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Chase launched the new Sapphire Reserve Card in September 2016 in an attempt to move even further upmarket. This card is clearly aimed at taking on the vaunted American Express Platinum Card.
And it is a card that wants to do its best to provide the ultimate in enhanced travel rewards.
So how does it compare?
How the Sapphire Reserve Card Works
The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is one of the best out there. And if you know how to use your UR points to their fullest advantage, you really can get more value from your points than Chase indicates.
In this review, you will learn how the Sapphire Reserve works and how it compares to other travel rewards cards.
You will also learn why this card may not be worth hanging on to after the first year.
The Welcome Bonus Offer
First off, you have to be impressed by the mammoth welcome offer. When do you get an opportunity to earn 50,000 bonus points - which Chase values as being worth $750.
Well, you will need to spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. But that is the same spend required by the Chase Sapphire Preferred. And with the Preferred card, you earn only half that many points. And those points are only worth $625 according to Chase - which is only 41% of the value of Reserve card UR points.
This means that the same spending is worth a lot more with the Sapphire Reserve versus the Sapphire Preferred.
So, all in all, this is a tremendous bonus offer.
And it gets even better. If you use those bonus points towards travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal, you get a 50% bonus
If each point is worth $.01, then those 50,000 points can turn into $750 of benefits when converted to travel purchases.
The original 100,000 welcome offer will remain available to those who apply at a Chase branch location. Hurry though. Even that offer will expire on March 12, 2017.
Earning Regular Rewards
This card offers 3x points on all dining and travel spending. Anywhere in the word.
And one point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Redeeming Your Ultimate Rewards Points
When redeeming Ultimate Rewards points, your value normally is 1 point is worth 1 cent.
But when you redeem Sapphire Reserve points for travel purchases in the Ultimate Rewards portal. you will get a 50% bonus. This makes each point worth 1.5 cents.
And think of it this way: every dollar spent on dining and travel is worth 3 point. And then when redeemed for travel this turns each dollar spent on dining and travel into 4.5 cents worth of travel rewards. Or a whopping 4.5% back.
If you are able to redeem all your ultimate rewards points for travel benefits, than you will always get:
- 4.5% back on travel and dining; and
- 1.5% back on everything else.
Other Enhanced Travel Benefits
The Sapphire Reserve card also offers a ton of other enhanced travel related benefits:*
- $300 annual travel credit.
- Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre√®.
- Transfer your points to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs at 1 to 1 value. Travel partners include British Airways Executive Club, United MileagePlus®, Hyatt Gold Passport®, Marriott Rewards®.
- Primary rental car insurance
- Complimentary Airport Lounge Access
- Special car rental privileges from National Car Rental, Avis, and Silvercar when you book with your card.
- Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance
- Emergency Evacuation & Transportation
- Trip Delay Reimbursement
- No foreign transaction fees
- And so much more!
Other Card Perks
Like other rewards credit cards of this caliber, you also will get these great perks from the Chase Sapphire Reserve:*
- Purchase Protection from Damage and Theft
- Price Protection
- Return Protection
- Extended Warranty Protection
Compared to the Competition
The only card that offers any competition to the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the Platinum Card from American Express.
So, of course, we prepared a side-by-side comparison of the two top travel card out there to help you decide. See how the Sapphire Reserve compares by clicking here.
Are There Any Negatives?
Before you rush in and apply, you should be aware of some negative factors.
First off, you will incur a $450 annual fee. Which is not waived the first year.
Even after offsetting the annual fee with the $300 in travel rewards credit, that leaves a net fee of $150.
So are people going to maintain paying that fee one they've earned the 100,000 point signup bonus and cashed in those points?
Which leads me to the second problem: the high fee makes the bonus offer a little less welcoming.
If you take that fee off the top of the bonus offer, then that offer is suddenly worth up to only $1,050. That still is still a generous 26.25% return on your $4,000 of spending.
I like to offset the annual fee by the $300 in travel rewards. Which brings up to a welcome offer worth $1,350 - or 33.75% of your spending.
Which gets me to the third knock. The rewards program is not that generous.
So like a lot of other commentators, I foresee this card not being the home run Chase hopes for.
The Bottom Line
If you love to travel and can meet the minimum spend, sign up and take advantage of the fantastic welcome offer.