chase sapphire preferred vs reserve
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One of the most common questions I’m asked is which Sapphire card somebody should start with: the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve

Let’s take a quick step back. There are four primary cards that Chase offers that earn Ultimate Rewards points on the consumer side:

If you are in a cash crunch, you should avoid travel rewards credit cards until you are caught up. Here are our favorite credit cards for Intro 0% APR offers and for balance transfer offers

In another post, we compare the Chase Freedom Unlimited vs the Chase Freedom Flex.

The 2020 Chase Sapphire Reserve Annual Fee Increase and New Benefits

NOTE: On January 12th, 2020, the Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s annual fee went from $450 to $550 and added new benefits with Peloton, DoorDash and Lyft. This post compares the two cards taking into account the new benefits.

The new Peloton Benefits are:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers:
    • Earn up to $120 in statement credits on Peloton Digital and All-Access Memberships through December 31, 2021.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred cardmembers:
    • Earn up to $60 in statement credits on Peloton Digital and All-Access Memberships through December 31, 2021.

The new Lyft benefits are:

New DoorDash credits only for the Chase Sapphire Reserve:

  • Get $60 in DoorDash credits in 2021 (for now, the benefit ends after 2021, though it could be extended).

Both cards offer a free one-time DoorDash “DashPass” subscription. 

  • Get free DashPass to get free DoorDash deliveries at select restaurants with $12 or more in your order and decreased service charges. Valid from now through the end of Dec 2021 or for a minimum of one year when activated any time before then.

First, let’s break down the highlights of each card:

 Chase Sapphire ReserveChase Sapphire Preferred
Signup Bonus50,000 Ultimate Rewards points with $4,000 in spend within 3 months60,000 Ultimate Rewards points with $4,000 in spend within 3 months
Annual Fee$550$95
NET EFFECTIVE Annual Fee$250 if you use the full annual $300 travel credit.$95
Redemption value in Ultimate Rewards portal?Yes, at 1.5 cents per point
(50,000 points equals $750 in travel)
Yes, at 1.25 cents per point (50,000 points equals $625 in travel)
(2021 Only) Peloton BenefitEarn up to $120 in statement credits on Peloton Digital and All-Access Memberships through December 31, 2021.Earn up to $60 in statement credits on Peloton Digital and All-Access Memberships through December 31, 2021.
DoorDash Benefits (through 2021)Free "DashPass" membership (free delivery on select restaurants when you spend $12 or more) from now through the end of Dec 2021 or for a minimum of one year when activated any time before then.Free "DashPass" membership (free delivery on select restaurants when you spend $12 or more) from now through the end of Dec 2021 or for a minimum of one year when activated any time before then.
Door Dash Credits (through 2021)$60 in 2021None
Lyft Earning Rate (through March 2022)Earns 10X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on Lyft ridesEarns 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on Lyft rides
Lyft Benefits (through March 2022)Get a one-time complimentary Lyft Pink subscription (15% Lyft discounts, free bike/scooter rentals each month, and better cancellation rules). This is a $240 value.None
Transfers to airline and hotel partners?YesYes
Airport Lounge AccessYes, via Priority Pass. For you and up to two guests. Unlimited visits.No
Global Entry or PreCheck reimbursement?Yes, up to $100 once every 5 years.No
Trip Delay CoverageYes, up to $500 after a 6 hour delay. Must have used card to purchase at least part of trip. Paying with Ultimate Rewards points counts.Yes, up to $500 after a 12 hour delay. Must have used card to purchase at least part of trip. Paying with Ultimate Rewards points counts.
Car Rental Damage Waiver Insurance?Yes, PrimaryYes, Primary
Roadside assistanceYes, covering up to $50 in roadside assistance (i.e. towing, help with a flat, etc) up to 4 times a yearYes, but only the call is covered. Any assistance provided such as a towing is at your own expense.
Trip Cancellation / Interruption CoverageYes (excludes travel provider insolvency)Yes (excludes travel provider insolvency)
Lost / Delayed Luggage Coverage?Yes, up to $3,000. Other limits apply.Yes, up to $3,000. Other limits apply.
2021 COVID BenefitThrough June 30, 2021, gas station and grocery store purchases will count towards your Travel Credit the same as if it were Travel.

It’s very important to note that you can combine your rewards from any Ultimate Rewards earning Chase credit card. So if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, which allows redemptions in the UR portal at 1.5 cents per point, you can combine points earned on a Chase Freedom Unlimited or Chase Freedom into your Chase Sapphire Reserve account. Many people carry multiple cards for this reason. You simply put whatever purchase you are making on the card that will earn the most points and combine later.  Even with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you could transfer in points from a no-fee Freedom card in order to utilize transfer partners.

Now, let’s get back to the topic at hand.

You want the ability to transfer to Chase’s nice list of transfer partners such as United or Hyatt, so that rules out the Freedom cards as cards to start with.

Do you choose the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred?

The answer to that is, of course, based on your own needs.

My goal is to give you the most efficient comparison so that you can make an informed decision.

Comparing the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve Bonus Offers

The bonus offers on the two cards are similar, but the $95 annual fee Chase Sapphire Preferred actually has a bonus offer that nets you 20,000 more Chase Ultimate Rewards points than the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Bonus Offer

60,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in 3 months

Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Preferred Bonus Offer

80,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in 3 months

chase sapphire preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred clearly has a better bonus, with an extra 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for the same minimum spend.

Comparing the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve Annual Fees

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a “sticker” annual fee of $550, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee.

If you spend $300 a year on travel – which Chase loosely defines as all airline, hotel, parking, Uber/Lyft, and taxi purchases – then your $550 annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve is reduced down to $250. This is because these travel credits are automatic. Spend them within a cardmember year and you will see them instantly refunded to you until the credit is used up. I personally use mine up within a month each year.  So, most consider the travel credit to be like cash.

To make that even simpler: If you spend $300 in travel purchases per year, your net effective annual fee is $250 on the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs $95 on a Chase Sapphire Preferred. This is a $155 difference.

Decision tree: If you DO NOT spend $300 a year on Travel, you most likely should get the Chase Sapphire Preferred for now.  If you do, continue….

I can’t stress enough that if you want a Chase Sapphire card (because you want to be able to transfer points to airline or hotel partners), you need one or the other. So once we know you are getting either a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the decision comes down to the $155 difference in annual fee.

What Do You Get For the Extra $155 a Year with the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

  • 3x points on Travel and Dining (vs. 2x with Chase Sapphire Preferred)
  • Priority Pass Lounge access for you and two guests (Very valuable if you don’t already have another credit card with Priority Pass airport lounge access)
  • 10X on Lyft rides vs. 5X on the Chase Sapphire Preferred (worth a lot if you use Lyft a lot, else not worth much at all)
  • Free one year of Lyft Pink (worth $240, but only if you use Lyft regularly)
  • $60 in DoorDash credits in 2021
  • $120 in Peloton credits in 2021 (vs $60 with Chase Sapphire Preferred)
  • Redemption of your points in the Ultimate Rewards portal for 1.5 cents per point (vs. 1.25)
  • $100 Global Entry/PreCheck credit every 5 years
  • Trip Delay coverage at 6 hours (vs. 12 hours)

Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Sapphire Preferred Earn 80,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points (worth up to $1,000 or more!) when you spend $4,000 in 3 month, plus a $50 statement credit towards groceries. How to apply for this offer.

How Can You Calculate If You’ll Get $155 in Additional Value with the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

There are many ways in which you come out ahead by paying the extra $155 fee. And it’s a sum total of all of the above that determines it. Let’s say you spend $200 a month in travel and dining. That extra $2,400 a year will earn you 2,400 extra points on the Chase Sapphire Reserve – worth $36. (Although, to be technical, you don’t earn points on the first $300 in travel you get a credit for – so it’s really 1,500 points worth $26.25 in this case).

Let’s say you redeem points through the portal for a plane ticket that costs $400. That will cost 26,666 points with Chase Sapphire Reserve or 32,000 points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. At a bare minimum per point value of 1.25, those 5,334 saved points are worth $66.

Visits to a lounge without a free Priority Pass membership can cost $25-$50 a visit per person. Several lounge visits in a year would cover that $155 – if you care about airline lounges.

The DoorDash benefit of $60 in credit per year can come right off that $155 – if you have DoorDash where you live and would use it anyway.

The Lyft Pink benefit, which most notably gets you 15% off for a year + the extra 5X points per dollar on Lyft rides can really add up – but again, if you live where Lyft is prevalent and use it often.

And then there’s the Peloton benefit, worth $120 in credits with Chase Sapphire Reserve or $60 with Chase Sapphire Preferred. It’s worth that if you’d be spending on Peloton anyway – or worthless if you wouldn’t.

For perspective, in Manhattan it’s not a stretch to say that many spend $500 a month on taxis/rideshares. That’s $6,000 a year (remember, this is instead of owning a car for most, so it’s less crazy than it sounds). You’d save $900 with the Lyft Pink discount (but only for one year) plus earn that extra 5X points per dollar. On that $5,100 a year after the 15% off, you’d net an extra 25,500 Ultimate Rewards points worth $446.25 based on my miles and points valuations chart.

As you can see, if you travel even a reasonable amount, the Chase Sapphire Reserve quickly becomes the better value, despite a higher “sticker price” on the annual fee.

However, if you will not use the travel credit, nor the benefits I discuss above, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred should suit you just fine.

I think the best way to see if you should go for the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred is to fill in this table with your own valuations of the new benefits. i.e. do you get $100 in benefits out of the extra $100 in annual fee?

Comparison Worksheet

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred Benefits- Your Personal Value

 Chase Sapphire Preferred (Review)List the value of each Chase Sapphire Reserve benefit for you.Chase Sapphire Preferred (Review)List the value of each Chase Sapphire Preferred benefit for you.
Signup Bonus50,000 Ultimate Rewards points with $4,000 in spend within 3 months__________________60,000 Ultimate Rewards points with $4,000 in spend within 3 months__________________
Annual Fee$550n/a$95n/a
NET EFFECTIVE Annual Fee$250 if you use the full annual $300 travel credit.n/a$95n/a
Redemption value in Ultimate Rewards portal?Yes, at 1.5 cents per point
(50,000 points equals $750 in travel)
__________________Yes, at 1.25 cents per point (50,000 points equals $625 in travel)__________________
DoorDash BenefitsFree "DashPass" membership (free delivery on select restaurants when you spend $12 or more) from now through the end of Dec 2021 or for a minimum of one year when activated any time before then.__________________Free "DashPass" membership (free delivery on select restaurants when you spend $12 or more) from now through the end of Dec 2021 or for a minimum of one year when activated any time before then.__________________
Door Dash Credits$60 in 2020
$60 in 2021
__________________None__________________
Lyft Earning RateEarns 10X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on Lyft rides__________________Earns 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on Lyft rides__________________
Lyft BenefitsGet a one-time complimentary Lyft Pink subscription (15% Lyft discounts, free bike/scooter rentals each month, and better cancellation rules). This is a $240 value.__________________None__________________
Peloton BenefitsEarn up to $120 in statement credits on Peloton Digital and All-Access Memberships through December 31, 2021Earn up to $60 in statement credits on Peloton Digital and All-Access Memberships through December 31, 2021
Transfers to airline and hotel partners?Yes__________________Yes__________________
Airport Lounge AccessYes, via Priority Pass. For you and up to two guests. Unlimited visits.__________________No__________________
Global Entry or PreCheck reimbursement?Yes, up to $100 once every 5 years.__________________No__________________
Trip Delay CoverageYes, up to $500 after a 6 hour delay. Must have used card to purchase at least part of trip. Paying with Ultimate Rewards points counts.__________________Yes, up to $500 after a 12 hour delay. Must have used card to purchase at least part of trip. Paying with Ultimate Rewards points counts.__________________
Car Rental Damage Waiver Insurance?Yes, Primary__________________Yes, Primary__________________
Trip Cancellation / Interruption CoverageYes (excludes travel provider insolvency)__________________Yes (excludes travel provider insolvency)__________________
Lost / Delayed Luggage Coverage?Yes, up to $3,000. Other limits apply.__________________Yes, up to $3,000. Other limits apply.__________________
Total Chase Sapphire Reserve Value to You__________________Total Chase Sapphire Preferred Value to You__________________

As an aside, if you don’t even plan to utilize the airline and hotel transfer partners, your best bet may actually be a card that earns 2% cash back, though if you are willing to put in just a little effort you should be able to get better value with a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Note: Through June 30, 2021, gas station and grocery store purchases will count toward earning your $300 annual Travel Credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

What Credit Score Do You Need for a Chase Sapphire Preferred?

Approximately 680 – 700 at minimum. If you have a slightly lower score, like a 650, you should first try for a Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited.

What Credit Score Do You Need for a Chase Sapphire Reserve?

Approximately 720 at minimum. If you have a 680+, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred instead. You can upgrade after one year to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, though you’ll need a minimum credit line of $10,000 to be eligible for the Sapphire Reserve.

How to Apply

If you choose to apply for either of these cards, using our links to learn how to apply helps support the free content on this site. Thank you in advance!

Questions?

Let me know below in the comments, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

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You can find credit cards that best match your spending habits and bonus categories at Your Best Credit Cards

New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.

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I got "in the game" in 2003 and since then I've collected literally millions and millions of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. I've flown around the world in first class seats that would cost $29,000 using frequent flyer miles and a few bucks in tax. And I've stayed in some of the finest hotels - all for free! A few years ago I realized many of my friends actually thought I was paying for these!! So I started sharing my tips. It's long been a passion, but when I hosted a session on Miles and Points at this year's South by Southwest festival, my love of the game intensified and this blog was born.

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