Should You Get The Chase Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred?

Chase offers two personal credit cards that are marketed to those who want to earn travel rewards. There’s the Sapphire Preferred, which is great for those getting into the points and miles world, offering transferrable points to both airline and hotel programs and bonus points for travel and dining expenses. The newer Sapphire Reserve is the luxury card for the Ultimate Rewards program. It has a higher annual fee but offers additional benefits than the Preferred.

When I wrote that I was considering getting rid of all my premium cards, the one that people seemed to be the most attached to was the Sapphire Reserve. They pointed out the reasons it’s worth paying the extra money over the Preferred, some of which I was aware of and some that I wasn’t.

So I decided to take a closer look at the two cards and see where they are the same and where they differ. Only then could I really know if the extra money for the Reserve is worth it.

Annual Fee

The Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee is $450 and the Sapphire Preferred costs $95 per year.

Additional Cardholders

Additional cardholders for the Sapphire Reserve cost $75 each. The Sapphire Preferred does not charge to add an additional cardholder.

Sign-Up Bonus

Currently, the Sapphire Reserve’s sign-up bonus is 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points for spending $4,000 in the first three months. The Sapphire Preferred has a better signup bonus offering 60,000 points for the same $4,000 of spending in three months.

Bonus Categories

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3X points on travel worldwide – from airfare and hotels to taxis and trains (not including charges covered by the $300 travel credit). Chase rewards 3x points from any travel provider. It also earns 3x points on dining worldwide (as long as the establishment is coded as dining). The card earns one point per dollar for all other charges.

The Sapphire Preferred has the same bonus categories but only earns 2x points on travel and dining expenses and one point for all other purchases.

Annual Travel Credit

The Sapphire Reserve provides a $300 travel credit every account anniversary year. This credit applies to almost any travel expense charged to the card. It’s one of the major ways to offset the $450 annual fee and since it’s so easy I give it the face-value of $300.

There is no travel credit from the Sapphire Preferred.

Priority Pass Select Membership

Priority Pass

The Sapphire Reserve is one of the many cards to offer a Priority Pass Select membership. Cardholders and two guests can get in for free. Additional guests are $27. Authorized users on a Sapphire Reserve account get their own Priority Pass membership card.

The Sapphire Preferred does not offer this benefit.

Using Points for Reservations on the Chase Travel Portal

When booking a flight, car, hotel or travel excursion on the Chase Portal, if you have a Sapphire Reserve your points are worth 1.5 cents each. With the Sapphire Preferred you will get 1.25 cents per point of value.

Transferring Points to Airline and Hotel Programs

Both the Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Reserve let you transfer points to the following programs at a 1:1 ratio:

  • AerLingus AerClub
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Iberia Plus
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
  • United MileagePlus®
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • IHG® Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy®
  • World of Hyatt

$100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® credit

With the Sapphire Reserve, you can get up to a $100 statement credit for the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ once every four years.

This is not offered by the Sapphire Preferred.

Foreign Transaction Fee

Neither the Sapphire Reserve or the Sapphire Preferred charge any foreign transaction fees.

Primary Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)

While both the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve provide primary coverage for rental cars in the United States and in many (but not all) countries worldwide. However, there are some differences in the coverage provided.

With the Sapphire Preferred, here are the cars that are excluded:

Excluded worldwide are expensive, exotic, and antique automobiles; cargo vans; vehicles that have an open cargo bed; trucks; motorcycles, mopeds, and motorbikes; limousines; and recreational vehicles.

Examples of excluded expensive or exotic automobiles are these brands: Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Bentley, Corvette, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Lotus, Maserati, Maybach, McLaren, Porsche, Rolls Royce, and Tesla. However, selected models of Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, and Range Rover are covered.

An antique automobile is defined as any vehicle over twenty (20) years old or any vehicle that has not been manufactured for ten (10) years or more.

This benefit is provided only for those vans manufactured and designed to transport a maximum of nine (9) people and which are used exclusively to transport people.

The Sapphire Reserve has far fewer restrictions on coverage:

Auto Rental CDW is primary coverage and provides reimbursement up to seventy-five thousand ($75,000.00) dollars. Most private passenger automobiles, minivans, and sport utility vehicles are eligible for coverage, but some restrictions may apply.

What types of rental vehicles are not covered?

Excluded worldwide are antique automobiles; cargo vans; vehicles that have an open cargo bed; trucks; motorcycles, mopeds, and motorbikes; limousines; and recreational vehicles.

An antique automobile is defined as any vehicle over twenty (20) years old or any vehicle that has not been manufactured for ten (10) years or more.

This benefit is provided only for those vans manufactured and designed to transport a maximum of nine (9) people and which are used exclusively to transport people.

While the Sapphire Preferred excludes some but not all luxury and exotic cars, the Sapphire Reserve includes them up to a maximum coverage of $75,000. So even cars above that are covered but that’s all they’ll pay in damages.

Trip Delay Coverage

This is the coverage where the differences between the cards are the most significant.

Here is the coverage the Sapphire Reserve provides:

Trip Delay Reimbursement covers up to a maximum of five hundred ($500.00) dollars for each purchased ticket for reasonable expenses, on a one-time-basis, incurred if your Covered Trip is delayed by a Covered Hazard for more than six (6) hours or requires an overnight stay. To be eligible for this coverage, you need to purchase either a portion or the entire cost of your Common Carrier fare using your Account. Coverage is in excess of any expenses paid by any other party, including applicable insurance.

And here is the coverage from the Sapphire Preferred:

Trip Delay Reimbursement covers up to a maximum of five hundred ($500.00) dollars for each purchased ticket for reasonable expenses, on a one-time-basis, incurred if your Covered Trip is delayed by a Covered Hazard for more than twelve (12) hours or requires an overnight stay. To be eligible for this coverage, you need to purchase either a portion or the entire cost of your Common Carrier fare using your Account. Coverage is in excess of any expenses paid by any other party, including applicable insurance.

While both cards will cover you if you are delayed overnight, the Sapphire Reserve coverage kicks in at 6 hours but the Sapphire Preferred only starts after 12 hours.

Emergency Evacuation and Transportation

This coverage is only provided by the Sapphire Reserve card and provides up to $100,000 to reimburse for transportation expenses related to medical emergencies. It’s the type of coverage you hopefully will never use but it’s a nice thing to have.

The Sapphire Preferred provides no coverage for this expense.

Other Travel Coverages

The other types of travel coverage provided by the cards are identical:

  • Luggage Delay – $100 per day for 5 days per person after a 6 hour delay
  • Lost Luggage – $3,000 per person after reimbursement from airline and other coverages
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption –  Up to $10,000 if you are not able to go on or continue a trip due to a covered reason.

Purchase Protection

Purchase protection covers your items for up to 120 days from purchase against theft, damage or involuntary and accidental parting with the property. 

With the Sapphire Preferred you are covered for $500 per claim and up to $50,000 for each account. With the Sapphire Reserve, you are covered for up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.

Return Protection

The Sapphire Reserve offers return protection coverage as well. If you want to return an item within 90 days but the retailer will not return the item, you can get reimbursed up to $500 per item and $1,000 per year.

The Sapphire Preferred (and most other Chase cards) have stopped offering this coverage.

Extended Warranty

The Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred offer the same extended warranty coverage of up to an additional year of coverage for warranties less than three years. Maximum coverage is $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per card.

Final Thoughts

That’s a lot to unpack. I’m not going to consider the additional 10,000 points for the signup bonus because those can change at any time. I’m looking at the value of keeping each card.

The Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee is $355 more than the fee of the Sapphire Preferred. Right off the bat, you can subtract the $300 Travel Credit. So is the Reserve worth an additional $55?

Here’s everything else you get with the Reserve:

  • Priority Pass Membership
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck reimbursement
  • Extra value primary rental car coverage
  • Trip Delay coverage starts at six hours
  • $100,000 Emergency medical evacuation coverage
  • $10,000 per item purchase protection coverage
  • Return Protection
  • Earn an extra point per dollar on travel and dining
  • Points worth 1.5 cents on Chase Travel Portal

Looking at it this way, $55 isn’t much to pay for these perks. Just the peace of mind of having the medical evacuation coverage and additional trip delay coverage makes it worthwhile for me to keep the Reserve.

With all this information, I hope you’re able to look at the two cards and decide which one makes the most sense for you.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

 

4 thoughts on “Should You Get The Chase Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred?”

  1. Good summary of the card differences. We currently have the preferred as it seemed to make more sense at the time we got, as we received an 80,000 pt bonus and there is no authorized user fee. Do you know if the emergency evacuation is for the primary cardholder only? or does it extend to a spouse as well? We primarily got the sapphire card to use for cruising, as it appeared to cover the standard cruise insurance, which is a big bonus. I would certainly never hope to use, but that is another benefit to consider for sure.

    1. Sorry this took so long to reply.

      What is Emergency Evacuation and Transportation coverage?
      This benefit provides emergency evacuation and transportation if You are injured or become ill during Your Covered
      Trip and it results in a necessary emergency evacuation.
      The Benefit Administrator must make the actual medical transportation arrangements.
      • You are eligible for the coverage when You charge a portion of the cost, or the entire cost of a Covered Trip, made via a Common Carrier, to Your Account.

      Who is eligible for coverage?
      You, a person to whom a United States (U.S.) credit card has been issued (“Cardholder”), and Your Immediate Family Members, when a portion or the entire cost of the Covered Trip is purchased with Your Chase credit card account (“Account”).

  2. You can even calculate a breakeven point for spending on dining/travel of $55/.01 = $5500/year. If you value points more, the spend lessens. Also, CSR provides Roadside Assistance. If you are paying for AAA, you can drop it and just use the CSR. Done!

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