The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve are easily two of the best card options you can invest in towards your free travel goals. Both cards offer big value, earning you thousands of points in a short period of time that you can easily transfer to 13 travel partners via Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Check out this article for new 2021 Chase Sapphire Enhancements. One new enhancement includes earning more on groceries. Good thru April 30, 2021, the Chase Sapphire Preferred will earn 2x points and the Chase Sapphire Reserve will earn 3x points at grocery stores up to $1,000 in purchases each month.
Regardless of your choice between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve, both cards offer great value, but with a slight difference depending on who’s using it and how they’re using it. Because Chase rules only allow you to have one or the other, it is important to decide which one is right for you.
So if you are looking to choose only one card out of these two options, we’ve broken down both cards in terms of annual fees, sign up bonuses, credits, earnings and more to give you a deeper insight on which card best fits your needs.
Chase Travel Portal Redemption Value
The easiest way to redeem Chase points is In the Chase travel portal. For the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can redeem points at 1.25 cents per Ultimate Rewards point. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is 1.5 cents per Ultimate Rewards in the travel portal.
Winner for this round: Sapphire Reserve.
The most notable difference between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve is the annual fee costs.
While the Chase Sapphire Preferred only charges an annual fee of $95, the Chase Sapphire Reserve charges an annual fee that is $455 more than the latter – at $550 per year. Both fees are not waived during the first year so the $550 investment you’ll make on the Chase Sapphire Reserve might be considered heavy.
Winner for this round: The Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers more credits when compared to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which can be quite a game-changer. Despite that hefty $550 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve does offer a $300 annual travel credit, which cardholders can directly enjoy towards all travel expenses from airlines to hotels and even Uber. Through June 30, 2021, this $300 credit can temporarily be used to cover gas and groceries as well. This $300 credit easily offsets the 550 annual fee, which makes it only $55 behind the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
In addition, the Chase Sapphire Reserve also provides a $100 credit that can go towards a Global Entry application, or an $85 credit for TSA PreCheck applications, both of which are offered every 5 years. Being a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder, you also have a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership which gives access to 1000+ lounges in more than 500 airports around the world. As long as you are a Chase Sapphire Reserve holder, you can use the lounges regardless of the airline you are flying, your ticket class or your membership in any club.
Note: Since the pandemic, Chase has been known to give a $100 credit to reduce some Reserve annual fees to $450.
Winner for this round: The Chase Sapphire Reserve
Extra Points Earning
When it comes to earning points, there is also a considerable difference between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can earn 2x the points per $1 spent on all dining and travel-related expenses, and 1x the points on all other expenses. However, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can earn up to 3x the points for travel and dining expenses, and 1x on others. This puts the Chase Sapphire Reserve card at an advantage, especially for members who spend more on travel and dining. See this article on extra pandemic enhancements.
Winner for this round: The Chase Sapphire Reserve
When you wish to add additional authorized users to your account, the Chase Sapphire Preferred requires no additional fees to do so; however, the Chase Sapphire Reserve charges a fee of $75 per authorized user added. There are no bonus points for both cards when adding authorized users, but the only notable benefit that you get is the additional points you earn when they use their cards for spending.
Of the two, however, the Chase Sapphire Reserve does offer an added benefit of a Priority Pass Select Card for every authorized user, which gives access to an independent program offering free access to over 1000 lounge locations worldwide across 500 cities.
Winner for this round: It’s a tie!
Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Reserve - Breakdown
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||Chase Sapphire Reserve|
|Sign Up Bonus||60,000 points when you spend $4000 in your first three months.||50,000 points when you spend $4000 in your first three months.|
|Value||$750 in travel credit when you redeem points via Chase Ultimate Rewards. Get more value through transfer partners.||$750 in travel credit when you redeem points via Chase Ultimate Rewards. Get more value through transfer partners.|
|Other Credits or Benefits||None||$100 every 5 years for Global Entry Applications, $85 for TSA PreCheck Applications|
|Priority Pass Select Membership - offers lounge access to more than 1000 locations (across 500 cities) worldwide|
|Earning Rate||2x points per dollar for all travel and dining expenses, 1x points per dollar for other expenses||3x points per dollar for all travel and dining expenses, 1x points per dollar for other expenses|
|Points Redemption via Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal||1 point = 1.25 cents||1 point = 1.5 cents|
|Authorized Users||Free||$75 per user|
|Benefits for Authorized Users||None||Priority Pass Select Membership - offers lounge access to more than 1000 locations (across 500 cities) worldwide|
From our breakdown, it’s easy to see that there isn’t a clear decision to be made here–whether or not the Chase Sapphire Preferred is best or the Chase Sapphire Reserve is best. Both cards offer great value and, as we said earlier, it depends on who’s using it and how they’re using it.
Why Chase Sapphire Preferred is Best
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is best for those who are still getting their feet wet when it comes to free travel. This is a great card to start with as it offers you a lower annual fee but gives you the guarantee of valuable points and free travel options. So if you’re looking for the best overall card without a huge annual fee, then this card is the right one for you.
Why Chase Sapphire Reserve is Best
On the other hand, if you’re frequently moving from one place to the next or engaged in numerous hours of travel every week or every month, then the Chase Sapphire Reserve suits you best. Your travel habits coupled with how frequently you use your card for travel and dining purchases will guarantee you the chance to earn more points given the 3x earning rate that the card offers. This will bring you better value for money and will soon offset the $550 investment that you put into the card (technically $55 investment due to the $300 travel credits you get annually and the $750 value you get from your bonus points).