Milecards

Chase Sapphire Reserve review – The most affordable $450 annual fee card you’ll ever see?

Pros

Huge 100,000 point intro bonus. With 100,000 points to start, you could get over $1,500 in travel rewards really quickly. You earn 100,000 points when you spend $4,000 on the card in the first 3 months.

3x points on travel and dining. It’s not hard to keep racking up points fast.

$300 annual travel credit. It’s good on just about any travel purchases you make, including airfare, hotels, parking, and tolls. You get it every year you hold the card, and it’s all automatic, and that makes the $450 annual fee a lot more palatable. There’s also a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck enrollment on top of this.

Lots of point transfer partners. You can turn your points into real airline miles with United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, and more instantly. So it’s a great alternative to your airline credit card.

 

Cons

$450 annual fee. It’s an upfront fee, no getting around it. But the $300 annual travel credit makes it a lot easier to swallow.

No major U.S. airline lounge membership. The card offers Priority Pass lounge membership that covers 900+ airport lounges with complimentary access for you and your traveling companions. While there are many Priority Pass lounges in U.S. airports, you don’t get access to United Clubs, American Admirals Clubs, or Delta Sky Clubs.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee, then $95

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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14 thoughts on Chase Sapphire Reserve review – The most affordable $450 annual fee card you’ll ever see?

  1. Jay

    How does the annual fee work? Is it at account opening and every one-year anniversary date?
    I told a friend about the CSR and he said he read a review stating the annual fee was like the $300 credit – when you open and start of every calendar year. It sounded like nonsense, but it may make sense because I wasn’t aware the $300 credit works as it does either.

    Enjoyed the article. Didn’t know about opening a Chase Freedom and combining points.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Jay – Glad you found it helpful. The first annual fee appears on your first billing statement. But the $300 credit is on a January – December cycle.

      Reply
      1. Jay

        Thanks for the quick reply. I was more concerned about timing of the annual fee. If I got the card in Oct 2016, after the $450 annual fee on my first statement, would the next annual fee not be until Oct 2017?

        Reply
  2. Avatar

    This card is an awesome addition to the Chase family of cards. Let me compare here the overall value difference between the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) and Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP). I will take my own spending analysis as an example. I am not a huge traveler, I travel once in a while with family or buy tickets to my parents to travel. When I sat down to do the Math to see if it makes sense for me to apply for this card (I already have CSP card). Let me admit the fact that I also have Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards and my wife and I know which card to use when to earn maximum Ultimate Reward (UR) Points. 

    Let’s look at my spending closely. The first thing I analyzed was my expenditure over the past 4 years (I referred to year-end summaries) and I found that I have consistently spent around $350 on “Transit” which included- Parking (street and occasional airport), E-Z Pass tolls, occasional river cruise, occasional Uber etc which I am sure will do every year. So this pattern of my spending qualifies for the $300 “Travel Credit”. This takes away around 65% of $450 annual fee that the CSR has. Needless to say that the person reading this is ready to use the UR points ONLY FOR travel. 

    Then I looked at the UR Points that I earn from my Freedom and Freedom Unlimited card. In the worst case scenario every year I earn 175K from Freedom (We religiously use this card only for 5% cash back categories only and nothing else) and 220K from Unlimited card (I use it for all other expenditure other than Travel and Dining for which I used CSP). 

    Let me break it down further to see if it makes sense for me to apply for CSR card with my low travel spending. Let me assume that I have CSR card with me for the next 1 year.  I spend around $2300 on dining outside which will earn 6900 UR Points with CSR card and even if I spend around $350 bare minimum on travel it will earn me 1050 UR points (this is the worst case scenario). Once I add this up it gives me a total of 47400 UR Points ($474). If I use this for my occasional Travel via Chase Portal the value is up by 1.5 times which is $474 X 1.5 = $711. Let’s take away the remaining annual fee out of this ($711-$150) which gives us the net gain of $561 which is awesome!! Let me add my wife as an authorized user so the net will go down to $ 486 ($75 annual fee for an authorized user) which is nothing less than awesome and even in the worst of the worst case scenario where you do not even qualify for $1 of Travel Credit in one of those years (extremely unlikely) you will not spend anything out of pocket. Happy?? 🙂

    Now let’s do the same math with one of my favorites Chase Sapphire Preferred. If you do the math as above with 2 points earning per $ spent on travel and dining I would have earned 4600 UR points for dining outside and 700 UR points on travel. Let’s put everything together, which gives me $448 ( $220+ $175+ $46+ $7). Now let’s redeem this for travel, remember Chase Sapphire Preferred gives is 1.2 times more value. So $448 X 1.2= $537. Now let’s look at the net value by taking away the annual fee of $95 which gives me $446. This card does not charge for authorized user.

    Conclusion: There is no question that Reserve card has superior benefits compared to Preferred. Here I conclude that for anyone like me who does not travel much at all and have Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards (both earn UR Points) the overall net benefit is more with $450 annual fee CSR card when compared to lower fee CSP card (Please see the math above). 

    Now guys! Take a pen and a paper and do the Math and check if you could have CSR instead of CSP without spending even a $ more. Don’t be scared by $450 annual fee thing. Of course needless to say that you need to have both Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards and know when to use which of these 3 cards. All you need is these 3 cards!! Makes sense? I hope so.

    Good luck! Keep rocking!

    Reply
  3. David Rice

    I’m a bit confused on your math…

    “So, for every $10,000 you charge to the Freedom Unlimited card, you’ll get $300 in travel value when you combine the points with your Sapphire Reserve account.”

    $10,000*1.5=15,000 points. 15,000 points*.015 (points to cash value)=$225 not $300…

    Am I missing something?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @David Rice – Good catch – it should be 1.5 X 1.5, not 1.5 + 1.5. Though if you use transfer partners which if you use them wisely can get you around 2 cents a point in value you get to that 3% return level.

      Reply
      1. David Rice

        Awesome! Thanks for your response, I was doubting my own math ha-ha!

        Awesome review though it allowed me to make sense of this crazy world of rewards.

        Reply
  4. Bennet A.

    Great review. I just wanted to clarify guests in the Priority Pass Lounges. The “Priority Plus Select” membership says guests pay $27. Is it confirmed that is waived with CSR (I didn’t see anything in the T&C)? If so, how many guests can you bring in? How do those lounges stack up to Centurion or the Airline Clubs (Free Alcohol and Food)? Do you need a boarding pass to gain entry, or just be airside with your card? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Bennet – There is no published limit to the number of guests you can bring with the Sapphire Reserve’s benefit (each bank sets its own guest policy and pays Priority Pass accordingly). We have heard a number and it is higher than anyone would reasonably bring in at once – so saying all your guests are complimentary is a safe assumption.

      You don’t need a boarding pass, just access to the terminal with the club.

      As far as lounge quality, it’s a really mixed bag. Some, like the Air France lounges at JFK and IAD are pretty nice, in between a boring domestic club and the Centurion lounge.

      If you’re on the West Coast you can access all the Alaska Airlines Board Rooms, which are a touch nicer than a typical American Airlines lounge.

      Others like the ‘The Club’ at Las Vegas are pretty spartan. Almost all of them have some sort of free alcohol, but usually it’s not the quality of alcohol you’d get at a Centurion lounge.

      Reply
  5. joe

    So with the CSR $300 credit..is it per calendar year or annual fee cycle?

    i know with citi prestige in your first year you can obtain the $250 airline credit twice if you signed up mid year youd get the credit for that calendar year and then again for the next

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Joe – It is per calendar year – your January – December statement periods.

      Note that isn’t exactly January 1 – December 31, but the January statement to the December statement.

      But yes you could get the credit twice in less than 12 months if you take it late one year, and early the following year.

      Reply
  6. Dee K.

    Let’s say you don’t use the entire $300 travel credit in one calendar year. Does the unused portion roll over to the following year or is it a use-it-or-lose-it scenario?

    Reply

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