Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Why the Preferred Wins for Most People

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® are two of the most popular travel rewards credit cards on the market. They both earn bonus points on travel and dining, as well as offer various perks for services like Peloton and DoorDash.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is also our pick for best credit card with an annual fee under $100, thanks to generous everyday rewards and money-saving lifestyle and travel perks. 

The Reserve can still deliver value higher than its annual fee for some people who are frequent travelers, but for most others, the Preferred is the way to go. Especially if you are starting out with earning and redeeming travel rewards points, it’s a solid pick that can provide a lot of value. 

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at both these cards to help you pick.

Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred At a Glance

These two travel cards have a few similarities, but differ in terms of benefits and rewards, and have vastly different annual fees. 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve, the more premium card of the two, offers more annual credits and higher rewards on travel, while the Sapphire Preferred has broader rewards categories for everyday spending.

Chase Sapphire ReserveChase Sapphire Preferred
Annual Fee$550$95
Sign-Up Bonus50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening
Bonus Points10x points on hotels and car rentals booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 10x points on dining through Chase Dining; 10x on Lyft rides through March 2022; 5x on airfare booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; ; 3x on all other travel and dining; 1x on everything else

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3x on dining, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services; 2x on all other travel purchases; 1x on everything else; 10% anniversary points bonus
Credits$300 travel credit (valid also for gas station and grocery store purchases through December 31, 2021); $60 in DoorDash credits; Complimentary DoorDash DashPass membership (activate by 12/31/2021); Up to $120 back in Peloton membership creditsUp to $60 towards eligible Peloton memberships and a complimentary 12-month DoorDash DashPass membership (otherwise $9.99 per month).
Travel PerksPriority Pass Select membership; Lyft Pink status; up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit every 4 yearsUp to a $50 annual credit on hotel stays purchased through the Ultimate Rewards portal

Bonus Comparison

While these cards have different current welcome bonuses, their value is equal if you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The Sapphire Preferred is offering 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening, while the Reserve has a 50,000-point bonus with the same spending threshold.

However, when you redeem points for travel through Chase, you’ll get 1.5 cents per point with the Reserve and 1.25 cents per point with the Preferred. That means both bonuses have a value of $750 when you redeem for travel, so it’s a tie in this category.

In any case, it’s important not to spend more than you can afford just to hit the minimum spending requirements, on any credit card. You should never pay more than you would have by using cash or a debit card, and we also strongly recommend paying your bills on time and in full every month. Not doing so can negate any of the rewards or perks you’ll receive from a travel rewards credit card, whether a Chase Sapphire card or another card on the market.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    50,000 points
  • Annual fee:
  • Regular APR:
    16.99%-23.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    740-850 (Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Editor’s Score: (4.5/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    60,000 points
  • Annual fee:
  • Regular APR:
    15.99% – 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)

Rewards Comparison

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card earns 10 points per dollar on Chase Dining purchases, as well as on hotel stays and car rentals made through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Cardholders can also earn 10x points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 5x on airfare purchased through the portal, and 3x on all other travel and dining. The card earns 1x on everything else.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card earns 5x on travel booked through Chase’s travel portal, and 2x on all other travel. It also earns 3x on dining (including takeout and delivery), online grocery purchases, and select streaming services. It earns 1x on everything else. You’ll also get a 10% anniversary point bonus. Each account anniversary, you’ll earn bonus points equal to 10% of the total purchases you made in the last year.  

You can look at your past spending to determine which card better aligns with where you spend most, so you can get the best value from purchases you already make regularly.

APR Comparison

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a variable APR rate between 16.99% and 23.99%. The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a variable APR rate between 15.99% and 22.99%.

That said, as with all travel rewards credit cards, we recommend paying your bills on time and in full to avoid any interest charges.

Fee Comparison

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card carries a $95 annual fee; the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a $550 annual fee.

Neither card charges foreign transaction fees, so both are great to take with you on international trips.

Deciding Between the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

First off, you cannot have both cards at the same time; Chase only allows one of two Sapphire cards per cardholder at a given time. (However, spouses and partners who share the same address can have two Chase Sapphire cards and combine their points.)

Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits all strategy and picking between these two cards really comes down to your personal preferences.

If you want a lower annual fee and don’t care about perks such as lounge access, travel credits, TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credits or even DoorDash credits, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card may be a better fit for you. And with its bigger bonus in Ultimate Rewards points for future travel, the Sapphire Preferred card is the clear winner here for most people.

That said, if you want a more premium travel experience, you’ll be better off with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, despite the $550 annual fee. For people who travel frequently, the Reserve is a strong pick thanks to perks like access to the worldwide Priority Pass network of airport lounges and $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit every four years.

I personally have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card over the Preferred card, but that’s because I find the benefits pay for themselves and essentially negate the high annual fee. This year, Chase is extending the $300 annual travel credit to groceries and gas, and the $60 in DoorDash credits also helps offset the annual fee for me. Additionally, due to the pandemic, Chase renewed my annual fee at $450, the previous fee before it jumped to $550 last year. Between all of these perks and credits, my net fee this year was reduced to $90, which is essentially the same as the Sapphire Preferred card’s annual fee. 

I don’t have a Peloton so I don’t get much use out of the $120 in annual credit, but the Reserve still works for me, and it will keep doing so when travel returns in earnest after the pandemic. 

Pro Tip

If you have a Peloton bike, be sure to switch your credit card on file to your Sapphire card to decrease the cost of your membership via the statement credit perks both cards offer.

If you don’t travel enough to justify the annual fee, though, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a natural pick. Take a close look at your own spending and travel habits before making a decision, but keep in mind that for most people who don’t travel a lot, the Preferred is a great entry point into the world of travel rewards cards.