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The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been a runaway success since its release in August 2016. It has been so successful that JPMorgan Chase CEO, Jamie Dimon, noted during an investor conference that the rapid take-up of the card would put a $200/300 million dent in the bank’s short-term profits. That is a serious amount of rewards, and when you examine the list of benefits and bonuses that accompany the card, it’s easy to see why.
The Sapphire Reserve launched with a massive signup bonus, offers a suite of best-in-class travel benefits, an array of credits to help offset the premium annual fee, lounge access for the whole family, and the potential to amass a substantial balance of Ultimate Rewards points through bonuses on travel and dining spend.
One of the most remarkable benefits of the card is the $300 travel credit. The Sapphire Reserve is not the first premium rewards card to offer a travel credit by any means. However, the travel credit on Amex cards is restricted to one airline which cardholders must nominate in advance. The credit on The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card only applies to non-ticket airline spend and lounge access. Whereas the $300 travel credit on the Sapphire Reserve will credit purchases as diverse as campground fees, five-star hotels, Uber rides, and first class airfares.
What Will the Sapphire Reserve Credit as a Travel Purchase?
The $300 travel credit on the Sapphire Reserve is the least restrictive of all the rewards earning cards to make our recent review of the best cards with travel and airline credits, offering the widest array of definitions.
Per the FAQ on Chase’s website:
“Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages. Please note that some merchants that provide transportation and travel-related services are not included in this category; for example, real estate agents, in-flight goods and services, on-board cruise line goods and services, sightseeing activities, excursions, tourist attractions, merchants within hotels and airports, and merchants that rent vehicles for the purpose of hauling. In addition, the purchasing of points or miles does not qualify in this category.”
By far the most comprehensive list of inclusions we’ve seen for any rewards earning credit card, and leaves the door wide open for claims when compared with Chase’s other premium offering, the Ritz-Carlton Card. It’s interesting that while you will receive credit for airline tickets, fees, and upgrades, in-flight goods and services are excluded.
Will Travel Purchases on the Sapphire Reserve Credit Automatically?
Yes, they do. The statement credit will automatically post to your account on the same day the purchase posts to your account but may take one or two billing cycles to appear on a billing statement. Qualifying purchases made by authorized users on your account are also eligible for statement credits.
One important thing to keep in mind for new cardholders is that the credit has no impact on meeting the minimum spend required for the card's signup bonus. Even when you receive a statement credit for a travel purchase, that purchase earns points and counts towards your combined total spend to reach the required spend.
Claim the Sapphire Reserve Annual Travel Credit
Twice in the First Year
UPDATE: Chase has updated the terms for $300 travel credit. For applications submitted on May 21, 2017, and onwards, the travel credit will be based on cardmember year, not calendar year. This closes the loophole that allowed new cardmembers to claim the travel credit twice in the first year of card membership.
“For applications submitted before May 21, 2017, annual means the year beginning with your account open date through the first December statement date of that same year, and the 12 billing cycles starting after your December statement date through the following December statement date each year.”
Providing it gets used entirely every year, the $300 travel credit offered with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® effectively offsets a significant portion of the $550 annual fee, reducing the out of pocket expense for the card to $250 per year. And that's without taking into consideration the Global Entry/TSA credit, Priority Pass lounge access, or the many other perks that inject such exceptional value into the card.
The range of accepted merchants for the Sapphire Reserve travel credit covers almost every travel purchase cardholders are likely to charge to the card and is also equal to the highest travel credit offered with any rewards credit card on the market. Combine the Sapphire Reserve with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card for the perfect Ultimate Rewards earning combination.
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