chase sapphire reserve vs preferred

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred: A Story of Two Travelers

Editorial Disclaimer: This post may include references to offers from our partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to specific products. The opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

There are two versions of Chase Sapphire credit card. They’re both excellent travel credit cards but are made for slightly different types of travelers. We’re going to examine the competition between the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred. Is one of the cards better than the other? Like comparing most cards, it depends on who you’re talking to. One Chase Sapphire card may be better for you, while the other card may be better for someone else.


We’ve found that typically, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best first travel credit card to get. It has a modest annual fee (which is waived in year 1) with good travel benefits and a nice signup bonus. Meanwhile, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best credit card for regular travelers. It has a higher annual fee but comes with a tremendous amount of valuable travel benefits.


The Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred competition is more complex than just comparing the features and selecting an overall winner. Which travel credit card is best, highly depends on the customers’ preferences. Let’s begin by taking a look at the features and benefits of each credit card to find out which card is right for you.


Chase Sapphire Reserve Review

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has done the impossible. It has made a $450 annual fee for a credit card seem like a steal by having amazing travel benefits. While it may be hard to get past the thought of paying $450 up front for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the benefits are well worth the annual fee. For people who travel regularly, the lounge access, travel credit, and expedited airport security alone give enough value to cover the annual fee. That doesn’t even include the signup bonus, which adds even more value.


Chase Sapphire Reserve

50,000 Points after spending $4000 in the first 3 months

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
  • Introductory Offer: Earn an introductory 50,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months.
  • Statement Credits: Receive a $300 in statement credits each year (based on your account anniversary) to cover travel expenses like airfare and hotels.
  • Receive a $100 Statement credit as reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment.
  • Earning Categories: You’ll earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining and on travel that doesn’t qualify for the $300 travel reimbursement each year and one point per $1 on everything else.
  • Travel Point Transfer Partners: 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs.
  • Extra Point Value: Receive 50 percent more value for your points when you redeem for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Airport Lounge Access: Visit more than 1000 airport lounge locations while traveling with a Priority Pass Select membership.
  • Annual Fee: $450

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.


Sapphire Reserve Signup Bonus

The Chase Sapphire Reserve 50,000 point signup bonus is worth at least $750 if used toward travel. Because you’ll redeem at a higher rate of 1.5 cents per point you get more value out of your Ultimate Rewards points. By transferring Ultimate Rewards to one of Chase’s travel partners you can redeem points for well over 2 cents per point. This option can make the Sapphire Reserve signup bonus worth more than $1000.


Chase Sapphire Reserve 300 Travel Credit

If you spend at least $300 on travel yearly, the Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 travel credit essentially erases 2/3 of the annual fee. By taking advantage of the Sapphire Reserve 300 travel credit, the annual fee gets knocked down to $150 (only $55 more than the Sapphire Preferred). That means that you’re paying just $55 for all the other benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.


The Sapphire Reserve travel credit is very simple to use. Every time you spend money on a travel-related expense, you will automatically receive a statement credit for it. Things that count towards the travel credit are:

  • Airlines
  • Hotels
  • Motels
  • Timeshares
  • Campgrounds
  • Car Rental Agencies
  • Cruise Lines
  • Travel Agencies
  • Discount Travel Sites
  • Passenger Trains
  • Buses
  • Taxis
  • Limousines
  • Ferries
  • Toll Bridges and Highways
  • Parking Lots and Garages (parking tickets also – ugh)


Chase Sapphire Reserve Lounge Access

Along with this premium credit card comes complimentary Chase Sapphire Reserve Lounge access. After being approved you’ll have to activate your Priority Pass Select account to get Sapphire Reserve airport lounge access. Once activated, you’ll automatically receive your card each year you keep your Sapphire Reserve credit card. Priority Pass airport lounges range in quality, but they’re all a nice place to get away from the chaos of airport terminals.


When you enter a Priority Pass lounge you can expect to receive the following amenities:

  • Digital Membership Card Option
  • Free Wifi
  • Drinks & Snacks
  • Alcoholic Drinks
  • TV’s
  • Internet Data Ports
  • Newspapers & Magazines
  • Disabled Access

Some Priority Pass lounges also have:

  • Showers
  • Conference Rooms (subject to a fee)

chase sapphire reserve lounge


Priority Pass also now features some restaurants. Priority Pass members are able to show the restaurant their membership card to earn a $28 credit for themselves and a guest. That means if you and your guest go to a Priority Pass restaurant, you have $56 to spend that will be waived.


Overall, the Chase Sapphire Reserve packs a powerful punch of travel benefits. With its amazing travel benefits, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has been crowned the best premium travel credit card. It’s clear that the benefits will far outweigh the annual fee for people who travel often. In the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred comparison, it’s going to be hard for the Sapphire Preferred to match what the Reserve brings to the table. Let’s see how the Chase Sapphire Preferred does.


Chase Sapphire Preferred Review

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is often referred to as the best first travel credit card. This is because it has a lot of travel value while having a modest annual fee that is waived in the first year. It is very similar to the Sapphire Reserve but without many of the premium travel benefits. The main features of the Sapphire Preferred are the signup bonus, elevated Ultimate Reward redemption rates, and the ability to transfer points to travel partners.


Chase Sapphire Preferred

50,000 Points after spending $4000 in the first 3 months

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards and potentially even more if transferred to travel partners.
  • Earning Categories: You’ll earn 2 points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Travel Point Transfer Partners: 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs.
  • Extra Point Value: Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived in year 1)

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.


Sapphire Preferred Signup Bonus

The Chase Sapphire Preferred 50,000 point signup bonus is worth at least $625 if used toward travel. Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed at a higher rate of 1.25 cents per point through the travel portal which is more than the average card, but 25% less than the Sapphire Reserve. The Chase Sapphire Preferred also has access to the Ultimate Rewards travel transfer partners. By transferring Ultimate Rewards to one of the travel partners you can redeem points for well over 2 cents per point. Like the Sapphire Reserve, this redemption option can make the Sapphire Preferred signup bonus worth more than $1000.


Waived Annual Fee in Year 1

Other than the Chase Sapphire Preferred signup bonus being very good, the card also waives the annual fee in the first year. For no fee in year one, you’ll get up to more than $1000 in travel through the signup bonus. That’s a pretty great deal.


Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred: And the Winner is…

From the above reviews, you can see that both Chase Sapphire cards are very good travel credit cards. So which card comes out on top of the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred comparison? The Sapphire Reserve is a high annual fee card that comes with a huge amount of value. The Sapphire Preferred is a card with a lower annual fee (none in the first year) that still gives a large number of Ultimate Rewards as a signup bonus.


Even though overall, the Chase Sapphire Reserve seems like the best card, it really depends on who the card is for. If you don’t travel very often, many of the benefits of the Sapphire Reserve will go wasted. If you do travel often, you’d benefit greatly from the travel benefits of the Sapphire Reserve. Below you can compare the important features of both cards side by side.


Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred Side by Side

 Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Signup Bonus50,000 Points after $4000 in first 3 months50,000 Points after $4000 in first 3 months
Earning Rates3X Travel & Dining2X Travel & Dining
UR Travel Portal - Redemption Value1.5 Cents per Point1.25 Cents per Point
Travel Credit$300N/A
Lounge AccessPriority Pass SelectN/A
TSA PreCheck or Global EntryFull Statement Credit for Either ($85/$100)N/A
Authorized User Fee$75$0
Annual Fee$450$95 (waived in year 1)
Best for People Who...Want a large introductory bonus

Want luxury travel benefits

Travel often
Want a large introductory bonus

Want the annual fee waived year 1

Like to Travel
Learn More >>Learn More >>


Personally, if I had to choose between the two cards: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred, I would currently choose the Sapphire Reserve. I currently have it and get a ton of value from the signup bonus, lounge access, travel credit, and TSA PreCheck. This is because my wife and I are traveling often. Let’s take a look at two other travelers to see which card suits them best.


A Story of Two Travelers

chase sapphire reserve vs chase sapphire preferredEmilia’s Story: 

Emilia’s an elementary school teacher who loves teaching her 4th-grade class during the year. She also loves taking a nice big vacation each summer during her time off. The life of a teacher is tough during the school year and is very deserving of some relaxing time away.


Because Emilia doesn’t travel a lot throughout the year and just wants at least one vacation each year, the Chase Sapphire Preferred was a great choice for her. Just half of the signup bonus alone gave her enough miles to book a round-trip flight to Hawaii last summer (by transferring 25k of her points to British Airways). Also, she didn’t even have to pay an annual fee for the first year so the points came completely free.


With her summer flight only taking up less than her Ultimate Rewards balance, Emilia decided she’s also going to take a spring break vacation with some of her college friends this year. Two vacations with one signup bonus were more than perfect for her.


Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred: Emilia chose the Chase Sapphire Preferred for its lower annual fee and valuable signup bonus


chase sapphire reserve vs sapphire preferredDani’s Story:

Dani’s a nurse who works four days on and then has four days off from work. She also gets a substantial amount of paid time off that she wants to use for traveling. Dani figures between her regular four days off in a row and her vacation days she’ll be able to take at least 10 trips this year.


She decided to get the Chase Sapphire Reserve because she wants the comfort of having both TSA PreCheck and Priority Pass Select lounge access when she’s stuck in airports. The Ultimate Rewards points from the signup bonus will cover a few of the flights, plus she will easily use the $300 travel credit. With all these perks she’ll be able to travel in luxury with all her available time off from work.


As a bonus, Dani decided to double down on earning Chase Ultimate Rewards. Using her side business, she also applied for the Ink Business Preferred card which comes with a signup bonus of 80,000 points and only an annual fee of $95. Her business is a sole proprietorship, selling some of her used things on eBay and Amazon. She also occasionally buys things at garage sales to also sell. The cool thing about her sole proprietorship is she can simply use her name and social security number instead of having to file for a business.


With both cards, she earned 130,000 Ultimate Rewards points that can likely be used for at least $2,500 of plane tickets (she plans to take advantage of airline partners)! Not too shabby for just two credit cards.


Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred: Dani chose the Chase Sapphire Reserve for its luxury travel benefits and valuable signup bonus


Which Type of Traveler are You?

Depending on which type of traveler you are, either the Sapphire Reserve or the Sapphire Preferred would be a great addition to your wallet. In the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred competition, they are both worthy travel credit cards. The Sapphire Reserve is great if you travel often and want the travel luxuries it comes with. The Sapphire Preferred is great if you travel less often and wouldn’t get much use out of the travel benefits.


Both Chase Sapphire credit cards come with the excellent 50,000 Ultimate Rewards point signup bonus. If it’s an option you might even want to think about adding a business card like Dani to earn more points. All Chase Ultimate Rewards cards have the ability to transfer points between accounts to pool them together. Your significant other and you even have the ability to pool points together. Which card comes out victorious in the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred argument depends on you. Both credit cards are good choices. Depending on what you’re looking for in a travel credit card, one may suit you better.

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred
Author Rating