CONTRARIAN: 4 Reasons to Get Chase Sapphire Preferred Over Sapphire Reserve

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Award Wallet blog offers ‘4 reasons to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred instead of Sapphire Reserve.

They make four arguments:

  1. $95 vs. $900 in Fees over the First 24 Months
  2. Getting Paid for Adding Authorised Users as Opposed to Paying for Them
  3. Lower Income Threshold and Minimum Credit Limit Requirements
  4. Great Card for Beginners

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been one of the very best rewards cards in the market over the past 5 years.

It offers 50,000 bonus points after $4000 spend within 3 months, and earns double points on travel and dining. Those points transfer to:

  • Airlines: United, Southwest, Singapore, Air France, Korean Air, Virgin America, British Airways
  • Hotels: Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, IHG Rewards Club

Park Hyatt Aviara

Here are 21 things I love about my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It’s even got great travel coverages, for instance if you pay the taxes on an award ticket that triggers some coverages like trip delay.

This year Chase introduced the Sapphire Reserve Card and it has a 100,000 point bonus after $4000 spend within 3 months of cardmembership, earns triple points on travel and dining, and comes with a Priority Pass Select card for airport lounge access.

The Sapphire Preferred’s annual fee is $0 the first year then $95. The Sapphire Reserve Card’s annual fee is $450, and it applies from year one.

I agree with Award Wallet that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is best for getting started in the hobby. There’s a hurdle for getting someone to commit to a $450 annual fee card. Sapphire Preferred lets you try it for a year, and then if you like it keeping it is only $95.

However, I don’t find “$900 vs $95 in annual fees” to be persuasive for a heavy traveler, although it’s absolutely true. Sapphire Reserve comes with a $300 annual travel credit. That’s calendar year, not cardmember year. So most people will be able to get the travel credit twice in their first annual fee (cardmember) year. And they’ll get it three times during their first two years. For instance, get the card now (still 2016) and use a $300 credit in 2016 and 2017. Then pay the annual fee again a year from now, and get a 2018 credit.

So while there’s $900 in fees over two years, there’s also $900 in available travel credits during that time frame. A travel credit isn’t the same as cash but for heavy travelers using their own cards to pay it can be close.

Sapphire Reserve authorized users cost $75, but authorized users do receive Priority Pass Select cards on request as well so there’s value there. Sapphire Preferred authorized users do not come with a fee, and if you add one during your first three months with the card and make a purchase you get 5000 bonus points.

It’s also true that there’s a higher hurdle for being approved for a Sapphire Reserve card, another reason Sapphire Preferred can be better for someone starting out. Sapphire Reserve is a Visa Infinite card and that starts with a minimum credit line of $10,000. Sapphire Preferred needs you to be approved for $5000 in credit.

If you’re considering one of these cards, look at whether you’ve had 5 or more new cards in the past 24 months. That doesn’t prevent everyone from getting approved, but it does prevent many people. I’ve heard reports of approvals for people with more new cards than that, usually with high incomes and credit scores, pre-approved in-branch, or with significant (e.g. Private Client) banking relationships with Chase.

For someone who can get approved for a Visa Infinite, and who spends heavily on travel and dining, I think Sapphire Reserve is worth it. For someone starting out, and far from 5 new cards within the past 2 years, I think getting Chase Sapphire Preferred Card first makes sense… and then getting Sapphire Reserve Card later.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

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, 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 any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. It is really $300 in fees over thee first 24 months, not $900; everyone who gets this card will use the $300/year travel credit. As long as a cardholder’s travel and restaurant spend is large enough, the 3 points per dollar for these categories (as compared with two points per dollar for Preferred) will make up for the cost difference.
    The only valid point that I see is the criticism of the extra fee for additional users. I do wish that would go away!

  2. Anytime an annual fee scares me I just have to remember the years I’ve held onto other high annual fee cards…the benefits of the Reserve card outweigh the benefits of those other high annual fee cards.

  3. Wait until the Reserve have affiliate links and this write up will be flipped. (Btw I’ve supported the links here myself but it’s clear now it’s skewed towards referred cards)

    Plus it’s really $0 for two years of sapphire as it’ll straddle 3 calendar years.

  4. Obviously the reason to get CSP is there aren’t referral benefits for bloggers for CSR. This isn’t a complex one.

    Folks, do your own math.

  5. @JR
    There’s nothing to grab: “so most people” and “heavy traveler” differentiate themselves from “everybody.”
    As an infrequent traveler (3-4 times per year) but a frequent diner, I still couldn’t decide if the unwaived $450 AF was “edible”.
    After considering Gary’s logic and ultimately deciding that yes, a $300 travel credit -although not quite cash in hand – is still positive cash flow.
    Coupled with PP and GE (again, cash credits), it really took the sting out of the AF.

    Because I wouldn’t be able to spend $4K in three months (retired), I opted for the product upgrade (Preferred to Reserve). I missed out on the points, but big deal, I’m already sitting on over 200,000 UR points which instantly convert at a premium over the Preferred. This was the bonus perk that pushed me into eating the fee.
    If it doesn’t work anymore, I’ll just downgrade back to the Preferred.

  6. This isn’t fair to your readers Gary. You are paid a referral when people sign up for Sapphire Preferred, you don’t get paid when people sign up for Sapphire Reserve.

  7. Wow! Sounds like some people think you are interested in an income, and that your time and expertise should always be free.

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