2018 Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve (Benefits & Rewards)

2018 Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve (Benefits & Rewards)

credit card advice

Ashley Dull
By: Ashley Dull
Posted: May 24, 2018
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

For decades, the American Express® Centurion® Card — colloquially called the “Black Card” — has been the poster-card for casual wealth. Between the sky-high credit limits, invitation-only approval, and sleek titanium composition, the Centurion® Card is capable of captivating audiences (and eliciting envy) everywhere it goes.

In 2016, Chase decided to try its own hand at crafting metallurgic masterpieces. The global credit card issuer released one of the first metal credit cards available to the general public: the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

The card was an instant hit — and continues to be an in-demand addition to many wallets today. The few consumers who aren’t drawn in by the card’s extensive rewards and exclusive travel benefits are often won-over by its metal-alloy composition and smooth finish.

Rewards | Signup Bonus | Benefits | Credit Score | Alternatives

Earn Ultimate Rewards® Points with Every Purchase

While the shine and the heft of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® may be the initial draw for many admirers, the card’s hefty $450 annual fee would certainly send them back on their way if looks were the only thing this card had to offer. Thankfully, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has more than just an attractive alloy — it has pretty hot purchase rewards, too.

In particular, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a part of the popular Ultimate Rewards® points program, which many travel experts applaud for its high-value points and flexible redemption options. And the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card can make those points even more valuable, unlocking a 50% redemption bonus when you use your Ultimate Rewards points for travel through the Chase portal.

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Named a ‘Best Travel Credit Card for 2017’ by MONEY® Magazine
  • 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, no foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$450
Excellent Credit

And that’s hardly where the travel rewards end. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers 3X Ultimate Rewards® points per dollar spent on travel expenses (which also happens to be 3X more than that old Centurion Card). And the Chase travel category is remarkably broad, covering a huge range of merchants from hotels and airlines to bus tickets and car rentals.

“Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds, and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.” — Chase

And, of course, when you’re always on-the-go, you probably tend to eat out quite frequently. Well, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has you covered here, too, offering 3X Ultimate Rewards® points on your dining and restaurant purchases. And like the travel category, Chase’s dining category covers a wide range of merchants, including both full-service and fast-food restaurants.

“Merchants in the restaurants category are merchants whose primary business is sit-down or eat-in dining, including fast food restaurants as well as fine dining establishments. Please note that some merchants that sell food and drinks located within larger merchants such as sports stadiums, hotels and casinos, theme parks, grocery and department stores, will not be included in this category unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in a restaurant category.” — Chase

You won’t lose out on non-bonus-category purchases, either. Your Chase Sapphire Reserve® card provides you with unlimited 1X Ultimate Rewards® points per dollar spent on all other purchases made with your card. Even better, there’s no cap on the number of rewards you can earn, and your rewards points won’t expire so long as your account remains open and in good standing.

Get a Jump on Travel Rewards with a Solid Signup Bonus

As any credit card churner can tell you, the credit card signup bonus has pretty much revolutionized credit card rewards by giving you a quick way to pack on the points. And it’s no surprise that the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been no exception to the rule, with its initial 100,000 point signup bonus garnering almost as much buzz as its weighty design.

While the current 50,000-point bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® isn’t quite as lucrative as it was at launch, the card still offers a significant number of bonus points to those who can meet the spending requirement in the first 90 days. And that signup bonus can be particularly lucrative when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, or when transferred to one of Chase’s hotel or airline partner programs.

Enjoy Travel-Centered Perks & Visa Infinite® Benefits

If the eye-catching metal alloy, multi-point purchase rewards, and attractive signup bonus aren’t enough to lure you into applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, then the host of perks and benefits that come with being a cardholder may be enough to sway you to the Chase side. And it all starts with the perk that cuts that $450 annual fee down to size: the annual travel credit.

Specifically, each year you remain a cardholder, you’ll receive a $300 travel credit, automatically applied as a statement credit, for any eligible travel expenses charged to your Chase Sapphire Reserve®. This encompasses any purchases that fall into the travel category, including airline tickets, hotel rooms, and car rentals. For those who take advantage of this credit each year, the $300 travel credit can turn a $450 annual fee into an effective $150 annual fee.

And the travel credit is just the tip of the iceberg. With your Chase Sapphire Reserve® card, you’ll also receive up to $100 statement credit every four years as reimbursement for the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®, helping you cut the long airport lines and get where you’re going. And no waiting in noisy airport terminals for your flight; Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders enjoy complimentary access to over 1,000 Priority Pass™ Select airport lounges worldwide.

Screenshot of Chase Sapphire Reserve Travel Benefits Page

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides a huge range of travel rewards and benefits, including an annual travel credit, airport lounge access, and reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.

Chase isn’t the only one rewarding you for being a Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholder, either. As a Visa Infinite® credit card, you’ll be granted a number of valuable Visa Infinite® benefits, including primary auto rental insurance, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, travel and emergency assistance, and emergency evacuation and transportation, as well as the Visa Infinite Concierge Service.

Plus, your benefits aren’t limited to travel. Cardholders can enjoy purchase and price protection on new purchases, as well as extended warranty and return protection for eligible items. You’ll also get the same great benefits provided to most Chase cardholders, like 24/7 customer service and account access, fraud alerts, and Zero Liability Protection.

Excellent Credit Scores Have the Best Chance of Approval

Given that the intended audience for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card is the well-to-do traveler who can easily afford the $450 annual fee without batting an eye, it’s little wonder that the card is also designed for those with excellent credit. In fact, the average credit score of those immediately approved for the card was 767 — firmly in the “excellent” FICO credit score category.

But it isn’t solely your credit score that decides your fate with any credit card, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. While your score is definitely a factor, Chase will also look at your income — you need to be able to reasonably repay any credit you use — as well as your current debts, the age of your accounts, the total credit limit across your current accounts, your credit utilization, and even your relationship with Chase.

In part, the card’s high bar for qualification comes not only from being a Chase card (the bank is notoriously picky compared to other major issuers), but also from being a Visa Infinite® card. That’s because the minimum credit limit associated with most new Visa Infinite® cards is a whopping $10,000, so you’ll generally need to qualify for at least that amount to be approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card.

That said, there is one qualifying factor that has nothing to do with your credit score which could stop you from being approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card, and that’s the Chase 5/24 Rule. Basically, Chase has a policy in place that means your application for a new Chase credit card will likely be instantly rejected if you’ve already opened five or more credit cards within the last 24 months.

Try These Good-Credit-Friendly Alternatives

Despite the oodles of perks and benefits available to Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders, the card may not be for everyone, particularly those who don’t want to pay the large annual fee or who can’t meet the high credit requirements. In either case, you may want to consider a card that’s likely the next best thing to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card: the Chase Sapphire Preferred®.

The metallurgic little sibling to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® has a similar weight and feel, without the hefty price tag. For your $95 annual fee, you’ll earn 2X Ultimate Rewards® points per dollar on travel and dining, plus an unlimited 1X points per dollar on all other purchases. Plus, as a Visa Signature® card, Chase Sapphire Preferred® cardholders enjoy many comparable travel perks and benefits.

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Excellent Credit

The credit requirements for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® are a little more manageable for some than those for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. The average accepted score for the Sapphire Preferred is around 741, and more than a quarter of accepted applicants had a score below 700. Lower scores will likely mean lower credit limits, though the Chase Sapphire Preferred® generally requires a minimum credit limit of $5,000 as a Visa Signature® card.

If neither Chase Sapphire card seems like a winner to you — or you’re more firmly in the “good” credit category than the “excellent” one — you can still find a number of awesome cards to add to your wallet. Our list of favorite cards includes a number of solid travel rewards cards, as well as awesome options for cash back rewards if travel isn’t quite your thing.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

GOOD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts—Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

GOOD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

GOOD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

+See More Cards for Good Credit

A Feature-Rich Card for Frequent Travelers

If you’ve ever struggled to cut food with a cheap plastic knife, then you know the same thing American Express — and the credit card world as a whole — learned with the launch of the titanium American Express® Centurion® Card: metal is better than plastic. But while we can’t all flash our Black Card when we hit the town, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a luxurious metal card that’s actually attainable for the everyday consumer.

What’s more, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is more than just a pricey metal-alloy gimmick. The card is one of the top-rated credit card options for travel rewards and benefits, offering top-tier perks that can make its high annual fee well worth the cost to those who travel enough to make the most of their card.