Why I’m Keeping My Chase Sapphire Reserve Card


I’ve been obsessed with travel since I got my first passport in high school. Over the years, I’ve used lots of credit cards to fund my trips, from airline cards to cash-back cards.

I’ve wanted the Chase Sapphire Reserve® since its debut in 2016. With comprehensive travel insurance, an annual $300 travel credit and free room upgrades at luxury hotels, it’s ranked one of CNBC Select’s top travel cards. But it also comes with a hefty $550 annual fee.

I took the plunge early last year: My fiance and I were taking a lot of trips and we calculated that we’d get enough from the card’s travel perks to offset the fee.

We were wrong, though — it’s more than paid for itself several times over.

But that was in the first year, when I received the welcome bonus. Here’s why I’m keeping the Chase Sapphire Reserve card for another year — and why it’s the only card I’ll pay an annual fee for.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • 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 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Read our Chase Sapphire Reserve® review.

  • $300 annual travel credit for travel purchases
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit up to $100 every four years
  • Priority Pass™ Select lounge access at 1,000+ VIP lounges in over 500 cities worldwide
  • Points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel via Chase Travel℠
  • Special benefits at The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
  • Complimentary year of Lyft Pink membership

  • High annual fee, but it can be offset by taking advantage of all the card’s perks
  • No introductory APR

View More

  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $1,469
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $3,346

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

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My Chase Sapphire Reserve came with a welcome bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after I spent $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening the account. That’s $900 I used for hotels and airfare through Chase Travel℠ — or nearly twice the $550 fee I paid.

And for a limited time, the welcome bonus has been increased to 75,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, making it worth $1,125 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Travel℠.

While that welcome bonus is just for the first year, I’ll still earn points from the card to put toward more adventures. Chase Ultimate Rewards points can also be applied toward numerous airline and hotel loyalty programs with a 1:1 ratio, including: 

  • Aer Lingus   
  • Air Canada  
  • Air France-KLM
  • British Airways  
  • Emirates  
  • Iberia  
  • JetBlue  
  • Singapore  
  • Southwest  
  • United  
  • Virgin Atlantic  
  • Hyatt
  • InterContinental Hotels Group 
  • Marriott  

I’ve saved a few minutes at my home airport with TSA PreCheck, but Global Entry has really come in handy over the years. It enabled me to skip an hours-long line at Chicago O’Hare coming back from Toronto and make a tight connection after a girls’ trip to Mexico.

It also spared me an eternity at customs and immigration after a 13-hour flight from Taiwan to San Francisco.

My Chase Sapphire Reserve gives me a $100 application fee credit for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry every four years. I need to renew both before 2025, so that’s a savings I’ll be able to enjoy this year.

I like to play a game at the airport where I see how little I can spend. We try to pack snacks from home and pick up lunch before leaving our destination, but it’s not always easy. 

That’s why I love the lounge access included with my Chase Sapphire Reserve. I get a free Priority Pass™ membership, which allows unlimited entry to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. You can bring up to two guests for free, so I don’t have to leave my fiance behind.

Without my Chase Sapphire Reserve, it would cost me about $469 a year for Priority Pass lounge access, plus $35 a guest per visit. The lounges I’ve visited offer hot meals, snacks, drinks and a comfy place to relax. Some lounges even have showers and the option to rent a room if we have time to catch a nap. 

Priority Pass lounges aren’t the only place I can kick back, either: Chase has started its own Sapphire Lounges network and we’re excited to check them out in Boston and New York City, where my fiance has family. Without a Sapphire Reserve card, entry into these elite lounges costs $100 per visit.

A standalone Priority Pass membership only gets you one complimentary Sapphire Lounge visit a year. After that, it’s $75 a pop. (The only exception is Hong Kong, where Priority Pass members enjoy unlimited access to the Sapphire Lounge.)

Granted, lounge access doesn’t directly offset Chase Sapphire’s $550 annual fee, but in a world of $20 plastic-wrapped sandwiches and $7 coffees, it saves us money in other ways. And the relaxed state of mind it puts us in is priceless.   

Each year when you renew the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you get a $300 annual travel credit that’s automatically applied to travel expenses. 

My fiance and I travel a lot so that credit offsets a good chunk of the $550 annual fee. Last year, we used it to book a luxury hotel room in Toronto. In 2024, it’s covering flights to friends’ weddings and family gatherings.

While the credit can be put toward airfare and hotel rooms, it can also cover:

  • Parking
  • Tolls
  • Taxis and car services
  • Car rentals
  • Train tickets
  • Campgrounds
  • Cruises
  • Bus tickets
  • Travel agency services
  • Timeshares

You’d be surprised how quickly you can rack up $300 in just parking and tolls. 

I’m also not charged foreign transaction fees with my Chase Sapphire Reserve, which helped keep costs down when we were in Canada and Asia. We have enough international travel planned that this will continue to be a valuable perk.

I had to cancel a big road trip In September 2023 because of a family emergency. I foolishly hadn’t bought a travel insurance policy when I made reservations for the house we rented and thought I was out nearly $500,

Then I remembered my Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with travel insurance. I was able to file a claim easily and got reimbursed.
 
The policy includes coverage for trip delays and cancelations, lost baggage, emergency medical care and even damage to your rental car. It’s on par with offerings from many top travel insurance companies, which typically cost between 3% and 5% of your trip’s non-refundable expenses. As an example, it would have cost about $300 just to insure our flight between Japan and Taiwan last year.

I’ve considered getting an annual travel insurance plan to cover all of our trips, but that would cost about $1,000 for both my partner and me, according to several top carriers I’ve quoted. That’s double the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee. 

Getting coverage through my card means I don’t ever have to think about travel insurance: All the non-refundable trip expenses I pay for with it are automatically covered.  That doesn’t just save me money, it saves me time and mental energy.

Last winter, we decided to renovate our bathroom and looked for a 0% intro APR card to give us more time to pay off the cost.

We settled on Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which comes with 0% APR for the first 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers. ( After that, it has a variable APR of 20.49% to 29.24%.)

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • Rewards

    Enjoy 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services, 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; and 3% cash back on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Welcome bonus

    INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    Intro fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

  • Member FDIC. Terms apply.

Read our Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.

That gives us enough breathing room to pay for the new bathroom and still clear the balance before our 15-month introductory period ends.

Having a Chase Sapphire Reserve makes the deal sweeter, though, because we can transfer points between the two cards: For an upcoming trip to Southeast Asia, I’m transferring points from my Chase Freedom Unlimited to the Sapphire Reserve card to use in the Chase Travel ℠ portal. That will make them worth 1.5 cents per point, rather than the 1 cent I’d get from Chase Freedom.

Since my partner and I got engaged in March, we’ve been shocked at how expensive weddings are. In 2023, the average cost of a wedding in Ohio was about $30,000, according to The Knot. We hope to come in well below that, but we’ll still be on the hook for a lot

We hope to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve to pay for hotel rooms for guests and catering from some of Cincinnati’s great local restaurants. The card earns 3x points on travel expenses and dining and 10x points on hotels and car rentals made through Chase Travel after the $300 annual travel credit is used. (Through March 2025, cardholders also get 10x points on Lyft, 5x points on flights and 10x points on Chase Dining purchases.). 

Other categories earn 1 point for every dollar, so we’ll also get a boost on things like invitations and dress alterations.

When we decide where we want to spend our honeymoon, we’ll use the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to book it: I have my eye on several places in the Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection, which come with complimentary upgrades like late checkout, wifi and room upgrades.

Many people open a new credit card for wedding expenses, but we’re sticking to the card we have.

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At CNBC Select, our mission is to provide our readers with high-quality service journalism and comprehensive consumer advice so they can make informed decisions with their money. Every credit card review is based on rigorous reporting by our team of expert writers and editors with extensive knowledge of credit card products. While CNBC Select earns a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links, we create all our content without input from our commercial team or any outside third parties, and we pride ourselves on our journalistic standards and ethics.

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