Both cards are well respected and have placed Chase at the forefront of travel-centric credit cards. The Preferred is a more affordable version of Chase’s ultra-luxury Reserve credit card that still offers many of the Reserve’s frills. The current sign-up bonus for the Preferred is a generous 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. The Reserve is currently offering 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening.
Yet despite the discrepancy in sign-up bonus and the Reserve’s hefty $450 annual fee (versus the Preferred’s $95), the Reserve’s rewards and benefits are superior. Here’s why we are Team Reserve—and you should be, too.
Travel credits effectively make the annual fees similar
The Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with an annual fee of $95 while the Chase Sapphire Reserve commands a $450 fee (gulp!). 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 isn’t hard to use, like the incidental travel credits on American Express. So spending on travel 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 two points per $1 spent on travel and dining, the Reserve offers an even more generous three points per $1 spent on travel and dining. Both cards grant one 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.
Customer service is meh on both cards
Cardmember customer service is a major downfall for both cards. It’s not a selling point for either, but we just wanted to paint a full picture here. You’d think it would go up a notch for Reserve clients, but it doesn’t.
Unlike many cards that have added chat services via Web and mobile apps, Chase requires an old-fashioned phone call or online message. (Note: This is still better than Bank of America, which doesn’t even allow for online messaging regarding credit cards these days.) As for calls, representatives are available 24/7 by phone but not always immediately.
Concierge services are the same with both cards
Visa Infinite® Concierge Service is available to Chase Sapphire cardmembers (and all other Visa Infinite cards) via telephone or email. In theory, this concierge service helps secure tables at popular restaurants and seats to sold-out events, and helps fulfill special requests. Both cards use the same service.
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 13 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 the option of 1% cash back. However, when cardholders redeem their points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, points are valued 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 1,250 lounges in over 143 countries worldwide. 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 additional two guests per lounge visit.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred does NOT provide complimentary membership to the Priority Pass™ Select lounge network, which isn’t uncommon for a $95 per year credit card (though there are some that do like the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire).
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 becomes sick or injured.
The Reserve offers several other superior travel coverages
When charging your trip’s entire common carrier fare to either Chase Sapphire card or using 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). Both cards cover travelers under Chase Sapphire’s industry-leading 24-Hour Travel Accident Benefit, which cover losses for the full duration of a trip up to 30 days.
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).
As for the auto rental collision damage waiver benefit (Auto Rental CDW), coverage is primary within and outside the United State on both cards—most other credit cards provide only secondary coverage or restrictions with primary coverage. (Note: Previously this primary coverage was exclusive to Reserve cardholders.) The amount covered is up to the actual cash value of the rental car on the Preferred and up to $75,000 on the Reserve. In both cases, the coverage period is 31 consecutive days or less within or outside country of residence.
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance maxes out at $20,000 per occurrence with the Reserve and $10,000 with the Preferred. Lost luggage reimbursement and baggage delay insurance are identical with both cards.
Neither card offers price protection
Surprisingly, neither Sapphire card—nor any Chase card for that matter—offers price protection. This shopping benefit was eliminated in 2018. Price protection is an insurance that covers price drops, insomuch that cardholders 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 non-auction Internet advertisement.
Most other shopping protections are superior with the Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers return protection, while the Preferred does not. Return protection reimburses cardholders for purchases within 90 days of purchase if the merchant does not accept the return.
Both cards offer purchase protection. This is insurance that covers specific purchased items if they are lost, stolen, or accidentally damaged within a specified period after the date of purchase. 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.
Both cards also offer extended warranty protection, but you should never buy big-ticket electronics with our Chase Sapphire cards. When charging a purchase to either Chase Sapphire card or using Ultimate Rewards points, cardholders 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. Other cards like The Platinum Card from American Express, the Gold Card from American Express, and the Citi Prestige have far better extended warranty protection plans with two extra years on both manufacturer’s and extended in-store warranties.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is far superior to the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Don’t get distracted by the size of the annual fee—the credits and benefits more than make up for it!