Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card Review – Still Best Premium Card on the Market?

MtM Review Score

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Features
Welcome Offer
Bonus Categories
Long Term Value

Quick Take

A card that comes with a lot of perks and a pretty rewarding earning structure and a newly increased welcome offer.
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Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card Review

Chase Sapphire Reserve Review

The Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) may have been the most successful new card launch in the history of the market.  Chase ran out of metal cards because the demand was so high during the first month of the card’s release.  They didn’t even spend a ton of money on marketing it.  It was the right product launched at the perfect time.  But, is it still the best premium travel card out there?  Let’s take a look in our Chase Sapphire Reserve review.

Current Welcome Offer Vs The Historical High

The current welcome offer on the card is:
  • 60,000 Ultimate Rewards (UR) points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months.
  • The $550 annual fee is NOT waived
  • Learn More

The highest offer the card has ever had was for 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points that accompanied the launch of the card.  With the current popularity of the card it is doubtful we will see an offer that high anytime soon. The newly increased 60,000 point offer is the best we have seen since the launch of the card.

Bonus Restrictions

Chase has a one per family rule to coincide with their difficult 5/24 rule.  Here are the details on the bonus restrictions for the Chase Sapphire Reserve (most will be disqualified):

  • This product is available to you if you do not currently have any Sapphire card.
  • This product is available to you if you have not received a new cardmember bonus for any Sapphire card in the past 48 months.
  • If you have been approved for 5, or more, new lines of credit in the last 24 months then you will be automatically denied for this card. This includes new credit cards from any bank, as well as, personal loans etc. Here is a list of cards that do not count towards Chase 5/24.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Review: Earning Structure

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a pretty rewarding earning structure:

  • Earn 3X Points on travel and dining at restaurants.
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

There is currently a limited time spending offer for 3X on grocery purchases. It is capped at $1,000 per month until April 30, 2021.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card Review

Cardmember Perks

The perks department is where the Chase Sapphire Reserve really shines. The card’s perks are as follows:

Main Perks
  • Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points in the Chase portal at 1.5 cents a piece versus 1.25 cents for other Chase premium cards.
    • For a limited time (until April 30th, 2021) cardmembers can also redeem points at 1.5 cents each using Pay Yourself Back.
  • $300 annual travel credit that works on anything travel related, including flights.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Priority Pass Lounge membership
    • The membership comes with the best guesting policy for PP lounges out there. Two accompanying guests in your travel party get in with the cardholder.
  • Global Entry of PSA Precheck reimbursement
    • Receive a statement credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card.
  • Learn More
Travel Perks
  • Special car rental privileges from National Car Rental, Avis, and Silvercar when you book with your card.
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
    • If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels.
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
    • Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is primary and provides reimbursement up to $75,000 for theft and collision damage for rental cars in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
    • If you or an immediate family member check or carry-on luggage that is damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • Trip delay reimbursement
    • If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.
  • The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection 
    • Enjoy special benefits at a variety of hand-selected top hotels and resorts worldwide such as complimentary room upgrades, early check-in and late check-out.
  • Learn More

Protection Perks

    • Purchase Protection
      • Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year.
    • Return Protection
      • You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase. You get up to $500 per item, $1,000 per year.
    • Extended Warranty Protection
      • Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year. Only on eligible warranties of three years or less.
    • Learn More

Limited Time Perks

On top of the grocery bonus spend, Pay Yourself Back and the travel credit redemption extras listed above the card also has some other limited time perks.  They are as follows:

  • One free year of Lyft Pink.
  • Earn 10X per points on Lyft rides till March of 2022.
  • DoorDash credits of $60 for 2021.  This can be in one lump some purchase.

Fees

The Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee is $550 and it is not waived the first year. It is mostly offset by a $300 travel credit per cardmember year.  Chase changed the travel credit reimbursement from calendar year to cardmember year so no more double dipping the first year.

Welcome Offer Value – $900 ($650 net)

Ultimate Reward points are worth a minimum of 1.5 cents a piece when you use them in the Chase portal or via Pay Yourself Back (for a limited time). Many value them at at closer to 2 cents a piece when you use them via transfer partners like Hyatt and United. The $550 annual fee is not waived so it brings the net return down to the ranged of $350. Once you add back in the value of the $300 travel credit you are left with $650 in value the first year.  That is of course not putting a value on any of the other card perks.


CLICK HERE to compare this and other travel rewards credit cards


Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card Review

Chase Sapphire Reserve Review – Summary

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the most coveted cards on the market for a reason.  The CSR comes with a plethora of perks and a good earning structure.  It also increases the low end value of all of your Ultimate Rewards points from 1.25 cents to 1.5 cents per point.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve used to be even more attractive before the offer dropped to 50,000 points, the annual fee was increased $100 and when the travel credit was per calendar year.  Those two changes were worth another $1300 in value. The recent increase to 60,000 improves that a little bit but it still is a long way off from the old peak in value.

If you spend a lot on travel purchases, including public transportation, Uber, Airbnb etc., then this is a good card to have in your wallet.  Same goes for dining purchases.  It is a great option for road warriors. It offers one more Ultimate Reward point per dollar for the travel and dining categories versus the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Long Term Keep or Cancel?

The $550 annual fee makes this a tough decision for some.  The $300 annual travel credit reduces this cost but you still need to shell out $550 at the beginning of the cardmember year.

The true annual fee cost depends on how you value the $300 credit.  It is essentially an interest free loan to Chase Bank towards future purchases (which they also recoup swipe fees on).

The annual travel credit also auto depletes which means you can not pick which items you pick to redeem it on.  This is important because you may use it for items that you could have bought it at a discount.  Uber is an example of this, you can usually buy Uber gift cards for 10%-15% off.  Should you discount the redemption if you could have made the purchase at a discount?  That is something everyone needs to answer themselves.

On the other hand if you use the subway everyday then you could load your card with $300 on day one and get the full value of the credit.

The decision really comes down to if you get an additional $250 in value out of the other card perks to offset the annual fee. Many enjoy having access to the Priority Pass restaurants etc. which no longer comes with American Express cards.  The decision will be a personal one though.

The amount of perks the card comes with, the very lenient travel credit, and the earning structure make this a long term keeper for many, even with the large annual fee.


CLICK HERE to compare this and other travel rewards credit cards


Chase Sapphire Reserve Review – Final Thoughts

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a ton of perks, a nice welcome offer, and a rewarding earning structure.  While the annual fee is steep the perks and annual travel credit offset the cost.

The travel category for the CSR is very liberal with it’s definition, which no longer really has a rival with recent Citi Premier changes.  Other ultra premium cards, American Express Platinum and Citi Prestige, do not come close with their travel categories.  The Platinum card only rewards for flights purchased directly with airlines (5x) and the Prestige only offers earning on airlines (5x) and hotels (3x).  Those cards do not include parking, ride share, public transportation, Airbnb etc. in their travel category like the CSR does.

For most people in the travel world the CSR is one of the best cards on the market and probably the best premium card out there.  We have labeled it as a long term keeper but make sure to crunch the numbers yourself and make sure it works for you.

Let us know in the comments if you have the card. Do you plan on keeping it past the first year?

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33 COMMENTS

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33 COMMENTS

  1. FYI – The Hyatt Place at Faro Blanco (in your first pic) is no longer a Hyatt. We stayed there before the pandemic and loved it. Unfortunately they dropped the Hyatt brand in the middle of last year. Might be the most disappointed I’ve ever been when hearing about a brand change.

  2. Husband got the CSR in Oct. 2016 with the 100K bonus. Used it for a lot of travel, and also saved us lots on not buying insurance for a number of cruises. His renewal year started on 12/27. In 2020 we got the $300 rebate early on from an EZPass toll account top up (like $15), and the balance on a cruise payment. COVID hit, cruise cancelled, so the points got deducted but the account travel credit wasn’t reversed.
    We called a couple of times in December when we heard about the retention bonus being offered. Nothing for us. We debated and finally decided to cancel since we are both 70, no travel for us until vaccines and slowing of pandemic overall, so probably no major travel abroad until 2022. We cancelled beginning of January and the entire $450 fee was credited. He then got the Freedom Flex which I already had, so I got referral bonus and he’s getting the sign up bonus. That covers our grocery spend, better than what we would get with the CSR.

    We have a cruise booked for March 2022 so we have to pay balance in October. Trying to figure out our strategy assuming the cruise will be feasible by then. I have the CSP. I could refer my husband for the Preferred, getting referral points, and he’d get signup bonus but he couldn’t upgrade to CSR for a year. I should be able to upgrade to the CSR (longtime Chase customer, very high FICO, sufficient income so should qualify). Thinking that is probably better than him just applying again for CSR. We definitely want this card again, as it makes more sense for us than Amex Platinum, but we just couldn’t justify the fee this year.

  3. I am torn if I should renew it this April at $550. I don’t really use it much nowadays as I have the freedom unlimited that earns 5x on grocery for 1st year and 3x on dining. Amex gold for 4x on grocery and dining and 3X on airfare. The only reason I would keep it is if chase all of a sudden decides to stop allowing customers to product change back to CSR or CSP.
    Reply

    • If you aren’t using it for any spend then I think a downgrade to CSP (assuming no Ink Preferred in your wallet for transfers) makes sense.

  4. “Chase has a one per family rule to coincide with their difficult 5/24 rule.”

    So if my wife and I both have the CSR and I cancel mine, I can never get [the bonus on] another Sapphire (Preferred or Reserve) card as long as my wife continues to hold the CSR?!?

  5. I picked up the reserve back when it was 100,000 …loved the card for years but times have changed …..with COVID-19 / and reading other blogs about letting go of cards
    I weighted in out and I’m dropping the reserve next month ….
    AIRFARE ….5X on Amex plat
    SUPERMARKETS 4 x on Amex gold
    DINING….4X Amex gold
    GAS…….3x Citi Premier
    AMEX BIZ n Citi double …….2x on all others

    A lot of delav over the years and heaven for bid they lose Hyatt

    So I’m getting rid of both Citi Prestige and Chase Sapphire Reserve

    That’s my game plan

  6. Chase Sapphire Reserve card is the best card out there if you travel often.
    I have had it for three years and got it at the very highest offer. What a winner.

  7. The reference to lines of credit by way of personal loans, etc is Incorrect! Such debt is NOT considered in the calculation of 5/24.

    • It is actually reported both ways so I added it just to be safe. Do you have personal experience with it? I know student loans do count. Mortgages, auto loans, and personal loans are murkier though so I am not 100% on that.

  8. I love my CSR card and use it all the time for dining and travel. The only big disappointment is on the extended warranty service. I got the card when it first came out so it’s already been over a year. With American Express (SPG, Business SPG, Platinum card) i’ve had several occasions to use the extended warranty service over the past 20 years and never had any problems and they are fairly quick to reimburse after sending all the paperwork.

    I bought an item (garden hose) that had a 1 year warranty and I bought it with my CSR card. Well, I submitted a warranty claim and it just sits in limbo for over 6 weeks without any answer. So the only big complaint I have so far is they don’t honor the extended warranty service. From now on, I’m going to stick with my AMEX cards to purchase electronics, and other items as I’ve NEVER had any issues with them on the extended warranty service.

  9. I have read some comments that, when cancelling, Chase pro-rates the annual cost, and therefore a strategy could be cancelling early next year after receiving the $300 travel credit. Do you have any confirmation on this?
    Thanks!

    • I think they changed their rules about a year ago that you only have 30 days to get an annual fee refund. I think if you downgraded you would get a prorated AF refund but I wouldn’t count on either at this point.

  10. Was fortunate to apply/get the CSR right after slipping back under the 5/24 bar and shortly before they reduced the 100K-point signup bonus. Love the 3 points/dollar at restaurants as well as the broad applicability of the $300 travel credit. My plan was to keep the CSR long-term and to get the Sapphire Preferred for periodic 50K-point bonuses. Alas, Chase got wise and now allows cardholders only one Sapphire card at a time. Ah, well.

    • Yeah that was a tough rule change. I am glad you were able to get it at the 100k level, and a little jealous haha.

    • I am torn if I should renew it this April at $550. I don’t really use it much nowadays as I have the freedom unlimited that earns 5x on grocery for 1st year and 3x on dining. Amex gold for 4x on grocery and dining and 3X on airfare. The only reason I would keep it is if chase all of a sudden decides to stop allowing customers to product change back to CSR or CSP.

  11. Since I already had the Preferred, it was pretty much impossible for me to get the new card bonus. However, it is so much better that I converted and I am saving money. In fact for me it has significant negative cost:
    $450 fee
    Minus:
    $300 travel credit/yr
    $285 increase in value of existing UR pts (one time only)
    $100 Global entry (every 5 yr)
    about $300/yr in higher earn rate on travel and dining
    better or additional insurances (avg $100-200/yr on airport delays) the medical and evacuation could be huge, though unlikely
    Priority Pass Select
    National Emerald Executive (can be status matched)

    • Awesome Paul – glad you are getting the value out of it. With their new rules I think a lot of people will have to go the upgrade route to get it.

  12. “Neither card includes gas stations, parking, ride share, Airbnb etc. like the CSR does.” The CSR includes gas stations under travel?

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