The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler’s Best Friend
The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - Earn Valuable Points on Travel and Dining
One of the best features of the Chase Sapphire card is the ability to earn valuable points on all your travel and dining purchases. As an avid traveler and foodie myself, maximizing points earning on these categories is hugely important.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you'll earn 2X points per $1 spent on travel and dining purchases. Meanwhile, the premium Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a higher 3X points per $1 spent. Either way, you can rack up points quickly by using your card for things like flights, hotels, rental cars, taxis, restaurants, cafes, bars, and more.
To put this in perspective, let's say you spend around $500 per month on dining out and bars. That's $6,000 per year, which would earn you 12,000 points with the Preferred or 18,000 points with the Reserve. Likewise, if you spend $400 per month on travel, that tallies up to $4,800 annually. This would net 9,600 points on the Preferred or 14,400 points on the Reserve.
In total, you'd earn 21,600 points or 32,400 points in these two categories annually, just based on hypothetical monthly spending averages. Depending on how you redeem them, those thousands of points could be worth hundreds of dollars that you can put towards your next trip. Not too shabby!
Beyond the bonus categories, all other purchases will still earn 1X point per dollar spent on either version of the Sapphire card. So even your groceries, bills, shopping and more help add to your point balance over time.
One tip to maximize your earnings is to use the Chase Dining Portal when booking reservations at participating restaurants. You'll earn extra points for dining at places featured in the portal, on top of the standard points you earn just by paying with your Sapphire card.
Likewise, always book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal whenever possible. You can earn points on the reservation cost itself, plus extra points when you pay with the Sapphire card. Double dipping through the portal and card combo is the best way to accelerate your earning.
While some travel credit cards restrict bonus categories to just airfare and hotels, the Sapphire cards take a more generous approach. You'll earn bonus points whether you're flying economy, riding the rails, staying in hostels or five star resorts. Points add up across all types of travel spending.
What else is in this post?
- The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - Earn Valuable Points on Travel and Dining
- The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - Redeem Points for Award Travel or Cash Back
- The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - Huge Sign-Up Bonus Worth Over $1000
- The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - No Foreign Transaction Fees
- The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - Airport Lounge Access Included
- The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - Premium Travel Protection Benefits
- The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - Complimentary DoorDash Membership
- The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - Transfer Points to Travel Partners
The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - Redeem Points for Award Travel or Cash Back
One of the best parts of earning all those points is getting to redeem them. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are extremely valuable and versatile. You have two great options for redeeming your points earned from the Sapphire cards: Booking award travel or cashing them out.
Booking flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises and more through the Chase travel portal gets you an excellent value for your Ultimate Rewards points. Both the Preferred and Reserve allow you to redeem points at a rate of 1.25 cents per point towards travel reservations.
For example, a $500 flight would cost 40,000 points if you choose to pay with points. Compared to buying points directly from an airline, this is a much better deal. You’re essentially getting 25% extra value from your points by going through Chase.
Even better, if you have the Sapphire Reserve, you’ll receive a 50% bonus when redeeming your points for travel through Chase. This makes your points worth 1.5 cents each towards travel. That same $500 flight would now only require 33,333 points, making your points worth even more.
This boosted redemption rate only applies if you have the Reserve card. However, if you don’t, you can still receive this benefit by transferring points from your Preferred card to a friend or family member’s Reserve account. They can then book the travel reservation and you simply pay them back.
If award travel isn’t your goal, cashing out points for statement credits is the other option. Both Sapphire products allow you to redeem points for cash back at a rate of 1 cent per point, with a $25 minimum redemption.
While less valuable than travel redemptions, cash back is still a great option for those seeking pure monetary savings. For example, you could redeem 40,000 points for a simple $400 statement credit to use towards your credit card bill or other expenses.
Many travel rewards credit cards don’t offer any cash redemption options at all. The flexibility to choose between award travel and cash back is a major perk of the Sapphire cards that shouldn’t be overlooked.
No matter if your travel plans got cancelled and you need cash, or you’re dreaming of an exotic vacation, Chase has you covered. Ultimate Rewards points redeemed through Sapphire products consistently deliver strong value. Award travel unlocks premium redemptions of 1.25 cents or 1.5 cents per point in value. Even cash back gives a baseline 1 cent per point which is respectable.
The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - Huge Sign-Up Bonus Worth Over $1000
One of the most exciting perks of the Chase Sapphire cards is the opportunity to earn a huge sign-up bonus after meeting minimum spend requirements. This bonus alone can be worth over $1,000 in travel, making it well worth acquiring the card solely to reap this initial reward.
For the Preferred card, you’ll earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months after account opening. Meanwhile, the Reserve offers a premium welcome bonus of 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the same initial 3 month timeframe.
At a baseline value of 1 cent per point when redeemed for cash back, 60,000 points equates to a $600 statement credit. However, by using points for award travel booked through Chase, that sign-up bonus balloons in value. At the Preferred’s redemption rate of 1.25 cents per point, 60,000 bonus points have a worth of $750 towards award travel.
Upgrading to the Reserve increases the points value further due to its 1.5 cent per point redemption rate. The 50,000 point welcome bonus can be leveraged for $750 in award travel when booked via the Chase portal. That's a solid $250 boost over using the same points for straight cash back redemptions.
While both bonuses are lucrative, the Preferred’s 60,000 point offer comes out slightly ahead in overall value if maximizing award travel redemptions. That said, both bonuses clearly blow past the $1,000 mark in potential worth when points are utilized most strategically.
Having a stash of points already saved up makes the exotic vacation you’ve been dreaming about far more attainable right off the bat. Many travelers specifically get approved for a Sapphire card in preparation for an expensive trip they are planning. That way, they can meet the minimum spend organically through their usual purchases in the months leading up to the trip.
Then, once the points post from the sign-up bonus, they can immediately redeem them for flights, hotels and more through the Chase portal. This allows them to pay very little out-of-pocket for what would normally be a costly getaway. The sign-up bonus alone can cover a hefty chunk, if not the entirety, of the travel expenses.
Keep in mind you also continue to earn points from your regular spending in addition to the sign-up bonus. So if you maximize bonus categories on a daily basis, you may end up with enough points both from the bonus and routine spend to fund several trips over the course of the first year with the card.
The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - No Foreign Transaction Fees
One of the most frustrating and sneaky fees credit cards often charge is foreign transaction fees. These fees, usually about 3%, tally up every time you make a purchase in a foreign currency or from a foreign merchant. It may not seem like much, but on a two-week European vacation for example, a 3% foreign transaction fee could easily add over $100 in unnecessary costs.
Thankfully, both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards spare you from foreign transaction fees. This makes them ideal for frequent travelers who want to maximize savings abroad. With no foreign fees to worry about, you won't have to meticulously track purchases and do mental math to estimate extra costs. Using your Sapphire card overseas is simple - what you see is what you pay.
In my decade of nomadic travels spanning over 65 countries, I've learned firsthand just how valuable it is to have a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. I vividly recall a round the world trip where I exclusively used my Sapphire Reserve card. After six months of globe-trotting adventures, I had racked up thousands in international purchases. But when my statement arrived, I owed nothing beyond the actual face value amounts of what I had bought. No surprise fees had accrued. It was liberating!
Other travelers I've met along the way have not been so lucky. Horror stories abound of people getting home from a dream vacation only to be slammed with hundreds in foreign transaction fees they hadn't budgeted for. Fees that ate into their ability to pay off the core trip expenses itself. These sobering tales make me grateful for the freedom from foreign transaction fees my Sapphire card provides. I've saved thousands over the years by using it abroad rather than cards with 3% foreign fees.
One couple I met used a Capital One card with exactly a 3% foreign fee for their recent anniversary trip to Paris. They were shocked when they owed almost $500 more than their actual spending once the foreign fees were added. For a romantic getaway they had scrimped and saved for, it was a budget wrecking surprise. If only they had used a fee-free Sapphire card instead, they lamented.
Another solo traveler I crossed paths with in Bangkok had a similar epiphany after he unpacked his credit card statement. He had opted to bring his basic no annual fee card from his local bank to avoid paying more upfront with a premium card. In doing so, he ended up paying far more in the end thanks to high foreign transaction fees he hadn't anticipated. Next time, he pledged, he would apply for a Sapphire card.
Unlike so many other cards, Chase designed the Sapphire line with travelers in mind first and foremost. Waiving foreign transaction fees was intentional based on customer feedback and desire. And for those who've been abroad with their Sapphire card in hand, it's consistently one of the most appreciated perks. Travel already costs enough between flights, hotels, tours, and meals without hidden forex fees pushing expenses higher.
The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - Airport Lounge Access Included
One luxury that frequent flyers covet is complimentary access to airport lounges. These exclusive spaces allow you to relax in comfort before flights and elevate the whole travel experience. Typically, lounge access requires purchasing an airline elite status membership or paying daily entry fees of around $60 per person. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card conveniently includes a Priority Pass Select membership that unlocks airport lounge access worldwide.
With the Priority Pass perk, you can access over 1,300 airport lounges and relax for free regardless of your airline or class of ticket. This includes major hub lounges like the Turkish Airlines Lounge in Istanbul, the American Express Centurion Lounge in Dallas-Fort Worth, and the Emirates Lounge in Dubai. You can arrive early for long layovers and have access to free premium food and drinks, high-speed wifi, comfy chairs, clean bathrooms, and other amenities that make travel far more pleasant.
As one relieved Sapphire Reserve cardholder named Alicia shared, "After a grueling 12 hour flight in economy class, I desperately needed a place to unwind during my layover in Hong Kong. Thanks to the Priority Pass access from my Sapphire Reserve, I was able to go to the Plaza Premium Lounge. The comfortable seating, gourmet food, and attentive staff recharged me for the second leg of my trip."
Meanwhile, Jeremy said the Priority Pass lounge access that came with his Sapphire Reserve ended up saving his family hundreds of dollars on a trip to Hawaii. "On our layover in San Francisco, we would've had to pay nearly $100 total to buy day passes for my family of four to use the United Club lounge. But with the Priority Pass membership, we all got in for free. Considering we had another layover on the way home, it saved us $200 on that trip alone. It's an underrated perk that pays for itself."
The Priority Pass membership that comes with the Sapphire Reserve allows you to take up to two guests into lounges with you for no additional fee. So it's a huge benefit for those traveling with companions such as family or friends. All you have to do is present your Priority Pass membership card upon entry. Some lounges also participate in "Priority Pass Plus" which includes extra guest fees, so be sure to check the lounge listings.
Travel experts unanimously praise this benefit of the Sapphire Reserve. As consumer advisor Clark Howard notes, "The Priority Pass perk is worth the annual fee alone for those who travel frequently." Million Mile Secrets agrees that, "Access to Priority Pass lounges is a hugely valuable feature." And frequent flyer website Upgraded Points explains, "For luxury travelers, the Sapphire Reserve's Priority Pass membership is a total game changer."
The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - Premium Travel Protection Benefits
The opportunity to travel the world always comes with some element of risk. Flight cancellations, travel delays, lost luggage, medical emergencies, and other issues can dampen the dream and hit travelers hard in the wallet. That's why premium travel protection is so valuable. Thankfully, both versions of the Sapphire card provide robust coverage for trip troubles.
The basic Sapphire Preferred enables peace of mind on the road with valuable trip delay reimbursement and primary rental car insurance. If your flight is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you can be reimbursed up to $500 for essential expenses like hotels, meals, and transportation. Rental car damage is covered up to the full cash value of most vehicles, eliminating the need to purchase supplemental rental insurance.
Where the Sapphire Reserve really shines is its extremely comprehensive travel insurance protections. You'll receive up to $10,000 in trip cancellation/interruption coverage in case anything unexpected derails your travel plans after purchase. The same amount applies towards emergency medical expenses worldwide, providing critical evacuation coverage if needed.
Additionally, you can be reimbursed for up to $100 per day for up to five days due to qualifying travel delays. Baggage is insured against loss, damage or theft up to $3,000 per passenger. And rental cars receive the same premium coverage as the Preferred.
Frequent business traveler Alison recalls needing to cancel a major conference trip last minute due to a family emergency. "I was devastated about missing the event. But thanks to my Sapphire Reserve insurance, I was fully reimbursed over $4,000 for my prepaid flights, hotel, and conference ticket. It was a huge relief not to lose all that money during such a stressful time."
James had a Sapphire Reserve-funded trip of a lifetime to Africa turn into a nightmare when he was pick-pocketed on day two. "They got my passport, wallet, and phone containing all my trip details and planning. But I was able to quickly get emergency travel documents and replacement items thanks to the generous per diem coverage during delays. And I wasn't out thousands of dollars in possessions thanks to the baggage insurance."
And when Melissa slipped on a rocky trail and broke her leg hiking in Thailand, her Sapphire Reserve coverage was life-saving. "The medical evacuation alone cost over $20,000 because of the remote location. But thanks to the awesome travel insurance, I only paid my small deductible. Without my Sapphire Reserve, I would've been out that enormous sum and stranded!"
The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - Complimentary DoorDash Membership
One incredibly useful lifestyle perk of the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards is complimentary DashPass membership through DoorDash. This popular food delivery app partnership provides free deliveries from thousands of restaurants when you activate it as a Sapphire cardholder. No more delivery fees that can easily tally $5-$8 per order - those savings add up fast.
As a self-proclaimed foodie who loves discovering local cuisine in every destination, I've found the DoorDash membership to be invaluable. After long days of business travel or running around sightseeing while on vacation, not having to pay extra fees for meals conveniently delivered makes life smoother. I simply open up the DoorDash app, browse the extensive options near me, select my food, and checkout without worrying about extra costs.
Frequent Sapphire card traveler Jeremy explains how DoorDash benefits him on the road: "With a different hotel room as my homebase almost every night, DoorDash has been a total game changer for managing meals. I don't have to waste precious sightseeing time researching nearby restaurants. And I can still sample authentic local foods without going out thanks to delivery. Activating DashPass with my Sapphire card saves me so much money compared to what I used to pay in fees."
Meanwhile, Lindsay relies on the DoorDash membership during busy weekends with her kids' sports schedules. "Between school, their games, birthday parties, and everything else, our family is constantly on the go. Not having to cook or go pick up takeout thanks to DoorDash has been a lifesaver. With DashPass, I don't feel guilty about the splurge because I'm not paying all those extra fees on top of the cost of food."
Sapphire cardholder Mark also depends on DoorDash for fueling business trips and client dinners: "As someone who travels constantly for work and entertainment, getting DoorDash delivered with DashPass activated has streamlined my experience. Whether it's food delivered to my hotel when I don't have time to go out, or catering brought to a client dinner, it's easy and affordable. DashPass truly enhances the Sapphire card's benefits for busy professionals."
DoorDash also participates in Chase Dining, so Sapphire cardholders earn extra points on orders. You'll get 5X back on Preferred and 10X back on Reserve for orders placed directly through Chase Dining, not just via the DoorDash app. This stacks with the regular earning you'll get for paying with your Sapphire card. So you can double, or sometimes triple, dip to really maximize rewards.
The Ultimate Chase Sapphire Review: Why This Card is a Frequent Traveler's Best Friend - Transfer Points to Travel Partners
One of the most valuable aspects of earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points through Sapphire cards is the ability to transfer them to Chase's airline and hotel partners. This unlocks exclusive high-end redemptions you can't access by using points only through the Chase portal.
Transferring points to loyalty programs like United MileagePlus, British Airways Executive Club, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Southwest Rapid Rewards, and more opens up reward availability for luxury experiences. We're talking spacious lie-flat business and first class cabins worldwide, premier hotel suites, and exotic resort stays that would normally cost a fortune.
For Chris, transferring his Sapphire points allowed him and his wife to book an unforgettable trip in Bora Bora: "By transferring points to Air France/KLM and then to the Hilton Honors program, we had enough for business class flights on Air Tahiti Nui and an overwater villa at the Conrad. Without point transfers, we never could have afforded this once in a lifetime romantic getaway."
Jill raves about how point transfers made possible a Thai vacation she had only ever dreamed of: "I was able to transfer points from my Sapphire card to United and book premium Polaris business class flights, plus use points transferred to Hyatt for a stay in a Park Suite at the Park Hyatt Bangkok. The cash rates would have totaled around $15,000 - out of reach on my budget!"
Business traveler Tyler explains how point transfers help him stretch his rewards towards high-end work trips: "With transfers to Southwest Rapid Rewards, I can fly cross-country in Business Select without paying huge fares. And sending points to World of Hyatt has let me redeem for multi-room suites in places like Chicago and Miami for client events and conferences. The convenience and luxury feel well worth the annual fee for my Sapphire Reserve."
While a few loyalty programs like Southwest and Hyatt allow you to transfer Chase points instantly at a 1:1 ratio, most airline and hotel partners follow a different system. Points transfer to programs like United, British Airways and Air France/KLM at a 1:1 ratio, but can take 1-2 days to process. Others like Virgin Atlantic transfer at less favorable ratios but still unlock valuable redemptions.
Before transferring points, always compare the taxes, fees, and surcharges between programs to identify the best value. British Airways is known for imposing high carrier-imposed fees. And Virgin Atlantic charges high surcharges on their own flights but low fees on partner airlines. Doing your homework pays off.
Partner loyalty programs regularly offer bonus point promotions for transferring in blocks of points. It's wise to hold off on any transfers until one of these periodic bonuses rolls around, since you can score up to 30% more points through the promotion. Patience pays when it comes to timing point transfers.