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The Sapphire Reserve comes with many industry-leading benefits and travel perks but it also comes with a hefty $450 annual fee that puts a lot of people off. This article will take a close look at the value that the many Sapphire Reserve perks offer to answer the question: is the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee worth it?
Update: the annual fee has been increased to $550. There is also a new $60 DoorDash credit.
What is the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee?
The Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee is $450 which is on par with many other premium cards like the Citi Prestige, though its close competitor the Amex Platinum has a $550 annual fee.
The big question is whether or not it’s worth it to pay that much for a credit card.
50,000 points sign-up bonus
When considering the annual fee, I don’t usually factor in the sign-up bonus since the annual fee analysis is usually needed to determine if a card is worth holding on to for the long-term.
Although the Reserve once came with a 100K bonus (which probably won’t come back), the 50,000 point sign-up bonus is worth $750 worth of travel so after earning that bonus, you obviously come out on top in the first year.
But when you start asking about year two, three, etc., the sign-up bonus earned in the first year becomes less relevant and you’re more concerned with the long-term value of the benefits, which is what I focus on in this article.
$300 travel credit
The first factor I would consider is the $300 travel credit. Many travel credits from other premium cards offer very restrictive terms for their travel credits. But this travel credit covers a wide variety of travel-related expenses.
These include purchases like:
airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages
It’s very easy to spend $300 a year on many of those categories even in everyday spend. For that reason, the effective annual fee of the Sapphire Reserve is $150.
You can read more about the Sapphire Reserve travel credit here.
3X on dining and travel
Earning 3X on dining and travel is great.
Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed on a number of solid travel partners, including for some of the top airline cabins in the world like the new Singapore Suites.
But they can also be redeemed through the Chase Travel Portal at a rate of 1.5 cents per point, which is one of the highest rates offered by a travel portal. If you used your points toward travel, it’d be like earning 4.5% cash back on dining and travel which is phenomenal.
(Read more about the Chase Travel Portal here.)
But even if you redeem your points for cash back, getting 3% back on dining and travel is really great. (Though some cards offer better cash back rates like the Uber credit card which offers 4% back on dining).
Sapphire Reserve vs Sapphire Preferred
One of the major considerations you need to make with respect to the 3X on dining and travel is your annual level of spending in these categories.
For example, if you value Ultimate Rewards at 1.5 cents per point, then you just need to spend $3,666 on dining and travel a year to make it worth paying the Reserve’s $450 annual fee over the Sapphire Preferred’s $95 annual fee (assuming good use of the $300 travel credit). You can read more about how this analysis is made here.
Chase Shopping portal
The Sapphire Reserve gets you access to the Chase Shopping Portal which can allow you to earn bonus rewards on many different purchases. For example, you could receive an additional 3% to 5% back at many popular retailers. (The Chase Sapphire Preferred also gets the same access to the portal so that’s something to consider.)
You can read more about this valuable shopping portal here.
Priority Pass airport lounges
Priority Pass is a program that offers access to over 1,100 airport lounges all across the globe.
But this is still a great deal. That’s because this lounge membership would cost $399 and being able to bring in guests could be worth $50 each visit at the right lounges.
If you don’t really visit airports very often then this perk’s value is obviously less relevant but even if you were only going to visit an airport lounge a couple of times a year, there’s potential for $100+ worth of value here.
And when you think about how much value you’re receiving from the $300 travel credit and the 3X on dining and travel, then you start to realize that the lounge access is essentially a free benefit in some instances.
Primary rental car coverage
The Chase Sapphire Reserve provides primary rental car insurance (collision damage waiver) which is a huge perk. This means that you typically won’t have to file a claim with your auto insurance company if you wreck a rental car. That’s significant because it means that your monthly premium wont spike after your incident.
So this perk can save you money with your insurance payments but also can save you at the rental car store. I once was quoted at over $100 for rental car insurance for only a few days so once again, the value potential is very high here.
Chase Sapphire Reserve foreign transaction fee
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has no foreign transaction fees but neither do many other credit cards including the Chase Sapphire Preferred. For that reason, I wouldn’t put a whole of value in this perk.
Travel and purchase protections
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers some of the strongest travel and purchase protections out of any credit card.
- Lost or damaged Luggage –-For checked or carry-on bags are damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000.00
- Trip Interruption — If your trip is canceled or cut short by covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses.
- Trip Delay Reimbursement — If delayed more than 6 hours you are covered for expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket
- Baggage Delay Reimbursement — If delayed more than 6 hours, you arecovered for essential expenses, such as toiletries and clothes for up to $100
- Purchase protections — Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account (read more)
- Extended Warranty Protection — Extends the time period of the original manufacturer’s written U.S. repair warranty by 1 additional year on eligible warranties of 3 years or less, up to a maximum of $10,000.00
- Return Protection — You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase, up to $500 per item, $1,000 per year.
- Travel accident insurance — Travel Accident Insurance consists of two benefit types, Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance and 24-Hour Travel Accident Insurance, which provide coverage for accidental death or dismemberment, or a combined loss of speech, sight or hearing, experienced on a covered trip.
- Roadside assistance — Free for up to $50 and up to 4 times per year
When you think about how much these perks can save you or how much value they can offer (not to mention convenience and sanity), it’s possible that these perks alone could make the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee worth it at times.
For example I recently had to wait over 24 hours for my baggage to arrive while visiting Auckland, New Zealand. However, I was able to head over to the mall six hours after I didn’t receive my luggage and purchase some new clothes to “hold me over” until my luggage arrived.
Having this type of protection takes a lot of the stress out of travel.
Authorized user fees ($75)
The Sapphire Reserve authorized user fee is $75.
So whether or not it’s worth it to pay $75 in addition to the $450 Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee will depend on how much you value the authorized user perks of Priority Pass and earning the additional points. For a look at all of the authorized user benefits you can click here.
Chase has been pretty stingy when it comes to offering retention offers for its won credit cards. However, there have have been some reports of others receiving credits (some times called “membership fee” credits). So I would not count on getting the annual fee waived or reduced via a retention offer but it could happen and you odds might be better if you are a Chase Private Client member.
Final word on the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee
The Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee is going to be worth it in many cases. When you total up the value from the $300 travel credit, 3X on dining and travel, Priority Pass, and all of the protections built into the credit card, it should become clear whether or not it’s worth it to pay the annual fee. So if your credit score is high enough, I’d recommend to consider applying.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.