Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth its $550 annual fee for frequent travelers who spend at least $4,000 in the first 3 months and qualify for the card’s initial bonus of 50,000 points. When a cardholder meets this requirement, the Sapphire Reserve card will pay for itself for the first year, and then some.
Travelers will get a lot of value out of Sapphire Reserve because it offers a $300 annual travel credit, 3 points per $1 spent on travel and dining, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. There are several types of travel insurance, too, including a $1 million benefit for serious injury or death, plus a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership that would usually cost $399 a year.
But all those features are only worth it if you travel frequently and have the excellent credit needed to get approved for Chase Sapphire Reserve. And after the first year, you’ll have to spend enough – or utilize enough of the card’s perks – to make it worth owning. For example, if you make the most of the Priority Pass membership ($399 annual value), along with the $300 annual travel credit, you’d recoup the entire annual fee. That shouldn’t be hard for frequent travelers to do every year. And the more benefits you take advantage of, the less you need to spend to break even.
Finally, in order for Sapphire Reserve to be worth it, it’s important to pay the bill in full each month. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying 15.99% - 22.99% (V) interest on the unpaid balance, which will decrease the overall value of the card’s perks and rewards.
More moderate spenders who still want a Chase travel card with a solid complement of travel-friendly features may prefer the Sapphire Preferred card. It has an initial bonus of 80,000 points and gives 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining. Points are worth just 1.25 cents each toward travel, compared to Reserve’s 1.5, but Sapphire Preferred’s annual fee is only $95.