Signup Bonus and Earning Potential - Sapphire Reserve vs. Sapphire Preferred

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been a perennial favorite of the points and miles community since its debut in 2009. The card earns flexible Ultimate Rewards points, has a lucrative signup bonus, and fantastic perks like Primary Rental CDW Insurance, It also can quickly accumulate points earning 2X points on travel and dining, making it one of the primary cards used to anchor a solid points-earning strategy.

After the release of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, one of the recurring questions we receive is: With the $550 annual fee, is the Chase Sapphire Reserve® more valuable than the Sapphire Preferred? And the answer is–maybe. Depending on how you maximize the benefits on the premium card.

The Sapphire Preferred Bonus is More Valuable Than the Sapphire Reserve Bonus

The Sapphire Reserve has a signup bonus of 60,000 points that is worth less than the 80,000 you could earn with the Sapphire Preferred. Although Sapphire Preferred points don't hold the same fixed-value, the signup bonus is worth more as you get more points.

As a Sapphire Reserve cardholder, points are worth 1.5¢ per point when redeemed for airfare or hotels through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, while Sapphire Preferred cardholders receive 1.25¢ per point. Using the values assigned by Chase, the numbers for the signup bonuses roll out like this.

Although we typically recommend transferring points out to the fantastic list of Ultimate Rewards travel partners as the best way to maximize the value of your points, the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal can often make more sense as you are not limited to any one airline, and there are no blackout dates.

Where the Sapphire Reserve does add more value than its predecessor is its ability to earn more points per dollar spent. The Sapphire Reserve has an increased bonus of 3x points on dining and travel.

Travel or Dining SpendSapphire Reserve @ 1.5c/pointSapphire Preferred @ 1.25c/pointDifference in value
$1,0003,000 = $45.002,000 = $25.00$20.00
$2,5007,500 = $112.505,000 = $62.50$50.00
$5,00015,000 = $225.0010,000 = $125.00$100.00
$10,00030,000 = $450.0020,000 = $250.00$200.00

That is an extra $200.00 in redeemable value for every $10k spent on dining and travel bonus categories. While the signup bonus puts the Sapphire Preferred out to an early lead, the Sapphire Reserve has a few perks which make it more valuable than the Sapphire Preferred long term.

$300 Travel Credit

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a $300 travel credit that can be used on everything from airfare, hotels, baggage fees, and Uber/taxi fares. Considering that the vast majority of people applying for this card will be doing so in part for its travel benefits, this negates close to half of the card's $550 annual fee; effectively you are only $250 out of pocket for the card after the $300 travel credit.

The $300 travel credit is about as straightforward as it gets. Purchase $300+ of travel categorized purchases, and you'll receive $300 in statement credits per cardmember year.

Priority Pass Select™

The Sapphire Reserve also gives you access to a global network of 1,000+ Priority Pass™ Select lounges in over 400 cities worldwide. Having lounge access is a must-have feature for any premium travel card, and while the Sapphire Reserve doesn’t have the additional Delta Sky Club or Centurion® Lounge access of The Platinum Card® from American Express, Priority Pass™ is a global network that includes some fantastic lounges around the world. Guests are complimentary as well!

Global Entry or TSA Pre ✓® Fee Credit

You are eligible for a statement credit of up to $100 every four years when you charge your Global Entry or TSA Pre ✓® fees to the Sapphire Reserve. If you are tired of waiting in lines, TSA Pre ✓® is a must-have, giving you access to faster lines through airport security when approved.

Final Thoughts

The value of the Sapphire Preferred has not been diminished in any way, the value is the same as it was before the new Sapphire card was released, but the Sapphire Reserve is an improved premium version for Ultimate Rewards-earning cards. Taking into account the annual fee of $550, you can still come out ahead in both the monetary value of the card and the extra perks and benefits you are entitled to as a cardholder.

For very active members of the points and miles community, the inherent value gained from transferring Ultimate Rewards points to partners can significantly raise the value of Ultimate Rewards points. However, for those members lacking time to invest in learning tips and tricks to maximize each transfer partner, the added value of receiving 3x points on travel and dining spend, compounded by receiving 1.5¢ per point when redeeming through Ultimate Rewards is a massive incentive to pick up the Sapphire Reserve.

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