Chase Sapphire Reserve Review | Travel the World with Chase

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It’s been three years since I started using my Chase Sapphire Reserve, and I’m super excited to finally give you the inside scoop of my all-time favorite travel card.

Named the “Best Premium Travel Credit Card” for 2020 by MONEY® Magazine, the Reserve comes with me everywhere from Paris to Santorini to Glacier National Park, making my life easier (and cheaper) along the way.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Quick Facts:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year (From 6/1/20 through 6/30/21, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit)
  • $550 Annual Fee

Being able to earn 3x points on travel and dining with the Chase Sapphire Reserve has been a huge help in banking thousands of Ultimate Rewards points. These points will come into play after earning/using the $300 travel credit.

The best thing about this type of credit card points?

They can easily be used to book flights and hotels for upcoming trips, meaning you can save hundreds of pounds on your next trip.

I already spend a lot on travel each year – so knowing I can reduce my travel costs feels great.

Having a lot of flexibility in how I can use those points doesn’t hurt either – I can be cruising through Europe for work, or putting my feet up at a Mexican resort, all without paying a dime.

The Sapphire Reserve is similar to Chase’s popular Sapphire Preferred but offers new cardholders up to 50,000 bonus points and more ways than ever to redeem points.

Yes, it comes with a higher annual fee ($550), but don’t let that fool you. Each year you can get up to a $300 travel credit, dropping the fee down to $250. So, you’re not paying that much for a card that gives you exceptional rewards.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! I want to tell you about Chase Sapphire Reserve in a lot more detail so that you can see if the Reserve can take you where you need to go. Ready? Let’s go!

What the Chase Sapphire Reserve is All About

What makes the Sapphire Reserve so valuable to me?

In short, it’s the 3x points I earn on travel after using the full travel credit and dining expenses throughout the year (that’s worldwide, not just in the US!), as well as the piles of extra perks Reserve offers.

I travel for work at least three times a month, meaning I often have 10+ nights of hotels, meals out, in addition to purchasing flights. With the Sapphire Preferred, I used to earn 2x points on all these trips – which was great.

Collecting 2x points per dollar spent may not seem like a lot at first, but over time, those points really start to add up. And with Reserve, you get an extra point – which makes it even more valuable.

Last summer I traveled to Venice and the Italian Alps to spend 2 weeks working on my new book. Obviously, the food and wine were next-level, and the scenery was practically unbeatable – but the best part was that I didn’t spend a dime on flights or hotel stays the entire trip. How the heck did I manage to do that – you’re probably wondering?

Well, as I got into a rhythm of using my Chase Sapphire Reserve, the points added up surprisingly fast. Instead of $30,000 in travel expenses getting me 60,000 Ultimate Reward points, I end up with 90,000! That 33% is huge.

I know not everyone has to travel as much as me, but it is still an excellent value for anyone flying for work (or pleasure) regularly. With each point worth 1.5 cents when redeemed through Chase for travel, the card’s 4.5% effective rewards rate in those popular categories is impressive.

And don’t let that $550 annual fee scare you off – Chase makes it easy to reduce it significantly each year so that you’re paying nowhere near $550 for it. I’ll tell you more about that in a bit.

travel, rewards, europe

50,000 Bonus Points

Chase offers one of the best sign-up bonuses available when you get the Sapphire Reserve: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

You’ll need to spend strategically to make sure you hit the $4,000 mark (remember to use your card for everyday expenses!) – but that is a cool $750 travel credit, which you can redeem on rentals, cruises, hotels or airfare through Chase Ultimate Rewards!

This bonus offer Chase offers to qualifying cardholders is one of the best bonuses on the market. Even though it got sliced in half a few months after it was launched (yes, 100k bonus points were up for grabs!) – but it still is a winner compared to many other sign-up promotions.

And if you travel a lot, and are looking for a card to help you manage your travel costs, you may want to take advantage of that.

I know a lot of people who already carry the Sapphire Preferred. If that’s you, you may want to check if you’re eligible for the upgrade + bonus.

On the official Chase website, it says that the product is available to those who don’t have any Sapphire credit card and have not received a bonus in the past 48 months – but speaking with Chase directly could help you find out your options.

The good news is that, even if you don’t qualify for the 50,000 point bonus, you will still be able to reap other benefits of the card.

And, if you’re thinking – this sounds great, but the annual fee is a bit much, well, the bonus itself is worth more than three times the annual fee because of the $300 travel credit.

$300 Annual Travel Credit

With Chase Sapphire Reserve, you get $300 travel credit each year, meaning you will be reimbursed for $300-worth of travel purchases charged to your card every account anniversary.

While many other premium cards offer things like airline fee credits for select purchases (e.g., baggage), Chase Sapphire covers a much broader range.

You can use it to pay for things such as:

  • Flights
  • Hotel (that includes Airbnb if you’re a “home away from home” kinda guy)
  • Timeshares
  • Car Rental Agencies
  • Cruise Lines
  • Discount Travel Sites
  • Travel Agencies
  • Train Operators
  • Buses
  • Taxis (including Lyft and Uber)
  • Ferries
  • Parking Lots
  • Garages

…and more, this way significantly reducing your annual fee year after year.

For a limited time (06/01/20 – 06/30/21), gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit

When you take out the $300 in travel which you get as a perk, your Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee is just $250, meaning the yearly card fee can be justified even for small spenders. It’s a flat-out bargain!

Redeeming for Airfare & Hotels

Earning points is the first step of using any good travel card, but redeeming them is where the excitement happens.

With Chase Sapphire Reserve you get a value of 1.5 cents per Ultimate Rewards point when you redeem your points for travel on the Chase travel portal. That’s unique to the Reserve card.

But you can get even more value when you transfer your points to Chase’s airline and hotel partners because there are some pretty sweet redemption deals which would be a shame not to take advantage of.

That’s one of my favorite ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards points because it’s a great way to maximize the value of your points.

If that’s not something you want to do, you can also redeem your points for cash, gift cards, and many other products and services. Redeeming for cash can be easy, and Chase gives you the option for a statement credit at a 1 point = 1 cent rate. (Note: With Pay Yourself Back(SM), your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.)

Don’t forget that redeeming through the Travel Center gives you 50% more value for your points – so stick to that as much as possible if you want to maximize your savings.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

Chase partners up with many popular airlines, meaning you can use your points for travel with these companies:

Chase also has many cool hotel partners, like:

  • Marriott Rewards
  • Ritz Carlton Rewards
  • IHG Rewards
  • Hyatt Gold Passport

So, when I book a flight to Cabo San Lucas through Ultimate Rewards and end up saving up to 50% off the actual airfare, I can’t say I’m not pretty pleased with myself.

Chase Reserve Extra Perks

Earning points is obviously the bread and butter of any travel rewards program. It’s the highest value element for me, which is no surprise.

But there are plenty of other, more subtle benefits that give me huge value whether I’m road tripping through national parks or jetting to San Diego for some sun along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Car Rental Insurance Coverage

Chase offers primary car insurance to those booking a rental car with the Sapphire Reserve.

That means you get insurance coverage that kicks in before your personal insurance plan is used, in the event you get in an accident or the car is stolen.

The Reserve provides up to $75,000 in damage and theft coverage to a rental. I haven’t needed this yet, but peace of mind is pretty sweet plus 3x points.

It makes my MetroMile car insurance that much more powerful when traveling.

TSA Precheck & Global Entry

Just like many other premium credit cards out there, the Reserve will reimburse you for your TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, when you charge it to the card, meaning you can receive up to $100 as reimbursement.

Global Entry also includes PreCheck, making it even easier to skip those lines. This is available to cardholders once every four years – so if you’ve already enrolled, why not use it to cover a family member or a friend’s application fee?

That could be their early Christmas present.

Visa Infinite Perks

Sapphire Reserve is a Visa Infinite credit card, meaning you’ll also have access to several perks offered by the program.

The ones I’m most excited about are trip cancellation, concierge service, lost luggage reimbursement (happens to the best of us, right?), and delay coverage.

It’s good to know you’re covered in case of the unexpected.

Priority Lounge Access

With Sapphire Reserve, you get access to more than 1,200 airport lounges across the world (in over 500 cities!) with the Priority Pass Select membership.

This includes some super cool VIP lounges in the US and abroad, like the Alaska Airlines Lounge in New York, Oman Air Lounge in Bangkok, and SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore.

And if you have any authorized users, they can also receive a Priority Pass Select membership of their own. To add authorized users to your account, you’ll need to pay $75 a year – but they will be able to use this and many more of the card’s awesome perks.

The enrollment in Priority Pass Select is easy, and you’ll only need to do it once.

Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection

Another benefit of Chase Sapphire Reserve to get excited about is the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection access.

I’m talking top hotels and resorts worldwide, where you can get complimentary room upgrades, and perks like early check-in and late check-out (who doesn’t love a late-check-in?).

Perfect if you’re using your bundle of travel points to treat yourself – like traveling first-class or staying at a 5-star hotel.

No foreign transaction fees

Yup, you can use your Chase Sapphire Reserve for purchases anywhere outside the US and avoid foreign transaction fees.

And we all know there’s nothing more annoying than wasting money on using your card abroad.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Travel Coverage

Sometimes things just don’t go as planned – whether you’re out on a business trip, traveling for pleasure, or both. The airline could lose your luggage – or it could get stolen, or damaged. Your trip could be delayed – like, overnight-stay delayed.

You could get sick – and cut your trip short. Anything could happen, really.

While we all hope things like that won’t sneak into our itinerary, it’s good to know that if they did – you could receive some financial help from your travel card provider.

Well, the good news is that Chase Sapphire Reserve also comes with added travel coverage, which is great for keeping you cool, calm, and collected on your travels.

Knowing that if something did happen, the Reserve would have my back, is such a relief. It gives me the confidence to travel, knowing that if things did go wrong, I would have something to fall back on.

Going on a trip is an investment, and I want to know that investment is protected.

Here’s more about the travel coverage with Chase Sapphire Reserve:

  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance. The Reserve card has multiple travel coverage benefits, some of which I’ve already mentioned. For example, trip cancellation and interruption insurance allow you to get reimbursed up to $10,000 per person or $20,000 per trip for pre-paid, non-refundable expenses like hotels, fares, and hotels.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement. The lost luggage reimbursement means that if your carrier loses or damages your luggage, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver. I’ve mentioned this briefly before – you can get a reimbursement of up to $75,000 for theft and collision damage for rental cars in the US (and abroad, which is awesome).
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement. If your trip is delayed for more than 6 hours – or if you need to find somewhere to stay overnight – you are covered for expenses like meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.
  • Emergency Evacuation & Transportation. Finally, the card also covers you in a case of an emergency evacuation if you become sick or injured, up to $100,000.

You also get Purchase Coverage, which means:

  • You’re covered for new purchases for 120 days against theft or damage up to $10,000 per claim and a maximum of $50,000 a year;
  • You could get a reimbursement for products that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase (up to $500 per item, $1,000 per year);
  • You could get an extension of US manufacturers’ warranty by a year.

So, all-in-all, the Reserve can give you peace of mind – and, speaking from experience, being able to feel at ease about things like that lifts a huge weight off your shoulders.

Because why would you want anything else on them but your backpack, right?

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card For You?

Clearly, I’m a fan of the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I don’t even care when people find out how much I pay annually and look at me like I’ve gone mad.

The benefits for me are totally worth it – and I can safely say that it’s definitely a first-class premium travel card.

Anyone with a busy travel schedule can take advantage of Chase’s generous 3X points offer on all travel (after earning/using the $300 travel credit) and dining purchases.

If you’re not already burned out on traveling for work, those points add up fast, letting you skip town in the dead of winter for Maui on the cheap.

And that’s my favorite thing about the Sapphire Reserve: it gives me the freedom to visit my favorite places without having to tap into my own savings.

With more than 11 Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners, I also don’t have to stick with just one airline or hotel when planning my next escape.

Knowing I can also get numerous other cool perks that make my life and travel easier (and cheaper!) is a bonus.

Whether I want to kick back and relax at a world-class VIP lounge, or confidently use my card abroad without incurring ridiculous transaction fees, Chase Sapphire Reserve can offer me that.

The rewards are generous, and my travel + purchases are protected.

In a nutshell, if you’re someone who travels several times a year – whether it’s for business or because you’re ticking destinations off your bucket list – Chase Sapphire Reserve travel card is worth considering.

If you are looking for a new travel card to leverage your work travel into heavily discounted vacations, the Chase Sapphire Reserve might just get you there.

Interested in getting the card? You can learn ho fw to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card here.

Additional Disclosures: Millennial Money has partnered with CardRatings and for our coverage of credit card products. Millennial Money, CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. This site does not include all financial companies or financial offers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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