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Chase’s Sapphire Reserve: Sky-High Rewards (at a Cost)

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In the summer of 2016, Chase launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card and instantly received a lot of buzz because of the card’s introductory bonus offer. Chase was subsequently flooded with tens of thousands of applications, and the card was instantly so popular they initially ran out.

And, while the embedded metal cards are cool, the high demand was likely triggered by the card’s impressive signup bonus and robust travel rewards. Granted, Chase decided to slash that bonus in half, but if you want a travel rewards credit card, this may be on your list of considerations. Remember: Just like with any credit card, it’s a good idea to do your research before you fill out an application.

To start, let’s jump into the perks, shall we?

Supercharged Travel Rewards

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders earn points that can be redeemed for cash, gift cards or travel. However, the card is clearly intended for travel; points redeemed toward travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards platform come with a 50% additional value.

The card earns three points for every dollar spent on travel and restaurants worldwide and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Initially, cardholders were offered a sign-on bonus of 100,000 points but that offer expired January 11 (March 12, if you applied at a branch). Now, with this card, Chase offers 50,000 bonus points when new cardholders spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening an account. This translates to a $750 value when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Even though it’s been reduced, that’s no bonus to scoff at. Points can even be transferred with no penalty to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs, if you so desire.

You can also receive up to $300 in annual statement credits as reimbursement for travel purchases and $100 as a reimbursement for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application, which happens every four years (not an annual reimbursement). There are no blackout dates or travel restrictions when redeeming your points. Plus, you’ll get access to more 1,000 airport lounges and special benefits at participating hotels and car rental agencies. The card also comes with many travel protection policies and programs.

You will pay for all these benefits, though. The annual fee is $450 and $75 for each additional user. And if you carry a balance, you’re looking at an APR of 17.74% – 24.74% Variable, based on creditworthiness. (Not sure where your credit currently stands? It’s a good idea to find out before applying, as rewards credit cards typically require top-notch scores. You can find out two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

The Verdict

Unless you’re truly among the financial elite, it will be difficult to find a card with better travel rewards or a competing sign-on bonus. The ones you get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve are simply top notch, and the combination of points multipliers, sign-on bonus rewards and other built-in perks make this one of the premier travel rewards cards on the market.

That said, it comes at a steep annual cost of $450. Occasional travelers are likely better off with a cheaper option. But if you’re a constant traveler who needs the best flight and hotel rewards, the card could be worth the yearly fee and may even save you money in the long run.

Alternatives

If you want travel rewards but tend to balk at high annual fees, you have other options. Here are two of our other favorite travel rewards cards with a much lower cost of entry.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now
on Chase's secure website
Card Details
Intro Apr:
N/A

Ongoing Apr:
17.74% - 24.74% Variable

Balance Transfer:
17.74% - 24.74% Variable

Annual Fee:
$0 Intro for the first year, then $95

Credit Needed:
Excellent-Good
Snapshot of Card Features
  • 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®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Card Details +

Card Details: Also offered by Chase, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card has more modest travel rewards but they still hold great value. Cardholders earn two points for every dollar spent on travel and restaurants and one point per dollar spent for everything else. Redeeming your points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal will get you a bonus 25% value. Chase also offers a 50,000 point bonus when you spend $4,000 in the first three months of opening your account.

Annual Fee: $0 Intro for the first year, then $95

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 17.74% - 24.74% Variable

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

Card Details: Cardholders earn unlimited 2X miles for every dollar spent on all purchases, no matter where they’re using the card. Cardholders can also earn 10x the miles on purchases made at hotels.com/venture (learn more at hotels.com/venture). Capital One offers new cardholders a 50,000 mile signup bonus when they spend $3,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)

Looking for more card details? Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture Rewards reviews.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

At publishing time, the Capital One Venture Rewards and Chase Sapphire Preferred credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

This article was last updated on June 6, 2017. 


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Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.