Chase Sapphire Preferred® vs. Reserve: How To Get The Most Free Travel or Cash Back

chase sapphire preferred vs. reserve
Chase & Canva | This article is not sponsored but does contain the author’s referral links. If you do apply using the links below, you’ll be helping to support the author!

December is a costly month for all of us, from holiday shopping expenses to larger grocery bills because of those big family gatherings. Fortunately, it can be easy to make free money with credit card bonus offers- especially free money for travel, or if you’re just looking for some extra cash back in your pocket.

I know you’ve all been itching to book that next flight or finally plan your next getaway (trust me, I feel you!)

The truth is, there are so many credit cards out there, but they’re not all created equally. It can be complicated to navigate all of the best credit card offers, which card offers the most points or miles, and most importantly, determine which makes the most sense for your wallet.

This month, I want to take a deep dive and compare two of the most popular travel credit cards available: the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card. Both have distinct benefits, and both will undoubtedly help you maximize free travel; because travel is ALWAYS better when you get to pay with points instead of money.

Take a look at the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card to find out which works better for your wallet:

What are the Benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card?

chase sapphire preferred card
Chase & Canva

I’m sure you’ve heard of this credit card by now: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card has become one of the most popular travel rewards credit cards available- and for plenty of reasons!

Not only can you earn bonus points per dollar spent in categories such as travel and dining, the card currently comes with a hefty 60,000 point sign-up bonus when you complete the minimum qualifying spend. With additional benefits such as an anniversary points boost, this card is excellent for moderate travelers looking to get a jump start on their adventures once again. Let’s break down the details:

Annual Fee: $95

Bonus Offer: 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points after spending $4,000 within the first three months from account opening. That’s the equivalent of $750 worth of free travel (airlines, hotels, rental cars, etc.) at a point valuation of 1.25 cents per point. The Preferred card provides 25% more per point when redeemed for travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

If you’re looking for cash back, you can redeem that bonus for $600 at a point valuation of 1 cent per point (60,000 points = $600 in cash back).

Rewards Rates and Categories:

  • 5X points per dollar on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3X points per dollar on dining, including take-out and delivery services
  • 3X points per dollar on select streaming services (like Spotify, for example) and online grocery purchases (like ordering from Shipt)
  • 5X points per dollar on all Peloton equipment
  • 5X points per dollar on Lyft rides through 3/31/21
  • 2X points per dollar on all other travel purchases

Additional Highlights:

  • $50 Annual Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit: Earn up to $50 in statement credits each account anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 10% Anniversary Points Boost: You’ll receive an annual 10% points boost upon account renewal for all purchases made during the first year of account. So if you spend $10,000 on the card within the first year, you’ll get a 1,000 point bonus upon your account anniversary (I mean, who doesn’t love a free bonus!).
  • Pay Yourself Back℠ Feature: Your points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating spend categories.
  • $60 back on a Peloton Digital or All Access Membership.

APR Rate: 15.99-22.99% (based on credit score)

Credit Score Required: 670-850 (Check your credit score for free here)

Pros:

  • A nominal annual fee gets you a pretty hefty points bonus if you can meet the $4,000 minimum spend requirement in the first three months.
  • A long list of extra “added value” incentives

Cons:

  • No lower introductory APR offer
  • Charges an annual fee

If you like how this sounds, apply at the link HERE.

What are the Benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card?

chase sapphire reserve card
Chase & Canva

This card is for the serial travelers among us (yes, I know it’s you!) You’ll be able to earn up to 10 points per dollar (yes, really) in select travel categories and a large 50,000 point sign-up bonus when you complete the minimum qualifying spend. You’ll also receive luxurious travel perks like airport lounge access!

If you’re looking for a card with similar benefits to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card but want to be sure you’re earning more points for every dollar spent on travel, then this would be the pick for you.

Annual Fee: $550

Bonus Offer: 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points after spending $4,000 within the first three months from account opening. That’s the equivalent of $750 worth of free travel (airlines, hotels, rental cars, etc.) with a point valuation of 1.5 cents per point. The Reserve card provides 50% more per point when redeemed for travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

If you’re looking for cash back, you can redeem that bonus for $500, with a point valuation of 1 cent per point (50,000 points = $500 in cash back).

Rewards Rates and Categories:

  • 10X points per dollar on hotel and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 10X points per dollar on Chase Dining℠ purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 10X points per dollar on Lyft rides (for one year, after activating by 3/31/2022)
  • 10X points per dollar on all Peloton Equipment
  • 5X points per dollar on flights purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3X on all other travel purchases
  • 3X points per dollar on dining, including take-out and delivery services

Additional Highlights:

  • Annual $300 Travel Credit: Automatically receive a statement credit for travel purchases charged to your card by the account’s anniversary. This includes anything travel-related: tolls, parking, an Uber ride, and even public transit. Through 12/31/21, gas station and grocery store purchases are included (the same as earning cash back on essential, everyday purchases!)
  • Pay Yourself Back℠ Feature: Your points are worth 50% more when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating spend categories.
  • A $100 credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® application
    15% off all Lyft rides with complimentary Lyft Pink membership (for one year, after activating by 3/31/2022)
  • $60 in statement credits on all DoorDash purchases annually
  • $120 back on Peloton App Workouts
  • Priority Pass™ Select Membership for VIP airport lounge access worldwide

APR Rate: 16.99-23.99% (based on credit score)

Credit Score Required: 740-850

Pros:

  • Many high-value points per dollar categories
  • Card benefits can more than pay for the total annual fee if you are an avid traveler and high spender.

Cons:

  • Exorbitant $550 annual fee
  • $75 fee per authorized user, and they do not get the $300 annual travel credit nor the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® perk.

If you think that this card suits your needs better than the Preferred card, apply at the link HERE.

What is the Chase Refer-A-Friend Program?

The Chase Refer-A-Friend Program allows Chase Sapphire Preferred® cardholders to refer five friends yearly. And get this: Chase is currently offering cardholders a whopping 20,000 bonus points per referral (valued at $250 of free travel or $200 in cash back when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®), up from the usual 15,000 points per referral.

When you share your referral link with a friend and they both successfully apply and get approved for the card themselves, you get 20,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards® points added to your account. So that’s up to…drumroll, please!…100,000 additional bonus points per year if you can refer all five friends.

Combine that with the 60,000 bonus points you’ll earn after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of your account, and you could earn an astounding 160,000 bonus points within the first year. Take it from me: I’ve personally made the 60,000 bonus points after meeting the minimum spend requirement, and I’ve referred two friends this year alone. So in all, I’ve earned 100,000 bonus points so far!

*Note: The Chase Refer-A-Friend Program currently only applies to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, not the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card.

How to Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points for Cash Back

While these points are worth more when redeemed for travel, you might want to redeem your intro bonus from either card for some easy cash back that can be sent right to your checking account. Let’s outline the steps on how to do this below:

  1. Log into your Chase Ultimate Rewards® account and click the Earn/Use dropdown.
  2. Click “cash back.”
  3. Select the number of points you’d like to redeem for cash back.
  4. Choose which bank account you’d like to deposit the cash back to.
chase ultimate rewards cash back
Adam Palasciano | View of Chase Ultimate Rewards® Cash Back Page

What Benefits do Both Cards Offer?

I’m glad you asked! While both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card offer generous perks, there are benefits that both cards provide to you:

  • 1X point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to all participating frequent travel programs at a 1:1 value.
  • Complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash (for a minimum of 1 year, after activating by 3/31/2022).
  • Break up purchases of $100 or more with no interest for a fixed monthly fee with My Chase Plan®.*
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Travel Protection: including auto rental collision damage waiver, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, etc.
  • 24/7 customer service

*Eligible cardmembers only

Check out this infographic below, which highlights what each card will offer you, side-by-side, plus what both cards have in common:

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Reserve Infographic
Chase & Canva

The Bottom Line

My takeaway is that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card takes the cake. While it does not offer as many points per dollar on travel and dining purchases as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card, the added benefit of the Refer-A-Friend-Program plus a sign-up bonus that’s already 10,000 points higher than the Reserve card makes it the winner. While the 60,000 sign up bonus with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card (1.25 cents per point) and the 50,000 sign up bonus with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card (1.5 cents per point) are both worth an equivalent $750 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, cash back from either card is valued at 1 cent per point.

So, the 10,000 additional points you’ll earn with the signup bonus from the Preferred card are especially beneficial if you want to redeem that bonus for cash back. The Preferred card bonus will yield you $600 in cash back. That’s $100 more compared to the signup bonus with the Reserve card, which will only yield you $500 in cash back.

The Preferred card offers the most value in terms of a significant points bonus and provides up to 5X points per dollar on travel and up to 3X points per dollar on dining. It’s also the most cost-effective for those of you looking to shell out less money upfront for an annual fee. Overall, I recommend this card to anyone who wants to earn a serious points bonus for travel or a $600 cash back payday! So, what are you waiting for? Apply now!