Chase Sapphire Cards
A $300 annual travel credit lowers the effective annual fee to $250. A set of DoorDash credits can lower it further.
50,000 Ultimate Rewards points for the Reserve, 60,000 points for the Preferred.
$4,000 initial spend
($670 net value, .17/$)Signup Bonus Chart
3x Travel (≈5.1%)
3x Restaurants (≈5.1%)
1x Everywhere Else (≈1.7%)
No Foreign Transaction Fee
Everyone will want to get one of the Sapphire cards.
The combination of a Chase "Unlimited" Card and a Chase "Sapphire" Card is the best option for most people to maximize the rewards from their credit card spending. You'll need one of these cards (or the small business Chase Ink Preferred) to unlock the ability to redeem your Ultimate Reward points for extra value.
Even if you aren't interested in using these cards as your primary reward credit cards, the Sapphire cards are near the top of the list of cards to get just for their valuable signup bonus.
Because it is hard to use credit card travel benefits during the pandemic, Chase has made some temporary changes to their cards.
- The Sapphire Reserve earn 5x points (8.5%) on up to $1,500 per month of grocery store purchases during May and June. The Sapphire Preferred earns 3x points (5.1%).
- You can "cash out" your Ultimate Rewards points by using them to offset grocery store, restaurant, and home improvement purchases. If you have the Sapphire Reserve, you'll get 1.5 cents per point. If you have the Sapphire Preferred, you get 1 cent per point. For example, you could spend $600 at restaurants and then use 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points to erase the charges. If you might ordinarily use your points to purchase travel through the Chase website, it would be a better deal to "cash out" now and then use the cash to purchase travel later. You'll need to go online and apply your points to specific purchases. But if you are likely to save your points to use for Hyatt hotel nights or frequent flyer tickets, it is better to hold onto your points. This "Pay Yourself Back" benefit is available till the end of September. Announcement.
- Purchases made at grocery stores and gas stations count towards the Sapphire Reserve card's $300 annual travel credit (also till the end of June). This combines nicely with the grocery store bonus spend.
- The Sapphire Reserve's renewal fee has temporarily dropped to old rate of $495.
Chase Sapphire Card Options
There are two Sapphire cards (plus a no-annual-fee card that doesn't have any worthwhile benefits).
Sapphire Reserve. The premium Sapphire Reserve Card has several extra benefits, earns higher reward rates on travel spending, and provides an option to spend your points at 1.5 cents each (rather than 1.25 cents), but comes with a hefty $550 annual fee. However, the Sapphire Reserve's $300 automatic travel credit reduces the typical out-of-pocket expense to $250 per year and the DoorDash credits can reduce it even further. If you value the airport lounge access, plan to use your Sapphire card for a a lot of travel spending, and/or plan to take advantage of the Sapphire's card higher Ultimate Rewards "cash-out" rate, paying the extra $30-150 can be worthwhile. Chase Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
Sapphire Preferred. The Sapphire Preferred Card typically has a higher signup offer and, just like the Reserve Card, offers enhanced trip insurance coverage (including primary rental car insurance) and unlocks the ability to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners. Official Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
Even if the Sapphire Reserve is your better long-term option, if you are planning on collecting signup bonuses, you are better off starting out with the Sapphire Preferred. You'll earn a higher signup bonus and pay a lower annual fee. While you are collecting other cards, you'll receive less benefit from the Sapphire Reserve's higher reward rates and airport lounge benefits. Later on, when you are ready, you can convert your Sapphire Preferred to the Sapphire Reserve to unlock the extra benefits and higher reward rates.
Introduction to Ultimate Rewards
Ultimate Rewards is the name of Chase's own rewards program. Ultimate Rewards Guide
- Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to many different frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. his gives you the flexibility to take advantage of award space on over a hundred different airlines. In many cases, you can choose to book a flight through one of several different partner programs, allowing you to take advantage of whichever program requires the fewest miles and fees for your trip.
- Unlike the other "transferable" point programs, you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards Points for good value, without needing to hassle with frequent flyer tickets. Ultimate Rewards points can be converted into Hyatt hotel points, which can easily be used for award nights at point values typically over 1.7 cents each. If you have the Sapphire Reserve Card, you can "cash out" your points at 1.5 cents per point. And you can get similar value using your points to purchase Southwest Airline tickets.
- We value Ultimate Reward points at 1.7 cents each. Because you can take advantage of award space and "sweet spots" from many different frequent flyer programs, Ultimate Reward points are worth more than any single type of airline miles. If you highly valuable premium-cabin award tickets, Ultimate Reward points are worth even more. If you want to avoid the hassles associated with frequent flyer tickets, they are worth a little less. How Much are Points Worth?
- A Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred (or Ink Preferred) Card makes the Ultimate Rewards points you earn from other cards more valuable. Only annual-fee-based cardholders can transfer their Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt or airline partners. In addition, Sapphire Reserve cardholders can "cash out" their points at 1.5 cents each and Sapphire Preferred and Ink Preferred cardholders can cash them out at 1.25 cent each, rather than than at the base rate of 1 cent per point.
While you can still typically get the most value for your points through good-value frequent flyer tickets, you can easily get good value, with much less effort, through these other types of redemptions. And you can sometimes get as much as 3 cents in value on better-than-normal Hyatt redemptions.
Even if you use them like cash, the reward rate on any purchase with the Chase Reserve / Chase Unlimited combo is 2.25 cents per dollar, the reward rate on travel and restaurant purchases with the Sapphire Reserve is 4.5 cents per dollar, and the signup bonus for the Sapphire Cards is worth $750.
For example, you can transfer the points earned from your Freedom Unlimited, Ink Unlimited, Freedom Flex, or Ink Cash card to your Sapphire Reserve account, and then cash them out for 1.5 cents each, transfer them to Hyatt for a free hotel night, or transfer them to an airline program to use for frequent flyer tickets. Otherwise, these points are only worth 1 cent each.
Collecting the Signup Bonus
- It is worth signing up for this card just to collect the signup bonus. The typical signup bonus is 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points, valued at $850 (at 1.7 cents per point). In addition, the card comes with a easy-to-use $300 travel credit.
- You can only have one of the Sapphire cards at a time. You can't sign up for both the Reserve and Preferred version of the card. You'll need to choose one or the other. Once you've signed up, you aren't eligible to apply for the other card for 48! months.
- If you are only interested in the signup bonus, you should get the Sapphire Preferred card. It has a higher signup bonus of 60,000 points and a lower annual fee of $95.
- It is difficult to collect a signup bonus a 2nd time, because of the Chase 5/24 rule. You are eligible for a Sapphire card signup bonus, if you haven't already earned the bonus, from any of the Sapphire cards, during the last four years. However, due to the Chase 5/24 rule, if you've been signing up for other cards, you won't be able to get approved when you reapply. You'll need get under the 5/24 limit, before you can earn one of the bonuses again. Dealing with the Chase 5/24 Rule.
- You can earn signup bonuses from multiple different Chase Ultimate Rewards cards. You are limited to only one version of the Chase Sapphire card (every 49 months), but there is also the Ink Preferred, Ink Cash, Ink Unlimited, Freedom Flex, and Freedom Unlimited Cards.
After subtracting the annual fee and the opportunity cost of using the card for $4,000 of spending, the calculated net value for the initial year is $670 (17 cents per dollar spent). Your value may be higher or lower, depending on how much you value Ultimate Rewards points. Introduction to 'Transferable' Reward Points.
Annual Travel Credit (Sapphire Reserve)
The Sapphire Reserve's annual travel credit is automatically applied to to your first $300 of travel purchases each year. You simply use the card to make travel payments (for anything from airfare to taxi fares, tolls, tour operators, and public transit) and the credit cancels out the charge on your credit card statement. If necessary, the credit will be spread across multiple smaller charges.
It should be extremely easy to take full advantage of this credit every year, lowering the effective annual fee by $300.
Initially, the Sapphire Reserve Card's travel credit was issued on a calendar year basis, allowing you to qualify for two credits during the first year you had the card. For anyone who applies for the card now, the travel credit is issued on a cardholder year basis. Your credit renews each time you pay the annual fee.
Taking Advantage of the DoorDash credits (Sapphire Reserve)
- The Sapphire Reserve card comes with $60 in DoorDash credits for 2020 and 2021. Your Sapphire Reserve account page will show how much of your credit has already been received. Unlike similar credits from some Amex cards, this credit isn't divided up by month. You can use it all at once or spread it across multiple orders. It is unclear whether this benefit will continue beyond 2021. Existing cardholders can offset up to $60 of their next annual fee (along with getting a $60 windfall this year). New cardholders can offset up to $120 off their first annual fee.
- To make things sweeter, you'll also get a free "DashPass" membership until at least the end of 2021. This membership, which normally costs $10 per month, provides lower service fees and free delivery from any of DoorDash's restaurants. The restaurant needs to have a DashPass checmark and the order must be for at least $12. This significantly reduces any extra fess for taking advantage of your DoorDash credits and can save you additional money over the course of the year. You need to register your card at a special webpage to start your membership. Note that this membership, but not the credits, is also available to Sapphire Preferred customers.
- You can also use your credits for pickup. This lets you avoid paying delivery tips, the "lowered" service charge, and any delivery charge that isn't covered by DashPass. For many restaurants prices are the same through DoorDash as they would be directly, but for others, prices can be higher.
You should also be able to receive a promotional reward for your first order through various cash back sites.
Other Notable Benefits
- Airport lounge access. Like the other premium cards, the Sapphire Reserve gives you free access to over a thousand airport lounges via a free Priority Pass membership. You are limited to two guests per visit. Get Free Airport Lounge Access from a Credit Card.
- Automatic travel insurance. Whenever you purchase travel with your Sapphire Reserve card, you'll get free trip cancellation and interruption insurance, as well as additional coverage for trip delays, bag delays, and lost luggage. The Sapphire Preferred card offers slightly weaker versions of these benefits.
- "Primary" rental car insurance. If you use this card to pay for your rental car, you'll get primary rental car insurance. Unlike the "secondary" insurance you get from most other cards, if you damage your rental car, you don't need to involve your personal auto insurance company. Credit Cards That Provide “Primary” Rental Car Coverage.
- Lyft benefits. You get a free year of Lyft Pink, which provides a 15% discount, priority airport pickups, 3 free 30 minute bike or scooter rides per month, and some other benefits. This is likely a one-time deal for 2020 and not an ongoing benefit.
- Peloton credit. The Sapphire Reserve gets a $120 credit for Peloton monthly subscription fees. The Sapphire Preferred gets $60 credit. Digital access membership fees are $13 per month and the all access membership is $40 per month. Credits can be used until the end of the year. It is unclear if this will be renewed in 2022.
- Free roadside assistance. The roadside assistance benefit that comes with most credit cards simply connects you a to nearby service provider. But this card actual pays for your roadside assistance services, including towing, lockout assistance, spare tire installation, jump starts, or emergency fuel. Up to $50 per incident. Get Free or Discounted Roadside Assistance with these Credit Cards.
- Access to Chase's Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection. Along with other Chase cards, you'll get access to Chase's luxury hotel program. When you use the program to book one of the participating hotels, you'll receive a set of valuable benefits, including free breakfast, late check-out, and a hotel-specific amenity (which is typically a $100 hotel, restaurant, or spa credit). Take Advantage of Luxury Hotel Programs for Valuable Extra Perks.
- Car rental elite status. Like all other Visa Infinite cards, your card entitles you to elite status with National car rental. Instant Car Rental Elite Status.
- Visa Infinite Hotel benefit. Visa Infinite cardholders get access to the Visa Luxury Hotel program. At about 200 hotels, Infinite card holders get an additional benefit (typically some sort of $100 credit) on top of what is available to Signature cardholders. You'll also have access to the regular Visa Signature hotel program, which provides slightly weaker benefits at a much larger collection of hotels. Take Advantage of Luxury Hotel Programs for Valuable Extra Perks
- Access to Visa Signature Offers. Your card entitles you to a set of special offers available from Visa.
- $100 TSA fee credit. Every four years, you can receive an automatic reimbursement of your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee (up to $100).
- sbe Hotel benefits. When you pay for one of the small number of sbe hotels (Delano, SLS, Mondrian, etc.) with your Sapphire Reserve card, you get your fourth night free, continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi, the possibility of an upgrade or late checkout, and a $30 hotel credit towards food. You'll need to book through a special site. You can probably find lower rates elsewhere, so you'll need to check to see if the benefits are enough to offset any difference in price.
The Sapphire Preferred card provides primary rental car insurance, slightly less valuable travel insurance benefits (primarily a 12 hour delay, rather than 6 hours,) before trip delay insurance kicks in), access to Chase's Luxury Hotel program, the free DoorDash DashPass membership, and access to the Visa signature luxury hotel and discount offers programs.
- The Sapphire Reserve card earns the highest possible rewards on many travel purchases. 3x Ultimate Rewards points (valued at 5.1 cents per dollar) is the highest reward rate you can earn on many travel purchases, such as hotels and car rentals. You can earn 5x Membership Rewards on airfare with the Amex Platinum card (with less valuable travel insurance) or 5x ThankYou points on online travel agencies and airfare (with no travel insurance) with the Citi Prestige card. Best Credit Cards for Travel Spending.
- The Sapphire Reserve earns great rewards on restaurant spending. However, if you are comfortable using your points for frequent flyer tickets, you can earn higher rewards with the Citi Prestige or Amex Gold card. Best Credit Cards for Restaurant Spending.
- The Sapphire cards earn fantastic rewards on Lyft spending. With the Sapphire Reserve, you'll earn 10x Ultimate Rewards per dollar, valued at 17 cents per dollar. With the Sapphire Preferred (or all Ink and Freedom cards), you'll get 5x points, worth 8.5 cents per dollar. In addition, you can get your Lyft Pink discount, 3x Hilton Honors points, and 1-2x Delta miles (which is all available regardless of what credit card you use).
- The Sapphire Preferred card only earns 2x points, rather than 3x points on these categories. As long as you spend more than $3,000 per year on travel and restaurants, the extra rewards from the Sapphire Reserve card more than offset its higher out of pocket expense.
- You don't want to use these cards for your everyday spending. You'll earn higher rewards from a good general-purpose reward card. Get a Great General Purpose Reward Card and Use It for All of Your Spending.
Getting Rid of the Card
- You need to be careful or you could lose your Ultimate Rewards points when you cancel your card. Before you close your card, you need to transfer your points to another card that earns Ultimate Rewards points. You could also transfer them to the Ultimate Rewards account of another person in your household. If you can't transfer your points, you can downgrade the card instead of cancelling it or transfer your points to your favorite travel partner.
- We recommend always downgrading your Sapphire cards rather than cancelling them. Chase's 5/24 rule can make it difficult to get a new Chase card when you want to. Keeping one of Chase's no-annual-fee cards preserves the option of getting a card (or reacquiring a Sapphire Reserve or Preferred) through a product change, rather than a new application.
- You can wait to cancel your card until after the annual fee shows up on your statement. As long as you cancel within 30 days of the statement closing date, Chase will refund the fee. After 30 days, you can receive a pro-rated refund by downgrading to a lower-priced card, such as the Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited cards.
- Waiting to cancel or downgrade your Sapphire Reserve Card can allow you to take advantage of another year's travel credit. For most cardholders, the travel credit resets when the annual fee hits your account. You may be able to quickly pay some travel expenses or purchase a gift card (directly from a travel provider) for a future trip. If necessary, you can continue to wait even after the deadline. Once you've had an opportunity to use the credit, you can downgrade to a no-annual-fee card and get most of your annual fee back.
- Chase doesn't make retention offers. Unless something has changed, you don't need to bother checking.
Note that without a Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, or Ink Preferred Card, you can't transfer your points to travel partners (or redeem them at more than 1 cent each). The points will stay in your account, you can redeem them for 1 cent each, or you can get one of these cards in the future to regain the ability to transfer them to partners.
You can product change between the Sapphire Reserve ($550), Sapphire Preferred ($95), Freedom Flex ($0), and Freedom Unlimited ($0) cards. The best bet is usually to convert to the Freedom Flex Card. You can always convert back to a Sapphire card (at any time) if you want to. The Freedom Flex Card earns 5x Ultimate Rewards points on up to $1,500 per quarter of spending in a rotating set of bonus categories. While you may not always be interested in making the extra effort to maximize this card, it is nice to have the option to do so. When converting cards, you can obtain multiple copies of the Freedom Flex Card, increasing the maximum bonus you can earn each quarter.
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