Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
Reward nights start at 10,000 points. Free anniversary night (no points needed) good at any IHG hotel (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, more).
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
With the recent introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card with a big 100,000 point bonus if you apply in a Chase branch by March 12 (50,000 points if you apply online), there’s now a premium Ultimate Rewards earning credit card on the market. At $450, the annual fee is comparable to cards like the The Platinum Card from American Express and Citi Prestige, but it earns Ultimate Rewards points you can transfer to many travel programs like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
It’s loaded with protection benefits that are a notch better than the Sapphire, and it comes with a $300 annual travel credit every year that’s automatically applied to travel purchases you make on the card.
So which is better considering the annual fees?
We’re going to get into more detail below, but the short answer is:
Get the Chase Sapphire Reserve if you can use the $300 annual airline fee credit and spend enough on travel and dining purchases that earning an extra point per dollar spent (3x for the Reserve vs 2x for the Preferred) gets you at least $55 per year in rewards or more. That’s about $3,500 worth of travel or dining spending a year, considering the Sapphire Reserve points are worth 1.5 cents each for travel booked on the Chase website.
Get the Sapphire Preferred if you don’t think you’ll use the $300 annual airline fee credit, don’t want an upfront annual fee, or don’t spend enough on travel and dining purchases to get at least $55 or more per year in rewards.
Here’s a rundown the the main features of each card:
Chase Sapphire Reserve: It comes with a 100,000 Ultimate Reward point signup bonus, and you earn 3 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants, 1 Ultimate Rewards point per dollar spent on all other purchases. There’s a $300 automatic annual credit for travel purchases, up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, Priority Pass Select airport lounge access for you and all your traveling companions, and no foreign transaction fees. The $450 annual fee is not waived the first year
Chase Sapphire Preferred: It has a 50,000 point signup bonus, and you earn 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants, and 1 Ultimate Reward point per dollar spent on all other purchases. You get 1:1 points transfers to a variety of hotel and airline programs, no foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad, and a $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95.
Now we will look at the relative pros and cons of each card and help you decide which card makes the most sense for you.
If you apply in a a Chase branch, earn 100,000 Ultimate Reward point signup bonus after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months after account opening. If you apply online, the intro offer is only 50,000 points.
You earn 3x points on travel and dining purchases with no limits.
Every year you’ll have a $300 credit for travel purchases to cover airfare, hotels, train tickets, parking fees, bridge tolls, and more.
If you don’t have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry yet, your application fee will be reimbursed if you charge it on this card.
Ability to book flights through Chase’s travel portal without first transferring points to partners with a 50% bonus – so your points are worth 1.5 cents when you book this way, which is a great deal.
A Priority Pass Select Membership will get you *and your traveling companions* into many airline lounges around the world as well as a handful domestically.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has an annual fee that is up near the top of the spectrum: $450, and the fee is not waived the first year.
Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners means that your points are super flexible.
No foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad. Again, a pretty standard benefit now on cards that charge an annual fee, but a very important benefit to have if you plan to travel abroad!
The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.
You can book flights through Chase’s travel portal without first transferring points to partners, which increases the flexibility of your points, but the bonus is only 20%. That makes your points worth 1.25 cents each when you book this way, which is a decent deal.
Earn 2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on all travel and dining purchases instead of 3x for the Reserve.
Concurrently holding both of these cards will generally not make sense since all of the benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred are also benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
You might want to try one first, then if it doesn’t quite fit your needs, apply for the other one as a brand new card, so you can earn a second signup bonus.
Both of these credit card offerings from Chase are solid, not only for the signup bonus, but for the bonus spending categories and other benefits. Assuming you will make use of the $300 annual airline fee credit from the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve is effectively brought down to $150 ($450-$300). That’s just $55 more than the $95 associated with the Sapphire Preferred.
What you need to ask yourself is if you value the additional benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve at $55 or more.
If you do, you should keep the Chase Sapphire Reserve. If you don’t, you should keep the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Both cards are, in all likelihood, worth getting for the signup bonus. If you are able to make use of the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck benefit alone, you will get more value out of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Additionally, if you value lounge access and don’t get it from another card, it is likely that the Chase Sapphire Reserve will be the best choice for you. Even if you don’t value those benefits, the extra Ultimate Reward point per dollar spent earned on travel and dining purchases could be a tide-turner. You would need to spend around $3,500 on these categories in a year to break even on that benefit alone.
If you don’t think you’ll be able to make use of the $300 airline fee credit, the story is a little different. At that point, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is likely to be a better option for you, though the Chase Sapphire Reserve may still be worth trying out, since the signup bonus is so large.
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Foreign Transaction Fee Waived
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