Chase really shook up the premium credit card landscape several years ago when they launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve® as a direct competitor to The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Citi Prestige Card.

If you’re a member of the 10xTravel Insiders Facebook group, you’ve probably noticed that tons of people gave this card a place in their wallet. But now that it’s been available for over four years now, is it still worth the hype?

The Basics

  • Earning: 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel and dining, 3X on groceries (through April 2021), 10X Ultimate Rewards points on Lyft rides, 1X on everything else
  • Current sign-up bonus: 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months
  • Key benefits: annual $300 travel credit, $60 DoorDash credit in 2021, Global Entry fee credit, Priority Pass Select membership (plus 2 guests), one year Lyft Pink membership, one year DoorDash DashPass membership, premium travel benefits and protection, no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $550
  • Authorized user fee: $75 per authorized user
Priority Pass lounge and restaurant access

Priority Pass lounge and restaurant access with 2 guests.

Bonus Categories

  • Earn 3X points on travel worldwide from airfare and hotels to taxis to trains (and more)
  • Earn 3X points on dining at restaurants worldwide from fast casual to fine dining
  • Earn 3X points on groceries worldwide up to $1,000 per month, through April 2021
  • Earn 10X points on Lyft rides, through March 2022
  • Earn 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

The earning structure for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® makes it a great card for frequent travelers and people who like to dine out regularly.

The travel bonus category is also extremely broad, and pretty much everyone should be able to make use of it: “Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.”

Redeem Your Ultimate Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are, of course, best used for travel. One of the key benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is that each point is worth 1.5 cents towards travel when redeemed directly through the Chase travel portal, or with the Pay Yourself Back feature to get statement credits for purchases in select categories (currently grocery stores, home improvement stores, and dining).

When you redeem your points this way, you’ll always know exactly what you’re getting for your points, at home or on the road. When you earn 3X Ultimate Rewards points and redeem them at a value of 1.5 cents each, that’s like getting a 4.5% rebate on your travel and dining purchases!

For travel, this is a great redemption option when flight prices are low, especially because when you book flights this way you’ll still earn miles in frequent flier programs. For example, JetBlue regularly has transcontinental Mint Business class flights on sale for $399 each way, which would only require 26,600 Chase Ultimate Rewards points – and you’ll earn JetBlue points!

Assuming you could find availability, United would charge 25,000 miles (which can be transferred from Ultimate Rewards) plus taxes for the same flight itinerary, but United’s transcontinental flights generally aren’t thought to be as nice as JetBlue’s and you won’t earn miles when you fly.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel benefit: annual $300 travel credit

Even better redemptions can usually be achieved with Chase’s numerous airline and hotel transfer partners:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (coming in 2021)

On the hotel side, you can transfer to:

  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt
hotel category

Additionally, you can combine your points from no-annual fee cards such as the Chase Freedom Flex℠, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, and Chase Ink Business Cash with those you earn with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Once combined, you can transfer your points to partners or redeem them through the Chase travel portal for 50% more value.

A few examples of good value redemption options include:

  • 4,500 British Airways Avios for a one-way short-haul economy flight on Qantas within Australia or within Japan on Japan Airlines
  • 5,000 points for a night at a Category 1 Hyatt hotel
  • 7,500 British Airways Avios for a one-way short-haul economy flight on Alaska Airlines or American Airlines within North America
  • 90,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for a round-trip business class ticket to Japan on All Nippon Airways (ANA) from the west coast

As you can see, you can get incredible value from the Chase Sapphire Reserve® by maximizing 3X bonus categories and wisely using partners, or even the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal and Pay Yourself Back. Whether you want to indulge in Emirates’ superb first class, are a frugal traveler wanting to maximize economy class redemptions, or simply want to save money on purchases while at home, this card can help you do all three.

tsa pre check

Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit every 5 years

Benefits

In addition to the valuable Ultimate Rewards points you’ll earn, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a long list of additional benefits:

Premium travel benefits:

  • Annual $300 travel credit
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit every 5 years
  • Priority Pass lounge and restaurant access with 2 guests.

Partner benefits:

  • 1 year Lyft Pink membership, which gives you a discount on every ride, priority access to airport rides, free bike and scooter rentals, and complimentary GrubHub+ membership
  • 1 year DoorDash DashPass membership (must activate by December 31, 2021)
  • $60 DoorDash credit in 2021
DoorDash credit

DoorDash credit

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® also really shines through the travel protection benefits:

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance, covering up to $10,000 per trip for sickness, severe weather, etc.
  • Travel accident insurance (the one I hope we won’t ever have to use!)
  • Trip delay reimbursement that kicks in for delays 6 hours or more, even if it’s a weather delay that the airline won’t cover
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Emergency medical care and evacuation coverage

What’s better than earning 3X points and being well protected? These benefits even apply to award tickets when you pay the taxes and fees with the card, or when you book flights with points through the travel portal.

If you are using an airline gift card to cover some of the flight cost of a cash ticket, make sure to charge at least a portion of your ticket to your Chase Sapphire Reserve® and you will be covered.

Last but not least, there are some great car rental benefits:

  • National Emerald Club Executive membership, and up to 25% discount
  • Avis and Silvercar discounts up to 30%
  • Collision damage waiver (CDW) up to $75,000 when you pay for your rental in full with the card – this benefit is primary, meaning an easy claims process, potentially hundreds in savings from the cost of the CDW sold by the car rental company, and no penalty on your own car insurance if something happens

I’m not sure there’s a better card to carry when traveling.

travel category

Earn 3X points on travel worldwide from airfare and hotels to taxis to trains (and more)

Are You Eligible for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®?

This card falls under Chase’s 5/24 rule, so if you have opened 5 or more personal credit cards in the last 24 months from any bank—plus business cards from Capital One, Discover, and TD Bank—you won’t be able to get the card. For this reason, it’s important to decide if you want this card early on in your miles and points journey.

One more restriction to consider is that you are only allowed to have one of the Sapphire cards. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you will not be able to get the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Additionally, if you’ve received the bonus on either card in the last 48 months (that’s four years), you will not be eligible for the card.

Final Thoughts

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a $550 annual fee, the benefits of this card will outweigh the cost for many travelers. The $300 travel credit card already takes care of a good chunk of the annual fee if you travel even a little—or just take Lyft all the time.

The travel bonus category is also extremely broad, and pretty much everyone should be able to make use of it: “Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.”

In short, you only need to get $250 worth of points and benefits to make the Chase Sapphire Reserve® worth the trouble. For 2021, if you can make use of the $60 DoorDash credit, that brings it down to $190. With at most $3,334 spent on dining and travel in a whole year you would come ahead, as you would earn 10,000 points worth at least $250 on travel—probably more by using transfer partners. And this doesn’t even factor in airport lounge access or the Lyft and DoorDash benefits!

It’s no surprise why many travelers (frequent and infrequent) have decided to make this card a keeper!

If you are interested in Chase Sapphire Reserve® you can learn more about it here.