What to do if you can’t decide on the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

If you ever ask me about credit cards — at a bar, in the library, at my house — I will most likely talk your ear off about the benefits that credit cards can bring you. Odds are that I start with the slew of travel benefits, but in reality there are a ton of different benefits that will cater to each person differently.

As many of you know, I started my true credit card journey with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and its earth-shattering 100,000 points sign-up bonus. At the time, this was the single best credit card bonus on the market, hands down. But like any good thing, it didn’t last long.

The card currently has a 50,000 point bonus, but more on that later.

Many argue that the original bonus attracted long time customers of Chase (i.e. millenials), so in reality, the realized loss from the bonus will be made up for in the long run tenfolds. And I can’t help but agree.

Argument for the Chase Sapphire Reserve

While I know this contradicts the point of this post, I will still continually try to sell all my friends, family, and strangers first on the value of the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I will always say [for now] this is the best credit card on the market. So first, to quickly review the card:

  • 50,000 points sign-up bonus after $4,000 spent in the first 3 months
  • 3 points per $1 spent on travel and dining
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • 1.5 the value of your points when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • Access to Chase travel partners
  • Travel and purchase protection
  • Priority Pass membership w/ 2 guests allowed per visit
  • Global Entry/TSA fee credit
  • $450 annual fee

So, a pretty exhaustive list of benefits.

Taking a step back– I think most people would usually spend $300 in travel per year (especially looking at what Chase considers travel), which makes the out of pocket spend only $150 a year. And if you are able to take advantage of the Global entry fee credit in the first year you’re looking at only $50 in true cost!

So, I think it once again comes down purely to personal preference and where you see value. I am able to use my Priority Pass quite frequently throughout the year, as I travel often. And I can’t go on about the value in transferring points to the travel partners.

But I also understand not everyone may value these perks like I do. Or maybe you you just don’t travel very often? So, what should you do?

A “free trial”

The hardest aspect of the Chase Sapphire Reserve for many of my peers to get over is the $450 annual fee. And I can’t say that I blame them for that. For a guy right out of college that’s a big number.

So if you can’t commit to that cost, what you should do is get the Chase Sapphire Preferred — which includes:

  • 50,000 bonus points after $4,000 in spend in the first 3 months
  • 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining
  • 1.25 the value of your points when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • Access to Chase travel partners
  • Travel and purchase protection
  • $95 annual fee, waived after the first year

And that last part is what I really want to stress. If you aren’t sold that this whole travel, points, miles, credit cards, is for you — then sign up for this card and take a year to figure it out. You’ll get an enormous amount of value, and you won’t have to pay a dime for it.

While the Preferred does not come with all the travel benefits that the Reserve does, there is still a ton of value in the card. You are getting the same opportunity with the 50,000 points sign-up bonus (worth $750 when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel portal), and you still get access to all the Chase travel partners.

If you find out you want to upgrade to the Reserve to get all the travel benefits, you can do that after a year. If you determine you don’t need any of the above benefits, you can downgrade to one of the no annual fee Freedom cards. Either way, you have options, and you really don’t have to decide for a whole year.

Bottom Line

While I’d say that the hype for the Chase Sapphire Reserve is real, don’t feel like you have to sign up for it just because everyone tells you to. If you are new to the points and miles game, and you aren’t quite ready for such a large commitment, sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preffered and weigh your options down the road.

And if you do decide you’d like to go that route, apply at this link and show me some love.


Tucker is an avid points and miles enthusiast. Being fully involved in the world of credit cards and frequent flying for only a few years now, he brings a very fresh and unique perspective to the world of travel.

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