Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Which is the crown jewel of travel cards?

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In a Nutshell

Chase's Sapphire cards both offer appealing rewards for frequent travelers, but the Sapphire Reserve® edges out the Sapphire Preferred® with perks that more than make up for the higher annual fee.

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There’s a lot to consider when choosing a travel rewards credit card.

Should you roll with a co-branded airline card such as the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, or do you want more flexibility in redeeming miles and points?

If you aren’t loyal to a particular airline or frequent flyer program, you may want to consider a card that isn’t tied to a specific airline or hotel brand.

For many travelers, the decision comes down to a head-to-head battle between two of the most popular travel cards out there: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

We’d like to make that decision easier for you to make, so we put both of Chase’s Sapphire cards to the test to find out which has the best overall rewards and benefits overall. Here’s how they stack up:

At a glance: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Annual fee $0 intro, $95 after first year $450
Sign-up bonus 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Rewards Two points per $1 on travel and dining and one point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Points have 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Three points per $1 on dining worldwide. One point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Points have 50% more value when you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Variable balance transfer and purchase APR 18.24% - 25.24% 19.24% - 26.24%
Additional bonuses N/A $300 annual travel credit. Statement credit of up to $100 every four years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application. Access to 1,000+ Priority PassTM Select airport lounges.

The winner: Why we prefer Chase Sapphire Reserve®

From our partner

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

Make no mistake: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® are both excellent travel rewards cards, and it’s hard to go wrong with either card in your wallet.

Both cards offer an impressive sign-up bonus of 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Both cards also feature generous rewards programs that incentivize booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Other perks you might look for in a travel rewards card — trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, no foreign transaction fees and worldwide merchant acceptance — also come standard on both Sapphire cards.

And yet, in our analysis, Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes out ahead on several counts. Read on to see where it beats its sibling and how to make the most of its eye-popping perks.

Point value

At first glance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card would seem to win just based on the annual fee alone: The $0 intro, $95 after first year annual fee is quite a bit less than the whopping $450 annual fee that comes with Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

However, looks can be deceiving. In fact, frequent travelers might get a better value with Chase Sapphire Reserve® even after accounting for the difference in annual fee.

Part of that has to do with the extra value you get when redeeming points via Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Points earned with Chase Sapphire Reserve® are worth 50% more, while points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card get only a 25% boost.

To see what that looks like in action, consider the 50,000 points you get if you qualify for the sign-up bonus.

Those points translate to $625 when redeemed for travel using Chase Ultimate Rewards® with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and $750 with Chase Sapphire Reserve® — a difference of $125 for the same number of points.

Supercharged rewards earnings

Chase Sapphire Reserve® also comes out on top when it comes to potential rewards earnings.

You’ll earn three points per $1 spent on dining with Chase Sapphire Reserve® versus two points per $1 for travel and dining spent on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, says Brandon Yahn, founder of personal finance site Student Loans Guy (and former Credit Karma employee).

“If you travel a lot and use the card regularly, Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides some of the best rewards on the market,” Yahn says. 

$300 annual travel credit and other VIP perks

One of the biggest advantages Chase Sapphire Reserve® has over the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is its $300 annual travel credit.

Each year, you’ll receive up to $300 in statement credits for travel purchases such as airfare and hotels charged to your card. And if you’re sick of waiting in the airport security line, Chase Sapphire Reserve® also offers up to a $100 statement credit to cover your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four years.

When it comes to benefits such as roadside assistance, trip and baggage delay insurance and lost luggage reimbursement, these two cards are nearly identical. However, in categories such as rental car insurance, travel accident insurance and purchase protection, Chase Sapphire Reserve® is more generous.

For example, Chase Sapphire Reserve® pays up to $1 million for its common carrier travel accident insurance benefit, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers a limit of $500,000.

And while the car rental primary insurance for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision, Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides reimbursement up to $75,000.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® also has better purchase protection, paying up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year compared to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which offers up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.


Counterpoint: Why you might prefer the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card instead

From our partner

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

From cardholders in the last year

If you don’t travel much and worry that you may not make up the high annual fee of Chase Sapphire Reserve® – if you use the $300 annual travel credit, you’ll need to spend between $3,333.33 and $10,000 each year to make up for the rest of the annual fee – you might be better off with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

“These are both great rewards cards, especially if you like to travel,” Yahn says. “However, if you won’t use the card as much or are afraid of paying a $450 annual fee (although you can receive most of that back in rewards), then the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card may be the better card for you.”


Heads up: What to consider when applying for a travel rewards card

When shopping for a travel rewards card, it’s important to consider the annual fee, annual percentage rate (APR) and other criteria to determine whether the rewards and benefits outweigh the cost.

To maximize your points, you’ll want to make sure you can spend enough in the first few months to qualify for the sign-up bonus.

Most travel rewards cards offer a sizable chunk of points right off the bat, but you’ll only get them if you spend a certain amount. If you can’t do so without stretching your resources, consider holding off on applying until you need to make a big purchase.

At a glance: Other travel rewards cards to consider

Platinum Card® from American Express Five Membership Rewards® points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel; 5x Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express Up to six points for every $1 spent at participating Starwood Preferred Guest® and Marriott Rewards® hotels; 2 points everywhere else

 


Bottom line: Is Chase Sapphire Reserve® right for you?

If you travel extensively and dine out often, you should easily get back your $450 annual fee for Chase Sapphire Reserve® after accounting for the three points per $1 spent on dining and the $300 annual travel credit.

You’ll also have better coverage for rental cars and higher travel insurance coverage for accidents. However, if you’re not a frequent traveler and don’t often dine at restaurants, you might be better off with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or another travel rewards card.