Which Card Is Better? Chase Sapphire Preferred Versus Chase Sapphire Reserve

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Choosing a new credit card can be a tough decision.

It’s often not clear at what point your spending might justify an annual fee — especially a high one.

Two popular cards that exemplify this choice are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Both are among several cards that offer points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards loyalty program, which can be redeemed for gift cards, cash back or travel. They can also be transferred to other travel partners including a number of airlines and hotels.

The big selling point of both cards is the added redemption value for travel, and they offer some of the same benefits. But a number of things set them apart, including a huge difference in their annual fees.

Let’s take a closer look, and then figure out which card makes sense for you.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Why we like it: Like its cousin the Chase Sapphire Reserve, this card offers amazing bang for your buck on travel rewards and currently has a compelling introductory offer: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months, worth $1,250 toward travel. Combined with all the other high reward points opportunities, this card more than pays for itself.

What to know:

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase
  • Get 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Get a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards hotel credit.
  • Get a 10% anniversary points boost each year.
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on Lyft rides through March 2022.
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on streaming services and online grocery purchases.
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on other travel.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.
  • Complimentary DashPass delivery subscription.
  • Get trip cancellation insurance if your trip is canceled due to sickness or severe weather conditions.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $95 annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Why we like it: The Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 with the card within the first three months. Redeeming those points for travel through the Chase website adds 50% to their value, for a bonus worth $750.

What to know:

Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase
  • Get 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Earn 10 points per $1 spent on Lyft rides through March 2022.
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel and dining.
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month through April 2021.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.
  • $300 annual travel credit.
  • A free year of Lyft Pink membership.
  • Complimentary DashPass delivery subscription.
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre-check application reimbursement up to $100.
  • $550 annual fee.

Note: The annual fee looks high, but is offset by the $300 annual travel credit and other card benefits, including food delivery and rideshare services and airport lounge access.

Which card is better?

Picking the right card comes down to your spending habits — and especially your travel habits.

The Sapphire Preferred provides 25% more value on your points when used to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

The Sapphire Reserve provides 50% more value on points — and more opportunities to earn them, with generally higher multipliers on points categories.

That difference is why Chase markets both cards’ introductory offers as “worth $750 in travel,” even though the Preferred technically gives more points in that category.

If you don’t plan to use your introductory bonus points on travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal — which is where you’ll see the most value — then the Preferred actually has more to offer for a significantly lower annual fee. Instead of paying $550 per year, you’ll be able to pay just $95 per year.

However, if you might take advantage of the redemption value on travel later, the Reserve is worth a look. You’ll rack up points faster on travel and dining, and those points will go much further toward future travel.

This is particularly true if you know for sure you’ll travel within the year, making full use of the Reserve’s hefty $300 annual travel credit. That goes a long way toward offsetting the annual fee, alongside the application fee credit for the TSA Precheck program.

In other words, if you have big travel plans, consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve. If you have modest or uncertain plans, look at the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

What if you have no travel plans for 2021, or just can’t stand the thought of an annual fee right now? You can also consider the Chase Freedom Flex card, which earns Ultimate Rewards points without an annual fee — and those points can be pooled with either the Preferred or Reserve later for the boosted redemption value.

As long as you’re making payments on time and haven’t closed your account, Ultimate Rewards points won’t expire. So you have plenty of time to change your mind, see what travel looks like next year or wait for a more enticing offer.

For more on the Freedom Flex, which launched in September, check out “This New Credit Card Offers Impressive Cash-Back Rewards.”

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