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. Still, the question remains: Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth its steep annual fee?

Let’s take a closer look.

The card is currently offering a 60,000-point welcome bonus after you spend $4,000 in your first three months of card opening. That’s the same welcome offer value in points as its cheaper sister card, the $95 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, but the Reserve offers a 1.5x boost on points redeemed for travel, making its 60,000-point offer potentially worth $900 toward travel.

Those 60,000 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.

Our Choice
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Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro offer:
    60,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $550
  • Regular APR:
    19.24% – 26.24% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    740-850 (Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
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The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Editor’s Score: (4.5/5)
Learn More externa link icon
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Editor’s Score: (4.5/5)
  • Intro offer:
    60,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $95
  • Regular APR:
    18.24% – 25.24% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’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.

In addition, you’ll get 10x total points on Lyft rides through March 2025. 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 complimentary DashPass membership through 12/31/24.

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 DoorDash membership works great for me, 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.

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 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 travel purchases.

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 through 12/31/24 for a minimum of one year when you activate.

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.