Battle Of The Chase Sapphire Cards: Should You Go Preferred Or Reserve?

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Chase Ultimate Rewards cards:

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are among the most lucrative currencies out there today.

You can rack up points quickly on no annual fee cards, but you can do much better than that if you have a Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve card as that unlocks the ability to transfer points into airline miles and hotel points.

Do you have a Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve Card?

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Chase transfer partners include:

  • United (Star Alliance)
  • Singapore (Star Alliance)
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue (Skyteam)
  • British Airways (OneWorld)
  • Aer Lingus (OneWorld)
  • Iberia (OneWorld)
  • Emirates
  • JetBlue
  • Southwest
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hyatt
  • IHG
  • Marriott

I aim to receive a value of 2 cents or more per point when I transfer them into airline miles or hotel points. But sometimes the value of an airline miles or hotel point can be under 1 cent each. In these cases it’s great to have a card that allows you to redeem points for paid travel at a value that beats the 1 cent per point level where you can cash the points out.


Chase has 3 Sapphire cards to choose from:

The no annual fee Sapphire card is a bit of a dud as you’ll be much better off with a no annual fee card like Freedom or Freedom Unlimited card.

You can convert between Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Sapphire, Sapphire Preferred, and Sapphire Reserve. There is no hard credit pull needed to change cards. You will only get a signup bonus for opening a new card, not for a card conversion.

In general I’d say that Sapphire Preferred is best for general users and Sapphire Reserve is best for power users, but there are certainly exceptions.

Luckily Chase allows you to transfer points to a household member or a business joint owner, so you only need to have one premium card between spouses. Chase also allows premium cardholders to transfer points to their authorized user’s mileage accounts.

Let’s walk through the benefits to see which cards is best for you.


Signup bonus:

Sapphire Preferred offers more bonus points than the ultra-premium Sapphire Reserve. Go figure!

Winner: Sapphire Preferred


Annual fee:

Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee was increased to $550 earlier this year, but Chase had to walk back the increase due to COVID-19. However new applicants still have to pay the higher fee.

Winner: Sapphire Preferred.


Annual fee for additional cardholders:

Aside from the lower signup bonus, this is the other weak spot for Sapphire Reserve. The annual fee covers the lounge membership that is given to additional users. Of course you can always request a non-metal version of the Reserve card if you want an extra card to use.

Winner: Sapphire Preferred.


Value of each points towards paid airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and activities:

You can combine all of your points and your spouse’s points from all of your Chase Ultimate Rewards cards onto your most valuable card, so that they are worth the most for travel!

The increased value of points set a minimum value you can get from your points. You can get a higher value for your points by transferring them into airline miles and hotel points, but having the ability to use your points at an increased value for paid travel makes them into “hybrid points.” You can choose to redeem them for either paid travel or award travel, depending on which provides a better value.

Winner: Sapphire Reserve


Value of each points towards dining, grocery, and home improvement purchases:

From now through 9/30/20, you can redeem your Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve Ultimate Rewards points to offset any dining, restaurant delivery, grocery store, grocery delivery (including Costco or BJs via Instacart!) or home improvement purchases made within the past 90 days. You can read more about this here.

You can buy gift cards from those stores for future use, for use at hundreds of other stores, or generic Visa gift cards that can be used anywhere. You can then cash out your points at a value of 1.25 or 1.5 cents each to pay for those purchases!

You can even redeem points against purchases that were covered by other card benefits. For example a Doordash purchase was automatically reimbursed by Sapphire Reserve’s $60 annual Doordash benefit, is still eligible for reimbursement a 2nd time by redeeming points!

Winner: Sapphire Reserve


Annual travel credit:

Sapphire Reserve’s $300 annual travel credit is effortless to use. You are automatically credited when you charge any travel related charge, from airfare or airfare gift cards, to hotels, car rentals, Uber or UberEats, subway/trains, parking and more.

That effectively lowers the Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee from $550 to $250.

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Expanded $300 credit for 2020 on groceries and gas:

Due to the difficulty in using the travel credit in 2020, Chase is adding automatic reimbursement for $300 in gas and grocery purchases from 6/1/20-12/31/20. Alas this isn’t a separate $300 credit, it’s part of the $300 travel credit.

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Doordash restaurant delivery credit

With Sapphire Reserve you’ll get your first $60 of Doordash spending in 2020 and $60 in 2021 reimbursed. There are hundreds of kosher restaurants available!

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Doordash Dashpass Membership

DoorDash DashPass allows you to get free delivery and lower service fees on $12+ orders from select restaurants that have a blue checkmark. It normally costs $9.99/month, but is free through 12/31/21 with Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve.

Winner: Tie


Points per dollar on travel:

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Points per dollar on dining:

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Points per dollar on groceries:

  • Sapphire Preferred: 3 per dollar on up to $1,500 of spending in both May and June 2020.
  • Sapphire Reserve: 5 per dollar on up to $1,500 of spending in both May and June 2020.

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Points per dollar on Lyft:

You can earn 5 or 10 points per dollar which will stack on top of earning bonus Hilton points and bonus Delta miles on Lyft!

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Lyft Pink Membership:

You can add your Sapphire Reserve card in your Lyft app and then click here to enroll in a complimentary 1 year Lyft Pink membership, a value of $19.99/month! With that membership you’ll save 15% off all Lyft rides, get priority airport pickup, get waived cancellation fees 3 times per month when you rebook a ride within 15 minutes, get waived lost and found fees, and enjoy 3 free bike or scooter rides per month. You can enroll in this benefit through 3/31/22.

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Priority Pass Membership:

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.

Nothing like stocking up on free wine, beer, and KIND bars, thanks to Priority Pass restaurant credit:


Global Entry/Pre-Check Refund:

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Roadside assistance:

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


US and Worldwide Car Rental CDW Coverage:

Winner: Tie.


Foreign Transaction Fees:

Winner: Tie.


Extended Warranty Coverage:

Winner: Tie.


Purchase Protection for items damaged or stolen within 120 days:

Winner: Sapphire Reserve


Return Protection:

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Trip Delay Reimbursement:

  • Sapphire Preferred: $500 per person for reasonable expenses (Hotel, food, toiletries, medicine, etc) required for delays more than 12 hours.
  • Sapphire Reserve: $500 per person for reasonable expenses (Hotel, food, toiletries, medicine, etc) required for delays more than 6 hours.

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:

Winner: Tie.


Travel Accident Insurance:

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Emergency Evacuation Insurance:

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Repatriation of Remains Insurance:

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Emergency Medical and Dental Benefit:

Winner: Sapphire Reserve.


Lost Luggage Insurance:

  • Sapphire Preferred: $3,000 per person per trip (limit of $500 per person for jewelry, watches, electronics)
  • Sapphire Reserve: $3,000 per person per trip (limit of $500 per person for jewelry, watches, electronics)

Winner: Tie.


Baggage Delay Reimbursement:

  • Sapphire Preferred: $100 per day per person (max of 5 days) for essential items needed (Clothing, toiletries, charger, etc) for delays more than 6 hours.
  • Sapphire Reserve: $100 per day per person (max of 5 days) for essential items needed (Clothing, toiletries, charger, etc) for delays more than 6 hours.

Winner: Tie.


Comparison chart of the card benefits:

 Sapphire PreferredSapphire Reserve
Signup bonus60K points for spending $4,000 in 3 months
50K points for spending $4,000 in 3 months
Annual Fee$95$550
Additional Cardholder Fee$0$75
Allows you to transfer Chase points from any card to airline milesYes
Yes
Annual Travel Credit (Airfare, hotels, car rentals, Uber, etc) $0$300
Expanded $300 credit for 2020 on groceries and gas$0$300
$100 Global Entry/Pre-Check Fee RefundNoneOnce every 4 years for Primary cardholder
Doordash annual restaurant delivery creditNone$60
Doordash Dashpass MembershipFree through 2021Free through 2021
Priority Pass membershipNonePrimary and secondary cardholders can bring 2 guests into a lounge
Lyft Pink MembershipNoneFree for 1 year
Value of points towards dining, grocery, and home improvement1.25 cents1.5 cents
Value of points towards paid airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and activities1.25 cents1.5 cents
Points earned on everyday spending 1 per dollar1 per dollar
Points earned on travel (Airfare, hotels, car rentals, Uber, etc) 2 per dollar3 per dollar
Points earned on dining 2 per dollar 3 per dollar
Points earned on Lyft 5 per dollar through 3/31/2210 per dollar through 3/31/22
Points earned on groceries 3 per dollar in both May and June 2020.5 per dollar in both May and June 2020
Foreign transaction fee NoneNone
US and Worldwide Car Rental CDW CoveragePrimaryPrimary
Roadside Assistance Available for a $59.95 charge Free battery boost, flat tire service, 2 gallons of fuel delivery, towing, or lockout assistance
Purchase Protection for items damaged or stolen within 120 days$500 per item$10,000 per item
Extended Warranty Protection1 extra year for items up to $10,0001 extra year for items up to $10,000
Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance$10,000 per trip or $20,000 per trip with multiple travelers
$10,000 per trip or $20,000 per trip with multiple travelers
Return Protection
None$500/item up to $1,000/year
Trip Delay Reimbursement$500 per person for reasonable expenses (Hotel, food, toiletries, medicine, etc) required for delays more than 12 hours.$500 per person for reasonable expenses (Hotel, food, toiletries, medicine, etc) required for delays more than 6 hours.
Lost Luggage Insurance$3,000 per person per trip (limit of $500 per person for jewelry, watches, electronics)$3,000 per person per trip (limit of $500 per person for jewelry, watches, electronics)
Baggage Delay Reimbursement$100 per day per person (max of 5 days) for essential items needed (Clothing, toiletries, charger, etc) for delays more than 6 hours.
$100 per day per person (max of 5 days) for essential items needed (Clothing, toiletries, charger, etc) for delays more than 6 hours.
Travel Accident Insurance$500,000 per person$1,000,000 per person
Emergency Evacuation and Transportation due to injury or illness on a trip None$100,000 for trips between 5-60 days, more than 100 miles from your home
Repatriation of Remains Insurance None$1,000 for a coffin and to return your body to your home country if you die on a vacation
Emergency Medical and Dental Benefit None$2,500 for medical expenses on trips between 5-60 days, more than 100 miles from your home
Download Guide of BenefitsLinkLink

Win count:

Unsurprisingly, Sapphire Reserve wins in a landslide. Of course that comes at a cost, $550/year. If you maximize the $300 credit though, it drops to an effective $250 annual fee. If you also maximize the $60 Doordash credit, it drops to an effective $190 annual fee, which is $95 more than Sapphire Preferred.

If you are renewing in 2020, you’ll get $100 off the annual fee, but if you’re applying for a new card, are the benefits worth the extra $95/year? For a power user who wants their points to be worth at least 1.5 cents each and who wants benefits like triple points on dining and airfare, Priority Pass, Global Entry, Lyft, and more it probably will be.

However a general user may find that the Sapphire Preferred is good enough and they won’t have to worry about using the $300 annual credit. Sapphire Reserve bests it in many categories, but not everyone will get enough value from its added benefits. It also certainly helps that Sapphire Preferred also has a superior signup bonus. That means you can signup for Sapphire Preferred and upgrade it to a Sapphire Reserve down the line if you decide that the benefits are worth the extra $95. Note that some reps will make you wait 12 months after getting the card until you can upgrade it. You can downgrade either Sapphire card to a lucrative no-fee Freedom or Freedom Unlimited card down the line.

Do you have a Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve Card?

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44 Comments On "Battle Of The Chase Sapphire Cards: Should You Go Preferred Or Reserve?"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

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El Capitan

Great breakdown as always! Thanks Dan

bob

i just got shutdown all my accounts c.c.’s from chase. never sold points. Any advice? they wont even tell me what i did wrong?

Mends

Call them up and ask them to reconsider the decision. Worked for me after a week or so they reopen my accounts.
Good luck!
(They shut me down shortly after getting a new card because they saw I had to many inquires on my report within a short period, and I just told them I was new to the credit card world and didn’t realize it affected so much, also pointed out to them that never missed a payment!)

Peter

Great post!! To each their own, but with the $100 fee reimbursement the Reserve wins back in my wallet.

Unfortunately signed up for the Lyft Pink membership in Feb and have used it twice since then; Lyft won’t extend at all. Any confirmed cases you’ve heard of where that gets extended?

Also heard I can downgrade my CSR to a Freedom and then apply for the CSP to get the bonus. Is there a time limit on that?

S

For those who don’t travel often, it may be worthwhile to stick with a no-annual-fee card, and only upgrade to a Sapphire when looking to travel.

Joetraveller

Doesn’t the Citi Card give triple points on the same categories, for 100 bucks a year?

yman

Hey Dan, just FYI:
Regarding, ” Of course you can always request a non-metal version of the Reserve card if you want an extra card to use.”

I tried at least 5 times on different occasions (HUCA) and there is an anti-fraud policy in place that you can no longer receive an extra card to use for free.

elifl77

Since I wont see the inside of an airplane for the next few years I rather focus my efforts on opening as many new chase biz cards as I can for each LLC and INC possible , if you have 2 llc’s its sn easy 6 new cards with little to no effect on your credit when you carry a 12 months balance on the o% apr offers. why even bother with personal cards these days when chase are lowering credit limits and closing accounts. Better keep my credit clean and use it for a loan or a refi when the housing market crashes 6 months from now.

118

the links to the benefits guides seem to be down

Pyw

Do you think they will lower the annual fee for new applicants to $450 in July?

dave s

The travel insurance coverage is garbage. Fought with them on VALID claims for lost luggage and trip delays and all claims were denied. Luggage was lost for seven days prior to a cruise and they paid nothing. All charges were made on their cards and all requested documents were sent several times. When the annual renewal for the cards come, I will be cancelling. Hope others have better luck if they submit claims.

Alan Katan

Would Chase allow me to upgrade my almost useless Freedom Card?

Tom

Yes if u have a 10k credit line… But the freedom is pretty useful

Dav

In order to get 1.5 for a point do i have to book it thru chase travel ?

Mark

Thanks Dan!
can i get the Annual travel credit on the reserve for 2020 and then again in 2021, so in effect twice in 12 months? if yes then that more then pays the fee on the reserve.
also, I had the reserve a couple years back, can i still get it again?

Hey

Thanx for the great post!
Does the emergency medical benefit include out of country? Like Canada

yman

Dan,
I would like this line “Of course you can always request a non-metal version of the Reserve card if you want an extra card to use.” To be verified before misleading people. It definitely used to be true, but recently it is not true. I was successful getting 2 cards before mine expired. i was one of the first batch of cardholders of the sapphire reserve, as i signed up right when it came out. They actually told me they ran out of metal ones so i ended up with 2 plastic ones. When i renewed they said they are only doing the metal and if i get a replacement they would have to re-issue a new card number. I told them i had two of the other expired ones. It would save me some agmos nefesh.
If I am wrong and someone has been successful recently please let me know otherwise maybe you should update the post.

Ns

Will the annual fee in csr be $450 if i upgrade from my preferred

Yitzchok H

“5 per dollar on up to $1,500 of spending in both May and June 2020.”

Is groceries outside US included? (Israel)

Thanks Dan

Bob

Seems like there’s isn’t that much to justify the $95 fee of the Preferred after the bonus. Some nice perks, but nothing that really says it’s worth it. The Reserve is chock full of benefits… but worth that extra fee? Hard to know.

Would it make sense to apply to the Preferred for the bonus and upgrade it to the Reserve and pay the additional fee to make more use of the signup bonus points?

Mendy

Dan, I will be making purchases for about $30,000 within the next month. What card would you recommend me using? Thank you

Esther

I already have a Chase unlimited freedom, I now applied and was approved for Sapphire Preferred. I would like to open a Chase Ink business preferred. We do a lot of shipping purchases and internet, cable and phone services and the 3x points looks like a good deal.
A – Do you think I should apply now or wait some time?
B – Is there a card with better points for business spending? (we don’t need travel bonuses as we do little in travel)
C – Thank you so much for your great posts and promotions! I’m a great fan of yours! Can you send me a link for the ink preferred, so you can get referral points?
Thank you!!
Esther

Mendel

What should I do to get the reimbursement of the lost luggage

Mo

Hi Dan,
I have a Sapphire Reserve, and my wife has a regular Sapphire Card, can she transfer her points to my Sapphire Reserve, or can she only do that if she has a Sapphire Preferred card?

Thanks for your all you do to help others.

vote

What better spphire preffered or ink preffered?

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