The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the newest travel cards in the Chase credit card family. It came out in late summer 2016 to much hype. In fact, the typically metal credit cards had to be provided in plastic for a few months as the standard materials ran out 10 DAYS after the card was released.
I will readily admit I was one of those early adopters to the card – the initial offering of 100,000 points to sign up was too great to pass up! After having this card in my wallet for the past two years, I would like to answer the question: Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it? I’ll walk through the pros and cons of using this card and give my thoughts so that you can make your best decision in selecting a travel card.
Card Overview and Cost
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium travel credit card offered by JPMorgan Chase. It touts the following details/benefits in all promotional materials:
- $300 Annual Travel Credit
- 3X Points on all Travel and Dining Purchases
- Points are valued at 50% more (than points collected on other Chase cards)
- Complimentary Priority Pass Select Membership
- Global Entry or TSA Pre√® Fee Credit
- $450 Annual Fee ($75 for each authorized user)
- 50,000 Point Sign-Up Bonus (When you spend $4000 in first 3 months)
Also, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Reserve offers these benefits as well:
- 1:1 Point Transfers to Leading Airlines (Includes Southwest, United, and others)
- $0 Foreign Transaction Fees
- VIP Events / Experiences Access
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Purchase & Travel Protection
Card Application Requirements
As the Reserve is considered a luxury card, it is expected that you have an above average credit score. This means a score of 700 or higher, in most cases. Chase does look at a variety of factors outside of just credit score when considering someone for approval, such as:
- Average Age of your Accounts – The older your credit card history, the better
- Total Credit Utilization – The amount of your total available credit in use, it’s best to be at 30% or lower
- Total Income – You’ll need an income of around $50K or higher, especially if your credit score is not the highest
- Recent “Hard” Credit Inquiries – Too many other credit card applications is a bad sign
- Prior Relationship with Chase – If you have existing accounts with Chase that can work to your benefit
- Total Credit Limit – Higher credit limits ($10K+) on other cards demonstrate that you handle credit well
- Total Open Cards – Too many open credit cards may signal that you are only opening cards for sign up bonuses. Also, Chase has a rule called the “5/24 Rule”. Under this rule, Chase will not open a new credit card for you if you’ve opened five credit cards in the past 2 years (at any bank).
One thing that I’d like to note is that you can call the Chase Reconsideration hot line if initially rejected (1-888-270-2127). I had success with calling this line myself as my initial application did not go through. I called and found out it was simply because I already had 3 Chase cards with a large credit limit when combined. Customer Service worked with me to move some credit around from old cards to my new one and the problem was solved! It never hurts to ask in these matters 🙂
My Perspective of the Reserve’s Benefits
I honestly think you’d be hard-pressed to find a travel card that offers better benefits than the Reserve. I find that people tend to use travel points or other card benefits differently, but I most value the following:
- $300 Annual Travel Credit – This is the benefit that makes the card affordable, in my opinion. After this benefit applies, you effectively only spend about $50 more than you do for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but with a great deal more benefits!
- 3X Points on Travel + Restaurants – I use a points strategy between my Reserve and my other 2 Chase Credit Cards, to build up my points most quickly. I’ll cover this strategy in detail in a later post, but essentially I make sure I spend according to the categories that offer the most points. This ultimately leads to more free flights each year!
- 50,000 Sign-Up Bonus – This is a great offer if you have a big purchase coming up or do typically spend more than $1000/ month on your credit card. Given the point valuation on the Chase travel booking platform (Chase Ultimate Rewards), these points will actually be valued at $750 towards all travel purchases!
- Global Entry or TSA Pre√® Fee Credit – As I mentioned in this post, I think that Global Entry is a better deal of the two, but you can get both for FREE with this card. Not a bad deal at all!
The Downsides of the Reserve
There are two big things that you should really consider before applying for this card:
- The Annual Fee – As mentioned above, this fee is $450/year. It is offset by the travel credit, but if you don’t have any trips coming up, it’s possible you may not spend $300 on travel purchases. Essentially, travel should be a regular part of your life if you decide to get this card.
- The Interest Rate – At 17.74 – 24.74%, there truly is no low interest rate option for this card, no matter how great your credit score is. Also, if you plan to keep a balance on this card, it definitely negates the value of the points that you earn on your spending. Bottom line is: Don’t get this card unless you plan to pay off the balance in full each month. I can’t stress this enough!
My Experience Using the Reserve
I’ve had much success with using this card since I first obtained it. Through points, I have been able to fly to the following cities for free or nearly free (from DC) over the past two years:
- Havana, Cuba
- Orlanda, Florida
- Los Angeles, California
- Athens, Greece
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Huntsville, Alabama
- London, United Kingdom
In addition to being able to cover about 1/2 of my flights taken with points, I have also had a positive experience in using the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver they provide. Unlike most credit card, the Reserve offers primary coverage, meaning I did not have to report a fender-bender I was involved in late last year to my insurance. The Benefits agents took care of everything for me, turning an uncomfortable situation into a positive one.
Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Worth It? | My Thoughts
In my honest opinion, I’d say yes, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is so worth it! It enables me to travel more than I would ever be able to do otherwise. As mentioned above, you should certainly compare the downsides of the card with the benefits before applying to determine if this really is the right credit card for you. If you are already certain that you do want this card, go ahead and apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve today!