Credit Cards

How Much Do You Have To Spend To Make Chase Sapphire Reserve Worth It

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 10 minute read

Customers with excellent credit histories and substantial disposable incomes are prime candidates for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, a highly prestigious travel rewards credit card. Luxurious, convenient, and simply beneficial, the Sapphire Reserve’s potent combination of significant loyalty money and vast travel privileges is hard to beat.

Not everyone can afford the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s yearly cost of $550 for the principal cardholder and $75 for each additional approved user. However, the yearly travel credit of $300, which may be applied to as many as three separate trips within a year, more than makes up for the charge. 

Free use of airport lounges and bonus points for spending money on ride-hailing service Lyft are also included in the benefits. If you’re looking for a credit card that offers travel rewards but isn’t quite as generous as the ones we’ve listed above, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a wonderful option with a low annual fee of $95.

Learn how the Chase Sapphire Reserve compares to other cards in terms of its most attractive features, perks, and downsides.

Key Characteristics

These are the Chase Sapphire Reserve card’s salient characteristics.

$300 Annual Travel Credit

When you use your Sapphire Reserve card, you can get a $300 yearly travel credit that can be applied to any purchase that has the word travel in the merchant category. 

The following are some of them:

  • Airline incidentals, including baggage fees and in-flight purchases
  • Hotel charges and incidentals
  • Rental car charges and incidentals

If you have a credit card, you may receive statement credits up to $300 each year. This limit is reset on your cardmember anniversary date.

Signing Bonus

You can get 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points if you spend at least $4,000 in a 3-month period. When used via the Chase Ultimate Rewards site to buy plane tickets, hotel rooms, and other forms of travel, that can be worth as much as $900.

This incentive is only accessible to people who have not had a Sapphire card in the last 24 months and do not currently hold a Sapphire card (including a Sapphire Preferred).

Ultimate Rewards Points Earning

When booking most types of travel, such as air travel, rental cars, hotels, and dining out, Chase Sapphire Reserve offers an unlimited 3 Ultimate Rewards point bonus for every $1 spent. For most other purchases, 1 point is awarded for every $1 spent, indefinitely. 

A few examples are:

  • Air travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards (Chase Travel), which earns 5 total points per $1 spent
  • Hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Travel, earn 10 total points per $1 spent

Making use of Ultimate Rewards Points

On Chase’s Ultimate Rewards website, you may exchange points for a wide range of merchandise. When redeemed for airfare, the highest value redemption option, one point is worth $0.015 cents, making a total of 100,000 points worth $1,500. 

In other words, the standard redemption rate is increased by a whopping 50%! Monetary, gift cards, bank account contributions, and other cash equivalents, as well as general items, experiences, and more, are also acceptable forms of redemption. 

Amazon shopping is another option for using your points. Points can also be redeemed for merchandise, gift cards, and other small prizes. Any accumulated points will remain in your account indefinitely.

At various periods throughout the year, Ultimate Rewards offers promotions that increase the value of earned points and the rewards that can be redeemed for them. 

As an illustration, from January 2019 to April 2019, Ultimate Rewards provided a 10% discount on gift cards to numerous well-liked establishments like iTunes, Express, and Whole Foods.

Transfer 1-to-1 Points to Chase Travel Partners

Regardless of the redemption value of the partners’ points, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points earned with Chase Sapphire Reserve at a 1-to-1 ratio to about a dozen participating airline, hotel, and alliance loyalty programs.

The frequent traveler programs that are involved include:

  • Marriott
  • Ritz-Carlton
  • British Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hyatt
  • InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG)
  • United Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Iberia
  • Aer Lingus
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Air France/KLM

By using transfers to exchange your Ultimate Rewards points for travel or lodging that would typically need more points from your program, you can improve the value of your points beyond the $0.015 redemption rate offered through the Ultimate Rewards system. 

Know that when you exchange points for goods or services from partner merchants, the value of the points may change significantly. For more detailed information, contact each vendor.

Free Lyft Pink membership for a year

Sapphire Reserve cardholders can get one year of Lyft Pink for free (a $199 value) for a limited time. Members of Lyft Pink receive perks such as discounted rides (15%), priority airport pickup, and flexible cancellation policies.

Credit for Global Entry Fee (Or TSA Precheck)

The $100 application fee for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck is reimbursed to Sapphire Reserve cardholders. This credit is available to you every four years.

Access to the airport lounge is free (Priority Pass Select)

If you’re a Sapphire Reserve cardholder in good standing, you’ll gain free entry to any of the more than 1,000 Priority Pass airport lounges across the world. Each accompanying guest is subject to a $27 admission fee. The annual value of this perk is $399, as stated by Priority Pass.

Significant Fees

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $550 annual fee. It costs $75 per additional authorized user. No additional expenses are incurred for making a purchase in a foreign currency. There is a $38 charge for all payments that are late or are returned. 

Cash advances cost $10 plus 5% of the amount borrowed, while balance transfers cost $5 plus 5% of the amount transferred.

Discounts on rental cars and loyalty programs

Rental car companies National, Avis, and Silvercar offer Sapphire Reserve customers exclusive rates. Where available, discounts can go as high as 30% off with Silvercar and Avis and as low as 25% off with National.

Such perks are sometimes included with membership commitments. For instance, Sapphire Reserve cardholders are automatically upgraded to National’s Emerald Club Executive Level, giving them access to perks like priority reservations and a free day of rental for every eighth booking. 

These perks may have blackout dates and are subject to alteration or elimination at any time.

Privileges from the Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection

Extra benefits are available to Sapphire Reserve cardholders at any of the more than 900 Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection facilities around the world. Benefits consist of free two-person breakfast, an upgraded room at no cost, a later check-out time, and possibly a resort credit or other gift upon arrival.

Hotels from Park Hyatt, Sofitel, Virgin Hotels, and others can be found within the LHR Collection’s offerings. Visit lhrcollection.com to see the whole index.

Other advantages of travel

Cardholders in good standing can take advantage of a plethora of additional travel advantages with Sapphire Reserve:

  • Complimentary auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Trip delay reimbursement up to $500 per ticket for trips delayed longer than 12 hours due to circumstances beyond your control
  • Trip cancellation and interruption service, a partial travel insurance policy that reimburses you up to $10,000 for trips canceled or cut short due to factors outside your control
  • Damaged or lost luggage reimbursement up to $3,000 per passenger
  • 24/7 travel emergency assistance.

Special Occasions and Experiences

Private dinners with star chefs and invitations to the biggest sporting events are just two examples of the types of limited-access events that Sapphire Reserve members can attend. Unfortunately, not everything is free; in some cases, you may have to pay extra.

The need for credit

To qualify for this card, you need to have a strong credit history and have shown that you can responsibly use a credit card with a sizable credit line. You probably won’t be approved if you have any negative marks on your credit report.

Pros

Some of the best features of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card are:

  1. The Sign-Up Bonus Is Very Generous. A sizable bonus awaits new cardholders of the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The fact is that very few similar cards provide benefits of any kind.
  2. Excellent Redemption Value for Points When Using Them to Take a Trip. When redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website, each point earned with this card is equivalent to $0.015. That’s a significant improvement over both the Amex Platinum’s flat $0.01 per point value and the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s value of $0.0125 per point when redeemed for travel.
  3. Rewards are easily accumulated on most types of vacations and meals out. With this card, you may earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points for every $1 spent on travel and eating, which works up to a 4.5% return on that spending when redeemed for travel. From now until March 2022, every dollar spent on Lyft will receive ten additional points. Chase Travel offers 5 points for every $1 spent on airfare. You can earn 10 points for $1 spent on hotels and vehicle rentals bought through Chase Travel. While the airline and hotel categories get 3 points per $1 spent on the Citi Prestige card, the dining category does not.
  4. The value of your points can be increased and your options expanded with the ability to transfer them one for one. The ability to transfer Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to a dozen of the most popular travel loyalty programs is a significant perk for cardholders of the Chase Sapphire Reserve who are sophisticated enough to use it. Ultimate Rewards points are worth less than $0.02 each, but you may get much more out of them depending on the monetary cost of the flights or hotel rooms you redeem them for by transferring them to loyalty programs with which you already have free membership.
  5. Credit for Annual Travel Expenses Nearly Covers the Cost of Membership. If you don’t share this card with anybody else, the $300 yearly travel credit more than covers the $95 annual charge. If you take frequent trips, you can count on finding at least $300 in miscellaneous expenses to reimburse. There aren’t many cards that compare to Citi Prestige’s $250 travel credit in this regard.
  6. The Airport Lounge Access Perk Is Valuable and Wide-ranging. With this card, you can gain free entry to more than 1,000 airport lounges across the world. There is a good possibility that if you have a few hours to kill at a big airport, you will be able to locate a participating lounge. If you compare the value of this perk to the price of an annual Priority Pass membership, you’ll find that it’s worth an additional $399. When compared to the number of lounges offered by the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, for example, many competitor cards provide significantly fewer perks.
  7. Car rental discounts might be extremely helpful for frequent fliers. These cardholder-only savings on car rentals are a huge perk for frequent fliers who need transportation while on the road. If you rent a car from National, you can save 25%; from Avis and Silvercar, you can save 30%. If you rent a car once a year and spend $1,000 doing so, you can save between $250 and $300.
  8. The value of a hotel stay is enhanced by the amenities provided. Free breakfast for two and room upgrades where available at Luxury Hotels and Resorts Collection properties are only the beginning of the many benefits that can accrue with repeated stays.

Cons

Having this limitation is the most annoying aspect of using a Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

  1. Costs a Lot of Money Every Year. Each additional authorized user on your Chase Sapphire Reserve will cost you $75 annually. As you can see, that’s a hefty sum to spend if you don’t intend to make full use of the perks this card offers. The $95 annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which offers a similar but somewhat less generous rewards program and feature array, seems like a steal.
  2. There is no guaranteed frequent traveler or guest status with any of the major brands. There is no automatic upgrade to a more exclusive loyalty program for Sapphire Reserve cardholders at the world’s leading hotels or airlines. That’s a negative in comparison to competing credit cards like American Express’s Platinum Card, whose cardholders receive free Gold and Gold Elite Status in the Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy programs, respectively, which cover thousands of hotels and resorts.
  3. There are no concessions available for a companion’s airline ticket. When compared to other cards, Chase Sapphire Reserve does not offer any perks that would help offset the expense of airfare for a vacationing pair. In contrast, the companion airfare discount that comes with your Amex Platinum card is valid whenever you buy a business or first-class ticket for yourself and a travel partner. Some cards, like the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card (also offered by Chase), offer annual companion airfare savings, but these are much smaller than the ones mentioned above.
  4. There is no Trip Extinction Benefit available. If your card allows you to extend travels of a specific length for a free night after you’ve already spent that number of nights on the road, you won’t be able to do so with this one. Extending a trip for no further cost on the cardholder’s part is a primary perk of the Citi Prestige.

Bottom Line

Chase Sapphire Reserve® is not a good fit for most people, just as the Platinum Card from American Express and the Citi Prestige, and the Delta Reserve from American Express. In reality, it’s aimed at an exclusive demographic of well-heeled, frequent business travelers with enviable spending accounts.

You don’t have to be a millionaire to use this card, but you do need to travel frequently for it to be worthwhile, and you also need to know how to handle a credit card with a high limit. 

While you may not be ready for Sapphire Reserve just yet, it is something to work toward. The future is a mysterious place, and we can only speculate about where we may end up.

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