Turning the Tables: Why to Get Chase Sapphire Preferred Over Sapphire Reserve

Information about Chase Sapphire Reserve has been collected independently by me and has neither been provided nor reviewed by its issuer.

I receive compensation for content and many links on this blog. Citibank is an advertising partner of this site, as is American Express, Chase, Barclays and Capital One. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same). Terms apply to the offers and benefits listed on this page.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers 60,000 bonus points after $4000 in spending within 3 months as a signup bonus. It earns double points on travel and dining, so earns points quickly. And they’re valuable points. They transfer to:

  • Airlines: United, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Air France KLM, Southwest Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Iberia, Aer Lingus, JetBlue
  • Hotels: Hyatt, IHG, Marriott

In 2016 Chase introduced the Sapphire Reserve card which was such a hit Chase filed an SEC 8-K advising of materially higher costs from new cardmember acquisition. It’s a $450 annual fee card that offers a $300 travel credit, a Global Entry credit, provides a Priority Pass for airport lounge access and 3 points per dollar on travel and dining.

That’s great but many people are now considering – more than 2 years later – whether it’s worth keeping the card after the excitement has worn off and without the signup bonus. If you’re in that camp consider product changing to a Sapphire Preferred Card so you’ll still be able to transfer points out to airlines and hotel programs.

Singapore Airlines Business Class

In fact in my opinion there are 4 reasons to choose the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card over Sapphire Reserve in the first place:

  1. Bigger up front bonus. 60,000 points after $4000 spend within 3 months instead of 50,000 points for Reserve.

  2. Easier Approval. Sapphire Reserve is a Visa Infinite and requires approval for a higher credit limit. Chase has shared average credit scores of 785 and average incomes over $180,000 for cardholders. Readers report frequent rejections apply for the card. Why not get Sapphire Preferred and if you want the Reserve card request a product change after a year?

  3. You already have Priority Pass. I have Priority Pass cards from several credit card issuers, so I don’t value another one. Some people don’t value airport lounge access, especially if the one they’d use the most is fairly spartan (e.g. one of “The Club” locations). If you don’t value that, then the higher fee is harder to justify.

  4. You don’t spend more than $500 a month on travel and dining. Maybe you use miles and points for your travel or it all goes on a company credit card. You need to put a decent amount of travel and dining spend on the card when the primary differentiator is one extra point per dollar justifying the annual fee.

Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Maldives

Chase limits approvals on both cards to folks who haven’t had 5 or more new credit card accounts in the past 24 months. If you’re getting started, I’d go with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for its bonus. Use it and see its value. Then once you’re hooked consider whether the higher annual fee card makes sense. It’s a tough sell for most people to start with a card whose annual fee is $450, no matter the value, since that’s at that price point it’s a real decision to make.

If you want Sapphire Reserve, since it’s become so hard to get (both anecdotally, and based on the data Chase has released), the best way to get it can be getting approved for a Sapphire Preferred Card and then asking to product change after a year.

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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 advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. With yesterday’s MileagePlus announcement, do you think Chase’s travel portal became more valuable as an alternative to captive airline points? If so, then CSR’s 1.5 factor became more valuable against CSP’s 1.25. We’ve used the travel portal a few times when we couldn’t find award availability on flights we wanted. That little 0.25 factor difference has saved us a ton of points.

    How do you think this change impacts the value of the MileagePlus credit cards? We have kept it for the enhanced award seat access, but doesn’t this change negate that benefit.

  2. Gary,

    Does the emergency medical and transport coverage offered by the Reserve version of the card justify the annual cost of keeping the card.

    The Reserve is $450 per year less the $300 travel credit every year – so I’m out of pocket $150 each year I keep the card.

    The Preferred is $95 a year.

  3. I think the emergency medical transport insurance on the CSR is worth a lot to me. That is an expensive spend if you like to travel to exotic places.

  4. @lucky can you do an article about emergency evacuation and over travel mishaps and a breakdown of which cards are best for these benefits and what charges you need to put on the cards to trigger them? If you haven’t done an article like this recently it may be very useful to your readers.

  5. @gary sorry about that was on a phone and clicked the screen and didnt realize i flipped over to your article. I know you have written on this issue in the past, just not really clear what spend needs to go on cards to trigger those benefits etc. My apologies.

  6. Your blog is terrific, interesting and enlightening, a regular source of helpful information. However, your frequent re-cycled recommendations of Sapphire Preferred over Sapphire Reserve are deceptive and smack of pandering and make you out to be a mercenary.

    You’re forthright with your VFTW Advertiser Disclosure, but not forthright enough to state if your get a commission and/or advertising income for both of these cards or just one of them. Based on reading many independent comparisons of the two cards, most of which firmly recommend the Reserve (except for people who do not travel or dine out very much, who probably shouldn’t get EITHER card), a rational person can only conclude you make income from the Preferred but NOT from the Reserve.

    Your mention of the (Reserve card’s) $300 annual travel credit belies how easily that credit is obtained (immediately and automatically upon $300 in travel charges) and thus how that credit essentially makes the annual fee for the card, for the vast majority of cardholders, $150. Your mention of the Global Entry credit doesn’t state it’s worth $20-$25 annually depending on if one uses it every 4 years as offered by Chase or every 5 years as required for GE renewal. You mention 3 vs 2 points per dollar but do NOT mention that Reserve points are worth 20% more than Preferred points when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal. You omit the Reserve card’s emergency evacuation coverage.

    Although you clearly state “in fact in my opinion” (an interesting twist on words; yes, it’s a fact that it’s your opinion), it’s uncertain how much your opinion is shaped by the relative merits of each card vs the income producing capability of each card. For this type of blog post you should tell us which of these cards produce income for you.

    Please keep up the good work, the other 97% of your blog is wonderful.

  7. For me, all airfare goes on the Amex Platinum, and the hotel spend that I pay for goes on a Hilton or Marriott card. The Sapphire cards are great for Uber (which code as travel), but sometimes (like this quarter), I’m putting Uber spend on another card due to a quarterly bonus. That leaves dining. Sapphire cards are great for dining, but so is the Amex Gold (4x) and Citi Prestige (5x) as well as other cards. The Amex Platinum also gets you Priority Pass and other benefits. As a result I am fine with my Preferred over the Reserve, and don’t really see the need to add the Reserve at this time. However, if you are heavily invested in the Chase ecosystem (as many seem to be), the Reserve probably better.

  8. I agree with HPL’s assessment as I consider CSR as a $150 card vs CSP being a $95 card.
    I’m biased as I’d accumulated a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards points and the Chase travel portal points redemption of factor of 1.5 from CSR vs 1.25 of CSP makes the $55 extra a no brainer.

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