5 Reasons to Get the Sapphire Preferred Instead of the Sapphire Reserve

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® are the flagship cards in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards lineup, featuring top travel perks and earning flexible rewards.

While the Sapphire Reserve offers premium benefits you won’t find on the Sapphire Preferred. It also carries a much higher annual fee—$550 per year as opposed to the $95 annual fee on the Sapphire Preferred.

In addition to the lower ongoing annual fee, Chase recently announced the highest welcome offer we’ve ever seen on the Sapphire Preferred, increasing the bonus to 80,000 points. It's a huge offer and should put this card firmly on your application radar.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Our #1 recommended beginners rewards card featuring an 80,000 point signup bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
  • 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
  • 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Between the increased bonus, significantly lower annual fee, and the increased earning capacity of no-annual-fee partner cards, there's a compelling argument to apply for the Sapphire Preferred over its premium stablemate.

80,000 vs. 50,000 Point Welcome Bonus

The welcome offer for these two cards should play a significant role in your decision. The Sapphire Preferred is currently offering 80,000 after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. The Sapphire Reserve offer is 50,000 after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

That 30,000 point difference could be worth a one-way flight to Europe with Ultimate Rewards transfer partners. That's a lot of extra points to sacrifice to get the more robust benefits of the Sapphire Reserve.

Under current rules, Chase won’t let you get the Sapphire Preferred if you already have the Sapphire Reserve and vice versa. But, you can start with the higher welcome bonus and the lower annual fee for now. Then, you should be able to upgrade in the future if you decide you want the extra benefits.

$95 vs. $550 Annual Fee

The most obvious difference separating the Sapphire Preferred from the Sapphire Reserve is the annual fee. As a premium travel card, the Sapphire Reserve has a much higher annual fee than the Sapphire Preferred.

Each and every year you hold these cards, you can expect to pay just $95 in annual fees for the Sapphire Preferred vs. $550 for the Sapphire Reserve.

For the frequent traveler, perks like Priority Pass lounge access, the DoorDash dining credit, and the $300 annual travel credit can often justify the extra expense of the Sapphire Reserve. If you consistently use the travel and DoorDash credits, the difference between the two fees becomes much smaller. However, you still have to be comfortable paying $550 upfront and trying to recover the value as you make travel purchases.

If you are starting in the points and miles space or aren't 100% certain you'll take advantage of the Sapphire Reserve‘s benefits, the Sapphire Preferred is the better card to start.

No Charge for Adding Authorized Users as Opposed to Paying for Them

Adding family members as authorized users can give them access to the card’s benefits, increases your ability to earn points, and helps save money by providing access to premium benefits like primary rental insurance.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card travel insurance benefits
Adding an authorized user to your Sapphire card covers them with some of the card's best benefits like Lost and Delayed Baggage Insurance.

The two cards have vastly different policies in this respect. The Sapphire Preferred charges no fee for adding authorized user accounts. However, adding an authorized user to the Sapphire Reserve will come at a cost.

To put that in perspective. If you have one authorized user on your account, you'll still pay just $95 for the Sapphire Preferred. But the additional $75 for an authorized user account increases the yearly fees on the Sapphire Reserve to $625. That's a hefty fee — especially if you’re unsure you can take advantage of all the credits and benefits associated with the card.

One of the big benefits of adding an authorized user is earning points on purchases they make with the card. Consider the popular bonus categories of 3X on travel and dining with the Sapphire Reserve, and 2X on the same purchases with the Sapphire Preferred. If you value your points at 1.5 cents each, your authorized user needs to spend $5,000 per year on travel and dining to cover the $75 authorized user fee.

Lower Income Threshold and Minimum Credit Limit Requirements

One of the keys to successful points + miles strategies is selecting products that suit your financial position. While both Sapphire cards are Visa cards, the Sapphire Preferred is a Visa Signature the Sapphire Reserve is a Visa Infinite card. The two cards have different minimum income and credit limit requirements.

The official minimum credit limit for each card is:

  • Visa Signature — $5,000
  • Visa Infinite — $10,000

And while there's no publicly available formula for how banks decide on credit card approvals, logic would dictate that you will need to meet a higher income threshold to qualify for a $10,000 credit limit. That's particularly true if you already have a line of credit with the same bank.

The Sapphire Preferred is a Great Card for Beginners

What makes the Sapphire Preferred so good for beginners? We are big believers in starting small; don't dive in headfirst. Learn from the available opportunities and potential mistakes while they are minor errors that won't cost a lot of money. You will make mistakes; we all do.

Award travel is no different from any other hobby. Over time, you'll become more knowledgeable on how to leverage points (and premium benefits) for maximum value. It can be a steep learning curve with the volume of information available.

The Sapphire Reserve is the better card if you can take advantage of the available travel credits and benefits while knowing how best to utilize the bonus categories on travel and dining. If there's any doubt that you will make full use of the benefits of the Sapphire Reserve, then the Sapphire Preferred is most likely the better option financially.

Final Thoughts

In addition to earning flexible rewards points, the Sapphire Preferred features useful perks and travel protection benefits that offer tangible value to cardholders. It may have lost some of its shine with the release of the Sapphire Reserve, but we think the increased welcome offer and more affordable annual fee currently tip the value-scales in favor of the Sapphire Preferred.

That’s not to say the Sapphire Reserve isn’t a valuable credit card. It's still one of the best premium rewards cards on the market. But given the current travel landscape, it can be hard to justify paying such a large annual fee for benefits you may not get to use. You can always upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve at a later date if your circumstances change, and you can take advantage of the travel perks on offer.

The Sapphire Preferred has earned its spot as the best beginner's card and still deserves its place as one of the best travel cards on the market.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Our #1 recommended beginners rewards card featuring an 80,000 point signup bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
  • 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
  • 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases

AwardWallet Tip of The Day
Did you know that you can group different travel segments into a single travel plan? You can then share this trip with anyone. To do this use the Create Travel Plan link.  You can move the beginning and end sections of the travel plan by dragging and dropping.
Show me how

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Scott Driesen says:

    We have one of each card & the ability to transfer points from one to the other has come in handy often.
    Always wonder if there’s a better strategy for it that what we are currently doing?

  • Avatar

    Another reason which was just announced: increased grocery payout on the CSR (3x pts vs 2x on the CSP), from 11/1-4/30.

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    Tomas Alvarez says:

    Totally agree. 5 reasons are true.
    I still love the Reserve

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    I’ve read that both sapphire cards will now earn 3 points per dollar for groceries. That’s a real improvement.

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    The CSP was my first true “travel” card, and I discovered this hobby in the age of COVID. The CSR won’t make financial sense until the 48 month waiting period for the bonus has elapsed (and we’ve put a lid on the pandemic), but I’m definitely looking forward to the anticipated changes to the entire Sapphire lineup, given the positive changes on the Freedom cards.

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    I still love the Reserve…

    Unfortunately it’s difficult to travel these days!

  • Avatar
    David Miller says:

    I’ve had the Reserve for a few years now and always thought it was worth the $450 because I really used the benefits, like the lounges. But I just dropped down to a Preferred because I don’t see myself traveling for a while and when I do, I’ve heard you can just pay something like $27 per session to get into a lounge. Is that true? And fortunately I never needed to find out for myself how the “primary” rental car insurance works, but I read somebody’s comment that Chase was useless after her accident, and she had to cough up $3700 to pay the rental company, and wishes she’d just bought the dang CDW. Because of those reasons, I hope I made the right choice to switch to CSP. Thoughts?

    • Avatar

      Interesting! I’ve only heard good things from Chase’s rental car coverage, but thankfully I also haven’t needed to use it myself. In your case, the CSP offers the same rental car protection as the CSR.

      As far as the $27 cost for the lounge, that’s generally the cost to bring in an additional guest above your guest allowance. The cost typically isn’t that cheap as a standalone. We’ve found that LoungeBuddy is the best resource for finding lounges and their cost.

  • Avatar

    @Jess, I’ve read that Chase may use my income data from a current Chase card application with them to reduce my credit limits on other existing Chase cards I own. I assume that could happen if my income on a current Chase application is less than the income on a prior application. I’ve retired since my last Chase application; consequently, I no longer have employer income. However, my 401k and IRA provide enough income to live on for my retirement. Further, IRS certainly treats my 401k and IRA withdrawals as income. Would Chase see my retirement withdrawals as income? Or, by applying for a new card, might I risk losing some of my credit limit on my existing Chase cards?

    • Avatar

      I haven’t heard of Chase reducing your credit limit on existing cards after a new application. However, I understand that Chase determines how much total credit to extend to you based on your current income. So, if you already have cards with more credit limit than that, you wouldn’t be approved. My wife and I have learned from experience that you can end up getting a Chase card approved by calling into the reconsideration line to reduce the credit lines on your existing Chase cards to transfer enough credit to open the new card.

      As far as what counts as income, Chase gives you the chance to state all available income available to you – which should include your 401k and IRA. If you are withdrawing from a ROTH account, you may need to clarify on your application that you have non-taxable income.

  • Avatar
    Steven William Van Meter says:

    I signed up for this after a recent flight. The bonus points will surely help me make a flight to somewhere desirable once these silly lockdowns and border closures are over.

  • Avatar

    After you take out the travel credit the still $450 reserve is only $150 versus the $90. A few visits to priorty pass lounges or restaurants makes up for that alone. With the extra $100 next year it becomes a bit more of a comparison.

    • Avatar

      Agreed completely. While us existing cardholders may be able to easily justify the ~$50 difference, new CSR cardholders are charged the full $550 annual fee now. So, it’s a lot harder to justify picking the CSR instead of the CSP at this time.

  • Avatar

    It would be great if you’d update this article to reflect Chase’s recent introduction of new benefits and perqs and rewards categories.

    • Avatar

      We intend for this post to be an evergreen post and most of the new benefits and perks offered by Chase are temporary in nature. With that said, is there a particular permanent perk you think we should include? Thanks!

  • Avatar

    But for those of us who already own the Sapphire Reserve, I’m wondering if I’m getting my worth of the CSR this year. I mostly reside abroad so can’t make use of the Doordash benefit nor the Lyft rides. I have had this card for 3 years now and LOVE the PriorityPass feature most of all. But not getting to use much of that. And the lounges are scaled down these days. I’ve already gotten a huge benefit from it over the years so the long term perspective value is still enough for me to keep it. But I wonder for others.

  • Avatar

    Since I’m not travelling so much right now, I think my best choice would be a 3rd option: The Chase Flex card.

  • Avatar

    I wish they’d add some additional benefits to the CSP to better compare to the Freedom cards, other than just the welcome bonus. I already have the card so that does nothing for me 🙂 Maybe a return of the 7% annual bonus. At the very least, they should add a drugstore bonus.

  • Avatar

    If I were a newbie at this game, I’d definitely apply for the Preferred to get the larger sign on bonus then later upgrade to the Reserve. I wish the bonus had been this large when I got the card. I still travel a lot, so the higher points earning and redemption rate for the Reserve still make it worth the annual fee. I recently booked a hotel in a small mountain town that had no chain hotels so no points or status to be gained) I booked it through the Chase portal and really appreciated the 1.5 c redemption rate.

  • Avatar

    Is there an end date to the 80,000 points? I’m going to get my wife to sign up for it.

    • Avatar

      Hi Darren, no end date has been officially announced. For what it’s worth, I’ve seen refer-a-friend links that show 11/7/20 as the deadline. This info hasn’t been reviewed or confirmed in any way by Chase.

  • Avatar

    After meeting the minimum spend on the Chase Sapphire preferred and getting the bonus how long would Chase make you wait before upgrading to the Chase Sapphire reserve?

    • Avatar

      Hey Ed, that’s a good question. I’ve seen multiple references to 13 months as the minimum waiting period, but I didn’t come across anything official from Chase.

    • Avatar

      You can’t upgrade to a card with a larger annual fee for at least 12 months. Many card issuers further restrict the law to be no product changing at all within 12 months.

  • Avatar
    Carl Vartian says:

    PLEASE take a look at when some of these comments were posted.

    Lots of (currently) nonsensical comments about those who travel a lot. Note these were all posted before COVID-19 became a household word.

    No one is now traveling a lot internationally and, if they say they are, they are probably lying.

    Many countries have arriving Americans in quarantine for 14 days, so I truly doubt anyone is really capitalizing on accrued points.

    Like many others, I am saving up for when travel opens up, but not sure when that will actually be.

  • Avatar

    Wondering if anyone can shed some light on the PP benefits of this card vs. the Citi Prestige? I’m looking to downgrade my Prestige as the travel partners aren’t worth it for me and I can’t justify spending the AF on Prestige as they slashed most of the benefits that I used.

    As travel has diminished a lot for me (most is work travel but that is VERY restricted now), I couldn’t find an up-to-date guide on the PP benefits for each card.

    Can anyone shed some light? Definitely keeping the CSR, but didn’t know what the differences between the PP memberships for the cards as they both differ somewhat.

    TIA!

    • Avatar

      Here’s the link to the Guide to Benefits from my wife’s Citi Premier card: https://www.cardbenefits.citi.com/~/media/CPP/Files/LegalDocs/SOAPI/MV6703-0415_CitiTravelFee_p-J3.ashx
      And here’s the Citi Prestige as well: https://www.cardbenefits.citi.com/~/media/CPP/Files/LegalDocs/SOAPI/141901_MV6704_Prestige_Updates_3_FINAL.ashx
      Just a heads up that both links will download a PDF.

      {edit} and here’s the Guide to Benefits for the CSR: https://www.chasebenefits.com/sapphirereserve2

      Also, now that I understand PP as Priority Pass (instead of Purchase Protection)…
      – CSR: Priority PassTM Select Membership…Primary Cardmembers and Authorized Users are granted complimentary access to the Priority Pass lounges and are allowed a maximum of two accompanying guests each. For any additional guests, your card will be charged $27 per guest, per visit.
      – Prestige: Priority Pass Select Lounge Access Terms and Conditions. Primary and Authorized users are granted complimentary access to the Priority Pass lounges and allowed a maximum of up to two guests or and immediate family members (spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18 years of age). Any additional guests will be charged a $27 per guest, per visit charge.

      So, it looks like the Prestige has a slight advantage if you travel with a large immediate family.

      • Avatar

        I have the same question — I see a Citi Premier and Citi Prestige though. I think he asked about Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Citi Prestige.

        I’m canceling the Prestige as well and couldn’t find any differences between the two (Prestige vs. CSR) but maybe I’m missing something?

        • Avatar

          Shoot. You’re right. That’s what I get for rushing. I edited my original response to fix. Thanks for flagging.

          • Avatar

            Thanks (and thanks, Jen!) Yes… what I had meant was the CSR vs. Citi Prestige.

            Appreciate the link to the docs!!

  • Avatar

    Excellent article. I would advise explore all your credit card options before making a decision.

  • Avatar
    Bruce klein says:

    Already have the sapphire reserve and have points already earned. Is there any way to cancel and keep lints and then apply for the sapphire preferred card?

    • Avatar

      Rather than canceling the CSR, I’d recommend downgrading the card to a Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited. That way you won’t risk losing the points. Then, after you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can use the “combine points” feature to move those points from your Freedom card to your new CSP card.

  • Avatar

    80k points is a rare offer, hard to say No to apply for.

  • Avatar

    I didn’t see where you contrasted the points redemption value. Are they both $.015 per point?

    • Avatar

      They aren’t. That’s one way that the Chase Sapphire Reserve still holds the edge. CSR cardholders get 1.5 cents per point for travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and through Pay Yourself Back. Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders only get 1.25 cents per point.