Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ review: Are the benefits worth the cost?

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In a Nutshell

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is one of the premier credit cards on the market and comes with a steep $450 annual fee. We think the card lives up to the hype, though, and could be worth the cost for travel and dining lovers.

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If you’re in the market for a new credit card, you may have heard the buzz about Chase Sapphire Reserve℠.

Its sleek design and top-tier perks make it an attractive rewards card for consumers. But the steep $450 annual fee can make anyone think twice and wonder: “Is it really worth it?” It’s a high price to pay for a credit card, and you want to make sure you’re getting a return on your investment.

Let’s take a closer look into what Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is all about and find out whether it lives up to that high annual fee.


Chase Sapphire Reserve℠: An overview

The much talked about and highly anticipated Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ credit card was released in the summer of 2016, shaking things up in the credit card world.

Credit card enthusiasts were drawn to the card for its impressive rewards being advertised at the time: a 100,000-point sign-up bonus and extensive travel perks. The card was so appealing that nearly a million people applied for the card after its launch.

Since that time, Chase has cut the hefty sign-up bonus down to 50,000 points for new applicants (after cardholders spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening).  The sign-up bonus may not be quite as lucrative anymore, but the card still boasts great perks that could make the annual fee worth it.

What we like Heads up
  • Offers a variety of perks for travel lovers
  • Has $300 annual travel credit for cardholders
  • The annual fee is $450
  • Has a spending minimum of $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening to receive the bonus

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ review

  1. The rundown: Everything we like about Chase Sapphire Reserve℠
  2. Heads up: What you should consider before applying for Chase Sapphire Reserve℠
  3. Do the math: How to get the most out of Chase Sapphire Reserve℠
  4. The competition: How Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ stacks up against similar cards
  5. Bottom line: Is Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ right for you?

The rundown: Everything we like about Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

There are many reasons to like Chase Sapphire Reserve℠. Chief among them are its awesome perks for travel and dining aficionados.

The perks

  • $300 annual travel credit
  • $100 application fee credit for for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓
  • 3x points on dining and travel
  • Access to airport lounges
  • 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No restrictions or blackout dates for booking travel
  • No foreign transaction fee

The card also offers one point on every dollar spent and offers around-the-clock access to a customer service specialist. Additionally, you can rest easy because the card comes equipped with a variety of protections, including travel accident insurance, trip cancellation insurance, trip delay insurance and more.

If you frequently find yourself feeding your wanderlust or dining out on the town, Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ could be your ultimate travel rewards credit card.

Travel rewards vs. cash back: How to choose the right card for you

Heads Up: What you should consider before applying for Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Given the notoriety of Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, it’s tempting to want to jump right on the bandwagon and get the card. But even though the card offers a variety of perks, it’s not for everyone.

Let’s check out a few factors you’ll want to consider before applying for the card.

High annual fee

You want to make sure that you can actually make a return on your yearly $450 investment. This can be easy to do if you are a big traveler or restaurant lover, but if you don’t go out that much or you don’t tend to have big travel plans each year, you could be paying a high price without reaping the rewards.

If you think you might have trouble paying the $450 annual fee, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which has a lower annual fee of $95 that’s waived the first year.

Spending requirement

You must spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening to receive the 50,000 bonus points with Chase Sapphire Reserve℠. Those points are worth $750 for travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

This can be a high spending requirement on top of the high annual fee, though. And we should note that you can get the same number of bonus points (though they are worth a little less ) with the more affordable Chase Sapphire Preferred®. On top of that, there are other elite cards—such as the Platinum Card® from American Express — that may offer higher bonuses.

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.

If you do opt for Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, it’s important to pay attention to your spending in your first 3 months with the card. If you don’t, you could miss the bonus by not meeting the requirement, or you could end up spending more than you should just to meet the minimum.

Do the math: How to get the most out of Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

The card’s $450 annual fee is high by many people’s standards.

“I’ll admit I was one of those people who thought a $450 annual fee was crazy,” says David Rae, a Certified Financial Planner with DRM Wealth Management. But Rae ended up getting the card and found that it was worth it.

“They have a $300 travel credit that is actually easy to use. Most cards seem to have 100 hoops to jump through to get their travel credits,” Rae says. “With this card, anything remotely travel related was reimbursed until I hit the $300 credit. So easy. This takes the cost of the card down dramatically.”

Like Rae, you can also make a return on your investment if you capitalize on your Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ benefits. Here’s how:

  • Meet the spending requirement to get the 50,000 bonus points worth $750. You need to spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Enjoy your $300 in travel credit each year for travel reimbursements.
  • Use the $100 application credit to get Global Entry or TSA Pre✓.
  • Take advantage of exclusive airport lounges when traveling (must first enroll in Priority Pass™ Select).

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the most out of the redemption options. All the purchases you make using Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ accrue points that can be redeemed for cash or travel. Booking travel will give you the best deal, with points valued at 1.5 cents each, while redeeming for cash back or gift cards is worth 1 cent per point.

All in all, the best way to make up for that high annual fee is to put your card’s benefits to use. Being strategic and redeeming the right perks with your card can help you get the most bang for your buck.

The best Chase credit cards of 2017

The competition: How Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ stacks up against similar cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ may seem to be in a league of its own, but there are comparable travel rewards credit cards out there with similar perks.

Platinum Card® from American Express Great luxury credit card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card  Low-fee travel rewards card

Citi Prestige® Card

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Rewards card with flexible redemption options

Platinum Card® from American Express

From our partner

Platinum Card® from American Express

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

The Platinum Card® from American Express has a higher annual fee than Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, coming in at $550. But it also comes with up to $200 in Uber rides annually if you are a Basic card member and an airline fee credit of up to $200 per calendar year in baggage and other incidental travel fees at one qualifying airline.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

From our partner

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

If Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is intimidating, you can apply for its less-expensive counterpart Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which comes with similar perks but a lower annual fee of $95 (which is waived the first year). It also comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, and it offers 2x points on dining and travel.

Citi Prestige® Card

From our partner

Citi Prestige® Card

From cardholders in the last year

**This offer is no longer available on our site.

Citi Prestige® Card is comparable to Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ in that it is geared toward travelers. The card offers $250 airline credit , access to VIP lounges  as well as $100 credit to cover the Global Entry application fee.


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

If you’re looking to plan your next trip or want to maximize your travel benefits, this card may be a good fit for you. Just make sure you can swing the annual fee and meet the spending requirement. At the end of the day, we think the hype behind Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is well deserved and that the card stands on its own as a great travel rewards credit card.


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