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TravelUnited Club Infinite Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which card is better?

United Club Infinite Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which card is better?


When it comes to travel rewards cards, a specific question often comes up: Should you opt for an airline or hotel cobranded card or get one that earns transferable points instead?

As airlines continue to devalue award charts, transferable points currencies have become more valuable than ever, thanks to their versatility. However, for those loyal to a specific airline, carrying a cobranded airline card might still bring a lot of value. That’s because many airline cards confer perks like free checked bags, inflight purchase discounts, the ability to spend your way to elite status and other airline-specific benefits. So when does it make sense to get one type of card over the other?

Today, we’re walking through the benefits of two top premium rewards credit cards, the United Club℠ Infinite Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, to look at which might make the most sense for you.

United Club Infinite Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve comparison

Card United Club Infinite Card Chase Sapphire Reserve
Sign-up bonus Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
Annual fee $525 $550
Point/mile valuation* 1.35 cents/mile 2.05 cents/point
Rewards structure  4 miles per dollar on United purchases

2 miles per dollar on travel and dining (including eligible delivery services)

1 mile per dollar on other eligible purchases

10 points per dollar on Lyft (through March 2025)

10 points per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked through Chase Travel℠**

10 points per dollar on Chase Dining purchased through the Chase portal**

5 points per dollar on flights booked through Chase Travel**

3 points per dollar on all other travel and dining purchases

1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases

**After the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually

Lounge access United Club membership Access to Chase Sapphire Lounges

Priority Pass Select membership

Other benefits Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit

First and second checked bags free

Premier access (priority access for check-in, security when available, boarding and baggage handling)

25% back on United inflight purchases

Earn 25 PQP for every $500 you spend on purchases with your card (up to 10,000 PQP in a calendar year)

Premier upgrades on award tickets

Save 10% on United Economy Saver Awards on United and United Express flights when traveling within the continental U.S. or between the continental U.S. and Canada

Expanded award availability

Avis President’s Club rental car status

IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite status

Up to $75 in statement credits per calendar year  for IHG Hotels and Resorts purchases in 2024

One-year complimentary DashPass

No foreign transaction fees

Up to $300 annual travel credit

Redeem points for a 50% bonus through Chase Travel

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit

Free DoorDash DashPass subscription through Dec. 31

Complimentary Lyft Pink All Access membership for two years, worth up to $199 annually  (activate by Dec. 31)

One year of complimentary Instacart+ (activate by July 31)

Visa Infinite card perks including  primary rental car insurance, trip cancellation and delay coverage, lost luggage reimbursement, a concierge service and access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection

Travel protections Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance

Baggage delay insurance

Lost luggage reimbursement

Trip delay reimbursement

Primary auto rental collision damage waiver

Purchase protection

Extended warranty protection

Return protection

Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance

Baggage delay insurance

Lost luggage reimbursement

Trip delay reimbursement

Primary auto rental collision damage waiver

Emergency evacuation and transportation

Purchase protection

Extended warranty protection

Return protection

*Point/mile value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer.

United Club Infinite vs. Sapphire Reserve welcome offer

The United Club Infinite has a welcome offer of 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Based on TPG’s valuation of United miles at 1.35 cents per mile, these bonus miles are worth a solid $1,080 toward air travel.

THE POINTS GUY

Meanwhile, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll get a welcome offer of 75,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2.05 cents apiece, according to TPG valuations, that’s equivalent to about $1,538 — more than two years of its $550 annual fee.

Winner: Sapphire Reserve. Its welcome offer provides more value.

United Club Infinite vs. Sapphire Reserve benefits

The United Club Infinite offers valuable benefits like United Club membership, which grants you access to United Clubs and select Star Alliance lounges when flying United and its partners.

You’ll also be able to bring up to two adult companions (or one adult and any dependent children under the age of 21). This benefit usually costs up to $650 each year, meaning this benefit alone covers the card’s $525 annual fee.

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FRESHSPLASH/GETTY IMAGES

Additionally, if you don’t already have Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, the United Club Infinite Card will refund your application fee once every four years, up to $100. You’ll also get two free checked bags, a 10% mileage discount, IHG Platinum status, a $75 IHG credit, and more.

The Sapphire Reserve, meanwhile, comes with a $300 annual travel credit, access to Chase Sapphire Lounges, a free DoorDash DashPass subscription (through Dec. 31), 10 points per dollar on Lyft purchases through March 2025, one free year of complimentary Instacart+ if you activate by July 31, and much more.

Both cards have travel and shopping protections, but the Sapphire Reserve has slightly more coverage.

Winner: Sapphire Reserve. There’s a reason why it’s one of the most valuable credit cards on the market.

Earning rewards on the United Club Infinite vs. Sapphire Reserve

With the value-adding United Club Infinite, cardholders accrue:

  • 4 miles per dollar on United purchases
  • 2 miles per dollar on all other travel
  • 2 miles per dollar on dining purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on everything else

That’s a 5.4% return on United spending (based on TPG valuations), higher than any other airline credit card.

ROB LEWINE/GETTY IMAGES

The Sapphire Reserve, meanwhile, earns the following:

  • 10 points per dollar on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Travel
  • 10 points per dollar on dining purchases through the Chase portal
  • 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides (through March 2025)
  • 10 points per dollar on Peloton equipment and accessory purchases (through March 2025) of $150 or more, with a maximum of 50,000 points
  • 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
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else

Both cards’ travel and dining categories are broadly defined, meaning you’ll enjoy extra rewards on a load of all types of purchases.

Winner: Sapphire Reserve. The United Club Infinite offers lucrative rewards on United flights, but the Sapphire Reserve’s broader categories win out again.

Redeeming and transferring rewards on the United Club Infinite vs. Sapphire Reserve

Unfortunately, United no longer publishes an award chart, which means award redemption rates can be unpredictable. But the airline does have some sweet spots in its MileagePlus program.

There are also other ways to find value in the program, such as the United Excursionist Perk or booking partner awards with United miles. United doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges on partner awards, which can save you hundreds of dollars per ticket when booking awards like first-class tickets on Lufthansa.

WESTEND61/GETTY IMAGES

As for the Sapphire Reserve, you’ll be able to book travel through Chase Travel with your points at a value of 1.5 cents each, a great option for boutique hotels that don’t belong to a larger brand, such as Marriott or Hyatt. It’s also great for booking flights when cash prices are low.

Additionally, you can transfer your points to one of Chase’s 14 travel partners with the potential for some incredible redemptions. TPG editor Emily Thompson recommends a two-night stay at a Category 7 Hyatt property or a flight to Europe in Delta One business class (by transferring to Virgin Atlantic) with your converted Chase points.

If you’re new to Chase Ultimate Rewards, check out our guide to redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards for maximum value.

Winner: Sapphire Reserve. Its redemption and transfer options are much more flexible.

Should I get the United Club Infinite or Sapphire Reserve?

If you consider yourself a “free agent” who isn’t loyal to a single airline when you travel, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has more flexible redemption options for you to take advantage of. However, if you are someone who almost exclusively flies United, applying for the United Club Infinite Card can get you a lot of great perks with the airline.

Bottom line

Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and United Club Infinite Card are great cards, but they’re geared toward different audiences. The question of which is better comes down to personal preference and your own spending and travel habits.

Remember that no matter which card you choose, they’re both issued by Chase — which means they are both subject to the issuer’s infamous 5/24 rule. If you’ve opened five or more personal credit cards in the past two years, you almost certainly won’t be approved for either of these cards.

Read our full reviews of the Sapphire Reserve and United Club Infinite.


Apply here: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Apply here: United Club Infinite


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