How To Use the Chase Sapphire Reserve<sup>®</sup> $300 Travel Credit How To Use the Chase Sapphire Reserve<sup>®</sup> $300 Travel Credit

How To Use the Chase Sapphire Reserve® $300 Travel Credit

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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™ 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.

Boarding Pass / Ticket
Airfare and train tickets both qualify as travel purchases for the Sapphire Reserve travel credit

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.”

Final Thoughts

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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  • The picture of a credit used has changed inside the Chase UR portal window. Now it is less obvious how much is used and left to use.

  • I tend to agree with you about the Preferred, although I don’t have either card myself. I’m still deciding whether or not to branch out into the world of UR points. The thing is I have good cards already for travel and dining, so the Preferred would be cannibalizing those for me; but the Preferred is likely an easier path to the high-rewards Reserve, by upgrading after year one. Plus there’s the larger bonus that you mentioned. Decisions, decisions…

  • Visualize this analogy:

    You give me $1. (You can call me Chase.)
    I then return your $1 to you so you can buy a soft drink.
    You take the dollar and buy a soft drink.
    Yes, you spent a dollar on a soft drink (that you hopefully would have bought anyway), but I am not $1 richer.

    So yes, it is a pre-payment, but it’s for something you wanted, and it does effectively reduce the $450 annual fee to $150, as long as you take advantage of it. It’s a bit of sleight-of-hand on Chase’s part, sure.

    I actually had to play it out in my mind to understand it myself.

    • Yep, absolutely a fair interpretation. I have the Reserve and personally think of it as an interest-free loan to Chase until I max out my travel credit. If paying the fee upfront isn’t a hardship, the CSR is a great card, but I still think the better welcome bonus makes the Preferred the place to start unless you plan to use the Priority Pass or other benefits of the CSR immediately and frequently.

  • Maybe I’m not understanding but if you’re buying a $300 airline ticket and you’re credited for it but still paying a $450 annual fee then isn’t it not a credit at all? You simply paid for your flight when you paid the astronomical annual fee. I don’t see it as a credit since you’re paying it annually in that crazy fee. Please help me see this differently.

    • I agree with you and wondering the same thing. I would like for someone to ELI5 (Explain Like I’m 5). 😀


      • Your annual fee (“AF”) is, in effect, a prepayment for that year’s CSR benefits (although it’s possible to earn far more value from the CSR than the dollar value of the annual fee).

        The CSR monetary relationship between the AF prepayment and perqs received as statement credits is the easiest to track, as illustrated in the example below.

        $450 AF (for some of us in 2021, $550 for others)

        – $300 Travel credit = $150 of $450 AF/prepayment unused; $250 of $550 AF/prepayment unused
        – $100 Global Entry credit = $50 of $450 AF/prepayment unused; $150 of $550 AF/prepayment unused
        – $ 60 DoorDash credit = $10 profit on $450 AF/prepayment; $90 of $550 AF/prepayment unused

  • George S Williams III says:

    $300 of my annual timeshare maintenance fee was credited to my CSR account. I’ll never have to worry about how I’m going to earn that credit since that fee is due the first of the year…forever.

  • I was able to purchase a $300 Southwest Gift Card and that credited for the $300 travel credit. I purchased it directly from Hope that helps.

  • Uber now sells Uber credits at 5% off. Now you can get $100 in rides for 95 bucks. Has anyone tried to purchase these credits using the Sapphire reserve card and have had success getting the amount reimbursed by Chase?

  • Michael Igor S says:

    Hope someone can help me make an educated decision.
    Have been using the priceline 2% cashback card for years.
    Spend about 100,000 a year and not the biggest travelers but really depends on a year.
    Is this card worth the $450 fee (or looks like $150 after some credit) vs a straight cashback?
    Appreciate your help with this.

    • IMO, the Sapphire Reserve is well worth it — BASED ON YOUR TRAVEL GOALS. This is what we’d do:

      There is no one-size fits all card, but 2% cash back, isn’t something to just throw to the wayside. First, you have to define your goals and then you can decide which cards are best.

      • Thanks Howie.
        Are the points worth more than the 2% most of the time?
        Seems like if that’s the case it would be possible to make up the $150 dollar fee during the year.
        Not having redeemed reward points I am not familiar with the whole process.
        Thanks again

        • That is a loaded question: it depends on how you redeem. If you’re redeeming for international business/first class flights + fancy hotels – YES. If you’re redeeming for domestic/economy flights you likely won’t do better than 2% — BUT, keep in mind, if you’re using a card that earns 1.5 points/dollar and each point is worth 1.5 cents each, that is 2.25% return. Look at the Freedom Unlimited + Sapphire Reserve combo mentioned in the article I linked.

  • I’m trying to figure out the $300 credit and the 3×1 travel multiplier. So if I spend 300, I get 300 right? What about after that 300? Do I still earn rewards (3x)? Can I only be reimbursed up to 300 or is that an instant reward and the points still rack up? First rewards card I’m looking at, sorry for my niaevety on this topic and thank you for your help on this.

    • 1) The $300 credit provides a $300 statement credit on the first $300 of travel-coded charges made on the card. Everything from airfare to Uber to tolls to airport parking. If you spend $200 you get $200, if you spend $300 you get $300 if you spend $500 you get $300.

      2) Points still rack up — no limit on 3x earning.

  • I guess I didn’t pay enough attention when I read this before, I see that passenger trains and buses are included. That would include Amtrak and the bus lines from Greyhound (and their bargain line Bolt Bus) to Coach USA (and their bargain line MEga Bus) and most large lines in between. That means I can use this card while still getting the benefits of using an airline and hotel card or miles and points.

  • Very interesting and I am considering this card now as I have upcoming travel. I am curious though what the best signup bonus I should shoot for?
    Is there any benefit to signing up for regular saphire then upgrading to reserve later?
    Does it matter if I signup online or in person at a branch?
    I notice it states 5 star hotels are credited for the $300 travel credit. Do the hotels need to be 5 star?

    Thank you for any advice and info.

  • In terms of overall value, this card is hard to beat.

  • This is one of the easiest credits to use up.

  • It makes very little sense to have this card if you don’t travel much, and in that regard, it would be very surprising for someone not to use the full $300 credit given how broad Chase applies it.

  • If only the Ritz card had something similar (sigh…)

  • It’ hard not to use all the $300 without even trying.

  • Someone said, “I just upgraded my Sapphire Preferred to the Reserve.” My question is, do you get the 50,000 bonus points for upgrading or do you have to apply for a new card?

  • I was fortunate this year and had a airfare ticket that was more than $300 right from the gate. Was like getting free money back!

  • Awesome breakdown! This really does work for so many travel plans!

  • Super useful, thanks as always. Love that card for the TSA perks!

  • I have found that I can “preload” my E-ZPass account, used for tolls and airport parking, for travel-related credit.

  • Lee Ann Bixler says:

    I love this card, especially since Chase doesn’t make you jump through hoops for the $300 travel credit. We use it for airline tickets, parking at the airport, etc. I also make it a point to use the credit early in the year so I don’t forget it.

  • The CSR is my favorite credit card!

  • Thanks. I just assumed it was an airline incidentals credit. Now, I’ll have to look into this when the Chase 5/24 doesn’t disqualify ne.

  • Thanks for the useful tutorial

  • Great feature of the card. Makes choosing this over the CSP a no brainer.

  • I just upgraded my Sapphire Preferred to the Reserve. In the first month I used the entire 300 travel credit. Though admittedly I travel a lot, the idea that someone would NOT earn the entire credit during the year is almost unbelievable since Chase is so flexible with what they consider travel.

    • I have to agree with you on this, but why did you simply upgrade the card. Why not add a new card to get another bonus? Then you can simply combine CSR and cancel the preferred card when the annual fee comes due.

      • I believe that the answer would be because Chase does not allow one to earn the sign-up bonus for a Sapphire product, if one is already holding one. Maryjane would have had to cancel the CSP and then wait 24 months before applying for the CSR if she wanted the sign-up bonus for that card.

  • I love my CSR cc and the generous travel credit annually makes me love it even more.

  • Admittedly, I’d lost sight of my travel credit available to me until I saw some of the cost for a Grand Canyon railroad trip I bought for Xmas presents reimbursed to me. Such a delight!

  • I like the flexibility compared to Amex

  • Deborah L Dellosso says:

    I just realized that I need to spend about $200 more in travel this year (only 3 days left). No trips planned….any ideas?? Please 🙂

    • You could buy airline gift cards if sold directly by the airline. Please make sure you’re using your 2017 and NOT your 2018 credit. I’d highly recommend you call up Chase to confirm which year credit you’d be using — give the blog post a full read, as it’ll dictate how your $300 travel credit is allocated.

      • Deborah L Dellosso says:

        Thanks! I thought I was not in the ‘loophole’ because I got my card in February 2017 and I got a $300 credit last year. But, I just booked a flight with points, and put the taxes ($100) on my CSR and then the credit showed up. I am assuming that is for 2017. Should I call to confirm that (before I try to spend the other $200 for ‘this’ year)?

        • So you haven’t had any travel-related purchases on your card in 2017 until these charges you just made? You should be able to look back through your statements to see how much of the $300 credit you’ve received. If it truly was $0, and your December statement hasn’t closed yet, then these charges are for 2017. If your December statement has already closed for the month, these charges are counting against your 2018 total.

  • I’m also a bit confused about the update on the travel credit. If I opened a card on 1/13/17, I’ve already received a travel credit. It’s December now, and I noticed I have received another $300. From now on, I will receive it every December? Or will receive another $300 on my anniversary on 1/13/17 also.

    If I do receive it again on 1/13/17, does this mean I lose what I had leftover between 12/13 to 1/13? Such confusing language.

    • Jason, the credit is based on the month in which your statement closes. So the charges where you’ve received the credit in December will post to your first statement that closes in January. I agree it is confusing and would logically make more sense to be effective based on posting month, but with the CSR, Chase does it based on the closing month of the statement — which is why your December charge counted. No, you won’t get it again — this $300 is through this time next year.

  • How do you actually spend the earned $300?? How do you apply it to anything?

  • Just got my reserve card…was hoping to be able to use 300 this year and again next as I had read it was an annual credit…but looks like that loophole closed earlier this year?
    So if I understand it right (remember my account just opened this month, November 2017)…If I spend 300 in travel before my account posts in December, I will be credited the 300.
    But then will not be credited on any other travel purchases until November 2018 (on or after my account anniversary)?
    Do I understand it correctly? That December to December thing is throwing me off!!

  • Travelfreek says:

    I ended up getting this thinking at first that having the CSP card, I wouldn’t be able to get it but I did in March 2017 at the Chase bank brick and mortar before the 100k bonus expired. Now I’m trying to decide when to get my $300 (2nd travel credit) before cancelling the card in early March. Does a Marriott gift card for $300 work for the travel credit?

  • I wish I could get it but I just used the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and cancelled when my 1 year was up. That was nice too (got 40k – just missed the 50K bonus).

  • This credit is super easy to use, car rental, uber etc

  • Cathy Krasnianski says:

    As I understand it, the online deadline has passed, but you can still go into a branch and apply until early March.

  • Strongly considering this card; wish there were a couple of more specific airline transfer partners, though.

  • Very strongly looking at this one….. Wish there were a couple of more airlines that were transfer partners

  • Declined for the card due to 5/24. Heartbreaking!

  • Does purchasing airline gift cards qualify towards the $300 travel credit? I know it seems to work for the American Express credits, just wondering if it applies for the Sapphire Reserve.

    • It works on Delta and American based on first hand experience — but I’d hope you only do this as a last resort / when you’d otherwise lose part due to a lack of travel as the credit works on so much!

  • It was amazing how fast the credit showed up for travel purchases and also the TSA Pre Check.

  • I love how flexible the credits are for the csr over its competitors

  • Had to buy an MTA card and was immediately reimbursed for it!

  • Absolutely love this simplistic approach vs. what some other card issuers do. Way to go Chase. So glad I was able to get this card.

  • just got mine!

  • I really love how its so easy to use. Many other cards are a pain in the ass.

  • Very informative! Interesting point about possibly using travel credit twice in the first calendar year.

  • The above post summarizes a bunch of the reasons I am going for bank points this year.

    • Yes there are A LOT of great programs out there.. and I have a feeling 2017 will bring more. Let’s hope to keep devaluations to a minimum. cheers!