Chase Sapphire Reserve Review [2020]

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve exploded in popularity in 2016 and ever since then it has been known as one of the most valuable travel rewards credit cards available. Its highlights include things like the welcome and spend bonuses, special benefits, and all of the amazing travel and purchase protections.

In this review article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Chase Sapphire Reserve intro

  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 3X on dining and travel
  • 10X on Lyft
  • $300 travel credit
  • $60 DoorDash credit
  • Priority Pass Select
  • Complimentary year of Lyft Pink
  • One-year DashPass membership
  • Luxury hotel benefits
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Great travel and purchase protections
  • $550 annual fee

Welcome bonus

Once upon a time the Chase Sapphire Reserve had a 100,000 point welcome bonus but that is just a thing of the past at this point.

Now-a-days, the standard Chase Sapphire Reserve welcome bonus is 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months after account opening. This is a very strong bonus (although it is worth mentioning that the Chase Sapphirre Preferred has a higher bonus of 60,000 points after meeting its minimum spend).

Just how much these Ultimate Rewards are worth depends on how you choose to use them.

If you simply use them for cashback, you would get one cent per point which means that 60,000 points would be worth $600. That’s not a horrible redemption but as I will show below, if you utilize your points for travel you will be able to net much more value.

Chase Travel Portal 50% bonus

As a Sapphire Reserve member, you will receive a 50% bonus on your redemptions through the Chase Travel Portal. This means that if you redeemed your Ultimate Rewards in the Chase Travel Portal, you’ll be able to book things like airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises at a rate of 1.5 cents per point which would put the value of 50,000 points at $750, which is very competitive.

This is also much better than the rates you get redeeming your points through Amex Travel.

Therefore, this 50% bonus is one of the key perks of the card.

Chase travel partners

To get maximum value for your points, you would want to transfer your points out to travel partners. Here are all of the current Chase transfer partners:

  • Aer Lingus
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates
  • JetBlue
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • Iberia Airways
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hyatt
  • Marriott
  • IHG

You can transfer your points to all of these partners at a 1:1 ratio.

In some cases, you can use your Ultimate Rewards to fly first class and get ridiculous value.

For example, I booked Lufthansa first class with 110,000 United miles and the fees for the flight were only $112.13. This flight would have cost $8,945 so with all fees factored in, I got 8 cents in value per mile on this redemption! That means 50,000 Ultimate Rewards would be worth around $4,000!

Lufthansa first class
Get outsized value when flying first class.

Eligibility 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is subject to the Chase credit card application rules including the Chase 5/24 rule and the dreaded Sapphire 48-month rule, not to mention the 2/30 rule.

Instead of trying to keep up with calculating all of these rules yourself, I highly recommend that you sign up for the free app WalletFlo which will automate your eligibility for all of these credit card rules.

You can also set up notifications so that you are reminded when you are finally eligible along with keeping tabs on your annual fees, upgrade history, etc.

Bonus categories

  • 3X on dining and travel
  • 10X on Lyft

3X on dining and travel

The Sapphire Reserve earns 3X on dining and travel. At a WalletFlo valuation of 1.73 cents, that’s an unlimited 5.2% return on travel which is amazing. 

The travel category is extremely broad so it’s very easy to rack up a lot of points on your travel expenses. And as you will see below, the Reserve has some solid travel protections so it just makes even more sense to use it on your travel purchases.

10X total points on Lyft

You will earn 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. This amounts to roughly 17% cashback which is a super competitive rate. If you are already a Lyft user, this could amount to substantial savings. Also keep reading below to find out more about the Lyft Pink benefits.

Travel and dining credits

It’s easy to be turned off by a $550 annual fee but when you have easy to use credits, you can quickly knock down that effective annual fee to under $200.

$300 travel credit

The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 travel credit offsets the hefty $550 annual fee down to $250, which makes the card much more attractive and easier to justify.

The travel credit is special because unlike the travel credits offered by many other credit card issuers, this travel credit is remarkably broad. Chase defines what would be considered “travel” in its terms and conditions and it includes:

Merchants in the travel category include 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.

$60 DoorDash credit

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a $60 annual statement credit for 2020 and 2021 ($60 for each calendar year) that can be used on DoorDash purchases (DoorDash is a food delivery service similar to UberEats).

The unique feature about this credit is that it can be used all at once so you don’t have to keep up with recurring monthly credits.

Tip: Check out the free app WalletFlo so that you can optimize your credit card spend by seeing the best card to use! You can also track credits, annual fees, and get notifications when you’re eligible for the best cards!

Lounge access (Priority Pass Select)

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you will get a Priority Pass Select membership which will get you access to a network of over 1,300 airport lounges all around the world.

With these airport lounges you can get free wifi, drinks, food, showers, nap rooms, and comfy and quiet areas to relax in when waiting for your flights.

You’ll get free access for yourself and up to two guests. In addition, you will also be able to receive the credits for the Priority Pass restaurants which are located in select airports.

The restaurant access is a competitive edge when compared to the Priority Pass membership offered by American Express cards but if you want the ultimate lounge access, I still think the Amex Platinum Card has the best overall lounge benefits.

Dining area in airport lounge
Cabo Priority Pass Lounge.

Complimentary year of Lyft Pink

Cardmembers receive one complimentary year of Lyft Pink, a $199 minimum value. Lyft Pink membership comes with the following perks:

  • 15% off unlimited car rides
  • Priority airport pickups
  • Relaxed cancellations
  • Surprise offers
  • Waived lost and found fees
  • Bikes and scooters

If you regularly use Lyft that 15% off could really save you a lot of money over the course of one year. And remember, in addition to that you’ll be earning 10X on Lyft rides!

Just keep in mind, the primary cardholder or an authorized user will need to activate the benefit by March 31, 2022. Read more about how this Lyft perk works here.

DashPass Subscription

As a cardmember you will get a complimentary one-year DashPass membership, which is DoorDash’s subscription service that provides unlimited restaurant deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12.

When you order a delivery, you will typically have to pay a delivery fee which can range but is generally a few bucks (~$2 to $5). So with 24 annual orders (2 per month), you could be saving ~$50-$120 with the waived delivery fees alone!

Normally, this membership would cost you $9.99 per month, so that’s a high potential for savings over the span of one year.

Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check Credit

With the Sapphire Reserve, you’ll receive a statement credit of up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card for Global Entry and TSA-Pre Check.

With TSA-Pre Check you get to enjoy the following benefits:

  • Shoes can stay on
  • Belt can stay on
  • Light jackets can stay on
  • Laptops allowed to stay in bag
  • Liquids (3-1-1 Rule) can stay in bag

And with Global Entry, you can get expedited access back into the country through both immigrations and customs.

Authorized users

With the Sapphire Reserve, you can add authorized users for $75 each. You can read more about the Sapphire Reserve authorized user benefits here

Events and experiences

You can get exclusive access to some pretty cool events in different industries like music, sports, and entertainment. These include some high profile events like the Sundance Film Festival. There’s also Chase Select Experiences where you can get preferred seating, VIP access, and other perks at special events in several major cities like New York, LA, and Chicago.

Luxury hotel benefits

The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection will allow you enjoy special benefits at a variety of top hotels and resorts worldwide, such as:

  • Complimentary room upgrades
  • Complimentary meals for you and a guest
  • Early check-in and late check-out
  • Special discounts and credits
  • Extra amenities, gifts and more

The Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection offers you elite-like benefits at different luxury hotels all around the world. These include the following:

  • Best available rate guarantee
  • Automatic room upgrade upon arrival, when available
  • Complimentary in-room Wi-Fi, when available
  • Complimentary continental breakfast daily
  • $25 USD food or beverage credit per stay
  • VIP Guest status
  • Late check-out upon request, when available
  • Special amenity unique to each property, such as an additional dining credit or spa credit

You also can get some benefits at Relais & Châteaux, which is a “prestigious collection of independently owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants, representing approximately 500 establishments globally.”

As a Visa Infinite card member, you can receive a VIP welcome which includes things like a bottle of champagne in room on arrival and also free breakfast (at some properties).

Rental car benefits

As a Sapphire Reserve member, you can enroll in car rental rewards programs from National Car Rental, Avis, and Silvercar and get enhanced benefits, such as upgrades and car rental discounts, savings on luxury and premium rental car rates, plus promotions and other offers.

Travel and purchase protections

You could easily argue that the Sapphire Reserve has the best comprehensive set of travel protections. Just take a look at the list below to get a sense of how many different types of travel protections you can get with this card.

  • Trip Interruption & Cancellation
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement
  • Baggage Delay Reimbursement
  • Lost or damaged Luggage
  • Primary rental car coverage
  • Roadside assistance 
  • Emergency Medical and Dental Benefit
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance
  • Emergency Evacuation & Transportation
  • Travel accident insurance

I’ve written in detail about all of these protections but some of the protections that stand out include the following.

Primary rental car coverage — Not many credit cards offer primary rental car coverage and so this makes the Sapphire Reserve one of the best cards to use for rental cars. With primary rental car coverage you can avoid paying the rental car company for coverage and also avoid having to file a claim with your rental car insurance company. It’s a double win.

Trip cancellation — Getting coverage for trip cancellation or interruption for up to $10,000 is very competitive. If your trip has to be canceled for a covered reason such as you getting sick, you can get reimbursed for all of your qualified prepaid expenses.

Baggage delay reimbursement — If your baggage is delayed by a common carrier for more than six hours, you can get covered for essential expenses for up to $100 for a maximum of five days. Many cards don’t offer baggage delay reimbursement or they have more stringent requirements in order to get coverage.

Purchase protections

  • Purchase protection
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Return Protection

What’s cool about the Chase Sapphire Reserve is that it also has amazing purchase protection offering you protection on purchases up to $10,000 in value and up to 120 days after the time of purchase. This is one of the most competitive purchase protections offered.

Chase Sapphire Reserve FAQ

Does the Chase Sapphire Reserve come with lounge access?

Yes, you will get airport lounge access with the Chase Sapphire Reserve via Priority Pass Select.

How much are Chase Sapphire Reserve points worth in the Chase Travel Portal?

You will receive a 50% bonus on your redemptions which means that your point value will come out to 1.5 cents per point when using the Chase Travel Portal.

Does the Chase Sapphire Reserve offer hotel elite status?

No, you do not get hotel elite status with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. However, there are quite a few different hotel programs that offer you elite-like benefits such as free breakfast and upgrades.

What are the Chase Sapphire Reserve Lyft benefits?

You can earn 10X on Lyft purchases and you will also be given one complimentary year of Lyft Pink, a $199 minimum value.

What travel protections does the Chase Sapphire Reserve come with?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with the following travel protections:

Trip Interruption & Cancellation
Trip Delay Reimbursement
Baggage Delay Reimbursement
Lost or damaged Luggage
Primary rental car coverage
Roadside assistance 
Emergency Medical and Dental Benefit
Travel and Emergency Assistance
Emergency Evacuation & Transportation
Travel accident insurance

What type of credits do you get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

Each year, you will get a $300 travel credit in addition to a $60 DoorDash credit. The $300 travel credit can be used on a wide variety of travel purchases making it one of the easiest credits to maximize.

What is the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee?

The annual fee is $550 and it is not waived the first year.

Does the Chase Sapphire Reserve have foreign transaction fees?

No, there are no foreign transaction fees.

How can I check my Chase application status?

You can easily check your application status online or by calling. To learn how to do so click here!

Final word

As you can tell, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a well rounded travel rewards credit card. It is arguably the best credit card to put all of your travel expenses on because it earns great rewards and has super solid protections to go along with those. It also has some nice credits and perks that make offsetting the high annual fee very easy for a lot of people.

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