Reasons to Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card — Over Sapphire Reserve

I receive compensation for content and many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).

Information about the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is neither provided nor reviewed by its issuer.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers 50,000 bonus points after $4000 in spending within 3 months as a signup bonus. It earns double points on travel and dining, so earns points quickly. And they’re valuable points. They transfer to:

  • Airlines: United, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Air France KLM, Southwest Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Iberia, Aer Lingus
  • Hotels: Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton

Last year Chase introduced the Sapphire Reserve card which was such a hit Chase filed an SEC 8-K advising of materially higher costs from new cardmember acquisition. It’s a $450 annual fee card that offers a $300 travel credit, a Global Entry credit, provides a Priority Pass for airport lounge access and 3 points per dollar on travel and dining.

That’s great but many people are now considering – a year later – whether it’s worth keeping the card after the excitement has worn off and without the signup bonus. If you’re in that camp consider product changing to a Sapphire Preferred Card so you’ll still be able to transfer points out to airlines and hotel programs.

Singapore Airlines Business Class

In fact in my opinion there are 5 reasons to choose the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card over Sapphire Reserve in the first place:

  1. Lower fee. $0 the first year then $95

  2. Easier approval. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a Visa Signature card while Sapphire Reserve is Visa Infinite which is going to need higher minimum credit.

  3. You already have Priority Pass. I have Priority Pass cards from several credit card issuers, so I don’t value another one. Some people don’t value airport lounge access, especially if the one they’d use the most is fairly spartan (e.g. one of “The Club” locations). If you don’t value that, then the higher fee is harder to justify.

  4. You don’t spend more than $500 a month on travel and dining. Maybe you use miles and points for your travel or it all goes on a company credit card. You need to put a decent amount of travel and dining spend on the card when the primary differentiator is one extra point per dollar justifying the annual fee.

Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Maldives

Chase limits approvals on both cards to folks who haven’t had 5 or more new credit card accounts in the past 24 months. If you’re getting started, I’d go with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for its bonus. Use it and see its value. Then once you’re hooked consider whether the higher annual fee card makes sense. It’s a tough sell for most people to start with a card whose annual fee is $450, no matter the value, since that’s at that price point it’s a real decision to make.

If you want Sapphire Reserve, since it’s become so hard to get (both anecdotally, and based on the data Chase has released), the best way to get it can be getting approved for a Sapphire Preferred Card and then asking to product change after a year.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »

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. What about people who already have the CSR and are thinking of downgrading? I already have the bonus on this product family and I doubt they’d waive the annual fee for a downgrade.

    None of my other cards have Priority Pass and I’m a fairly high spender on Dining & Travel. So I’m really looking at $55 more for priority pass, an extra point per dollar, and a 25% additional bonus on travel expenditures through the Chase portal.

  2. If you have the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited and use them to accumulate any measurable amount of points, the debate becomes moot. The CSR wins easily

  3. I have the Freedom Unlimited, Ink Business Preferred, and Ink Cash, and finally trying to figure out which Sapphire card to get.

    I’ve been finding that searching for award tickets is just too time consuming and it is often a better deal on domestic flights to use points to purchase tickets in the UR portal. The extra $.25/point for CSR would help with this.

    Helpful article, thanks!

  4. I currently have the CSR (still within the first year). Point number 5 states “You don’t spend more than $500 a month on travel and dining.” I am a little lost in the math; could you explain how you got not spending over $500 a month in dining/travel to justify the Preferred as oppose to the Reserve?

  5. The Chase Reserve offers that travel insurance up to $10,000, correct? That can be huge when using that card for travel as it can eliminate a huge additional cost if you are taking out Trip Insurance. Assume that the Preferred does not offer the free travel insurance?

  6. ^^ @Rob Travel and Dining is 3x for CSR vs 2x for CSP, so at $6,000/yr spend, you’d be getting 6k additional UR, which more than covers the additional $55/yr in net annual fee.

  7. I don’t necessarily spend $500/month on travel, but when I do travel I spend a lot and always use my Sapphire Reserve. No forex charges, 3X points on food, hotel, taxis and stuff, and I use the miles I earn for airline tickets and hotels, so it pays off for me. However, I do see your point.

  8. IMHO, beyond the 1st year, 2 main factors drive the decisions on Reserve vs Preferred:
    a) Whether you book ticket through Chase portal.
    b) How much you spend on dining and travel.

    If a) is true, Reserve gives you 20% more value. This is particularly acute for budget and domestic flights, where the miles ain’t worth anything anyway.

    b) is, of course, more complicated. However, it’s worth remembering that Reserve has $300 cashback on travel expenses. This means the *real* difference is merely $55, or 3700 points, or $1,250/year in dining and traveling, or only $100/month, not $500.

    @Nina Wennersten: Preferred has coverage. It saved me money once :-D.

  9. “This means the *real* difference is merely $55, or 3700 points, or $1,250/year in dining and traveling, or only $100/month, not $500.”
    That’s incorrect. In order to earn the $55 difference you would need to spend about $3,000 per year, or about $250 per month. Here’s an example:

    CSP: $3,000 x 2 points = 6,000 points x .0125 = $75

    CSR: $3,000 x 3 points = 9,000 points x .0150 = $135

    A difference of $60, slightly more than the $55 needed to cover the extra annual fee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *