I had never been so excited to spend a ton of money before I received the Chase Sapphire Preferred in the mail on a mid-summer afternoon. It came with a minimum-spending requirement in order to get a rewards bonus that I was determined to capitalize on: $4,000 in 3 months. I was about to take a trip of a lifetime, a 100-day solo journey to Europe. There was no doubt in my mind that I’d be up for the challenge (as much as it goes against frugality).
I swiped the card everywhere I could take it and earned enough points on the card to get free flights to more destinations. That’s why today was bittersweet. After nine months of using the Chase Sapphire Preferred for all of my dining and travel related purchases, I chose to downgrade it to a card I know I’ll never use, the regular Chase Sapphire card (no annual fee). Why? Let’s get to it.
No Need for Fees
I previously mentioned that I was approved and have since received the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. This card is essentially the Sapphire Preferred on steroids. It’s got all the best features of the Preferred and then some. It’s too good to be true so it must come with a huge annual fee. Sure does. At $450, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is for serious travelers who like to dine out.
After a year of no fees on the Chase Sapphire Preferred, an annual fee for $99 is applied. There really is no point in keeping both cards since the Reserve has much better benefits.
Instead of the 2x rewards points earned on purchases with Preferred, you get 3x points on Reserve. The Reserve sign up bonus equates to $750 toward flights or hotels versus the Preferred bonus of $625 toward hotels. I was able to sign up for the Reserve in time to get double the bonus at $1,500. You still can to if you go into a Chase branch store by March 11!
The Sapphire Reserve also offers some pretty cool benefits related to travel. Chase gives you $300 travel credit at the end of the year that can be applied to airfare, taxis, hotels, rental cars, and even toll roads. This helps alleviate the $450 fee and ultimately brings your cost for the card down to $150 for the year.
If you’ve ever been envious of the people that skip the line at the airport, you can become one of them. The Reserve card covers the application fee of $100 for Global Entry, which comes TSA Pre-Check. This is huge for skipping long lines in international travel. You’ll probably be able to keep your laptop in your bag and leave your shoes on!
Hint: Call Chase and ask them to transfer your Chase Sapphire Preferred points to Reserve. Your rewards points just might go further.
Either Card is Great
While both cards require spending $4,000 in the first 3 months to reach the bonus, the Chase Sapphire Reserve does edge out the Preferred in benefits. The travel points can be redeemed for 25% more money. However, you really have to be a power spender on dining and travel to make it worth it.
Some people with not enough credit history won’t qualify for Chase Sapphire Reserve even with a great score. Chase is picky. Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with the free annual fee for the first year and only $99 after that. There are still plenty of travel points to be had so if you’re going to spend money, then make some in return. Responsibly. Never pay a dime in interest.