The Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve are two of the most popular cards for travel hackers. Both of these cards earn Ultimate Rewards, which we love! These points are great because they are so flexible. You can use them in the Chase Travel Portal (similar to Expedia) and book just about any type of travel, or you can transfer the points directly to one of Chase’s many hotel and airline partners and book direct. In this post, we will go over each of these cards and share which one we recommend you start with.
And one of these cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, just got a limited-time increased signup bonus of 80K points if you spend $4,000 on it in 3 months. This is worth a whopping $1,200 in the travel portal because each point is worth 1.5 cents per point.
We probably recommend this card the most to beginning travel hackers because it offers those wonderful transferable points (Ultimate Rewards) , and the annual fee is low. Nothing increases your bonus/points balance quicker than signup bonuses. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after a $4,000 minimum spend in 3 months. After you meet the minimum spend, refer your travel partner and get another 15,000 bonus points! Once you finish the minimum spend on that card, together, you will have 143,000 Ultimate Rewards. What’s great about these points is you can combine your points together.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a luxury Ultimate Rewards card. This card has a hefty annual fee of $550 but has some really great benefits to offset that. One of those benefits is a $300 travel credit each year. How this works is you simply pay for your travel on this card, and you will get up to $300 of those expenses credited back to you. This takes the annual fee down to $250. Another great benefit of this card is that you get lounge access to Priority Pass lounges. Your points are worth more in the travel portal when you have this card. With the Sapphire Preferred, your points are worth 1.25 cents, but with the Reserve, they are worth 1.5 cents each. The standard bonus on this card is 50,000 points, but currently, the bonus is 80,000 points!
Unfortunately, no. Chase states that you can’t be the primary account holder on both the Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards. If you already have one Sapphire card, you can’t have the other.
You can get the Reserve card by canceling or downgrading your Preferred card and applying for the Reserve as long as it’s been 48 months since you received the bonus on the Preferred card. Be careful about closing any credit cards that you have had for a long time, as it can hurt your credit scores. It is also possible to call and upgrade from the Sapphire Preferred to the Sapphire Reserve after you have had the card for one year. Keep in mind you’d miss out on the signup bonus.
The Sapphire Reserve has a higher annual fee (but great benefits to offset it). For a long time, the Reserve didn’t offer referral points, but with this new offer, you can now also earn up to 50,000 points per year (10,000 points per referral) by referring someone to the Reserve.
While we normally recommend beginners start with the Sapphire Preferred, there are definitely some arguments for taking advantage of this increased offer on the Reserve. If you value a lower annual fee over a higher welcome offer, the Sapphire Preferred is still a great choice.
However, if you’ve been waiting for an increased offer on the Sapphire Preferred, it might make more sense to go for the Sapphire Reserve now and then downgrade to a Preferred after the first year.
In our opinion, both cards are great for acquiring Ultimate Rewards. However, the Chase Sapphire Preferred usually gets our nod because of the lower annual fee. With this increased welcome offer on the Reserve, though, it’s a tougher call and will likely depend on which benefits you can take advantage of to offset the annual fee on the Reserve. Which card do you prefer and why? Be sure to check out our post, 7 Reasons Why I Love Chase Ultimate Rewards, to learn more about these cards and how they work.
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