I had been a Chase Sapphire Preferred customer for about four years when the Chase Sapphire Reserve came out. I had no complaints. The 2x points that I received for all travel-related purchases were great, the flexibility I had to use my points for travel was wonderful. So did I need to the Chase Sapphire Reserve? No. Did I want to go from a $95 annual fee to a $450 annual fee? No. But 3x the points on travel-related purchases, the $300 annual travel credit, 100K point bonus and the Priority Pass Lounge access did me in.
So what do I think now that I’m two months in? I love it!
$450 Annual Fee – Yes, this is a big increase from $95 a year. But if you take the $300 annual travel credit into account that’s leaves you with only a $55 difference. Plus the fact that you’ll be racking up 3x the points on travel-related purchases, resulting in more points to spend (at a better rate) in the future.
$300 Travel Credit – I’ve heard this can get slowly credited back to you over time for small purchases, like Uber rides. However, I happened to be purchasing over $300 worth of flights soon after I received my card and by the next day the $300 travel credit had been issued to my account.
100,000 Point Bonus – I’m one of those people who puts everything on their credit card and [almost] always pays it off that month. I see spending money through a debit card as a waste – no one is rewarding you for that! So I hit my $4,000 spend in less than 2 months and a few days later the 100,000 points were sitting in my account. Pretty sweet! I know that I won’t get this bonus every year, but the fact that this bonus points will help pay for 8 nights on my upcoming trip to Chile isn’t anything to shrug your shoulders at!
Priority Pass – What I like about this is the flexibility (especially internationally, you usually have access to multiple lounges compared to say, one United or Delta lounge), the fact that I can bring a guest for free, or even add someone to my account for $75 a year and they can use it on their own, and that this was just an added benefit of the card – not another additional fee. Beware though – this is not automatic and you need to activate this through your Chase Account once you get your credit card. Update: I used this for the first time in November 2016 – I checked out the lounges in Los Angeles, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Manila. Log Angeles and one of the lounges in Hong Kong were definitely my favorite – but at the end of the day they all give you a little bit of a quiet escape with free snacks, meals, drinks, etc. and I can’t really complain about that!
Rewards Flexibility – While this isn’t just limited to the Reserve card, I love the flexibility I have with using my points. I can transfer them to a number of hotel or airline partners (if it makes sense) or I can just book rewards through the Chase Rewards Portal at a 1.5 rate. This also means I’m not tied to booking at a Marriott or a Hyatt, but I could end up at any number of different boutique hotels – which can be especially important if you are traveling to a smaller town or somewhere off the beaten track. I do recommend always checking the hotel’s rates on their websites or sites like hotels.com or agoda.com as sometimes you can get a great deal and the valuation on the Chase site is not a good one.
Chase Sapphire Preferred – What did I do with this guy? Well, I knew once I had my Reserve card I wouldn’t be using the Preferred card much anymore and it seemed silly to pay two annual fees, so I downgraded it to one of the no-fee Chase Freedom cards (rather than canceling it and affecting my credit). Make sure you do not just upgrade the Preferred to the Reserve either, or you will lose out on the 100,000 point bonus!
In conclusion, if you’re in the market for a new card (or maybe even if you are not) I highly recommend considering the Chase Sapphire Reserve! Feel free to comment with any questions you may have and I’ll be happy to share my experience!