Chase Sapphire Reserve Review - Travel Card with Excellent Benefits
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If you’re searching for a credit card that truly does it all, you need not look much further than the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. While its annual price tag might scare away some would-be applicants, the benefits that come along with this gem of a travel card more than make up for the expense.
Let’s talk about what the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers, how much it costs, and why you should seriously consider applying, even with that annual fee.
What It Costs
Let’s get this out of the way from the get-go: the Chase Sapphire Reserve card carries a pretty steep annual fee. For many everyday card users, this fee alone is enough to scare them off entirely. You see, the Sapphire Reserve costs $550 a year to carry.
While this is on-par with other premium travel cards on the market–such as the Citi Prestige and the Platinum Card from American Express (which actually charges $550 now)–it sounds shocking to most. If you’re used to paying $59 or $99 a year in annual fees, or if you only carry fee-free cards, the idea of forking over $550 a year just to carry a specific card is preposterous.
The thing is if you actually use the benefits offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve, this card more than pays for itself.
When the Chase Sapphire Reserve was first introduced in 2016, it offered an unprecedented sign-up bonus for new cardholders: 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points. These points could be redeemed for $1,000 in cash or $1,500 worth in travel credits through Chase’s portal.
There’s a chance that Chase will once again offer a bonus that high. For now, though, new Sapphire Reserve applicants will have the chance to earn a still-impressive 60,000 points. If redeemed for cash, this would equate to a $500 statement credit. If used toward travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, you’d be looking at $900.
As with most credit cards, though, this introductory bonus has a stipulation: you earn it by meeting a minimum spend requirement. In order to snag the 60,000 points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll need to charge $4,000 to the card in the first three months of ownership.
This may sound like a lot, but you can put just about anything on the card. If you charge your weekly groceries, gas, and lunch purchases on the card, in addition to your monthly bills–electric, gas, water, cable, auto insurance, and even your cell phone bill – you can easily clear this requirement. (If you’re short in the end, use the card to buy gift cards to your favorite grocery store or gas station. You’ll cross the threshold without unnecessary spending.)
Cardholders for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card will enjoy a $300 travel credit each year. If you deduct this from the $550 annual fee, you can see how this card will easily pay for itself every year–after all, you only need to rack up $150 in benefits and rewards to break even.
The annual travel credit can be used on any travel expenses that you may incur throughout the year. This means that if you buy an airline ticket, rent a car, pay for checked bags on your next flight, or even pay for a taxi with your Sapphire Reserve, you’ll be reimbursed. As long as your merchants are categorized as “travel” expenses, Chase will credit up to $300 of those purchases back to your statement each year.
One of the best perks of the CSR, though, is the rewards that you can earn. If you plan your spending appropriately, you can easily rake in hundreds of free dollars on the things you’re buying anyway.
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn:
- 3 points for every $1 spent on travel
- 3 points for every $1 spent on dining
- 1 point for every $1 spent on everything else
Dining can mean anything from drive-thru burgers and coffee to your anniversary dinner. Travel could be your next flight, the Uber home, or a relaxing hotel stay. And everything else you buy–from your cell phone bill to your kids’ back-to-school clothes–earns you points, too. There’s also no limit to the number of points you can earn!
Points can be redeemed for a statement credit (1 point is equal to $0.01) or travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal. The portal is a great choice, however, as you’ll get a 50% redemption bonus when you carry the Chase Sapphire Reserve. For instance, 60,000 points ($600 worth) would actually give you 90,000 points ($900 worth) toward your Chase Ultimate Rewards® redemption, when you choose to spend on travel.
Chase Sapphire offers some of the best cardholder protections in the industry, and will always be a top-of-the-wallet card for me. Here’s what you’ll get when you carry and pay with the CSR:
- Trip delay reimbursement (up to $500 per passenger)
- Delayed baggage reimbursement (up to $100 per day for 5 days)
- Lost baggage protection (up to $3,000 per passenger)
- Primary rental car coverage (up to $75,000)
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance (up to $10,000 per trip)
- Purchase protection (up to $50,000 per year)
- Return protection (up to $1,000 per year)
- Extended warranty protection (up to an additional year)
- Emergency medical/dental coverage (up to $2,500 if you’re more than 100 miles from home)
Depending on what you buy and the situations that arise, the Chase Sapphire Reserve could save you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars each year.
For instance, I broke my new smartphone’s screen three weeks after buying it; after filing a claim, my CSR reimbursed me for the repair. I’ve also used the card to cover travel essentials when my baggage was delayed by three full days. These two situations alone saved me $440–almost the cost of the entire annual fee!
No matter where you’re spending your money, the Chase Sapphire Reserve can protect your purchases… and your wallet.
The Sapphire Reserve doesn’t just protect the things you buy, though. It also offers you some fantastic money-saving benefits.
When you become a CSR cardholder, you’ll automatically enjoy:
- Complimentary VIP airport lounge access with Priority Pass
- A fee credit to cover your Global Entry/TSA PreCheck enrollment, once every four years
- $300 annual travel credit
- Roadside assistance
- No foreign transaction fees
- Automatic status with multiple rental car companies
- VIP access to special events and experiences
These mean even more extra cash in your pocket, no matter where you’re using your card or what you’re using it to buy.
What It Costs
So, what sort of expenses can you expect to encounter with the Chase Sapphire Reserve? Well, it depends on how you manage your account.
Of course, all cardholders will be subject to the $550 annual fee. You can easily make up for that with benefits and credits, but this will be charged to your first month’s statement and each year on your cardholder anniversary. There is an additional fee of $75 per, if you want to add any authorized users to your Sapphire Reserve account.
It’s always wise to pay off your statement balance in full each month. Not only does carrying a balance set you up for a dangerous spiral of debt, but it also cancels out any benefit that you would see from your earned rewards. Interest charges can cost you a pretty penny.
If you don’t pay your bill on time or choose to use services like a cash advance or balance transfer, there are other fees involved. Here’s a breakdown of the expenses you can expect from the CSR:
- Annual fee: $550
- Authorized user annual fee: $75 per user
- Late fee: $15-38, depending on the statement balance
- Returned payment fee: $38
- Foreign transaction fee: None
- Balance transfer fee: $5 or 5%, whichever is greater
- Cash advance fee: $10 or 5%, whichever is greater
The Verdict – Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Right for Me?
If you’re looking for a new travel credit card with excellent benefits, the Chase Sapphire Reserve might be a great addition to your wallet. Not only does it provide protections every time you buy or travel, but it also offers great opportunities for rewards and perks.
Yes, the card has a high sticker price. However, when you factor in the travel credit each year, the points you can earn (especially if you travel or dine out frequently), and the sign-up bonus offer, it’s easy to more than compensate for that cost.
Important Note! The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that offers change frequently. Therefore, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit or charge card prior to applying.