card, as well as taxes and fees on award tickets, are eligible for the coverage.

Six-hour delays are not uncommon, and it’s reassuring to know that in case things go wrong, you’ll be reimbursed for a nice hotel room and a good meal.

TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or Nexus Credit

Even if you travel just a couple of times a year, this is an invaluable benefit. If you already have Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus membership, you can pay for a family member’s or a friend’s application. The credit is applied once every four years.

$15 Per Month Instacart Statement Credit

Instacart delivers almost anywhere in the U.S., so take advantage of this benefit and have some staples delivered when you get to your destination. You can save up to $180 per year on food, drink and other essentials.

Travel Portal and Pay Yourself Back Redemption Bonus

If you often redeem Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase travel portal, you’ll get much better value redeeming them at a value of 1.5 cents per point. The same increased value applies to the Pay Yourself Back redemption option. If this is how you prefer to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the clear winner.

travel protection

You can earn one Sapphire welcome bonus every 48 months. So if you opened and, most importantly, earned the bonus on one of the Sapphire cards less than 4 years ago, you won’t be eligible for a new Sapphire family card and a new welcome bonus. And remember that both cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.

Do I Have to Pick Just One Sapphire Card?

Sadly, yes. You can hold only one card from the Sapphire family at a time. You’ll need to evaluate the benefits and perks of both cards and decide if the higher annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is worth it.

Furthermore, you’re eligible to earn one Sapphire welcome bonus on either card every 48 months. So, if you earned a bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card less than four years ago, you won’t be eligible for a welcome bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve until the clock resets. And remember that both cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.

Final Thoughts

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great card for beginners. Its modest annual fee, substantial welcome bonus and solid benefits make it a great choice for anyone who’s just starting to collect points and miles.

If you don’t plan on using any of the benefits that come with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Sapphire Preferred might be a better option because it has the same transfer partners and a much lower annual fee.

However, if you travel a lot, don’t be scared of the high annual fee on the Sapphire Reserve card. It comes with a lot of benefits that will help offset the annual fee and is a clear winner for the frequent traveler who values the card’s travel benefits and can take advantage of visiting lounges or eating at participating airport restaurants.