Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Worth the $550 Annual Fee?

A photo to accompany a story about the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card
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The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the most popular travel rewards cards on the market — and with perks like a $300 annual travel credit, up to $100 fee credit towards TSA PreCheck/Global Entry and even access to airport lounges worldwide, it’s easy to see why.

But all these perks don’t come cheap. The card carries a $550 annual fee, which is lower than the $695 annual fee its main competitor, The Platinum Card® from American Express (See Rates & Fees), carries. And while there aren’t any rumored fee hikes on the horizon for the Chase card, unlike Amex card — which have since been confirmed — the question is still valid: Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth its steep annual fee?

Let’s take a closer look.

The card is currently offering a 50,000-point welcome bonus after you spend $4,000 in your first three months of card opening. While that’s 10,000 points less than the current welcome offer for its cheaper sister card, the $95 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, it’s still nothing to scoff at.

Those 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be turned into free travel as soon as you’ve earned them, either by redeeming them via the Chase Travel Portal, or by transferring them to airline or hotel partners such as United, Southwest and Hyatt. As travel begins to bounce back, this sign-up bonus can be the ticket to helping you have that post-pandemic trip you’ve been dreaming of for the past year. And because the card earns 3x points on every dollar spent on dining and travel — the latter includes mass transit, car rentals, taxis and rideshare services — it’s easy to earn a lot of points fast (3x points on travel after earning $300 annual travel credit). The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns a point per dollar spent on everything else.

  • Intro bonus:
    50,000 points
  • Annual fee:
  • Regular APR:
    16.99%-23.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    740-850 (Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.
  • Intro bonus:
    60,000 points
  • Annual fee:
  • Regular APR:
    15.99% – 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.

Another major perk of the card is its $300 annual travel credit. It applies to flights and hotels and even to mass transit, train rides, Airbnb rentals and rideshares. If you use any of these frequently, or plan to when it’s safe to do so again, you can  knock $300 off the $550 fee, effectively lowering the cost to $250. What’s more, through December 31, 2021, you can use this credit on grocery store and gas stations purchases too. 

And until the end of 2021, you can use Ultimate Rewards points to offset the cost of some purchases, including dining and groceries. This could help make the Reserve attractive even for people who don’t plan to travel this year, even though redeeming points this way doesn’t typically yield the same value as redeeming them for travel.   

In addition, you’ll get a one-year complimentary Lyft Pink membership, which gives you priority access and up to 15% savings on Lyft rides (activate by 3/31/2022); Lyft Pink would otherwise cost $19.99 a month. The card also gives you access to airport lounges around the world that are part of  the Priority Pass network, and up to a $100 credit towards the TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee, every four years.

Many travel cards have been adding non-travel perks to retain customers who otherwise might have closed their accounts or downgraded to no-annual-fee cards during the pandemic, and the Reserve has been no exception. Its cardmembers can enjoy new perks such as up to a $60 DoorDash credit through 2021 and 12-month complimentary DashPass membership (activate by 12/31/21), as well as up to $120 in membership credits to popular workout program Peloton through December 31, 2021.

I have had the Chase Sapphire Reserve card for four years, and I get a lot of use out of it. I particularly get good use out of the $300 travel credit — in years past, it’s covered everything from domestic flights to a train ticket in Japan, and more recently Lyft and Uber rides around New York City and its suburbs. The new DoorDash membership works great for me, too. I don’t personally have a Peloton, but had the card before that perk was introduced, and found value in it  nonetheless. 

The card’s perks worked for the life I led before the pandemic, and they work now as well.  This is how we would encourage potential cardmembers to think, too. If you don’t do much traveling but still want to rack up Ultimate Rewards points for when you do get on a plane, you might not get much use out of the $300 travel credit and TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee credit. If that’s the case, you may be better off with the Sapphire Preferred Card. If you tend to order food from Uber Eats or Seamless instead of DoorDash, or opt for ordering directly from restaurants altogether, you likely won’t get much use out of the up to $60 DoorDash credit. The same principle applies for the Peloton membership, as well — if you are more of an in-class person or prefer to go on daily walks, you won’t find as much value in that up to $120 benefit.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is certainly worth the $550 annual fee for frequent travelers who want to elevate their travel experience with perks like lounge access, discounted flights and hotels via the $300 travel credit, and decreased wait times at airport security thanks to TSA PreCheck. And while many people spend more time at home due to the pandemic, those who frequently use DoorDash and/or Peloton will likely find a lot of value in the card, as well.

Pro Tip

Use the card’s $300 annual travel credit to save money on grocery store and gas station purchases through December 31, 2021.

Look at that $550 annual fee versus the perks that come with it, and decide if the value you get from them offsets the steep price. If it does not, it may make more sense for you to go with another travel card. As mentioned earlier, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is another great option — it has a $95 annual fee, and comes with perks like a complimentary DashPass membership for a minimum of one year (activate by 12/31/21) and up to $60 in Peloton credits (through 12/31/21). Plus, there’s never been a better time to get the Sapphire Preferred card thanks to its elevated sign-up bonus.

It’s all about finding the card that matches your spending and lifestyle habits — and keeping in mind that no credit card is a good idea if you don’t plan to pay the balance off before having to pay interest on it. Between no-annual fee and annual fee cards, you’re sure to find your Cinderella slipper: A card that matches your goals, budget, and spending habits.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card from American Express, click here.