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TravelIs the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth the annual fee?

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth the annual fee?


I’m a big fan of reevaluating credit cards every year to see whether they still merit a place in my wallet and whether it’s worth paying that annual fee again. For me, this holds true whether the annual fee is $50 or $550, the latter of which is what the Chase Sapphire Reserve® costs.

As a premium card, the Sapphire Reserve is flush with benefits and perks. But do the perks merit the price tag once you’ve used the points from the sign-up bonus? Let’s examine whether the Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth the annual fee beyond the first year’s welcome offer.

Welcome bonus

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is currently offering new applicants the opportunity to earn 75,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on the card within three months of account opening.

TPG’s valuations peg Ultimate Rewards points at 2.05 cents apiece, making this bonus worth $1,538.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Chase says this bonus is worth $1,125 in terms of travel, which is accurate if you redeem your points via Chase Travel℠. On those bookings, Sapphire Reserve cardholders can redeem their points at a flat value of 1.5 cents each.

However, it’s possible to receive more value when redeeming your points if you use them with Chase’s 14 airline and hotel transfer partners. You can often do better than 2 cents per point when redeeming for flights in business class or hotel rooms during expensive holiday travel periods.

Related: How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for maximum value

Priority Pass Select membership

After enrolling for a Priority Pass Select membership, you can visit over 1,400 airport lounges. Here, you can enjoy things like more comfortable seating, a quieter waiting area compared to sitting at the gate and free food and drinks.

Many lounges also offer free showers and dedicated Wi-Fi, which can be faster than using the same connection thousands of people in the airport terminal are using.

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Related: How valuable is a Priority Pass lounge membership?

PRIORITY PASS/JOHNNY TANG

Additionally, those who have a Priority Pass membership from Chase can access Priority Pass-affiliated restaurants at select airports (although this benefit ends June 30). The up to $56 credit to dine at Priority Pass restaurants was an excellent perk of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card that set it apart from its competitors at American Express and Capital One.

For many, this was a useful travel perk that was utilized often and others may feel strongly enough to cancel the card after these changes.

Related: Amex Platinum vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which card is right for you?

Up to $300 in annual travel credit

Taking advantage of the $300 annual travel credit means you can offset more than half of the Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee with this perk alone.

What counts as travel for this $300 credit each year is quite broad: bus tickets, flights, hotels and more.

The best part of the benefit is that it applies automatically to the first $300 you spend on travel each cardmember year — meaning it’s tied to the date when you opened the card, not the calendar year.

Any qualifying purchase will automatically trigger the credit, and you should see a statement credit, typically within a day, offsetting your purchase. This will happen until you’ve exhausted your $300 credit and will resume during your next cardmember year.

This can be a great way to offset travel costs for which you can’t redeem points and miles, such as a boutique hotel that’s not part of a points program or paying for your pricey seaplane transfer to your resort in the Maldives.

Free food

Thanks to a few partnerships, Sapphire Reserve cardholders can take advantage of $20 a month in free food and waived delivery fees.

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This comes from up to $15 per month in credits for Instacart purchases (through July 31), and a DoorDash partnership that offers a complimentary DashPass membership through the end of 2024 and features $5 per month in credits (which you can roll over up to a $15 maximum in credits in your account).

If you utilize these credits in full each month, that’s $240 over the course of a year. This, coupled with the $300 travel credit, essentially brings the cost of the Reserve’s annual fee to $10, and that’s before taking advantage of other benefits this card offers.

Top-notch travel and purchase protections

The insurance benefits offered on the Sapphire Reserve are some of the best available. Because it’s a Visa Infinite card, you’ll receive the perks that come along with the program, which includes primary rental car insurance, trip cancellation and delay coverage, lost luggage reimbursement, concierge service and Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection access.

You’ll also gain protections that provide immeasurable value should an emergency arise during your vacation, such as emergency medical and dental benefits and emergency evacuation and transportation insurance.

Related: Why the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the top card for booking rental cars

The best part of these travel benefits is that many of them apply if you pay for just a small part of your trip using the card, such as using Ultimate Rewards points for a hotel redemption or paying the taxes and fees on an award booking.

However, there are also insurance benefits that can help protect the items you buy when paying with the Sapphire Reserve.

MELANIE LIBERMAN/THE POINTS GUY

This includes purchase protection of up to $10,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per account for items you purchased within the past 120 days that are broken or stolen.

It also includes extended warranty protection (adding an extra year onto a manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less) and return protection (when a merchant won’t accept a return for an item you purchased in the last 90 days, up to $500 per item and up to $1,000 per year).

Status and luxury perks

Cardholders receive complimentary elite status with National Car Rental and Avis and discounts from Silvercar from Audi. Car rental elite status benefits include things like skipping the line when you pick up your car, upgrades to a nicer car and/or adding a free second driver to your reservation.

Plus, you can match your status level to other programs, gaining elite status for free in multiple car rental loyalty programs to broaden your options.

GEORGE ROSE/GETTY IMAGES

While the Sapphire Reserve doesn’t provide any elite hotel or airline status levels, that doesn’t mean the card lacks status-like perks on these stays.

Cardholders can access Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, which provides benefits like room upgrades (upon availability), free breakfast each day and an on-property credit worth up to $100 on these bookings.

Cardholders also have access to exclusive benefits, such as lounges at stadiums like Madison Square Garden, exclusive dinners, VIP events and experiences or special perks at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, to name a few. The Sapphire Reserve also reimburses your application fee with Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus (up to $100 every four years).

Other perks

Another strong point of the Sapphire Reserve is its earning structure.

Cardholders earn 10 points per dollar on hotels and car rentals purchased through the Chase Travel℠, 10 points per dollar on dining purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5 points per dollar on flights purchased through Chase Travel, 3 points per dollar on all other travel (excluding the $300 travel credit) and dining purchases worldwide and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Plus, cardholders get two complimentary years of Lyft Pink All Access when activated by Dec 31, 2024, and earn 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2025.

ERIC ROSEN/THE POINTS GUY

While you may be hesitant to book through a travel portal for fear of not receiving your elite status perks at hotels, there are times when it can make sense. These include hotels that don’t participate in loyalty programs or if you don’t have elite status with that hotel program.

Booking through the portal for extra points or using your points at a higher redemption rate can make sense in these scenarios.

Even if you don’t want to book with Chase’s portal, you’ll still earn a respectable 6% return on spending on dining and in a broad-based travel category, according to TPG’s valuations.

Related: Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card review

Bottom line

With a hefty annual fee of $550, it’s definitely worth considering the pros and cons of being a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder.

We recommend your considerations include how this card will fit into your points and miles strategy and whether or not the perks and benefits that come with it are worth it for you — remember, they only provide value if you’re using them.

Look at what value the Sapphire Reserve can add to your everyday spending and travel needs and how much money you’d spend if you didn’t have these benefits. That’ll help you decide whether the annual fee is worth it in your particular situation.


Apply here: Chase Sapphire Reserve with a 75,000-point welcome offer after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new card within the first three months from account opening.


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