The two most talked about credit cards in the miles and points universe are the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Both offer great benefits, both earn valuable Ultimate Rewards points and both come with a generous welcome bonus. But which card reigns supreme?

Is the card with many great benefits, but also with the higher annual fee, the better choice? Or are you better off going with a cheaper card with less benefits? Will you really save money by choosing a card with a lower annual fee?

Let’s look at how these two cards compare and which card is the better choice for you.

We’ll start by noting that both cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule, so keep that mind when choosing between the two cards.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Overview

The annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Reserve is $550, and it is not waived the first year.

The welcome bonus is 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

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

  • A $300 travel credit that can be used on a lot of travel related expenses, such as ride-share services, hotels, airlines and even parking
  • Priority Pass membership to hundreds of 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
  • A Lyft Pink membership
  • A DashPass subscription and a $60 in statement credits on DoorDash purchases in 2021
  • Up to $120 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Memberships through 12/31/2021, including full access to their workout library in the Peloton app

The card earns 3X on all travel and dining, 10X on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and 3X on up to $1,000 in grocery purchases per month through April 30, 2021.

Sapphire Reserve cardholders can redeem Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase travel portal at 1.5 cents each.

Recently, Chase introduced a new way to redeem points through the Pay Yourself Back feature. Now, through April 30, 2021 you can redeem points for purchases made at grocery stores, home improvement stores and dining establishments (including take-out and delivery services). If you have the Sapphire Reserve, you can redeem points for 1.5 cents each. So, for example, you’ll need 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points to pay yourself back for $150 spent in one of these categories.

There are no foreign transaction fees.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Overview

The Chase Sapphire Preferred’s annual fee is $95, it also isn’t waived the first year.

The welcome bonus is 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

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

  • 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
  • Complimentary DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service

The card earns 2X on all travel and dining, 5X on Lyft rides (through March 2022), 2X on up to $1,000 in grocery purchases per month (through April 30, 2021).

 

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.

Sapphire Reserve cardholders can redeem Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase travel portal at 1.25 cents a point.

If you’d like to use the Pay Yourself Back feature, your points will be worth 1.25 cents each. For example, you’ll need 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points to offset a $125 purchase in one of the eligible categories (groceries, home improvement and dining).

There are no foreign transaction fees.

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
Welcome bonus
60,000 Ultimate Rewards50,000 Ultimate Rewards
Points earning on travel and dining2X3X
Points value on the travel Portal1.25c/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 6 or more hours
(or delays requiring an overnight stay)
Lyft5X on Lyft rides through March 2022Complimentary Lyft Pink membership and 10X on Lyft rides through March 2022
DoorDash credits and benefitsComplimentary DashPass (DoorDash's subscription service which waives the delivery fee at eligible restaurants and discounts service fees on orders of more than $12)Complimentary DashPass and $60 in statement credits on DoorDash purchases in 2021
Lounge accessN/APriority Pass Membership
Travel creditN/A$300 travel credit
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

Why Choose Sapphire Preferred

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

Starting Place for Beginners

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a great card for anyone who’s starting on their points and miles journey. It comes with a very reasonable annual fee, an excellent welcome bonus, and an uncomplicated earning structure.

Lower Annual Fee

The annual fee on the Sapphire Preferred is just $95 versus $550 on the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The annual fee is not waived the first year and will be charged on the first month’s statement.

A lot of travel rewards beginners are staunchly opposed to paying credit card annual fees. However, the best travel credit cards do come with annual fees, but they also come with great benefits that more than offset the fees.

Better Welcome Bonus

The welcome bonus that comes with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points. That’s 10,000 more points than the welcome bonus on the Sapphire Reserve. If you aren’t sure what kind of travel you can book with 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points, here are a couple of examples.

60,000 Ultimate Rewards points are worth $750 if redeemed through the Chase Travel portal. But that’s just the beginning! You can transfer points to one of Chase’s airline transfer partners, such as United Airlines and redeem 60,000 points for a round trip ticket to Europe. Or, if you transfer the points to Hyatt, another Chase travel partner, you can stay three or four nights at some very nice hotels and save hundreds of dollars. You can see how the 10xTravel staff would use the Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus for more inspiration.

Earning Rates

This card has a very uncomplicated earning structure. You’ll earn 2X on dining and travel and, as a limited time benefit, 2X on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month through April 30, 2021. You’ll also earn 5X on Lyft rides through March 2022.

All other purchases earn 1X.

No Authorized User Fees

You can get an authorized user card for another family member to help you meet the minimum spending requirement or for making everyday purchases. Have a young adult in your family who is heading abroad? Since the card doesn’t have foreign transaction fees or authorized user fees you can add them as an authorized user at no cost so they can use the card while traveling.

Access to the Same Travel Partners

All Chase’s premium cards (personal and business), i.e. cards with an annual fee, have access to the same travel transfer partners. You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Sapphire Preferred to 10 airline transfer partners and 3 hotel rewards programs (although we would only recommend transferring to Hyatt and ignoring the other two hotel transfer 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

The Sapphire Reserve is the more expensive card, but all the benefits and credits more than offset its annual fee. The card also has a more generous earning structure, earning 3X on travel and dining so this might be the better card for a frequent traveler.

Lounge Access

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card doesn’t come with lounge access, so if you find yourself at airports frequently, the Sapphire Reserve is a clear winner. You can access a network of over 1,300 lounges, as well as 31 airport restaurants that are part of the Priority Pass network.

Most Priority Pass lounges can be found overseas. The number of U.S. locations is relatively small and they are usually located in international terminals. There are a few participating restaurants in the U.S., and some are in airports with no Priority Pass lounges. You’ll get a certain credit toward the food and drinks bills. The amount varies between locations, but typically is between $20 and $40 per person.

Authorized users get their own Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounge access, but remember that it’ll cost $75 for each authorized user. Keep in mind that two guests can accommodate the primary card member for free. Each additional guest will cost $27 per visit. Authorized users with their own membership can also have two guests as well.

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

Chase’s definition of travel is very broad and includes things like resort fees, tolls and parking – expenses that we can’t usually cover with points. So the $300 travel credit is very easy to use and will definitely help offset the annual fee.

The credit is applied automatically, you don’t need to do anything – you’ll see a statement credit a few days after each travel-related charge has been posted.

Premium Travel Benefits

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. You’ll have to pay for the tickets with the card, or charge taxes and fees on award tickets to be eligible for the coverage.

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

$100 TSA Precheck or Global Entry Credit

This is another valuable benefit for anyone who travels even a couple of times a year. If you already have Global Entry or TSA Precheck, you can pay for a family member’s or a friend’s application. The credit is applied once every four years.

$60 Annual DoorDash Credit

Sapphire Reserve cardholders get a $60 credit to use on DoorDash in 2021. Combine this with the complimentary DashPass subscription and you get significant savings on food delivery.

Higher Earning Rates

The Sapphire Reserve earns 3X Ultimate Rewards on travel and dining. If you spend a good amount on travel and dining, you’ll earn a lot more Ultimate Rewards points with the Sapphire Reserve versus the Sapphire Preferred.

Travel Portal and Pay Yourself Back Redemption Bonus

This is where the Chase Sapphire Reserve really shines. If you often redeem Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase travel portal, you’ll get much better value redeeming them at 1.5 cents a point. The same increased value applies to the Pay Yourself Back redemption option as well.

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?

Unfortunately yes. You can only have one Sapphire card, so you’ll have to evaluate the benefits and perks of both cards and decide if the higher annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth all the benefits that come with the card.

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.

Final Thoughts

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. If you don’t plan on using any of the benefits that come with the Sapphire Reserve, the Preferred might be a better option for you because it has the same 1:1 transfer partners and a much lower annual fee.

But 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.