Categories

Rewards Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Reserve: Which One Should I Get?

At Experian, one of our priorities is consumer credit and finance education. This post may contain links and references to one or more of our partners, but we provide an objective view to help you make the best decisions. For more information, see our Editorial Policy.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® are Chase's two primary travel cards. Both offer bonus points in Chase's Ultimate Rewards program on travel and dining purchases, and you get an increased value when redeeming points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a much higher annual fee. It may be worth it, but only if you can use the card's many benefits.

A Closer Look at the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a solid travel card that could be a good fit for those who usually take a few trips a year. Here are a few important basics:

  • New cardholders can receive 80,000 points after making $4,000 in eligible purchases during the first 3 months with the card
  • $95 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining worldwide
  • Earn 1 point per dollar on everything else

The recently increased intro bonus is one of the most enticing offerings, as it could be worth up to $1,000 when used toward travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. However, it's only available if you don't already have a Sapphire card and you haven't received a new cardmember intro bonus from a Sapphire card within the past 48 months.

One of the best options is to use your points to book travel through Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal, which is powered by Expedia. When you do, your points are worth 1.25 cents each rather than 1 cent each. Another great option is to transfer points to partner loyalty programs, such as United Airlines or Hyatt hotels, and then redeem the miles or points for premium rewards.

You can also redeem the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn in various ways beyond travel, including for cash back, merchandise or gift cards.

In 2020, Chase also introduced the Pay Yourself Back feature, which you can use to redeem points (at a rate of 1.25 cents each) to offset part or all of eligible grocery, home improvement and dining purchases from the previous 90 days. The program is set to end September 30, 2020, but it may be extended with different categories. Another temporary offering is a complimentary DashPass membership, which is available if you activate your card by December 31, 2021, add it to your DoorDash account and activate the offer.

Using the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you'll also receive travel protections that can save you money, such as primary rental car protection when you decline the rental agency's collision damage waiver. Purchase protections with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card include extended warranties on eligible purchases, and up to $500 per claim if an eligible item you purchase is stolen or damaged within 120 days.

A Closer Look at the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is Chase's premium travel card, ideal for frequent travelers and those who prefer high-end travel experiences. Here are some details:

  • New cardholders can receive 50,000 points after making $4,000 in eligible purchases during the first 3 months with the card
  • $550 annual fee
  • $300 per year in travel credits
  • Additional statement credits and cardholder benefits
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 3 points per dollar on travel and dining worldwide
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else

Compared with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, there are several important distinctions to keep in mind. First is the rewards earning and redemption rate. In addition to earning an additional point per dollar on travel and dining purchases, your points are worth 1.5 cents each when you redeem them for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal or with Pay Yourself Back. You can also still transfer points to partner programs.

The extra redemption value means the card's 50,000 point intro bonus could be worth up to $750 (similar eligibility restrictions apply). It's a large bonus, but still less than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card's current 80,000-point intro bonus.

In terms of long-term value, the extra redemption value could make the Chase Sapphire Reserve® a top choice for big spenders who travel frequently. However, the card's other features also set it apart and help make the high annual fee worth it.

You'll receive a variety of statement credits for travel- and dining-related purchases, including $300 toward travel purchases each year, up to a $100 statement credit for a Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee once every four years and $60 in DoorDash statement credits in 2020 and 2021.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders also get free Priority Pass Select access (enrollment required) and, for a limited time, can receive complimentary Lyft Pink and DashPass memberships after adding their card to their accounts.

Additionally, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has better travel and purchase protections, including higher limits, fewer restrictions and a few additional benefits compared with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Intro bonus50,000 points after making $4,000 in eligible purchases during your first 3 months; worth up to $75080,000 points after making $4,000 in eligible purchases during your first 3 months; worth up to $1,000
Annual fee$550$95
Standard earnings rates3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining worldwide (doesn't include the $300 in travel purchases that qualify for statement credits)
 
1 point per dollar on everything else
2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining worldwide
 
1 point per dollar on everything else
Temporary earnings rates10 points per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March 20225 points per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March 2022
Top reward redemption rates and options1 cent for cash back
 
Points worth 1.5 cents each when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards or use Pay Yourself Back
 
Transfer points to other Chase cards and partner loyalty programs
1 cent for cash back
 
Points worth 1.25 cents each when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards or use Pay Yourself Back
 
Transfer points to other Chase cards and partner loyalty programs
Additional cardholder benefits$300 annual travel credit
 
$60 in annual DoorDash credits (in 2020 and 2021)
 
Up to $100 in Global Entry or TSA Precheck credits every four years
 
Priority Pass Select membership
 
LyftPink and DashPass membership (limited time) Premium travel and purchase protections
 
Travel and purchase protections
 
No foreign transaction fees
Travel and purchase protections
 
No foreign transaction fees

How to Choose the Best Card for Your Wallet

Figuring out which Chase Sapphire card will be best could depend on your plans for the upcoming year. If you have a lot of travel planned, or will use its many cardholder benefits, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® could be the best option. However, many people don't plan on traveling much in the coming year, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card's large intro bonus could make it a top pick for the moment.

Remember, you'll only be able to get an intro bonus from one Sapphire card every 48 months. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 80,000 points in your account, you'll have a nice travel fund to tap when you need it. Or, you could use the Pay Yourself Back feature to get $1,000 toward other purchases—or choose to get $800 as cash back instead.

Additionally, you can request what credit card issuers call a "product change" to switch between cards without having to submit a new application or close your account. For example, you might keep the 80,000 points in your account and then move up to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® after a year, when you may be back to frequent traveling. You can then redeem the points at the higher 1.5 cent value, which makes them worth up to $1,200 when you redeem them.

Chase recently introduced the Chase Freedom Flex℠, which replaced the Chase Freedom Credit Card, and revamped Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. Both offer bonus earning opportunities. However, they also both charge foreign transaction fees on international purchases, and you can't transfer points to partner loyalty programs unless you also have a Sapphire card.

Another popular option is to have one (or both) of the fee-free cards and either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to maximize benefits. Or, because you can transfer points between household members, one person could have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® while the other has, say, a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and one of the no-fee cards.

You can then use the fee-free cards for purchases that offer bonus Ultimate Rewards points and then combine the Ultimate Rewards points on a Sapphire card before redeeming or transferring them to a partner loyalty program.

You May Need Good Credit to Qualify for Either Card

Before you get too excited about the Chase card options, know that you may need at least good credit to qualify for all the travel and cash back cards, or even exceptional credit to get the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. You can check your credit score for free, and get tips on how to improve your score. Paying bills on time and paying down credit card debt is often a good way to start.

You can also use Experian CreditMatchTM to compare cards quickly. And, if you log in to your Experian account, you can find out if you're matched to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® based on your credit profile.