Why Sapphire Preferred is Easier to Get Approved for Than Sapphire Reserve

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Chase has backed off of the big marketing push they made for Sapphire Reserve when it first launched. It no longer has the huge signup bonus that was so expensive for Chase, where there was talk of 6 or 7 year paybacks (it would take that long on average for a customer to turn profitable).

Now the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has the better signup bonus and in fact my favorite bonus of any consumer credit card.

  1. It’s offering 50,000 points after $4000 spend in 3 months, just like Sapphire Reserve. (The points transfer 1:1 to several different airline and hotel programs.)

  2. It does that while offering a $0 annual fee the first year (then $95) versus $450, even accounting for travel credits those points come at a much lower net cost than they do with Sapphire Reserve.

Singapore Airlines is a Chase Transfer Partner

Despite the Chase marketing push for ‘millennials’ with their $450 annual fee card it’s just as important to note that Sapphire Preferred seems like an easier approval. That’s because Sapphire Preferred is a Visa Signature while Reserve is a Visa Infinite. Visa Signatures can be approved with a lower credit line. You need for Chase to be willing to give you more credit to get approved for a Visa Infinite.

Bigger bonus and easier approval are two great reasons to get started with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. I’m always shocked by the miles and points veterans who argue the Sapphire Reserve is better for getting started in miles and points, no matter what the value proposition it’s a hard case to make for a $450 card, you get started with a low cost and low risk product, see it’s value, and that sets you up to accumulate and spend more points in the future.

That’s the lesson that frequent flyer programs themselves learned early on. When airline programs started it was common to receive 5000 bonus miles if you drained your account. The fear was you’d move on to another program and be released from the hamster wheel if your balance dropped to zero. What actually happened was that successfully redeeming points was tangible proof that the points you were earning had value and consumers who redeem points speed up their earn going forward rather than dropping out or changing programs.

Hyatt is a Chase Transfer Partner

Chase generally wants to focus with both cards on customers who aren’t switching from product to product, they usually only approve new accounts for people that have had fewer than 5 new cards in the past 24 months. Another great reason to start with Chase Sapphire Preferred, starting there becomes a sort of license to get other cards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. Interesting post.

    Even though I’m ineligible for the initial spend bonus by virtue of the Chase 5/24 rule, I’m actually thinking of upgrading from the Preferred to the Reserve because the Reserve’s $300 travel credit makes the effective difference of annual fee between the two just $55 ($150 versus $95). I do enough dining spending, as well as travel spending that I wouldn’t charge to other credit cards, to make the 3x Reserve versus 2x Preferred difference worthwhile.

    Still, having said that, I do think Chase shoots itself in the foot by applying the 5/24 to the Reserve card, since lots of folks might get and use it a lot if not barred from the bonus.

  2. Yeah – if you do over $4400 in the 3x categories it’s a wash on the fee in the worst case scenario. Add to that the bonus redemption value I get on all my Freedom spend that I transfer over and it’s a no brainer for me.

  3. Unless something has changed, you should probably mention the fact that you can’t have a CSP when you have a CSR, or other way around.

    Somewhat deceptive since a lot of beginners I know went for the CSR.

  4. Is it true you can’t have a CSP if you have a CSR?

    Hubby and I have a CSR and we wanted to get thd CSP so we can put one in our (adult) daughter’s name, so she has the benefits of traveling with it. She is a poor grad school student who travels a lot for part of her academic program, and the cost of the card, with the trip insurance benefits, is worth the annual fee alone. We really dont want her traveling with the CSR that we rely on in our everyday life.

  5. Why would anyone get CSR? Beside lounges it has lousy purchase/warranty/price/lost baggage protections. Why not go with Citi Prestige and get unlimited 4th night and semi automatic price protections and far better lost baggage/flight delayed protections? Or simply get
    1) Uber Visa (4% cash back on dining/take outs/food/bars; 3% cash back on travel/hotels/air bnb; 2% online shopping/streaming/Uber rides; 1% for the rest) no annual fee, no forex. And companion cards. Says
    2) Citi Double Cash: 2% cash back flat with no annual fee. Or RBFCU 2% cash back with no annual fee, no forex,
    3) Citi Prestige or Amex Business Platinum/Amex Platinum.

    Yeah you can say … one program has a bunch of transfer partners. But those airlines partners and their FFP and their services are garbage. Excepts AS, WN, B6, SQ, GA, CX, JL, NH, QZ.

  6. @Aaron, I can’t really disagree with you, as what program makes sense for whom is an individualized kind of thing. As for me, though, I like Chase Ultimate Reward points (though not to the exclusion of other programs) because I can transfer them to Korean Air, which has great premium class availability and nice premium cabins even for inter-Asian flights. And I view Citi as a less valuable program than Chase, Amex or Starwood because with Citi you have the hassle of having to transfer your TY points to a partner program whenever you cancel the Citi card you have employed to accumulate them; otherwise, you lose those points.

  7. Gary – hope you don’t mind questions for clarification purposes. Do you get any compensation for Sapphire Reserve applications or approvals? Do you get any compensation for Sapphire Preferred applications or approvals? Thank you.

  8. It sure does seem like you’ve pushed the CSP much more all along, barely acknowledging the Reserve. Guess you don’t get anything for the Reserve.

  9. LOL- and horrors, there’s also advertising on the New York Times site, even though I pay a subscription to get to the content! And TV and streaming- I pay money to MLB every year, only to experience irritating ads during the inning breaks.

    At least Gary doesn’t have a subscription fee for his blog, but yes, he makes money on every credit card signup through his links (complainer spoiler alert- there’s a large disclosure at the top of the blog. But you can just pretend you didn’t see that). Last I saw, the compensation to a blogger for affiliate referrals was $50 per successful credit card sign up- typically doesn’t make a difference between CSP and Sapphire Preferred, but there are also occasional spiffs, and other cards that pay less (or sometimes on Gary’s blog, you will find links that pay him nothing, because the offer is ineligible for affiliate commission).

    Gary is one of the good guys, though with a pretty strange sense of humor, and a strong dislike for TSA…

  10. CSP has a customer referral program. The cardholder gets 10K UR points for up to 5 referrals.

    Chase has limited Sapphire cards to one per person. And you won’t get another sign up bonus, unless you have no Sapphire accounts open.

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