*Updated after the change in fee on Jan 12, 2020.
If you know me, you have probably already heard me talk about my Chase Sapphire Reserve. This is not a sponsored post, I am just a huge advocate of this card because it has given me so many travel opportunities without paying a penny, and I want other people to see how easy traveling can be and learn how to take advantage of free travel perks without spending anymore money than you already would -- just spending it differently.
I live in Australia now, and I still use my Chase Travel Reserve for almost 100% of our transactions because the points benefits are so ample, and there are no international fees, so there's not really a negative. I do have to convert my money back to USD (via Transferwise) before I pay it off, which shaves off a 1% fee, but the value I get from points easily outweigh the 1% fee to make it worth my while.
If you like what you read, send me your email & I'll send you a referral email for the bonus.
So, here's why I love it:
1. YOU GET 3X POINTS ON ALL FOOD & TRAVEL
That's pretty much all I spend my money on. It counts at restaurants, bars, grocery stores, for flights, ubers, trains, etc. This is awesome for me. Some cards give you perks for things like gas or groceries only, but the Sapphire Reserve is all inclusive of food & travel, which makes me a happy camper.
2. BONUS POINTS
When you sign up, if you spend $4000 in the first 3 months, you get a 50K point bonus. That's equivalent to $500, or $750 worth of travel credit if you rebook through Chase - more on this below! Essentially, you get free money here and the bonus is pretty large compared to many credit cards.
5. BOOKING TRAVEL WITH CHASE ULTIMATE REWARDS
Chase has a pretty great travel platform, similar of how you'd book on a site like Expedia, it consolidates all the major airlines, hotels, rental car companies, etc. I often find that prices on here are even cheaper than directly through the airline. The best part is, your points go a lot further if you use them to book more travel vs. take it as cash back. You get 1.5x the value of your points if you spend it on their travel platform. For example, as I mentioned above, the 50K point bonus can be redeemed as $500 cash -or- $750 credit for travel booking... I always opt for the latter and this is the best way to squeeze the most benefits out of your card.
4. FREE ENTRY TO AIRPORT LOUNGES ($99/YEAR)
The Sapphire Reserve gives you a free membership to Priority Pass, which is a membership that gives you access to over 1.2K worldwide airport lounges. This is definitely one of my favorite parts - something I wouldn't normally have access to and definitely wouldn't splurge on. It makes getting to the airport early so fun... not to mention free food + drinks (incl. alcoholic drinks!) Living that faux fancy life! This is worth way more than $99 to me too, because we travel a lot so it does really save us a lot of money on food and drinks at the airport.
5. GLOBAL ENTRY & TSA ($185)
If you travel enough to think about getting this card in the first place, you're probably keen to skip the lines at the airport while you're at it. Chase Sapphire Reserve allows you to sign up for Global Entry (which includes TSA, so you won't need to attend 2 separate interviews/appointments).
6. PURCHASE INSURANCE FOR ANYTHING YOU BUY WITH IT
This is huge. This covers travel insurance, rental car insurance, emergency insurance for any trips booked with the card. It also provides insurance for things like trip cancellation, trip delay, baggage delay, and baggage loss which you can claim directly with Chase. This also covers product protection for 3 months after purchase. I know someone who lost his drone & it was covered since it was purchased with the card. A lot of paperwork, but worth it!
7. $300 TRAVEL CREDIT, EVERY YEAR
In addition to the one time initial points bonus, you also get a bank of $300 credit to be redeemed for travel purchases within the year. This would include anything from an uber ride to booking a flight. This nearly pays for the annual fee itself.
The new $550 annual fee might scare you a bit at first, but don't be overwhelmed... with the $300 travel credit a year, it really costs you $250 annually, and trust me, if you spend most all your purchases on it, you'll get way more than $250 back in either cash or free travel. Not to mention all the other benefits mentioned above, which are more "nice to have" items but definitely perks. I can't tell you the last time I've paid in full for a vacation!
Last thing to discuss is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. If the $550 fee scares you a bit, regardless of how I described all the paybacks above, it'd be worthwhile to check out the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I used to have this one, before the Reserve launched in 2016. It has the same Ultimate Rewards travel center bookings as the Reserve, 2x points instead of 3x on the Reserve, a 60K points bonus now instead of 50K with the Reserve, a $99 annual fee instead of $550, and $0 for adding another authorized user, instead of $95 with the Reserve. It's a good alternative, but The Points Guy worked it out by the numbers, and if you think you'll spend $8,425 per year on travel and dining (incl. groceries, ubers, flights, hotels, airbnb, etc.), the Reserve is worth it to you despite the higher fees.
Regardless of what you choose, be responsible with your credit cards. Opening cards certainly helps you build credit, but it can hurt your credit real fast if you aren't responsible and not spending money you don't have. A good rule of thumb is to pay off the balance to $0 every week or two & treat it like a debit card instead. :)
*Disclaimer: I am in no way a financial advisor or professional, so please consult your financial advisor as necessary before making any decisions! This information is based on my personal experience with my credit card.
While you’re here, check out some of my other favorite travel hacks to make your money for travel to a lot farther.