The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a wildly popular credit card that competes with Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™, The Platinum Card® from American Express, and U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card. It’s the top-tier credit card product offered by J.P. Morgan Chase. Here, we look at the card’s competitive advantages and disadvantages to see how it stacks up in the ultra-luxury credit card sphere.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the clear frontrunner for earning bonus points on overall travel and at restaurants. Card holders earn triple miles on every dollar spent on airfare, hotels, travel agencies, taxis/ride-shares, and restaurants (domestic and international).
In addition, the Chase Sapphire Reserve proves best-in-class—hands down—when it comes to implicit insurances on travel purchases. The card has the strongest Medevac insurance policy, the top trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance policy, the best auto collision waiver for rental cars, and by far the best worldwide travel accident insurance policy.
When charging the entirety or a portion of a trip to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, expect automatic coverage under the card’s medevac insurance policy and up to $100,000 in evacuation costs per traveler. This is the only card on the market to currently offer protection at this level. Additionally, the card’s implicit trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance policies compensate loss from airline or travel agency bankruptcy up to $10,000 per trip and compensate loss from severe weather (e.g. hurricanes) up to $10,000 per trip. As for the auto rental collision damage waiver benefit (Auto Rental CDW), coverage is primary within and outside the United States—most other credit cards provide only secondary coverage or restrictions with primary coverage. The amount covered is up to $75,000.
Moreover, when charging the entirety or a portion of a common carrier fare to the Chase Sapphire Reserve and/or use Ultimate Rewards points or reward points accumulated through Chase with associated frequent flier programs to book travel, expect automatic coverage for travel accident insurance. This insurance includes common carrier insurance as well as Chase’s 24-Hour Travel Accident Insurance, which combined cover losses for the full duration of a trip up to 30 days. The common carrier insurance payout is the highest in the industry at up to $1,000,000. The 24-Hour Travel Accident Insurance policy is also unique in the industry in covering accidental loss of life, limb, sight, speech, and/or hearing for the full duration of a trip (not just the flight or common carrier trip).
Other strong attributes
The Chase Sapphire Reserve typically offers a great bonus to sweeten the sign-up deal and a generous travel credit to help defray the annual fee of $450. Currently, the standard public offer for Chase Sapphire Reserve is 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. Additionally, the card offers $300 in travel credits annually.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers an excellent array of choices for redeeming Ultimate Rewards® points. Cardmembers can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to 13 different frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. Points for unrestricted award travel are redeemed at 1.5 % (in line with U.S. Bank Altitude Infinite Visa, but lower than the Luxury Card Mastercard Gold Card’s 2%).
Additional card holders can be added for a reasonable $75 each. Note that while authorized card holders will get the Reserve benefits, annual travel credits apply per overall account, not per card.
Competitive set standards
Ultimate Rewards points are redeemed for cash back at a rate of 1%. (This is the same rate as U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card and greater than the 0.6% of The Platinum Card from American Express, but half the 2% of Luxury Card Mastercard Gold Card.)
The Chase Sapphire Reserve provides complimentary membership to the Priority Pass™ Select Lounge Network and allows two complimentary guests per lounge visit. This is the same as the Priority Pass agreement with The Platinum Card from American Express. However, Amex offers hundreds of lounges beyond the Priority Pass through The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠. Meanwhile, Luxury Card Mastercard Gold Card offers an unlimited guest policy within the Priority Pass network.
Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers have access, via telephone or email, to the Visa Infinite® Concierge Service (the same as U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card). This concierge service is able to secure tables at popular restaurants, seats to sold-out events, source hard-to-find gifts, and help fulfill special requests. Cardmembers also have access to The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection program, which grants perks at over 900 hotels and resorts around the world. Amenities may include room upgrades, late check-out, and complimentary food and beverage. However, this program is not exclusive to Chase Sapphire Reserve card holders; it is open to all of Chase’s Infinite credit card holders and gives no extra perks for being a Reserve cardmember.
Several other travel and shopping benefits are in line with competitive standards. When charging a trip’s entire common carrier fare to Chase Sapphire Reserve, expect automatic coverage of lost luggage protection up to $3,000 for each covered person for eligible items, excluding high-risk items; and $500 for high-risk items like jewelry. In terms of shopping benefits, the implicit purchase protection (insurance that covers specific purchased items if they are lost, stolen, or accidentally damaged within a specified period after the date of purchase) is an industry standard: up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 annually. Likewise, the card provides return protection 90 days from date of purchase with a maximum coverage per item of $500 and a maximum coverage per year of $1,000.
Also like its peers, the Chase Sapphire Reserve provides a $100 Global Entry Application Fee statement credit every four years, for each application renewal. And similar to most credit cards these days—high-end and low-end—there are no foreign transaction fees when using the card, and cardmembers can obtain Fico scores for free.
When charging a purchase to the Chase Sapphire Reserve or using Ultimate Rewards points, card holders are automatically entitled to the Extended Warranty protection, which adds one year on eligible manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less. There are no extra years provided on extended in-store warranties or service plans.
Surprisingly, Chase Sapphire Reserve no longer provides price protection on purchases (insurance that covers price drops, insomuch that card holders can be reimbursed the difference in price on most products if recorded at a lower price in a printed advertisement at any retail store or nonauction Internet advertisement).
Finally, the card’s design is the same as the Chase Sapphire Preferred and, in our opinion, doesn’t look as powerful or prestigious as its competitors.
Who should get the Chase Sapphire Reserve?
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is great for those who travel and dine out frequently—triple points add up fast! It’s also ideal for travelers who typically buy travel insurance, as the card’s implicit insurances can save thousands per year. Plus, redeeming points for free travel offerings seems endless with this card, especially given 13 different hotel and airline partners for points transfers.