Chase offers two travel reward credit cards under the “Sapphire” banner. Below we review each offering and give our opinion on which card would be better for each type of traveler:
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The first “Sapphire” card to be introduced was the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa. It has a $95 annual fee after the first year you have it, but no fee for the first 12 months. It offers points that are generally worth one penny each, but if you redeem your points for travel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, the points are worth 1.25 cents each. (For example, 10,000 points would equal $125 in travel rewards.) You earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases charged to the card, and 1 point per dollar on all other card purchases.
You can also earn a nice upfront point bonus: If you use the card for at least $4000 in purchases within the first 3 months of having it, you’ll get 50,000 bonus points (worth $625 in travel if redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards).
The travel perks with the Sapphire Preferred include 1-to-1 conversion of points into airline miles or hotel points with United, Southwest, Marriott, Hyatt, and others. There are also no foreign transaction fees on purchases outside the United States.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa caused quite a stir when it was first introduced, thanks to its bonus offer of 100,000 points (worth up to $1500 in travel rewards) for new cardholders who spend at least $4000 with the card in the first three months. The card’s annual fee of $450 is a lot easier to swallow with that big bonus.
But that’s not all the card has going for it. It also offers you up to $300 in travel reimbursement each year when you use the card to purchase airline tickets, hotel stays, baggage fees, etc. You can also get your $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre application fee reimbursed. Plus, you get access to many airport lounges.
It has a beefed up points program, too, with 3 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases, and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
Which is better?
If you are a frequent traveler, we like the Sapphire Reserve better because of the travel purchase reimbursement, the airport lounge access, and the higher point earnings. The 100,000-point bonus is nice, but it’s a one-time bonus that should only factor marginally into your calculations. While you will still end up paying more than you would with the original Sapphire Preferred, we believe the Sapphire Reserve’s benefits make it the better value for the money.