Home Credit Cards Choosing Between Chase Sapphire Cards: Reserve vs. Preferred

Choosing Between Chase Sapphire Cards: Reserve vs. Preferred

If you’re a traveler, go for gold—or the Reserve, shall we say.

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Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card Eliminates Two Major Cardholder Benefits
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card strips two great benefits from its portfolio of rewards and benefits.
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If you’re a traveler considering a Chase Sapphire credit card, but you’re debating between the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, end the debate now—the Reserve rules. Despite a $450 annual fee (versus the Preferred’s $95), the Reserve’s rewards and benefits are far superior, so much so that travelers with high credit scores would be remiss to opt for the Preferred.  Here’s what we based our decision on.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Annual Fee Is Actually $150

The Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with an annual fee of $95 while the Chase Sapphire Reserve commands a $450 fee. However, the Reserve comes with a $300 annual travel credit. Statement credits are automatically applied when the card is used for purchases in Chase’s general “travel” category (e.g., everything from airline tickets to travel agency purchases to taxis and Uber rides), and credits post as purchases post. This credit essentially brings the annual fee down to $150, just $55 more than the Preferred.

The Reserve Offers 50% More Reward Points on Travel and Dining Purchases

While the Preferred grants 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining, the Reserve offers an even more generous 3 points per $1 spent on travel and dining. Both cards grant 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. If you spend, say, $15,000 per year between travel and dining, you’ll end up with 15,000 more reward points by using the Reserve.

The Reserve Offers Better Redemption Value Through Ultimate Rewards

For those wanting to transfer their credit card reward points to partner airlines and hotels, the Preferred and Reserve have the same transfer partners (e.g., British Airways, Southwest Airlines, United, Marriott, and Hyatt) and the same 1:1 redemption rate. Likewise, redemption rates for gift cards are identical, and both cards give 1% cash back for those choosing the cash back option. However, when cardholders redeem their points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, points are valued at 20% more with the Reserve, with each point valued at 1.5 cents versus 1.25 cents with the Preferred.

The Reserve Will Reimburse Global Entry Application Fees

The Chase Sapphire Reserve gives a $100 Global Entry statement credit every four years (as you must renew your Global Entry Status/PASS ID every five years). The Chase Sapphire Preferred does not offer a Global Entry statement credit.

The Reserve Comes with a Top-Tier Priority Pass Membership

The Priority Pass lounge network is the largest independent airport lounge access program in the world. It includes more than 1,000 lounges in over 500 cities (representing 130 countries) worldwide, and now also includes benefits at restaurants and bars. While you can buy into this membership-based network for $399 per year (plus $27 per guest), membership is complimentary with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Moreover, the Reserve allows the cardholder to bring an unlimited number of guests with him or her per lounge visit. The Chase Sapphire Preferred does not come with Priority Pass membership.

The Reserve Comes with Medevac Insurance

Only two premium credit cards on the market, the Citi Prestige and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, offer automatic emergency evacuation and transportation insurance when traveling. This highly coveted insurance comes into play when you charge the entirety or a portion of your trip to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card—you’ll be automatically covered up to $100,000 in evacuation costs per traveler and covered from trip departure date through trip completion. The duration of the trip cannot be less than five days or exceed 60 days, and it must be in excess of 100 miles from place of residence. In addition, if you’re 100 miles or more from home, you can be reimbursed up to $2,500 for medical expenses if you or your immediate family member become sick or injured.

The Reserve Offers Several Other Superior Travel Coverages

When you charge your trip’s entire common carrier fare to either Chase Sapphire card or use Ultimate Rewards points to book travel, you are automatically covered for Trip Delay Reimbursement, up to $500 per ticket. This insurance kicks in after six hours of delay with the Reserve (versus 12 hours with the Preferred).

When you pay for your air, bus, train, or cruise transportation with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you are eligible to receive accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $1,000,000 (versus $ 500,000 with Preferred).

If you have a roadside emergency, you can call Roadside Dispatch for a tow, jump-start, tire change, locksmith, or gas and be covered up to $50 per incident four times a year with the Reserve (versus the Preferred, which automatically charges the roadside service fees to the card).

Other coverage such as Lost Luggage Reimbursement, Baggage Delay Insurance, and Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption are identical with both cards.

The Reserve Offers Superior Purchase Protection

Both Chase Sapphire cards offer the gamut of purchase benefits: extended warranty protection, price protection, purchase protection, and return protection. And they offer identical benefits in all categories—except purchase protection. The Preferred covers new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account while the Reserve covers new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.

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Award-winning travel writer and economist Paul Rubio is a credit card enthusiast, whose sophisticated use of points and rewards has helped him travel to 125 countries for free. Paul is a Harvard graduate with a master’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in economics. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University with a double major in economics and environmental policy and a minor in conservation biology. He attended both undergraduate and graduate schools on full scholarships. Paul worked in the field of wildlife conservation before embracing his writing talents full-time in 2008. Since then, he has won more than two dozen national awards for his exemplary work in travel journalism. The prolific writer contributes to a number of top-tier international, national, and regional publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Fodors.com, Palm Beach Illustrated, Private Clubs, and Robb Report.