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Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which is best for you?

Chase has two popular Sapphire cards: The Sapphire Reserve and the Sapphire Preferred. We compare the cards so you can choose the best option for your needs.

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Source: Chase

Chase is a leader in travel rewards cards, and its Sapphire cards have become cult favorites for frequent travelers. When it launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve® in 2016, there was so much demand, despite the hefty annual fee, that Chase ran out of the metal required to make the card.

In addition to the Sapphire Reserve, there is a more affordable option: the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. These two popular credit cards have similar names but different benefits.

Frequent travelers who are looking for access to luxury perks, such as lounge access and travel credits, will see more value in the Reserve versus the Preferred. However, the Preferred may be a better choice for beginners or less frequent travelers who don't want to fork over $550 a year for a credit card since the annual fee is just $95.

If you're in the market for a rewards credit card and have good or excellent credit (scores 670 or higher), you have the best chances of qualifying for one of the Chase Sapphire cards and enjoying the cards' great travel perks.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down what sets these cards apart, so you can choose the one that provides the most benefit for your spending habits.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, and $50 annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    21.49% - 28.49% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • Terms apply.

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase’s secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X total points on flights and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases plus, 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2025

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

  • Annual fee

    $550

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    22.49% - 29.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

  • Terms apply.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Chase Sapphire Reserve

Annual fee

The Chase Sapphire cards have different annual fees, so it's important to do the math and see which card makes the most sense for you.

While your jaw may drop at the $550 annual fee for the Sapphire Reserve, you can effectively offset the fee if you utilize all the added card benefits. By taking full advantage of the Reserve's $300 annual travel credit, your out-of-pocket cost is already reduced to a more manageable $250.

Then there's the Priority Pass Select membership you receive with the Reserve card that gives access to more than 1,300 airport lounges and normally costs $469 for a comparable membership level. And the membership you receive with the Sapphire Reserve is more valuable than the most expensive paid tier because you can bring up to two guests for free, which would normally cost $35 each.

Sapphire Reserve cardholders can also take advantage of Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit of up to $100 every four years, up to $15 in monthly statement credits for Instacart purchases (through July 31, 2024).

With a Sapphire Preferred card, you receive up to $50 in annual statement credits toward hotel bookings you make through the Chase Travel℠ portal. So you're not receiving as many statement credits, but the $95 annual fee is more manageable and fairly standard among the best travel rewards cards.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred. Depending on how you value each card's credits, you can offset the annual for both, but the Preferred's $95 fee is a lower upfront cost and much easier to justify by taking advantage of fewer benefits.

Earning points

Both cards offer the same bonus categories — worldwide travel and worldwide dining — but the points value varies by card.

With the Sapphire Reserve, you earn 5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ (immediately after earning your $300 travel credit). Plus, earn 3X points on other travel and dining, 10X points on Lyft rides (through March 2025) and 1X points on all other purchases.

The Sapphire Preferred, on the other hand, gives you 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2025), 3X points on dining, 3X points on select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs), 2X points on all other travel purchases and 1X points on all other purchases. You'll also receive an annual 10% points bonus based on your total purchases for the previous year.

Winner: The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 5X points on air travel, plus 10X points on hotels and car rentals, after you earn a $300 travel credit. It also offers more points for general travel purchases and Lyft rides.

Redeeming points

Both cards allow you to redeem Chase points in a variety of ways, from statement credits to gift cards to travel. And both cards allow you to transfer points to Chase's partner travel loyalty programs, such as United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt.

However, travel redemptions come with a unique perk: If you redeem points for travel through Chase Travel℠, they're worth 25% more for Sapphire Preferred cardholders and 50% more for Sapphire Reserve cardholders.

For example, 50,000 bonus points are worth $500 in statement credits. But if you buy your plane ticket with your Sapphire Preferred card through Chase Travel℠, the value of your points increases by 25% to $625. And it jumps to $750 for Sapphire Reserve cardholders, thanks to the 50% bonus.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve. The card offers 50% more value on points redeemed for travel booked through Chase Travel℠, compared to 25% with the Preferred. Outside of that, the redemption options for both cards are the same.

Welcome bonus

Currently, the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve offer welcome bonuses that require you to spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening to earn the bonus points. While the spending requirements are the same, the earning potential is not.

When you meet the spending requirements for the Sapphire Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve earn 60,000 bonus points.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred's 60,000-point bonus can be worth up to $750 when you redeem for travel through Chase Travel℠ since point redemptions are worth 25% more this way. If you redeem points for cash back, 60,000 points are worth $600.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve's 60,000-point bonus is worth up to $900 when you redeem for travel through Chase Travel℠ since point redemptions are worth 50% more this way. If you redeem points for cash back, 60,000 points are worth $600.

Winner: The Chase Sapphire Reserve's bonus of 60,000 points is worth more after accounting for the Chase Travel℠ bonus.

Additional perks

Both cards come with a bunch of added protections and discounts but a few significant benefits are different. Here's a breakdown of the additional perks offered by both cards:

Cardmembers with either card can benefit from:

  • Complimentary DashPass for a minimum of one year (activate by December 31st, 2024)
  • Complimentary Instacart+ membership (12 months with the Reserve and six months with the Preferred)
  • Bonus rewards on Lyft purchases (10X for Reserve and 5X for Preferred), through March 31st, 2025
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Travel and emergency assistance services
  • 24/7 direct access to customer service specialists

Find the best credit card for you by reviewing offers in our credit card marketplace or get personalized offers via CardMatch™.

Sapphire Reserve cardholders enjoy these added perks:

  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit of up to $100 every four years
  • Up to two complimentary years of Lyft Pink All Access (worth $199 annually), which includes 10% off all Lux rides, free cancellations (three times per month), free priority pickups upgrades and more
  • Priority Pass™ Select lounge access at 1,300+ VIP lounges in over 500 cities worldwide (valued at $469)
  • Special benefits at The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, such as complimentary room upgrades, early check-in and late check-out
  • Return protection
  • Emergency evacuation and transportation
  • Emergency medical and dental benefit
  • Access to the Visa Infinite Concierge service

Winner: The Chase Sapphire Reserve has more benefits than the Preferred card and the travel insurance provided by the Reserve is more robust than the same types of coverage offered by the Preferred.

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Bottom line

Choosing between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve cards depends on individual preferences such as how you spend your money, how often you travel and how you plan to use the card.

The Reserve card comes with more lucrative travel benefits and coverages, but it has a significantly higher annual fee. However, card members who can take advantage of the full suite of credits and perks offered by the Reserve card can easily justify the card's cost.

The Preferred card has a lower annual fee and nearly the same level of redemption benefits (outside of the Reserve's bonus when booking through the Chase Travel℠). This makes it a much more accessible choice and an excellent card for beginners or anyone who won't travel as often.

While these cards are both good options for frequent travelers, there are alternative options available that may be a better fit. If you're looking for a card that offers more flexibility for how you can redeem points, check out CNBC Select's round-up of the best cash-back credit cards.

Catch up on CNBC Select's in-depth coverage of credit cardsbanking and money, and follow us on TikTokFacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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