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Why the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the Best Travel Credit Card

Updated: Feb 8

Chase turned the luxury credit card industry upside down back in 2016. Even with increased competition and loss of earnings, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is still the king of travel credit cards. However, it's a good idea to keep a close eye because several perks have been eliminated and added.


The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.

Chase Sapphire Reserve


Since it's inception in 2016, the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card has offered great benefits. Considered a "luxury" credit card due to it's $550 per year annual fee (was $450, until January 2020, read below to learn about the new perks), it has shook up the industry once held strong by the American Express Platinum credit card. Before you shrug at the $550 sticker shock, let me tell you that you get an automatic $300 travel credit which reduces your annual fee down to $250 along with tons of great perks.


$300 annual travel credit


The travel credit applies to any "travel" category that Chase has approved. From my personal use the travel credit applied instantly (usually a day later) towards the statement. Chase's "travel" category is very liberal, I've received credit for using Uber, also for a local parking garage in San Jose, California, street parking meters and when booking a hotel room using Hotels.com.


Don't lose the $300 annual travel credit by cancelling


I do need to share a warning. When I booked my hotel room through Hotels.com, the hotel I booked was not supposed to have charged me until after I checked-in. The booking was also 5 months away.


The next day, Chase provided the remaining travel credit towards my statement as usual. The only problem is that I wasn't supposed to have been charged. The mess was resolved by Hotels.com, which reimbursed me, however, I thought that Chase would see this and replenish my remaining travel credit.


I checked everyday for a week until I finally gave Chase a call using the direct Chase Sapphire Reserve toll free number found on the back of the metal card (1-800-436-7910).


I was advised that my case would need to be investigated and I would be contacted again. A week later, I received a letter in the mail from Chase. In the letter they apologized, but could not reapply my remaining travel credit.


That was a bummer, but this is why I want to give you a heads up that once you purchase something in "travel" category and have the annual $300 travel credit applied don't expect it back if there was a mistake.


Get free access to over 1,200 airport lounges and restaurants


One of my favorite and most used perk from the Chase Sapphire Reserve is their partnership with Priority Pass, which has many lounges worldwide. To date, I've been very impressed with lounge or restaurant access at Prague (Czech Republic), Seoul (Incheon, South Korea), Beirut (Lebanon), Sydney (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand), Portland (Oregon) and back home in San Jose (California). Like I just mentioned, the lounge access has been awesome, who doesn't want to take a shower, eat a warm meal and drink a glass of wine prior to a long-haul flight around the world - all for free!


READ: Priority Pass Review: The Sky Hub Lounge at Seoul Incheon International Airport


If you paid attention, I did mention restaurants. Yes, some airports have restaurants that accept Priority Pass. In Portland, I took advantage of $28 per person credit at the House Spirits Distillery and at the Capers Cafe Le Bar.


In Sydney, I took advantage of the AUD $36 person credit at Mach2, MoVida and Bistro 2020 & Bar. If you travel with friends or family who aren't Priority Pass members, no worries, you can treat up to 9 guests who also get their own credit. Those lounge and restaurant benefits that I've used alone have justified the annual $450 Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card!


You can also sign up for a Priority Pass airport lounge membership without signing up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Click here to use my friends and family discount of 20% for one of their airport lounge access plans.


Automatic TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee reimbursement


You can get reimbursed when you apply for either the Global Entry $100 application fee or the TSA PreCheck $85 application fee when you use the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. I recently tried this out when applying for TSA PreCheck. After about a week I saw the $85 credit posted automatically to my statement.


Take advantage of additional valuable benefits


There's tons of benefits like no foreign transaction fees and primary driver's insurance for car rentals. The list of benefits very lengthy and I advise that you take a overview of them here in detail.


Regarding car rentals, once you are approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can enroll with both Avis with their Avis Preferred program and National Car Rental's Emerald Club. Both memberships offer VIP service.


READ: Priority Pass Review: The Aspire Lounge in Terminal 5 (London Heathrow Airport)


I used Avis Preferred in Auckland, New Zealand and had a great experience. Just reserve your car online, skip the line, grab your car and you're driving in less than 15 minutes. Drop off was even easier and faster. Just park in the Avis Preferred designated parking space, give your key to the Avis representative, sign and go.


New benefits for 2020


The new annual fee is now $550 as of January 12, 2020. There's been some debate on whether the $100 increase is worth it or not. It all depends on if you use Lyft to get around town and if you use DoorDash to order food. If you use both of these services, then you'll probably find great value in the added benefits.


The added Lyft perk grants you access to Lyft Pink ($199 value) which gives you 15% off rides, priority airport pick ups, a more lenient cancellation policy and reduced fees for their scooters or bikes. You'll also receive 10x points until March 2022.


The new DoorDash benefit offers you a $60 statement credit for 2020 and another $60 credit for 2021. You'll be grandfathered into their DashPass program ($9.99 /month value for 2 years), which eliminates delivery fees (between $4 to $5 orders over $12).


I've highlighted many benefits and experiences that the Chase Sapphire Reserve has offered. I could write more, but to wrap this up, you also get 3x points when you spend on travel and dining.


RELATED POST:

Priority Pass Review: Menzies Aviation Lounge at the Prague Vaclav Havel Airport (Terminal 2)

Priority Pass Review: Jorge Chavez International Airport - Lima, Peru

Priority Pass Review: Strata Lounge - Auckland, New Zealand

Priority Pass Review: Enjoy $84 + Worth of Food and Drinks at Portland International Airport