Last August, Chase made a big splash by introducing the Chase Sapphire Reserve, a brand new card with top-of-the-line benefits as well as an attractive 100,000-point signup bonus. As you may have heard, that signup bonus was recently lowered from 100,000 Ultimate Reward points to 50,000 as of March 12.
The Sapphire Reserve was an instant hit partly due to the generous signup bonus, so now that the bonus has been cut in half, you may be wondering if it’s still worth the high $450 annual fee. To help you decide, we’ll break down the perks and weigh them against other similar cards.
Although the signup bonus is now 50,000 points, that’s still a great boost to your Ultimate Rewards balance. This bonus level is in line with most other premium card signup bonuses, so it seems Chase is trying to align their premium card with the Citi Prestige (50,000 ThankYou point signup bonus) and American Express Platinum cards (standard offer of 40,000 Membership Rewards).
The Sapphire Reserve earns 3X points on all dining and travel purchases worldwide. Whether you enjoy fine dining, fast casual spots, or dive bars, you can earn 3X points on every dining purchase. No other card matches this excellent earnings rate.
With only a few exceptions, you can earn 3X points on all travel expenses with the Sapphire Reserve. In addition to the usual airfare and hotel purchases, you can earn extra points on Uber, tolls, camping sites, trains, cruises, and more.
However, there is more competition in this space. The Amex Premier Rewards Gold card and Citi Prestige both offer 3X on airfare, and the personal Amex Platinum earns 5X on airfare booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel. The Citi Prestige also earns 3X on hotels. But while these cards can match or beat some of these category bonuses, no other card earns an all-around 3X on almost all travel expenses.
During each cardmember year, you get a $300 annual travel credit good toward any travel purchase. And, the best part is that no effort is required as the credits post automatically within a few days. No other card offers an annual travel credit that high and that’s valid toward practically any travel expense.
Additionally, the Sapphire Reserve offers a $100 Global Entry or PreCheck reimbursement for signing up or renewing your membership. While this has become a standard benefit on most premium cards, it’s worth noting this is the only card in Chase’s lineup that does.
Chase beats the competition with the Priority Pass membership that comes with this card. While other cards like the Citi Prestige and Amex Platinum offer Priority Pass memberships, only the Sapphire Reserve gives you access with unlimited guests.
Also, this card is one of a small handful in the U.S. that offers Visa Infinite benefits. In addition to all the perks that Chase gives, you also get primary rental car coverage, car rental discounts through Avis, Silvercar, and National (as well as Emerald Club Executive Level status), and access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection.
While you can redeem Ultimate Reward points for cash back or merchandise, if you redeem them instead through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, you’re getting $750 worth of value from the signup bonus alone since points on the Sapphire Reserve are worth 1.5 cents each. The points can be used toward airfare, hotels, cruises, and more, and this high redemption rate is among the highest out there.
Additionally, you can transfer points on a 1:1 basis to Chase’s travel partners that include Air France, Singapore Airlines, Hyatt, and more. Depending on how you like to redeem your airline and hotel miles, you can truly maximize the value of your points, especially on premium cabin redemptions, by transferring to partners.
Another great benefit is if you have other Chase cards in your wallet that earn Ultimate Rewards, the points you earn with those cards can be combined with the Sapphire Reserve. So if you have a Chase Ink, Sapphire Preferred, Freedom, or Freedom Unlimited, the points you earn on those cards can be transferred to the Sapphire Reserve where you can transfer them to any of Chase’s partners, or use them for 1.5 cents each toward travel booked through Chase.
A Word About 5/24
Chase’s unofficial policy known as 5/24 means that if you’ve opened five or more new cards in the last 24 months, your application for certain Chase cards will be automatically declined. The Sapphire Reserve is one card that falls under this rule, so if you’re under this application threshold, it may be a good idea to get this card now, and wait to apply for other cards down the road. Chase rarely increases signup bonuses on their cards, so it’s unlikely we’ll see the Sapphire Reserve bonus increase any time soon.
Based on our analysis, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is still a winner even if you only get 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after meeting the minimum spend. If you are still on the fence about applying for the Reserve, the lower signup bonus shouldn’t deter you from adding this amazing card to your arsenal. While this is the only announced change to the Sapphire Reserve thus far, it’s always possible more changes could come because the only thing that’s constant when chasing points and miles is that the rules will continue to evolve.