Credit card review: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Credit card review: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Intro

As credit cards go, this is arguably the best all-around card you can get. While its $450 annual fee may raise some eyebrows, its current sign-up bonus of 50,000 points is worth an absolute minimum of $500 in anything you can charge to a credit card. Add that to its $300 annual travel credit, and those two things alone far outweigh the fee for the first year. That’s not even including its other great benefits, such as a Priority Pass membership for free airport lounge access and a 50% bonus when redeeming points through the Chase Travel Portal, that may even make it worth keeping after the first year.

Eligibility

Generally speaking, you will need good or excellent credit to be approved for this card. While many factors go into approval, the credit score of typical applicants appears to be in the 700+ range. Chase looks at all the same factors that go into your credit score, but they can apply different considerations, which can go both ways. For example, you could have an 810 credit score, but if you’ve signed up for 3 other credit cards in the past 2 weeks, there’s a decent chance you’ll be denied for this one. However, let’s say you have a 680 credit score due to not having much credit history, but have had Chase checking and savings accounts in good standing for a long time – they may look past the score and give you a chance.

In terms of black and white eligibility, here are Chase’s official terms: “The product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 48 months. If you are an existing Sapphire customer and would like this product, please call the number on the back of your card to see if you are eligible for a product change. You will not receive the new cardmember bonus if you change products.

In other words, you will not be approved for the Reserve if:

You currently have ANY card that starts with “Chase Sapphire”. This means if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, you are ineligible until you cancel or downgrade the card.

OR

You received a sign-up bonus for any card that starts with “Chase Sapphire” within the past 48 months (even if you no longer have the card).

The last point about eligibility is Chase’s 5/24 rule, which applies to the Reserve. You will not be approved for the Reserve if you have opened 5 or more credit card accounts with ANY bank/company in the previous 24 months. However, it’s possible that any business credit cards you’ve opened may not count towards the 5/24 limit as most of them are not reported to your personal credit report.

Bonus

These are Chase’s official terms on bonus qualification: “To qualify and receive your bonus, you must make Purchases totaling $4,000 or more during the first 3 months from account opening. (“Purchases” do not include balance transfers, cash advances, travelers checks, foreign currency, money orders, wire transfers or similar cash-like transactions, lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, race track wagers or similar betting transactions, any checks that access your account, interest, unauthorized or fraudulent charges, and fees of any kind, including an annual fee, if applicable.)

This is pretty straightforward, but main thing you need to know is that the annual fee does not count towards this spend. The bonus points should hit your account a day or two after the statement in which you hit your spend is posted.

If you would struggle to naturally spend $4,000 in 3 months, check out my article on the various ways to hit the spend requirement without outspending yourself and/or digging yourself into debt.

Main Card Benefits (What do I get in return for my $450 annual fee?)

The top four benefits most people probably care about are:

  1. $300 travel credit. You can almost look at this as Chase saying: “Your annual fee is only $150 if you prepay for $300 in travel each cardmember year.”
  2. $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck reimbursement. Apply for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($75) and get the application fee credited back to you (whether you get approved for not).
  3. Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership (valid as long as you retain the Reserve) for free airport lounge access. Up to two (2) guests can accompany you into a lounge at no extra charge. Additional guests past the first two are $28 each.
  4. All of your Chase points, regardless of how they were earned*, are worth 1.5 cents-per-point (which is a 50% bonus) when redeemed through the Chase Travel Portal (similar to using an Orbitz or Travelocity-type site).

*Note: If you have points from other accounts, you must transfer them to your Reserve account to get the 50% redemption bonus. Don’t worry, the process takes 30 seconds and can be done online at no charge.

Other card benefits

You can find the official benefits here, but I’ll give you a brief list:

  • Earn 3x points on any dining or travel purchases.
  • Transfer points to travel partners’ programs (United, Hyatt, etc.)
  • Free roadside assistance
  • When using the Reserve to pay for travel, you get free:
    • Trip delay reimbursement (starting at a 6-hour delay)
    • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
    • Lost or delayed baggage reimbursement (starting at a 6-hour delay)
    • Emergency medical and dental coverage
    • Emergency evacuation and transportation
  • When using the Reserve to rent a car, you get free primary rental insurance.
  • Extra year of warranty for many retail purchases
  • Purchase protection for retail items against theft, damage, or accidents within 120 days of purchase

Conclusion

As I said up front, this may be the best all-around credit card you can currently get. If you’re reading this article, chances are you spend at least $300 in some kind of travel in a 12 month period. And if you haven’t yet signed up for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and were planning on it, then this card is a no-brainer, as your annual fee becomes an effective $50 for the first year.

Even without the Global Entry/PreCheck credit, you can look at signing up for this card as paying $150 for a 50,000-point/$500 bonus opportunity and 12 months of free airport lounge access and travel insurance.

If you’re having trouble deciding what credit card to get first, check out my article that discusses just that.

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2 Comments

  1. JOANNE MORRISSEY
    September 11, 2018 / 10:00 pm

    Where are you now?

    • Nicholai
      Author
      September 12, 2018 / 11:07 am

      We’re in Italy now!

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