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

The Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards fill premium niches in the travel card market. Both cards come with bonus point offers, points multipliers and the ability to spend any earned Chase Ultimate Rewards at premium hotel and airline partners. 

While both cards share the goal of enhancing your travel experience — and reducing your total expenses — they’re not identical. Here are the key features, standout benefits and critical differences between the two travel cards.

At a glance comparison

When it comes to the basics — annual fees, rewards rates and credits — how do these cards stack up? Before we dig into deeper analysis, here’s a quick look at common features. 

Chase Sapphire ReserveChase Sapphire Preferred
Annual Fee$550$95
Rewards Rates3x points earned on travel and dining worldwide.2x points earned on travel and dining.
Sign-Up Bonus50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months after account opening.60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months after account opening.
Credits$300 in statement credits as reimbursement for travel purchases once per year.No statement credits.
Lounge AccessAccess to more than 1,000 VIP lounges in 500 cities.No lounge access.
Authorized User Fee$75 per user.No authorized user fee.

Standout features

With the basics covered, let’s talk about the key features that set each card apart in its category. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • Earn 50% more in travel redemption — When you redeem travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points are worth 1.5x more. This means 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel instead of $500.
  • No blackout dates — There are no restrictions on bookings for airlines or hotels with Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Access 1:1 points conversion — Chase Ultimate Rewards points converted to partner travel programs are transferred at a 1-to-1 ratio.
  • No foreign transaction fees — For frequent travelers, the lack of foreign transaction fees can help save money abroad.
  • Luxury hotel and resort access — The Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers benefits such as complimentary room upgrades, early check-in and late check-out at select hotels and resorts worldwide.
  • Specialist access 24/7 — Dedicated Chase customer service specialists are available anytime, anywhere to help with travel or credit questions.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement — Up to $3,000 per passenger for baggage lost or damaged by the carrier.
  • Trip delay reimbursement — If common carrier travel is delayed more than six hours or requires an overnight stay, you’re covered for unreimbursed expenses up to $500.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

  • Bonus points with Chase Ultimate Reward — If you book your travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, one point will be worth 1.25 points, helping you get more for your efforts.
  • Earn 50% more in travel redemption — When you redeem travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points are worth 1.5x more. This means 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel instead of $500.
  • Access 1:1 points conversion — Direct points conversion to popular programs including Aer Lingus, Emirates Skywards, Marriott Bonvoy and the IHG Rewards Club.
  • Trip cancellation insurance — If your trip is canceled due to sickness, severe weather or other covered conditions, you’re eligible for up to $20,000 per trip reimbursement for prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses.
  • Auto rental collision coverage — When the entire cost of your rental vehicle is charged to your Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you enjoy primary coverage up to the cash value of the vehicle for most rental cars.
  • Purchase protection — All new purchases are covered against fraud for 120 days, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
  • Referral bonus — Each friend you refer (up to five) who also gets a Chase credit card earns you 15,000 bonus points.

The case for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers 18.49% – 25.49% variable APR on purchases (and the same rate for balance transfers) based on your creditworthiness. This is slightly higher than the Sapphire Preferred card, and it’s worth noting that the Reserve card also includes a $550 annual fee and $75 authorized user fee.

Despite slightly higher interest rates and up-front costs, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is a good fit for frequent travelers. With 3x points on travel and dining worldwide along with one point per dollar on all other purchases, cardholders can quickly accumulate points across both everyday spending and regular travel. In addition, the 1.5 points conversion when booking through Chase Ultimate Rewards directly lets you do more with your points more quickly, while access to airport lounges worldwide compensates for the $550 per year fee. 

The case for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card, meanwhile, offers more bonus points up-front but only 2x points for travel and dining along with one point per dollar on all other purchases. With a lower annual fee, however, and slightly lower APR (17.49% – 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness), this card is ideal for occasional travelers looking to defray the costs of airfare and hotel stays. With a 60,000-point bonus and 1.25x points conversion when redeeming travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, this card strikes a balance between travel points earning and overall costs.

In a nutshell

Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards are travel rewards cards designed to boost your points-earning potential. The Chase Ultimate Rewards program makes it easy to book travel directly for an immediate redemption bonus or transfer points 1:1 across popular travel programs.

If you’re a frequent traveler looking for airport perks such as VIP lounge access and hotel benefits like late check-outs and upgraded rooms, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is your best bet — premium travel perks and 3x points on travel spending balance the initial cost and annual fee.

If travel rewards are important but not your top priority, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. With 2x points earned on travel spending along with cancellation insurance, purchase protection and lower annual fees, this card balances typical spending with travel rewards.

Doug Bonderud

An award-winning finance, technology and security writer, Doug has a knack for distilling complex concepts down into actionable, readable copy that generates interest and drives engagement