Chase Sapphire: Preferred vs. Reserve


5/8/20235 min read

When it comes to travel credit cards, Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve have emerged as two of the most sought-after options for maximizing redemption value. Which one is right for you?

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If you're a credit card enthusiast looking to maximize your travel rewards, you've probably heard about the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve cards. These two popular credit cards offer incredible value when it comes to redeeming points for travel. But the annual fees associated with card are meaningfully different, making the right choice is crucial to avoid unnecessary costs. In this comprehensive comparison, we'll dive into the features and benefits of both cards, helping you make an informed decision and unlock the full potential of your rewards.  

Annual Fees

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a mid-tier credit card with an annual fee of $95, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a high-end luxury card with a higher annual fee of $550. While the Reserve's fee is significantly higher, both cards offer attractive welcome bonuses that can offset the annual fees.

The Sapphire Preferred provides a welcome bonus of 60,000 points (you’ll need to spend $4,000 in the first 90 days), which translates to a minimum value of $900 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards and $600 for simple cash back. The Reserve offers the same welcome bonus, providing a solid starting point for maximizing your rewards, but at this level of spend, the Preferred may not be the best option. The Reserve card also provides a $300 annual travel credit, effectively reducing the net annual fee to $250.

Points Earning Categories

Earning points is a key aspect of maximizing your travel rewards, and both the Sapphire Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve offer generous point multipliers.

The Sapphire Preferred offers: 

  • 5x points per dollar on travel booked through the Chase portal

  • 3x points per dollar on dining, online grocery store purchases, and select streaming services

  • 2x points per dollar on all other travel

The Sapphire Reserve, on the other hand, provides:

  • 10x points per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked through the Chase portal

  • 3x points per dollar on dining,

  • 5x points per dollar on flights booked through the portal

These higher point multipliers make the Reserve card particularly appealing for frequent travelers.

Travel Benefits

When it comes to travel benefits, both the Sapphire Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve have a lot to offer. The Sapphire Preferred provides a $50 hotel credit when you book a hotel stay through the Chase travel portal, effectively reducing the annual fee to just $45. It also offers a 25% more value when redeeming points for travel through the portal, allowing you to stretch your points further. The Reserve, on the other hand, offers a $300 annual travel credit that can be applied to various travel expenses. This credit can be used for flights, hotels, car rentals, and more, making it a versatile benefit for frequent travelers.

Additionally, the Reserve provides a 50% more value for travel redemptions through the Chase portal, enhancing the value of your points. Both cards also allow you to transfer points to Chase's travel partners at a 1:1 ratio, providing additional flexibility and opportunities for redemption.The Chase Sapphire Reserve also comes with Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounge access, and higher coverage amounts for travel insurance benefits. It also offers primary rental car insurance and additional travel and purchase protections.

Additional Benefits

In addition to travel benefits, both cards offer a range of additional perks. The Sapphire Preferred provides a 10% bonus on points earned throughout the year, a complimentary DoorDash DashPass subscription, and purchase protection.

The Sapphire Reserve goes a step further by offering a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership for access to airport lounges, a $60 annual DoorDash credit, and additional benefits like no foreign transaction fees and primary car rental insurance. These extra benefits can add value to your overall cardholder experience and make your travel more enjoyable.

Choosing the Right Card

The choice between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve ultimately depends on your travel habits, spending patterns, and financial goals. If you're a frequent traveler who values premium benefits, the Sapphire Reserve may be the better choice. The higher annual fee is offset by the generous travel credit, enhanced point multipliers, and additional perks like lounge access. On the other hand, if you're a more casual traveler or prefer a lower annual fee, the Sapphire Preferred offers a compelling option. It provides solid rewards, transferable points, and a range of benefits that make it a great choice for maximizing travel rewards.

As you can see, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a higher annual fee, but it also offers more rewards, travel benefits, and other perks. If you travel frequently and can take advantage of the benefits offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it may be worth the higher annual fee. However, if you don't travel as often or don't need the extra benefits, the Chase Sapphire Preferred may be a better option.

Break-Even Spending Breakout

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with an annual fee of $550. It also has a $300 annual travel credit, which can easily be used flexibly. So the “effective” annual fee is $250, which is $550 minus $300.

For the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to be worth it, we’ll need to accumulate at least 12,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which are worth ~$250 depending on redemption method.

That means in a given year, you’ll need to spend $4,167 on 3x categories like travel (excluding the $300 travel credit) and dining for it to make sense.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has a mild annual fee of $95. It comes with a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards hotel credit, which for the sake of this breakout, we’ll consider at face value (although it’s not as flexible as the $300 for the Reserve). That means the effective annual fee is $45.

With the ability to earn 3x points on online grocery purchases, dining, and select streaming services, you only need to spend $750 per year to break even on this card.

Similarly, if you earn 5x points on Lyft purchases (through March 31, 2025) and travel purchased through Chase (excluding the $50 hotel credit), you’ll only need to spend $450 per year to break even.

Lastly, you could spend $1,125 on other travel purchases (2x points) to break even.


In the battle of Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Chase Sapphire Reserve, both cards have their strengths and cater to different types of travelers. The Sapphire Preferred offers a balance of rewards and benefits at a lower annual fee, making it suitable for those who want to maximize their travel rewards without breaking the bank.

On the other hand, the Sapphire Reserve provides premium benefits and enhanced rewards for frequent travelers who are willing to pay a higher annual fee for an elevated travel experience. Consider your travel habits, spending patterns, and preferences to determine which card aligns best with your financial goals. In short, if you are planning to spend in the $4,000+ range, the Chase Sapphire Reserve begins to make more and more sense. Especially consider you need to spend $4,000 in the first 90 days to realize the sign-up bonus, so if you are planning to take advantage of this, the Reserve is likely the right choice.

Whichever card you choose, rest assured that both will unlock a world of travel rewards and provide significant value for your spending. Happy travels and enjoy the journey with your new Chase Sapphire card!

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