Milecards

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

Pros

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is great if you do a lot of spending on dining and travel, with fast point earning and a big travel credit, plus really flexible points. But you’ll want to make sure you spend enough on dining and travel to justify the big annual fee.

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.

(The information related to the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card has been collected by MileCards.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this 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 the first year, then $95

Annual Fee

Yes

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes - transfer to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and more

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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"These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered."

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

  1. Laura

    I got a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card and have booked some flights through the Ultimate Rewards program. Unfortunately, they changed our flights, and are unwilling to work with me on getting the flights re-worked without now charging a $200 fee per person ($800 total). Makes the card not worth it to me in the end. Very disappointed in Chase’s customer service.

    Reply
    1. John

      The card is a complete rip-off. A scam. It’s impossible to use the Mike to upgrade your lower class fares. Their Ultimate Rewards staff are clueless and yes there blackouts: Chase flat out lies about this. Their scam works this way: they don’t have blackouts but their airline partners do. Shameless LIARS…

      Also good luck transferring miles to get any use on international routes. Chase has only 7 partners worldwide. The worst card ever. I’m going to file a complaint with the Feds on these lying clowns.

      Reply
  2. Kevin S.

    The $300 annual travel credit explanation seems strange : “The clock for the credit has nothing to do with the date you signed up for your card. It’s purely based on the January – December statement period.”

    The way that sounds is that if I sign up for the card in December of 2016 and immediately charge $300 in December, I get the full $300 credited back. Then I get another $300 for January – December of 2017. Then, because the annual fee won’t hit until the following January, I can get another $300 in January 2018, before I cancel the card to avoid another $450 annual fee. This would give me $900 of travel credit back for just one $450 annual fee. I doubt it works like that. Can you clarify?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Kevin – Close. The annual fee would hit in December. But yes , you could get a $300 credit this December, then could get another one come January.

      Reply
      1. Kevin S.

        So then with just one annual fee charge, you could easily get two $300 travel credits for a total of $600 in credits, in addition to all of the other points and benefits.

        So now I need clarification on one more statement :
        “Remember that in order to be credited each year, your travel charges must be posted before your December statement closing date. The credit doesn’t roll over from year to year.”

        We’re traveling from LA to Boston from Dec 25 to Dec 31. If we get this card within the next two weeks and use it for $300 worth of car rental/hotel before Dec 31, but the statement closing date with those charges is in Jan 2017, it sounds like I would just miss out on the 2016 $300 credit and these charges would count towards my 2017 $300 credit. Is that correct?

        And by the way, many thanks for managing all of this and answering questions so fast!

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Kevin – That’s right it might be too late then. If your Dec statement hasn’t closed yet, maybe prepay something.

          Reply
          1. Chris

            I did this in December Kevin, it worked well. I purchased a Southwest Airlines gift card form Southwest.com to get my $300 in prior to the December statement date. Then I’ll use the gift card when I’m ready to fly. I also earned the $300 for hotel expenses in January 2017.

    2. Maria

      If you sign up for any card in December, your statement for that period would end in 2017? Jow or why would yoi think 2016 travel credit would be applied? Travel credits are on any card that offers them on the day after your last statement closes in the year! Good luck trying to screw financial institutions!

      Reply
  3. 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 based on your statement date. So you need to get the $300 in travel on your card before your December statement is generated each year.

      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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
        1. MileCards.com

          @Newtochasesapphire – Unfortunately no card offers that for free. You’ll need to be flying in Virgin business class or Delta business class transatlantic for that, or be a Delta upper tier elite flyer flying transatlantic on Delta or Virgin. The Priority Pass card gets you access to lounges in several of the same terminals as the Virgin lounges though.

          Reply
  7. 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
  8. 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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